Hello, Spongey here.
Well, I promised I will get back to the Goosebumps Horrorland reviews, and while it took me a month, I still stuck to my promise. There’s no schedule for these, but with my other projects, you never know how long it could be until I get around to doing each review.
…Plus, I had laptop issues, so it set me back. Thankfully, I did not start on the review before that happened.
With that said, onto Number 8. This time it’s one that references another book, without actually being a sequel. Despite the title, this has nothing to do with “Say Cheese and Die” and it’s terrible sequel.
It has the same set up, but the evil camera has a different backstory, so it doesn’t even have that connection going for it. However, I’m all for another crack at this story as long as it’s better than the last one.
Besides that, there’s not much to comment on, so let’s just get started and see how the 3rd attempt at making cameras evil pans out.
(Also, the short summary on the back blatantly rehashes the cover tagline from the first one. Good going)
This, is Say Cheese-and Die Screaming!
The book opens with our main character, Julie talking to her best friend Reena.
“I’ve only been talking about it for months, remember? To shot the entire student body for the big two page spread in the Tiger?”
Feels good to use that again. Julie happens to into photography and does various assignments for the school paper, and stuff like that. So while Greg couldn’t give two shits before and just did the pictures by accident, this chick is into that stuff to begin with.
Eh, photography clubs and the like exist for a reason, so it’s not too far fetched. What is a bit strange is that she has a Sitcom Arch Nemesis named David who is always trying to one up her.
She is trying to get the office before he does, but he beats her to the punch. Yes, he does act like an asshole in front of authority figures and somehow gets away with it. He also rambles on about cameras in a way that makes it obvious this is 2009.
Even Modern Goosebumps gets outdated! ….Man, these new books started in 2008? Somehow I feel old.
Julie pitches her idea for the big Yearbook photo: Every stands in this huge empty pool, and she takes the picture from ontop the high dive board. Yeah, I can’t see anything wrong happening when you do that from a notable height.
“It’s a very wide platform up there, with railings on both sides. No way I could slip”
….You win this round.
David suggests having a contest to see who takes that picture. Yep, this is our main conflict that the supernatural element will mess with. …Eh, still less far fetched than anything in the other books.
A few days later, Julie and Reena are out on a bike ride and end up a creepy house that is having a garage sale. There’s only so many ways I can point out that somehow bad may happen after this event takes place.
Julie spots an old camera asks for the price, but is told it’s not for sale. This is why you check to make sure you have hidden all your evil artifacts before you put it on sale.
When the owner is not looking, a little girl, supposedly her daughter or something, gives it to Julie and asks her to take it. Despite this being incredibly suspicious, Julie takes it. Well, it was nice knowing you.
Also, I think Julie later explains why she wants an old camera. If my memory is bad, I’ll admit it at the end. She has Reean over for dinner and there she takes a picture of her as her first photo.
You know how this goes, so what is the evil thing going on the picture? She has red eye in it. ….Spine tingling. Just hope her Dad doesn’t become an evil monster or something. Suddenly, her eyes start burning and it comes out of nowhere, almost seemingly for no reason.
Hm….yeah, that works as our first evil camera deed. It even kind of makes sense. Heck, I can even see why they would think it’s a coincidence. Julie doesn’t have a lot of time to mull over this as she must go to this school basketball game to snap some pictures.
She brings the old camera by accident. Oh hey, a decent reason to have it pop up again. They say she got it to begin with for fun and is only using it because she picked it up by accident. That makes more sense than just using it because….reasons.
She takes a picture of this girl making a basket, but only her arm shows up in the photo. What happens next is….actually kind of confusing. The chapter ends by saying she’s hanging by her arm, but the arm looks all broken.
Then it says bones are poking out through the skin, and Julie looks at the photo showing only the arm. So…what happened? When I first read this, I thought her arm fell off since the photo only had the arm, but now it seems like it broke….but bone is coming out so what the heck did the camera exactly do?
It’s pretty creepy either way, but it’s not clear enough. Both explanations make sense because the camera only got the arm, so at least there’s some logic to it.
“Maybe I should have left the camera in her garage. This CAN’T be coincidence!”
…Speaking of logic, holy crap she notices the obvious patterns, and how it’s kind of strange someone’s arm broke after a camera somehow only got her arm. This is getting creepy, it’s like Julie is smarter than Greg will ever be!
Then out of nowhere, David takes the camera and snaps a picture of Julie. Wah wah. The pictures sticks stuck halfway throgh coming out, which randomly causes her tons of pain, making her feel like she’s being cut in half.
Right as this happens, she figures that out and takes the picture out with force, solving the problem. Okay, this is another creative creepy idea AND it has her being smart again! Seriously, are we sure this is the same writer?
From this, Julie now knows the thing is evil. I think the short length of this story (84 pages) is why things happen so quickly, and logic is applied to keep things moving. Either way, this is one of the few GBH books so far to actually benefit from being shorter.
She goes home and bumps into her annoying little brother.
“If I took his picture with this evil camera,he probably would become a skeleton”
Haw, get it because the covers to these books have skeletons?
She puts away the camera and calls Reena, who blames her for the red eye thing.
“That woman warned you not to take the camera”
Whoa, now the best friend sees it right away instead of being the skeptical one? What is this witchcraft?! Although it is harsh to be angry over a mistake like this.
The next day, she tries to return the camera,but of course the woman is gone as she has moved on. Julie says that the sale must have been for this reason, and since it’s clearly been 2 days, that gave them enough time to do this.
Okay, what is this logic doing in my Goosebumps? This is getting ridiculous! Julie decides to just leave it here, since no one is likely to find it in an empty house…unless someone buys it, but eh, that’s something kids don’t tend to think of.
But of course the camera mysteriously is there for her at home. She gets desperate and throws the camera in a pond and After the obligatory dream sequence involving skeletons, the camera predictable appears in the kitchen the next morning.
As predictable, as this is, it’s nicely down. She’s actually trying to get rid of the camera, and it feels like the thing is truly evil with it appearing everywhere,. It’s a lot more effective than the characters just waiting for things to happen.
She takes it to her photography teacher guy, because he’s likely to know about evil cameras, I guess. He does research and finds out the backstory of it. I guess he does, nevermind.
“The camera was made for a movie called Say Cheese-And Die Screaming!”
The film had to stop production due to strange accidents. So, how was it made? How did it become evil? Come on, your logic has been so good, don’t drop the ball now!
She gives the camera to him and runs away, having gone to the Greg school of pushing evil on others. A few days later, she’s taking pictures of the school musical, when David shows up with the camera.
Yeah, turns out he….followed her all those times and was the one putting the camera back. …Uh….can you say creepy stalking?’
“To mess with your mind”
….That’s stupid. He did it to stress out so she could lose. Seriously? Not even a Goosebumps villain is that petty. Forget the camera, you’re the creepy evil thing in this story!
And how he could not think the camera is actually evil after seeing the stuff Julie witnessed? Where did the logic go?!
Before Julie can tell on him for being a creepy stalker, he takes a picture of these two girls. In the picture, they have alligator skin. Because….the camera is now back to doing evil shit for no reason.
Well, that logic was good while it lasted.
Julie runs away but before she can leave, the camera takes effect and they get big lipped alligator skin. They blame Julie and call her a witch, since it was her camera. That….kind of makes sense, given how random this event is…but it’s still weird.
After that, Julie tries to break the camera, and of course it doesn’t work. She calls Mom and tells her the story, and again, only so many ways to make a joke about how no one believes it. She even tells her to write as a story….which was also said in the previous book.
I know they have to try to tell someone, but how about a story where they get proof and get the parents involved? Please?
She goes home with the camera, and the results are what you expect. Her brother finds it and a picture is taken of him while he’s dealing with a bee. There’s a bee in the photo really close to his head.
Then he takes a picture of Julie to be a jerk. Julie…tears up the picture,. Holy crap, no one ever did that before! More logic! To be fair, in Again they think of it, but decide against it because they think it could tear them up for real.
But it’s nice to see it attempted anyway. Sammy then gets a Bee head. …Well, at least this one makes sense, but just don’t tell me about how bees can’t fly or whatever. He ends up in the hospital and everyone is puzzled. Also, the two alligator girls just so happen but in the room next door and are telling people about the camera, which Mom says lines up to Julie’s story.
Of course she doesn’t put two and two together and think this might be real. Julie comes up with one last desperate idea to defeat the camera. See, the picture taken of her showed her falling, and she figures it involved that high dive board. So much for safety.
Anyway, she figures she should…actually try to prevent the prediction from coming true! Holy crap, no one did the most obvious thing to do in the previous books! Welcome back, logic!
We cut to the big day as she has told David she is afraid of heights, and thus wants David to do it. Wow, that’s actually a good way to do it. Although does that mean he might fall in your place?
Things go well…until, of course he starts to fall and Julie has to save him…which means she ends up on there and begins to fall. Huh, that’s pretty clever but why would she bother going up there without even thinking?
Thankfully, David manages to save her, which is nice. That was our climax, by the way. Epic, I know. Her plan worked, as all the pictures from before turn to normal. Being clever in Goosebumps pays off, who knew?
But the camera still exists, and she has a plan. She’ll go to a mirror and have the camera take a picture of itself, so it will break. ….That’s also kind of clever. This book is something else.
She does it and looks at the resulting picture.
“I was staring at TWO evil cameras on my dresser side by side!”
Whoa, that’s crazy. What’s the reasoning? What will happen?
….Bah. Wait, there;s the Horrorland section. Does it explain anything?
…seriously? You can’t do a twist like that then never do anything with it. In a normal book that would be fine but Julie’s saga continues. The book right before this one explained the twist, why can’t this one?
Ah well, we’re done.
Guess what the word of the day. In all serious, this one was actually pretty good, for the most part. It fixes my problems with the previous Say Cheese and Die books and takes advantage of the premise more. Julie is actually a pretty smart charterer, so you actually care about her as this stuff happens. The things that happen makes sense and are creepy enough to get you invested.
The good points in the first book are here, without the logic issues. Granted, some of it’s best elements regarding the story are absent here, but this is a better simple story than most. The logic is glorious and really helps the story.
My only real problem is the ending. It being rushed is normal, but the twist is weird and never explained. It’s not a deal breaker, but it makes the story feel unfinished.
Despite that, I enjoyed this one. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s solid and enjoyable entry with intensity and logic. Easily the most even of this sort of trilogy. It shows me Stine can actually improve on previous mistakes.
Although given the logic here, I’m not sure he’s behind this. Eh, still good.
Next time on Horrorland, we go to camp again, only this time with snakes.
(Gotta start crediting the pics from other media I use, so Spongebob is property of Viacom and Nickelodeon)