Friday, July 23, 2010

Goosebumps: The Girl Who Cried Monster

Today, I decided to repost one of the Goosebump recap posts I did on my other blog, Get a Pencil and Your Casebook. Enjoy, kiddies!

Before we begin, R.L. and I want to make a special announcement. This episode may be a little bit dark for some viewers. It's about a young girl who sees an older man in a position of authority over her doing something. And when she tries to tell, not even her parents believe her. It also concerns the "M" word. I'm talking of course about monsters.

Lucy Dark is obsessed with monsters. When the episode opens, she's telling her little brother a story about the toe-biter monster. She finishes by sticking her toes in the mud and then screaming that all her toes were bitten off by the toe-biter.

Randy freaks out and runs inside. Mother Dark tells her daughter not to tell silly monster stories. Besides, it's time for Lucy to go to the library for the reading program. She heads over with her best friend, Aaron. At the library, creepy old Mr. Mortman the librarian asks Lucy what book she read this week. She said she read Black Beauty and that it was boring because it should have had more monsters. (Or it should have been the kind of book you can buy on the side of the street in Harlem and featured a shirtless, glistening Seal look-alike on the cover.)

Lucy chooses Frankenstein as her next book and Mortman says that that's also a classic, like Black Beauty, and is she sure she'll like it? (I'm with Mortman--Classics aren't that scary. The most frightening reading experience I had was when I read my last Goosebumps book, The Beast from the East as a child, the twist being that I'd wasted my childhood and had nothing to show for it other than an in depth knowledge of every outfit that looked good on Claudia but terrible on everyone else.)

When Lucy and Aaron leave the library, she mentions how creepy Mortman was and how the book was dripping wet when he handed it back to her. Nasty. But at least your creepy old vaguely molestery guy works at the library and not at the pizza shop like in my hometown. Now that's-ah a soggy-ah meatball!

Lucy realizes she forgot her roller blades at the 'brary and heads back inside while Aaron leaves. She spies on Mortman and sees him feeding flies to his pet spiders. She watches him shovel flies into his mouth and then morph into a monster. She gapes.

Lucy runs home and tells her parents that the middle aged unmarried male librarian unleashed his two-eyed monster to her. They think she's making up stories. (Say what you like about girls who tell outlandish stories--if I were standing in B&N looking for memoirs about weird experiences, I'd buy Lucy Dark's book way before buying Kathryn Harrison's or Mackenzie Phillip's.)

Lucy's dad says that he had hoped this monster thing was just a phase she was going through. Lucy emos, "LIFE is just a phase I'm going through." (Hide the razor blades and the dark eyeliner, folks.) Also, the smug smile on R.L. Stine's face that had appeared when he thought he was going to get the Judy Blume Award for Understanding the Psyche of the Adolescent Girl disappears when I break out into laughter.

Later, Lucy phones her friend Aaron and tells him about her plan. She's going to take a picture of Mortman as a monster and win James Randi's money. Also, prove to her parents that she wasn't lying.

Next scene, at the library, Mortman and Lucy discuss Frankenstein. "Didn't you think that the monster was the most sympathetic character in the story?" Don't fall for it, Lucy! This is just like the time my high school English tutor asked me if I thought Humbert Humbert was the most sympathetic character in all of literary history and then slipped me a lifetime membership card to NAMBLA. "Perhaps we all have a little monster in us, Lucy," he says. Uh, no, Mortman, I don't want a little monster in me, and don't try and tell me how you'd try and rearrange the alphabet to make "U" and "I" right next to each other.

Lucy pretends to leave and then hides in the library again. She watches Mortman eat spiders this time and takes a picture of him. But he sees the flash going off and tries to find her as she hides. She runs away but he's seen her and yells for her to come back. Also, the Internet starts to blaze with indignation as every Feministing, Jezebel, and Broadsheet commenter races to condemn Lucy for photograhing Mortman without his consent. (Sadako: "But he's a MONSTER." Average Commenter: "He got photographed without his consent! And lied about other monsters. She has nothing to be proud of. What a disgrace.")

Back at home, she locks the door. But Mortman shows up on the porch asking if he can come inside. Lucy tells him that her parents aren't home. Then she realizes what she said, and this whole segment turns into an anti strangers PSA from the early 90s. "I mean, they'll be home any minute...I mean, they're in the bathroom. Mom, is dad still cleaning his rifles?" Mortman mentions that she left her backpack at the library, and she tells him to just leave it on the doorstep. Pedo-Bear gets the message and goes.

Okay, R.L., I take back the snark--this truly will haunt my dreams, no jokes. And as for you, Mr. Mortman, sitting backwards in chairs is the way to reach out to the kids. Not smiling creepily. Now I'm going to give you to the count of ten, to get your ugly, grey, no good sweater vest off my property, before I pump your guts full of lead. See, Lucy? You have to be firm.

When her parents come home, Lucy tries to tell them about how Mortman came over to drop off her backpack. They think it's nice of him to go out of his way to do that. Yeah, and it was really nice of wacky old Arnold Friedman to give all those computer lessons to supple pubescent boys in the 80s. But Lucy really wants to get to the crime lab to get these photos developed.

So, her parents take her to the mall so they can go to the One Hour Photo. Coincidentally, Mr. Mortman is here. I bet he's here because he wants to go next door to the video store to get Monsters, Inc. and then go home and write X-rated fanfic with him as Sully and Lucy as Boo.

"Quite the little photographer, aren't you?" he asks Lucy. He looks all huffy, like a bicurious girl who went wild in Cancun confronting Joe Francis, along with her rich daddy's tax lawyer. For the record, though, the photos Lucy took show everything in the shot except Mr. Mortman. Because monsters don't show up on film.

I turn to R.L. "That's the best you could do to resolve this plot point? Monsters don't show up on film?! Besides, I seem to remember monsters photographing plenty well in the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, book 38 of Goosebumps, and in One Day at Horrorland--" And that's when the chloroform kicked in. I admit, I push him too far at times. Okay, okay, on my list of Photography Don'ts, I'll add the monster rule, along with "Don't violate the rule of thirds," and "Out of focus shots of disembodied breasts are not great art even if they are in black and white."

Next, Lucy's parents interrupt and tell Mr. Mortman what a great librarian he is and could he come to dinner that night? He agrees.

That night, Mortman shows up. He asks what they're having for dinner and Lucy's dad says, "It's funny you should ask," Then the Darks grow fangs and there's a cutaway to what looks like a Nature program clip of rattlesnake going for a hipppo (with a grey cardigan and glasses photoshopped onto him) and when we come back, Mortman's been eaten.

The parents explain that, of course, the Darks are all monsters and that when they're older, Lucy and Randy will grow fangs of their own. So why'd they kill Mortman if he's one of them? Because there's only room in town for one set of monsters. It's the same reason Beth Ditto, Amy Winehouse, and Keith Richards rarely headline shows together.

Then there's something at the window that looks vaguely monstrous and the parents get ready to kill again. But it's just best friend Aaron wearing a rubber monster mask. They tell him dinner's over but dessert is still to come. When he asks what it is, they say, "You..." Pause. "...Like cherry pie?" Can the twist be that they're offering up the hymen of their nubile young daughter?