February 5, 2011
“Hello and Welcome to my first review.”
10 Years Later
Hello, Spongey here.
Welcome to what is probably my like 2700th review. In late 2010, I started my blog and put my first post. In 2011, I started posting more regularly and did my earlier actual reviews.
I’ve gone into my backstory a lot by now but it’s important to remember that the decision to have this be a blog begin with was Blogger Beware. Yeah I would have done one either way because have you seen my vlog attempts? But it was Mr. Steele that inspired me enough to do this blog. I mention since this means that Stine has been part of the Blog’s DNA since it’s inception, thus all my talk of this stuff makes even more sense in that context.
It’s also why my first real review was…sort of Goosebumps related. According to myself, I had another post in my mind but it got put off for this, because this way back when I didn’t really think projects through before announcing them. Anyway, the year was 1995, Goosebumps was at its peak.
When a franchise gets as big as this one, it becomes ripe for parody. Thus, came these two parody books from Random House that sought out to skewer the series a little. And by that I mean add in toilet humor. They were under the admittedly amusing name R.U. Slime but they are actually credited to someone named Robert Hughes.
Sadly, this is such a common name that it’s impossibly to know who is or if he ever wrote anything else. There is a Robert Hughes who worked on Phineas and Ferb, and I actually asked that one if this was him but was sadly told no. Shame, I seriously wanna know who did these.
Either way, he only did two which is part of the joke. Even at this point there were tons of Goosebumps books but this book proclaims that you “buy 2, that’s it!”. It also adds in tons of blurbs reminding that this is just a parody, please don’t sue us.
(Oh and if you’re wondering if Stine knows about this, according to one Reddit AMA, he does he all he said is that the covers looked “pretty funny” so I guess he approves. Frankly based on his Garbage Pail Kids stuff, he’d love the humor of these)
My original plan was actually to do a re-review of Stay out of Bathroom, give it the review it deserves. But then I finally got access to the second one so we’ll do that instead. If you want my thoughts on that one, I’ll offer more detail at the end of this but the short version it that…was a book. It got some things down but missed the mark in working as a whole, Will this manage to be better?
With a title like this, how could you go wrong? Let’s celebrate 10 years by diving in.
This, is Eat Cheese and Barf!
These covers were done by Mark Garro, who actually went on to do covers for Ghosts of Fear Street. Funny how things work out. The first one’s cover actually did a good job at replicating Tim Jacobus’ style, while this one is just…gross. It’s eye caching at least but not exactly appealing. But hey, it gets the job done at least so I can’t be too mad I guess.
The book begins with our protagonist Billy Fudder being told by his parents to drink milk even though he is very lactose intolerant. He tries to comply but ends up vomiting all over the place. We’re off to a very classy start.
It turns out that this all a dream. So between the awful parents and fake out dream, Hughes has already gotten the style down pat at least. Billy had fallen asleep in the car while he and his family are on their way to moving (Yep, got the style down) to Bledsoe New York.
It’s the Cottage Cheese Capitol of the World which is bad news for Billy. It’s home to International Milk Products, one of the biggest manufacturers of dairy products in the state. So… IMP? Weird, that should be an interesting payoff.
They are moving because the Fudder family inherited Breakwind Farms (Sigh) from Grandpa Theo. Oh and there’s an annoying younger sister named Jennifer, because duh. They arrive at the farm, which is a bit of a fixer upper.
They spot a cow which has a human arm in its mouth! I thought this would be a fakeout but technically no, it is a person’s arm, it’s just an prosthetic one that belongs to their farm’s caretaker, Armand. The cow is Martha, the oldest cow there and Theo’s old favorite.
They walk around and we find out Theo was a scientist because Hughes really did his homework this time. Dad tells Billy that he will likely be miserable and lonely but “you’ll get over, it’ll be an adventure”. So even outside of a dream, the bad parents have been captured pretty well.
Jennifer says she’s upset they had to move away from her boyfriend Scotty. Okay, so I guess she’s an older sibling even though she has acted totally like a younger one so far. It wasn’t properly established, leading to this mild confusion. Bathroom has an older sibling too, so I guess Hughes didn’t get everything right.
She claims Scotty was gonna ask her to the prom, to which Armand says the town hosts a Dairy Dance every year where they crown a Dairy Queen. So we’re gonna turn in into an 80’s movie in the climax, got it.
The next morning, Billy goes to the bathroom and looks in the mirror to discover he has grown tons of zits! Oh wait Jennifer just popped some all over the place. Well that was pointless and gross.
After breakfast, Billy heads out where he bumps into a girl who introduces herself as Fanny Rennet. Dumb first name aside, I looked up the last name and it’s actually, according to Wikipedia, a complex set of enzymes and is used to separate milk into solid curds for cheese making.
So…I guess that’s clever?
Less clever is that she has super powerful burps that cause Billy to gag. Otherwise he thinks she’s cool enough but kind of weird. She sort of gives me Andy vibes which is fitting because spoilers, despite the title, this is closer to Monster Blood.
They go to the Moo n Doo which is a cheese making place I think, and it’s owned by her family. They used to own a farm but IMP bought it out, which Fanny is salty about. Just then, Billy’s dad shows up and announces that Armand and Jennifer are getting engaged! Oh wait, he’s just joking.
Okay, you got the annoying prankster down and you know what, that’s at least funnier than the whole zit thing so this gets a pass. He’s actually here to ask Billy to clean out the basement and so ne and Fanny go to do that. While exploring, they find some cottage cheese that’s in this big blob form.
Before they can explore this further, they have to come up for lunch as the family is having someone over. That someone is Johnathan Curdle , the owner of IMP, and thus Fanny hates him. So far, he’s not really evil, just “really ugly”. And in the world of fiction, that’s basically the same thing. Oh and he brought his nephew Jerry.
Billy mentions the cottage cheese blob to mom but, staying true to the style, she doesn’t believe him. I’m not sure if just doing the exact same thing counts as parody. After an awkward lunch, they go back to the basement to see that the cottage cheese thing is basically acting like Monster Blood, as it’s starting to grow out of the thing they put it in. There is a tight lid on it at least, for now.
Jerry appears briefly, just to establish that he’s the bully I guess. Also, I hope you like cow pie jokes, there’s been like a bunch so far. They take the Cheese Blood, as I’m dubbing it, outside to the barn. They look at a diary they found in the basement that belonged to Theo. It has a bunch of diagram but the only thing it really says is to never show the Cheese Blood to a Curdle.
They take off the lip and peek in, discovering that the cheese has indeed grown and seems to be moving. Some gets on her face, which makes her burp in Billy’s face. This makes him vomit, then bits of cheese fall in the vomit and sizzle away. They assume this is because of Billy’s same enzyme that makes him lactose intolerant. That was a very dumb and gross series of events….but I wasn’t expecting Billy’s problem to be that important past the joke of “a kid who hates diary fights a cheese monster”. So…points?
Martha the cow pops up…and talks! No wait it’s just Armand. Well, these fake outs are getting as annoying as in the actual books so…good job? This puts an end to their fun and they stash the Cheese Blood away.
The next day, Billy goes out to see Fanny but bumps into Jerry who goes full bully this time. Armand shows up along with Martha and it turns out Jerry is afraid of cows. Sure, why not. Actually there is a reason: his parents were trampled in a stampede and the other curdles tried to pin it on Martha. Bit of a dark backstory there for something with this title, this could actually work to give him more motivation and such if this weren’t, ya know, just a silly parody story.
Anyway, after Jerry leaves, we get some scenes of Billy growing to like his new home more and bonding with Franny further. It’s actually kind charming, I think Hughes forgot he was writing a gross out parody for a moment there. Thankfully it gets back on track so to speak as they check their Cheese Blood to see it is outgrowing the container.
It starts moving on its own, as it grabs a bird and sucks it in. Then Martha starts talking, for real this time. Yep. She explains that she talk as a result of Theo’s experiments and tells them that the Cheese Blood is also one of his works. She thinks it must be destroyed but wants to look at it further first.
The kids have a very calm reaction to a talking cow. Also, the fact the true backstory of the cheese is weirdly complicated and not as simple as it should be definitely feels true to the original Monster Blood. They struggle but event6ually get the Cheese Blood contained while Martha goes off to study that diary.
We get a small filler scene, then a dream sequence, Geez, this is more padding than the actual books have at this point. The next morning Billy and Fanny start to think the Martha stuff was a dream, and when they get to the barn they see Jerry uncovering the cheese, uh oh.
It turns out he’s aware of Theo’s history of IMP and how he left while working on this experiment and took it with him. So Jerry wants to take back to Johnathan for him to use for evil or whatever but the Cheese Blood doesn’t like that. It absorbs Jerry and then runs off.
Also, Martha shows up to shoot down the dream theory, so that was pointless. We’re told that the cheese is rampaging now because it absorbed Jerry’s evil. So it wasn’t inherently evil before? That’s an interesting spin I guess.
Martha tells them that needs fresh cheese or it will die. She says the kids must not go after it while she figures out what to do. So the kids go after the cheese because would you let a cow tell you what to do? They head out and after a couple fake outs, they bump into Armand, who reveals he worked with Theo to create this. He wants to finish what he started but whoops,the cheese shows up and absorbs him. He actually sacrifices himself to save the kids, which is cool.
After yet another fake out (seriously, I know it’s a parody but it’s more annoying than the real thing), Billy and Fanny go to IMP HQ where mom has started working to warn her of the monster. That Diary Dance is tonight and Billy wants to call it off as it will fresh cheese that the cheese blood will want.
Naturally she doesn’t believe them, and this aspect is a good example of how they play things a bit too straight for a parody. I know this won’t happen but wouldn’t it be funny if at some point the monster is literally in front of the parents and they still do the disbelief act?
But anyway, Johnathan is the one to drag him away and he’s quite interested in this cheese story. Billy plays dumb but he attempts to use milk to get the information out of him. This bit is actually a funny take on an old cliche. But that gets interrupted when Jennifer storms on, pissed that Jerry is gone and she was going with him to the dance.
This distracts John long enough for Billy to escape. Him getting saved by something properly established, (failed to mention Jen being into Jerry, it didn’t seem important at the time) is good story construction but not quite fitting for a parody of a series that often uses ass pulls for things like this.
He and Fanny go home, and end up having to go to the dance. There’s some more annoying fakeouts, and we arrive at the Diary Dance. It doesn’t take long for the cheese blood to finally appear again and terrorize the dance. This feels weirdly large scale for a Goosebumps-type story.
Johnathan is happy to see his creation but he gets eaten by it. But then it takes his shape and he starts gloating about having a new body, I guess? Fanny instantly recalls Billy’s acid barf from earlier and wants him to use that power to stop it. He tries to eat cheese to barf (oh I get the title now) but can’t do it.
So instead, Fanny uses her burps to make him do it. I am so glad I haven’t had breakfast yet as I write this. We get a page full of Billy barfing on the monster to free the people tr4apped in it. The cheese monster relents soon after…I think? See, there’s a small moment with the parents where I guess dad says this happened to him with sour cream?
The bird that cheese claimed flies out and Billy says then he knew everything was going to be okay. The end! …Yes, that’s seriously how it ends. Or stops in this case. I know the actual series indeed has rushed climaxes and such but where’s the twist ending?! How can you do a Goosebumps parody without a twist?
Bathroom at least tried, even if it was just a bland Here We Go Again type. I think that missed chance is the perfect way this all up, really.
It would be easy to shake my head at these, given their stupid names and how they are filled with gross out humor just to appeal to 90’s kids. However, this wasn’t that bad, but man did it miss the mark to be a truly good parody.
The main problem for me is that it’s weirdly played too straight. Hughes actually does a good job imitating Stine’s style, but that’s mainly what this is: An imitation, that doesn’t full advantage of the chances of parody. It has the fake outs down, way too much infact. Most of them are just standard and aren’t goofy enough. This is one area Bathroom did better in, those fake outs were both less annoying and far more absurd.
It captures the pacing of a Goosebumps story, with build up that feels like it’s just wasting time and a rushed dumb climax but honestly I can’t tell if it’s to spoof that or it’s just a straight example. That’s not good.
The weird thing is, if you take out the gross out stuff, this could actually work as a Goosebumps story. There’s some aspects that work, like how the monster is a creation from Billy’s grandfather that wasn’t evil to begin with but it wanted by the true evil, a corporation. That’s actually interesting and I was kind of into it.
But then it has to be a parody so we get the gross out and tons of fake outs and rushed ending. Also, what was the point of calling it IMP? This felt rather confused, it at least feels like they actually knew the materiel but didn’t know how to go about lampooning it?
Comparing it to Stay out of the Bathroom, the writing was stronger as it felt closer to Stine’s and the story was more interesting. But that did a better job of being absurd with the fake outs and at least tried to have a twist. That had a more annoying protagonist though which would have been more fitting for this once since it’s spoofing Monster Blood.
Both are just kind of there, I can’t say either is really better due to their pros and cons. Still, they are interesting curiosity pieces and I don’t think they are quite as they could have been.
In the end, the most damming thing about these is that I can think of several actual Goosebumps stories that are more absurd and work better as parodies. I mean Strained Peas alone was better as a spoof of the tropes than this could ever hope to be. That’s kind of sad.
Well, that was something. This feels like the 90’s equivalent of all of Diary of a Wimpy Kid parody things you see floating around and …this was better than those look at least. Anyway, with that I have reached 10 years of doing reviews.
It feels so weird I made it this far. I may have a bigger thing on DA or something, we’ll see. Either way, thank you all for helping me get to this point. True, I do this for me, as you can tell by now, but I’m glad to at least have the support I do have. It figures I celebrated this with a type of review that seems to do the best out of the type of things I do these days.
It’s been a wild journey and I hope I can keep this up for another 10. Let’s hope I keep sane enough to last that long anyway. Anyway, once again I think anyone who has read any of these, as well as those who have commented and yada yada. You all know who you are, hopefully.
With that said, let’s look to the future and tease the next Stine review. But it’s another poll that isn’t complete…so I’ll just have a different one for each option, pretend the winning one is the only one here:
Next time, back to Point Horror, and this time we’re going all the way back to the beginning.
Next time, back to R.l. Stine’s brand of kid horror, for an advertisement for a rollercoaster. Yes.
Next time, we jump forward for a Non-Goosebumps Middle Grade book from Stine that just reused the plot of a canned Goosebumps book.
Next time, we go to the realm of audio for more short stories.