Recap #313: Jude’s October Eve Ball ~ Goosebumps Hallowe’en Special by R.L. Stine
Title: Goosebumps Hallowe’en Special
Author: R.L. Stine
Summary: Hi, I’m Curly, your ghost of a host! Welcome to the first bone-chilling issue of Goosebumps, it’s dead cool! Be prepared to feel the hairs rising on the back of your neck as you start to wonder if monsters really do exist!
Visit the town of Matlock and experience the horror of uncontrollable weeds. Test your knowledge on Hallowe’en and check out the weird but true stories. Learn to draw a werewolf, discover how brave you are and get to grips with unidentified flying objects.
Feel like having a really exciting night – well, be careful for what you wish for…
So go ahead, turn the page. Get ready to give yourself nightmares and don’t forget to check under your bed before you turn the lights out…
And here’s yet another piece of the Goosebumps franchise buried for literal decades until recently, found completely by accident!
I stumbled upon this, until now, unknown magazine while doing my usual searching through eBay for any potential lost Goosebumps relics. Absolutely none of us in the fandom were familiar with this magazine, which made bidding on it a gamble because we had no way of knowing if it’d be worth the money. I was determined to make sure it ended up in the hands of someone who’d actually share it with the community, instead of hoarding or reselling it. I don’t normally participate in eBay auctions, but I couldn’t risk this falling into obscurity again so I ruthlessly outbid several people (sorry guys).
…please don’t ask me how much it cost.
It thankfully turned out to be worth the money, when I received the magazine and was treated to the sight of not one, but TWO, original Goosebumps stories which don’t exist elsewhere. Not only that, but this magazine features one of the six stories featured in the Pesadillas magazines. However, I’ll be recapping that tale separately from this in order to include the Pesadillas illustrations.
This isn’t the first piece of lost Goosebumps lore I’ve managed to find from Britain. Shopping on etsy led to the rediscovery of two separate, serialized comic strip adaptions of multiple Goosebumps stories. FBX (For Boys Exclusively) Magazine did two page compressed comic adaptions of different Goosebumps books and short stories by artist John Ross. The Funday Times ran adaptions of A Night In Terror Tower and Night of the Living Dummy II by Kevin Sutherland and Erasmus Fry.
You can read my article on it here: Goosebumps Across the Pond.
Oddly, despite this being labeled a Hallowe’en magazine, the stories have nothing to do with the holiday. Which is why I felt it more fitting to have this ready for the eve of October 1st.
[Wing: I continue to be impressed by how much you, and the Goosebumps community more broadly, manage to save Goosebumps media and ephemera from disappearing. It’s such a lovely thing to do.]
Stranglehold, a.k.a. “MAAAAAAAAATLOOOOOOOOOCK!”
Summary: Can James save Matlock from destruction as the weeds take control?
The town of Matlock’s been overrun with weeds for days. These aren’t ordinary weeds, mind you. They just grow, and grow, and grow, and seem to have a mind of their own. No one knew where they came from, but there were plenty of guesses.
Maybe they were…
- Mutant escapees from a science lab
- Spores fallen from outer space
At any event, the weeds cut off all communication to the outside world by destroying the local satellite equipment and telephone lines.
[Wing: I love a good monstrous plants story! Reminds me a bit of the younger version of, say, The Ruins.]
Nothing the villagers did made a difference. Like the mythical hydra, cutting one weed led to several more growing in its place. With their thorns and red flowery heads, the weeds looked more like piranhas. Piranhas capable of spewing mind altering pollen capable of freezing people in their tracks!
[Wing: … I cannot stop thinking about sex pollen fic across fandoms.]
As the weeds grew, so did fear, and in their fear the villagers needed a scapegoat if they couldn’t get rid of the plants themselves. Said scapegoats were the scientists who worked in a lab on the outskirts of Matlock. And their families.
One day, James Bedford and his pet dog Ben were accosted by neighbors throwing rocks through James’s windows. The neighbors thought James’s dad and the other scientists created the weeds. James tried to explain his dad was experimenting with ultra sonic machines, nothing to do at all with plant life, but you know how angry mobs can be.
James took Ben with him and tried to get to his dad at the lab to warn him, but even after getting away from the mob there were still the weeds! The thorny tendrils tried to trap James, who begged poor Ben to flee so they didn’t trap him as well. James refused to be trapped and fought back, smashing at the flower heads with a big rock.
And… did the weed scream?
James realized they weren’t so indestructible after all!
Hitting upon an idea, James and Ben continued onward to the lab to get help from his dad. See, James remembered hearing in science class that plants don’t have central nervous systems so they can’t feel pain. The weeds, on the other hand, do.
James’s dad is working on devices for the army capable of generating ultra sonic sound waves, even with pitches humans can’t hear. So maybe it’s possible to create a sonic wave with a high enough pitch that can hurt the weeds. Dr. Bedford figures it’s a better plan than doing nothing. Nice support, dad.
To get the plan into action, they need to set up the sonic devices around Matlock. Back at his home, James tests out one of the devices to confirm his idea and is pleased to see it making the weeds shriek in agony. Not only that, they’re shriveling up and dying!
Dr. Bedford’s having the same results around town so James checks to make sure the other sonic devices are working properly.
Unfortunately, some of the weeds were smart enough to attack the other scientists before they finished setting up the devices. James has to step in and avoid the weeds’ pollen or all is lost.
At the last second, James is able to turn on the remaining sonic devices, wiping out the rest of the weeds and freeing the villagers from their pollen-induced trance.
Despite the whole “angry mob trying to kill them” thing, James and his dad are the guests of honor at a victory party held in the main village hall. Everyone’s in attendance, except James has noticed Ben is missing.
Actually, Ben’s outside.
With all of the other dogs in the village.
The dogs who, like Ben, were the only other creatures capable of hearing the sonic waves that destroyed the weeds.
The sonic waves that had been torturing the poor dogs all day…
[Wing: I WANT THE MONSTROUS DOG STORY, WHAT THE HELL, STINE. WHAT. THE. HELL. Otherwise, this is an adorable little horror story.]
Monsters Under The Bed, a.k.a. “Bumps That Go Goose In The Night”
Ugh, Donna’s little brother is such a wanker! He’s scared of everything and it’s cutting into Donna’s beauty sleep. When he’s not moaning, he’s whinging. When he’s not whinging, he’s moaning. Utter tosser, ‘e is.
Daniel worriedly told his mom he saw monsters hiding under his bed. Mizz Mum tried to assure Daniel there’re no such things as monsters, but Daniel insists there are. After all, Donna told Daniel ALL about them.
Like the one with fangs and claws to rip Daniel to shreds.
Or the one with tentacles to pull Daniel under the bed.
[Wing: … Stine is really embracing the whole tentacle/sentient plant vine porn tropes without the actual sex part. Damn, Stine. Did not see this coming.]
Yeah, that’s Daniel. He’s not only a little coward, he’s also a snitch. Ratting on his dear, sweet sister.
Well now Mizz Mum is right upset at Donna, scaring her poor little brother. Why, Donna’s not allowed to attend the school disco tomorrow night!
Not the school disco!
Donna offered to switch rooms with Daniel for the night, to prove to him there aren’t any monsters after all.
(Except for ones named “Daniel,” but don’t tell mum Donna said that)
Daniel’s right pissed off at Donna and hopes the monsters DO eat her!
Of course everyone knows there’s no such things as monsters…
“Stranglehold” initially felt like something of a rehash of “Poison Ivy” from the second Tales collection but that ending was fucking DARK. “Monsters Under The Bed” was short and obvious, yet still delightful.
And with that, let’s kick off October 2022 with a bang!
[Wing: It’s the best time of year, and this is a fun way to start it! Still want that monstrous dog story from the end of “Stranglehold” (which is a great title), but what we got was delightful. Cheers to monster season, all!]
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