Hello, Spongey here.
Well, here we are. The finale of the first Arc of Goosebumps Horrorland. It took me…a little while, but here we are. The road to this has been interesting. The first book was bad, but they got better, and we got some winners out of it.
But most importantly, we have Stine’s first attempt at a storyline, and so far it’s been fun. It’s set up in a way where I actually want to know what’s going to happen. That’s more than I can say for some mysteries.
I’ll save my speech on Horrorland in general for way later, as we won’t really finish it until Arc 2 ends. Although I will give full thoughts on Arc 1 at the end of this.
To recap, a bunch of kids got invited to Horrorland, thought something was off and ended up going to another Park, but it seems like this is all a trap, as they are now facing a mysterious person known as The Menace.
There’s more to it, but you can read the other reviews for more info. So here we go, it’s time to end this arc. Why were the kids invited here? Who is the Menace? What’s going on? Will it even make sense?
Time to find out!
This, is The Streets of Panic Park
After a recap, we start where we left off, with all the kids facing The Menace. He tells them they are in no way safe in this place. With that, everyone gets pissed at Jillian since since she said Luke and Lizzie played. They think Jillain is the liar now.
“Its not true!”
I DID NOT! OHAI-oh screw it.
“It is true! …Where do you think you got your special powers from? From that tacky wooden fortune teller? Of course not! Your powers came special devliary from yours truly”
Dun dun, what a twist! I gotta say, this is a nice twist. Not only does it explain something from one of the books, but it adds something rather interesting to the story. A character has powers that come from the villain, and he’s been kind of manipulating them this whole time.
It doesn’t add to it a lot, but it’s pretty interesting.
Jillian and Jackson are then taken out of there. Billy tries to escape but The Meance’s shadow-y minions surround him and turn him into a shadow person.
“I’m a shadow. I feel so cold and strange”
We just started our villain has been manipulating one of the characters to turn everyone against them and has turned someone into a creepy shadow person. He’s…not quite like the goofy villains we’ve seen up to this point.
The kids try to stand their ground and be brave, but The Menace says that won’t work as they haven’t known true fear. Then he brings out Jillian’s head. Spoilers, it’s a fake but still an effective enough scare.
He gives all the kids bracelets that measure their fear, and he has someone bring out the Fear Meter. That someone is…Byron. Yep, he’s a bad guy. Thanks to the Jillian stuff, they hid his nature well enough but I mostly saw it coming.
Byron has been fooling on all the park workers, and he’s the one who picked the kids to begin with.
“You all proved you were brave when you defeated those villains back home”
…Except Robby. His story didnt’ happen, remember? Dr. Manic just popped in for a sec in real life. Yeah, remember what I said before about that twist biting them in the ass or something?
He briefly says that this park is stuck in 1974, and got trapped in this alternate reality due to how much fear was going on here. More fear might bring the place back ,and that’s why he needs the kids.
He tried other kids but they didn’t work out. These kids, have proved to be brave enough. I’m sure there are braver kids in the world, but I guess these were just close enough. I think he goes into more detail later but for now I’ll say this is very interesting, and quite creepy.
Then it turns out he has two heads….because why not. After a few more scares, he explains his deal in more detail. His park was popular back in 1974, but also very dangerous.
“We lost a few kids that day, big whoop”
I think I know what means by lost…yikes. His acts are so bad even his other head thinks he can go too far. At one point, the fear level go high it put the park in another reality. I’m not sure how that works but whatever.
This world is frozen in time hence why it’s always 1974. He was okay at first as it gave him more time to work on his fear experiments, but eventually he got bored. But then he found out about Horrorland, which built on the spot where he park is, and discovered that you can travel back and forth between the worlds with a Mirror.
Now he wants the fear level high again to bring Panic Park back to the real world. Okay, this is what makes the book interesting to me. Now, it has issues. Like, I don’t think everything was explained. How did he meet Byron, and how did he set up this whole special guest thing?
How did he find out about the kids anyway? I’m guessing Byron pitched the idea of special guests to the park and picked these kids to try it out, but that doesn’t answer my other question, and we don’t get much of an explanation for that, at least at the moment.
But this backstory still works because….it kind of makes The Meance the scariest Goosebumps villain ever. Yeah, he’s a bit overpowered but he works. He’s obsessed with fear, he’s caused the deaths of kids…and doesn’t care. He just wants to test fear, and bring his park back to reality.
They didn’t beat around the bush, they said he lost kids, and they confirm this later. And we’ve seen how insane his fear tactics can be. Hell, this scene takes place in a theater showing clips of his experiments, done like a 4D ride, with the kids going through the crazy stuff he’s done.
This guy is a complete monster, to say the least. The PERFECT villain for this finale, and to lead a group of other villains, some of which are monsters in their own right. He alone makes this book quite good.
Moving on, Byron takes them to their lexury rooms, and the kids decide they have to at least try to escape, even if The Menace might make that a bit hard.
…And the manage to escape his mansion fairly easily. Well so much for that. But there’s still danger, as some of creepy missing kids walking around smother Carly Beth and turn her into a shadow person, and it’s just as creepy as it was early.
They remember that Birtnay and Molly made it to Horrorland back in Robby’s Enter Horrorland section, and they have vague memories of escaping. Wait, don’t they already know mirrors can bring you back and forth? Just find a mirror and you’re good!
But whatever, a white building is fine too. They go in but all they find it Dr Manic. Oh boy, this should be fun. He does his usual stuff, and makes the building shake so hard it gives them the shakes, for real. Then he makes Robby disappear.
I like how the kids are kind of being picked off, without being killed or anything. Two were taken by The Menace, two are shadow people, and one is invisible. Oh, and Julie and Abby have the shakes extra bad, as they can’t stop shaking. The suspense is surprisingly good here.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the fear meter is now at 75. After a nice moment where the kids realize the gravity of the situation, Dr. Manic leaves and they escape to another white building, that looks like a church.
And it turns out, it is! Whoa, this is the first time Goosebumps has recognize Churchs since Beware the Snowman, I think .It has a bunch of pictures of kids, and under them are the words “Frightned to Death”.
Yep, it’s confirmed these are the kids that died at the hands of The Menace. Dang, I think I said my piece on that earlier. This has to be the biggest stakes in a Goosebumps book, since usually it’s just one or two kids, but we have a guy who’s killed before and is willingly to kill again, just for his sick desires.
After sulking, they take my advice and go to the Hall of Mirrors, but the Mirrors do nothing now.
“That went well!”’
Did they seriously just crack that lame joke?
Then suddenly, a bunch of villains appear in the mirrors. Captain Ben, Dr Crawler, The Haunted Mask, Tutten Rha, and of course, Slappy. Some should be dead, but okay. Slappy threatens them then turns Brit into a dummy.
I see he finally has his dummy life powers from the TV Episode of Living Dummy 3. The Meanace comes back to check on their progress, and then gives Micheal a monster head. I swear this book is just a series of bad stuff happening to children, more so than usual!
The meter is now at 95, and there’s a good change the kids won’t surirve when it hits 100, so they have to do something. The villains come out in the flesh, and Inspector Cranium is amiong them now.
“Here we all are. The Last Chapter”
Actually, we still have like 9 left. He then clarifies that it’s the last chapter for everyone…even the villains. See, Byron these villains for reason mention before, as well as to give them a chance for revenge.
They successfully scared the kids out of Horrorlqand, but Ned put a pin in those plans due to telling Luke their secrets. He was the monster X guy that told Luke and Lizzy to look into Horrorland, and got them here in the first place.
It’s still weird you needed to go into a tie in website to see that play out, as now you only find it out in the rushed way you do in the books proper.
However, Cranium read read The Meanace’s mind (so you can’t read a Horrors mind,but someone even more monster-ish is fine?) and found out he plans to betrays his new villain plans.
You mean the bigger villain that the normal villain teams up with betrays them? What a shock! I’ve never seen this in a billion other stories before!
Joke aside, it is awesome to see Goosebumps characters team up with the villains for once. Yeah, they have to team up as the villains can’t just stop the Menace on their own. See, the only way to stop him is to get the fear meter down to 0, and only the kids can do that since they are the ones being tested on.
The way to get it down is to show no fear, like The Swan Princess said! But yeah, this is pretty cool, and makes perfect sense, surprisingly.
“I think we have to try it, it can’t get any worse”
Goddammit, NEVER SAY THAT!
With that, they go to The Meance’s office on their own (he’ll know something is up if the villains come), and they stare him down, shouting NO FEAR. But of course it’s not that easy and he’s unshaken by it, and proceeds to do more creepy stuff. But suddenly, Lizzy thinks of something. She laughs after cracking a lame joke. The meter drops a bit.
That’s right, the solution is to laugh. That…actually makes sense too. Laughing at scary stuff is a bit more effective than just showing no emotion. These guys can teach Cypher Rage a thing or two!
And it works pretty well right away.
“We’re shrinking, growing tinier!”
As opposed to shrinking bigger?
It works too well, as the kids and villains show show up shrink along with everything else. The Menace brags about how they’ve doomed themselves. Crainum says oops, implying he just didn’t think of it, rather than this being a trap. He’s just really that stupid for a genius with mind powers.
Now they gotta get back home before they shrink forever. Thankfully, the villains know a place where they can do this and it’s the place Birt and Molly were really recalling earlier. Before they get in, Jillian and Jackson finally show up.
They say they truly didn’t know The Menace was controlling them and it turns it started when Cranium did his tests on them. Thankfully, his control is shrinking along with him, so the kids will help now. Their deal may have been short, but it was nice.
They get on the building, which is a wind themed ride. Long story short, they land safely back in Horrorland. I think the climax was passable enough how the writing padded it out, but perhaps it could have been granded.
I do think the remaining pages are a bit rushed. Right as they hit the ground, they see they are normal, and no long shadows, invisible, or shaking . Then everyone’s parent show up, including Luke and Lizzy’s.
So their parents did take them there. So…how they did they explain this to them? Did they buy that weird stuff was going on? Were they skeptical to go back after last time? I don’t know, cuz they act like everything is normal, and they just came here normally.
They decide not to tell them about what happen, cuz they wouldn’t belive it. Lizzie and Micheal’s parents might, but okay .Oh Ned appears and they thank them. Thanks, plot device!
With that, they all go home. Lizzy is unpacking when she sees something her suitcase…A dummy. That is not said to be Slappy or even Mr Wood for that matter.
“Ready to start a whole new story? This one will really give you Goosebumps!”
The End. As in, the book flat out says The End here. Usually, I’d snark on the title drop…but I’m just thinking about they used this exact joke in the Goosebumps movie! Man, even the movie was rehashing concepts.
While this bit is not explained, it is cool since we are starting a new story with Arc 2. And that ends this little Mini Series. A decent enough ending, but time to wrap this up.
I have to say, I was surprisingly surprised by this finale. Knowing this series, I thought it would be really lame and anti climatic. And while it’s flawed, it mostly delivers. Like some finales, there’s stuff that makes no sense and all that good stuff, but it mostly works.
While the ultimate twist of Horrorland not being the bad place is a bit predictable, it is more interesting than monster Goosebumps twist. And in the end, it makes a lot of sense in the context of the story, throwing them off to get to a scarier place.
I’m totally fine with the concept they went with, and the finale itself just satisfied me and fit with what was set up before, mostly. On it’s own, it does have a pacing issues. It gets started too fast, and has a bit of padding, with stuff just happening.
It’s one of those stories that’s long for the sake of it. But to be fair, the padding is mostly fine. And of course, there’s the usual logic problems and rushed ending. Also, some characters could have done more. I mean ,why have 12 or so characters is most of them don’t do anything?
But on it’s own, this thing works due to The Menace. I’ve praised him before but man, he’s easily my favorite Modern Goosebumps villain. He might have his gimmick-y moments, but he’s mostly awesome.
Like I said before, he’s a total monster and has to have the highest body count of any Goosebumps villain. His backstory is also one of my favorites as it just makes him scarier, and some level of sense.
He’s just a real threat, and feels a big boss and the ultimate Goosebumps villain. If the series ended here, he would be the perfect last villain. But of course this sold well enough for it to continue on to this very day.
He pretty much makes this book as good as it is. Now for my thoughts on the arc in general. It was flawed, but in general I like it. It was a neat experiment, and this finale made it all worth it. Even with the problems, I’ve seen worth attempts at overarching stories like this.
As for the books on their own, I’ll give my thoughts on Horrorland overall when we get to true end with Arc 2’s finale, but Arc 1’s books themselves were solid. Revenge of the Living Dummy sucked, but the rest were fine. Some were weaker but still somewhat enjoyable.
As I said, only one flat out sucked, which is good. And some hit new highs, like Help We Have Strange Powers. So as flawed as it is, Arc 1 brought back Goosebumps in style. Plus, it’s the first time Stine has written for GB in years, so I’ll give him slack.
As for the book’s grade…this might be too, but given how it could have turned out, I’ll be nice.
With that, we’re finally done with Horrorland Arc 1. It was a fun journey, and it was especially needed after Troy vanished again. He seems to be tweeting mostly now. I don’t know, maybe he was in the Goosebumps movie and we didn’t notice.
Glad to finally be done with Arc 1, at least. Yes, we’ll go through the other modern Goosebumps stuff. Not sure when I’ll start Arc 2, could be end of July, might take a break. We’ll see, I’ll try not to take forever with it at least.
We’ll continue this mostly unplanned Spongey444 week of premieres tomorrow with a special TV Review. It’ll be interesting. Oh, and hopefully a review of The BFG. Not too much else to see so…