99 Fear Street – The Third Horror

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Here we are at the end! It’s been a while ride with this series I had no memory of and ended up enjoying a lot. And tomorrow is Halloween, so our spooky month of ghoul filled houses has come to an end, and we’ll return to your regularly scheduled, non-themed horror.

The Cover

the-third-horror

I don’t hate this cover (pulled from its Amazon page). It doesn’t make a lot of sense but it’s fine. It’s very clearly a different house from the other covers, which bothers me a lot, and I suppose that’s supposed to be Cally. I don’t know why she’s wearing a red hood but it looks ceepy. Of the covers I like this one the most.

Tagline

The House of Evil

Still a factual statement.

Summary

No prologue for this one! We jump straight into Kody Frasier returning to the house that killed her sister, her brother, and blinded her dad. She walks up to 99 Fear Street, feeling dread at reliving the worst few weeks of her life, and she sees a young blond girl in the doorway. She runs up to greet her sister Cally, only to realize it’s Persia Bryce, TV actress, who’s wearing a wig in order to play Kody herself. Kody’s family moved to L.A., the most logical choice after losing your whole life to an evil house. In L.A., Kody took her chance at being an actress, and her life’s story was sold to be made into a horror movie, in which she’ll play her sister. The production doesn’t seem to have too much money, as it’s two biggest actors are Kody, who’s never acted before, and Persia, who was a TV star, and the romantic interest Anthony is played by a guy who’d previously done commercials. Bo, the director, clearly seems aware of this, and seems his last two movies were flops, so he really needs this one to succeed.

Now that the stakes are set, the horror can begin. Instantly Bo and his producer McCarthy are attacked by rats. Kody is very anxious to be back in the old house, and she talks to Rob, the boy playing her love interest, about it. Kody thinks she sees Cally again, but when she runs up to the blond girl she’s disappeared. Cally’s ghost is floating around being pretty annoyed about everything. She’s mad Kody came back, she’s mad Kody is claiming to come back to help her, she’s mad that Kody looks like her now. She shoots some spikes out of a door Kody is trying to open, which scares her. I think spikes were used in the Secret Bedroom, which seems like a weird ghost power but I guess all ghost powers are weird.

Bo discusses with Kody shooting several of the key scenes, including where the green goo comes out of the pipes and the scene Anthony loses all his fingers. Kody instantly isn’t sure if she’s willing to relive this scene, and Rob is hesitatnt too. They show Rob the prosthetic hand he has to slip his hand into in the sink, and he tells Bo he has a bad feeling about this. McCarthy runs through it for him, putting his hand into the sink, and Kody feels someone push her, causing her to hit the disposal button. This raises many questions, first and foremost being why are the appliances still working in the kitchen, especially when they state later on everything else is fake, the second of which is, where the flip is the disposal button? Because 99% of the time I see it on someone’s wall like a lightswitch, which is the best place to put it, so you don’t accidentally mutilate someone’s fingers.

Production is paused while they deal with this. Like Anthony, McCarthy won’t be using his fingers again. Bo asks Kody if she did it on purpose, and Persia is rude to everyone. She also proves herself a terrible actress when she tries to convince Kody to step down and can’t get through it without smirking cruelly. The girls straight up start fighting, and Bo has to pull them apart.

Rob calms her down by making out with her face, but instead of going back to the hotel with the crew she decides to stay behind. She sees Mr. Lurie hanging around and the housekeeper Mrs. Nordstrom. She’s in her trailer when she hears someone tap three times at her door, just like she did to Cally. She calls out for her sister and wanders into the house, where she’s stopped by a security guard, who recognizes her.

The next day, Bo is taking them through the shots. They’re doing zoom-ins on their screams. They’re waiting on Persia, but her stand in has to come stand in. Joanna flips out Kody by looking like her sister again, and when she gets in front of the camera to scream, the camera slips off the track and slams into her face. As they’re taking her to the hospital, the security guard says something to Bo, who takes Kody aside and asks what she was doing in the house last night. She defends herself and wanders off, certain the house is doing its nasty work again, when she sees the fridge has been plugged in despite it being fake. She opens it and sees Cally’s head, but it turns out to be a prop. Kody’s clearly cracking at the seams, and Persia is using the opportunity to turn the crew against her.

Kody tries to sleep it off, and Rob shows up at her trailer, letting her know the stand-in is dead. They make out some more, and Persia walks in on them, giving a snide aside. The police are now investigating, and Mr. Hankers walks by, confusing Kody. Kody and Rob take the afternoon off and just drive around. As night draws in, he asks if she wants to come back to his room and “practice”, which Kody does not get at all, which is a little endearing. She goes to her trailer to get her script, but when she comes back out he’s gone. Cally calls to her, and she follows her sister’s ghostly wails into the house. She brings Kody into the basement, where she runs into Bo with a few crates of explosives. It turns out the secret ending of the movie is the whole house exploding! He’s keeping it a secret so the he can shoot real horror on the his actor’s faces, which is a form of method acting that isn’t uncommon in horror movies but probably shouldn’t extend to explosions. Rats attack them, they run out, and Bo tells her if one more bad thing goes wrong they’ll have to stop production.

They’re finally shooting up in the attic to do the goo scene. They block it out, and then Bo and the others leave for a break. While Kody and Rob make out in the attic, the machine turns on. Instead of the harmless, odorless goo, a sour smelling green mix comes out, and it’s burning hot. They try to get to the door, which is locked, and Kody decides to make it to the window instead. The goo is getting higher and higher, threatening to drown them. Kody calls out to her sister, hoping she’ll help. She manages to break the window, but when she turns around Rob, who is face down in the goo. She manages to resuscitate him, and he’s rushed off to the hospital.

Production continues with a simpler scene. Bo decides to shoot the dinner scene next and warns everyone about any slip ups. Kody meets her movie parents and is annoyed that they don’t look anything like her real parents. She sees the knife prop and gets scared. She sleeps in her trailer again until she hears Cally calling her. She’s led again into the basement, where Cally manifests. They talk for a minute, and then Cally fades into a white mist that surrounds Kody, and she’s dragged into the darkness.

Kody shows up to film the dinner scene seemingly in a better mood. The scene has added a fight between Kody and Persia over the kitchen knife. They start to block out the scene, and then Kody grabs the knife and stabs it through Persia’s hand. Bo drags her away and prepares to take her off the production, and then she grabs a spotlight and holds it to his face.

We then cut to Kody tied up in the basement. She hears several rats and sees through a crack in the wall the housekeeper, the handyman, and Mr. Lurie. They’re playing with the rats and feeding them. The rats chew the skin off Mr. Hankers hands in a weird scene. They laugh about how Cally thinks she’s acting under her own free will. They leave, and Cally comes down to flaunt what she’s done in Kody’s body. It turns out she didn’t kill Kody because now dear Kody is going to go to jail forever and pay for the things Cally’s done. Kody tries to convince her that the three are playing her for a fool. Cally takes her to the three, who are ready to kill Kody. Their skin blisters off, revealing three large rats. Cally tells Kody to run. The rats try to bring Kody back, but Cally manages to hold them off for her. Kody makes it out of the house, and it seems Cally enacted the final plan, because the whole house explodes behind her, knocking her to the ground. The rats fly into the air, which is a hilarious image, and she sees the black shadows of the tortured spirits leave the house before passing out.

Cut to Rob and Kody back in L.A., still dating. I guess everyone who saw her stab a woman and burn the face off a man died in the explosion? Unless the police take “ghosts” as an alibi. She gets something in the mail, the only film ever shot at 99 Fear Street. In the blaze of the house explosion, they see the figure of a young girl give a sad wave. Cally saying goodbye.

Favorite Line

“Now I understand why they gave me this yellow shirt! It’s because it’ll look good with all the green!” Rob joked.

Fear Street Trends

There’s a lot of shop talk in the book about making a horror movie. At one point Kody gets a step-by-step explanation of how the zoom shot works. Bo says her role has “Winona Ryder written all over it” which I’m not sure is true or not. Bo also wears Grateful Dead t-shirts, possibly to show how chill he is. The final film is on VHS, and I think we’re supposed to assume Kody’s trailer is fancy because it has a “cellular phone” in it.

Rating

I like the concept of this a lot. Filming a scary movie in the house it’s based on is a fun idea, and Kody returning to play her sister is pretty good, but the concepts don’t really go anywhere. It also feels a little out of place after the second book, and the ending is a little rushed. Still, I’ll give it three fake heads out of five.

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99 Fear Street – The Second Horror

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I was not really sure where this book was going but I gotta admit I loved the results.

The Cover

the-second-horror

The cover (pulled from this Fear Street blog) is better than the first one, but not by much. The tribal spears and skeleton look way out of place and ruin a otherwise perfectly serviceable cover. The boy is supposed to be Brandt, and I’m not sure which girl that is, but no matter what she’s inconsequential to the story. I do love their very 90s clothes.

Tagline

The House of Evil

This is the only thing resembling a tagline I can find. It is in fact the house of evil.

Summary

We open with a prologue of Cally watching Brandt and his family move in. She comments on how cute Brandt is but she’s evil now so she doesn’t care. It’s unclear why the house is so desperate to be filled with people, though parts of this book may try to explain that, but it also went thirty years without being lived in, which seems a long time to wait. The motives are bad, is all I’m going to say.

Brandt watches his dad move in his priceless tribal masks while holding his cat. His family just left a small isolated island for the first time in years, and they’re rejoining society. As soon as all these “tribal” elements were introduced I spent most of the book getting ready to cringe. We’ll see if I was right to feel this way.

The house is still filled with rats. Mr. Hankers shows up immediately to offer his services as handyman/rat exterminator. Brandt helps his dad hang up some bronze spears, when one falls out of his hands, piercing his cat. Like other Fear Street books where an animal dies, the parents are pretty apathetic towards this. His parents get pizza for dinner and discuss how things have changed in the States. They tell Brandt to think of high school like an anthropology assignment, which is actually a pretty good scene. Apparently while in Mapolo, Brandt was a prophecy boy who was supposed to break the spell on this woman. I highlighted this assuming this would come up again. It does not.

At night, Brandt hears the scratching of rats and footsteps in the attic. He finds a raccoon that attacks him and then jumps out a window. His parents wake up and scold him for taking matters into his own hands when he has his dramatic pause “condition”. Cally was watching the whole time and is pleased by Brandt, and she clearly has some ideas up her sleeve.

The next day they’re still moving in. Brandt asks to take the car for a drive and careens onto the highway. He gets distracted by a gorge that is near Fear Street which doesn’t make sense in my geography of it but whatever and nearly slams into an oncoming truck. He nearly goes off the edge swerving out of the way and then goes back at eighty miles an hour, telling the audience it was fun. He gets back home and is thinking about Shadyside when he feels something bite him. It leaves no mark though and his parents can’t find anything. Mrs. Nordstrom the housekeeper has also been added to the roster.

Brandt tells his parents he thinks the house is haunted, which excites his father. He tells Brandt he’ll look into it. Brandt walks to school and runs into a girl named Abbie, who tells him his house is evil while also flirting with him a little. They look up at the window and think they see his dad hanging there, and both of them run inside only to find his suit instead. They laugh as they walk out, embarrassed at the mistake.

Brandt gets to school, where he meets Jinny (not a real name) and Meg. They have a kind of flirtatious interaction, until Jinny’s boyfriend Jon shows up and is instantly jealous of Brandt. He tells Brandt to try out for basketball, and Brandt thinks it’d be a good idea, even though he knows his parents would never let him with his dramatic pause “condition”. He goes to tryouts after school, where Jon is a little aggressive but still friendly. Brandt realizes how out of shape he is when he can barely keep up after a few laps.

At home he tells his parents he joined the student senate, which I assume is a debate team style thing. He goes up to his room, and the whole place smells rotten and sour, and a light is coming out of his closet when there is no lightbulb in it. A white smoke pours out of it and starts strangling him. His parents run in, and it disappears, and Cally tells us that she’s going to kill him.

Brandt goes to basketball practice the next day and seems to be doing well, until he’s checked and lands on his arm. A black bruise immediately forms and starts spreading up his arm. He manages to hide it, but the coach tells him to sit out. Jon looks pretty pleased with himself, and he’s worried he’s made an enemy. At night he hears something in the attic again and goes up to investigate, finding Cally’s journal. She wrote down the entire history of the house and includes the line “I died tonight.” He just leaves it on the floor and goes downstairs I guess? Stine really loves those cliffhangers and then jumping forward to not deal with them.

In chemistry class, which he shares with Jinny, Meg, and Jon, both girls try to be his partner. Jon is clearly mad when Jinny claims him. He makes “study plans” with Jinny on Saturday and Meg on Sunday. At basketball practice, Jon gets very aggressive and knocks Brandt down, and his arm snaps. He dislocates his shoulder, which the coach pops back in and tells Brandt politely that he may not be cut out for basketball. Brandt’s dejected and now has to explain to his parents why his arm is in a sling. He also realizes he made plans with Abbie on Saturday and has to tell her he can’t do it, which makes her pretty sad.

Jinny shows up on Saturday, and Brandt shows her around. She notices a leather pouch around his neck and asks about it, and he tells her it’s a good luck charm that saved his life once. She goes downstairs to get a soda, and he hears her scream. When he gets to the kitchen, she’s covered in blood that’s pouring from her wrists. His parents come in and try to calm her down. They wrap her wrists, and she tells them the glass was pulled out of her hands and shattered in midair. After they take her to the hospital, when she finally gets home, she’s clearly upset but does let him know there will be a next time. Brandt walks home and notices a dark, shadowy figure following him.

He runs out of fear and straight into Abbie. They sit on the porch and talk for a while. He tries to ask her on a date, but she tells him she can’t. She leaves, his parents call him inside, and they’re clearly upset that Brandt invited a girl over when they weren’t supposed to be home. They worry about him overdoing it with all these girls, and he storms upstairs. At night he hears noises in the attic again and goes upstairs, where a new page has been added in the diary: “I made Jinny bleed. Abbie is next.”

Brandt is worried about Abbie, but he doesn’t know her house number or her phone number. He goes on his date with Meg the next day, where they watch a movie. Meg has a fluffy white cat that scares him a few times. She starts making out with him, right as Jinny comes knocking at the door. The girls argue for a while, killing the mood. Brandt heads home and looks in the attic again, where the diary now reads: “Brandt, you can’t save Abbie.”

Brandt’s new plan is to steal the diary and hide it so the ghost can’t find it, which is kind of stupid but whatever. He goes to hide it in his room and starts hearing a little boy’s voice calling out for his mom. James is calling out for his parents again, lost and alone in the walls. Brandt read about James’ plight in Cally’s diary and shouts for him. He finds a mallet and breaks the walls until he finds the skeleton of a small boy holding the skeleton of a dog. Instead of calling the police immediately like a normal human, he waits an hour for his parents to come home. His dad thinks all the weird doings might be a poltergeist, stemming from the child, and then they call the police.

With the body gone, they think the haunting might be over. The next Saturday, when Abbie comes over, Brandt no longer feels a need to warn her. He tells her about their time in the Pacific and discusses with her the belief that people have two spirits: one that is a life force tied to blood, and the other is the personality, tied to your soul, presumably. Abbie asks him if he’s ever seen a ghost, and he tells her no. He gets distracted by a phone call for a minute, and then Abbie screams. He runs into the room to find her pinned beneath a suit of metal armor that had been secured to the wall in his dad’s study. After they get her out, he tells her the truth, that he found Cally’s diary and it warned him about this. She tells him the house is evil, and he might believe her.

Brandt is followed by the dark shadow some more. Jon harasses him, and he gets weird in response and tries to follow him to keep from being alone. He looks through the diary again but finds no new information, so he turns to his dad’s research. He finds a book on the nature of evil, and we’re given this:

Evil never dies. Those who do its work can be conquered. But the evil never goes away. It only seeks a new vessel. Anyone can be the victim of evil. Even the kindest heart, the gentlest soul, is at its mercy.

Which illustrates how Cally has been changed by the house. Cally tries to kill him with laughter (no, really), and when Jinny and Meg come back over, they’re both impaled with blow darts. They live, but it’s a good chance Brandt won’t be getting another date. Abbie shows up suddenly when Brandt reads that Cally is planning to kill her, and when he tries to warn her, she laughs and calls him out for reading her diary. Yes, Abbie was Cally all along! Her body stretches until she is ghost Cally again, and she tells him she’ll kill him so they can be trapped in the house together forever. She hits him with a hatchet, but he doesn’t bleed or die. This is when Brandt reveals his dramatic pause”condition” is in fact that he’s a zombie!

Brandt tells Cally the whole story, how two years ago he was accidentally poisoned (at this point I am full cringe). His parents took him to a sorcerer in the village, who tells them their sons spirit is still there, but his life force is missing. The sorcerer found a drifter and invited him to his home for food, where he gave him a drugged tea. He cut the drifter’s hair and nails and put them in the pouch that is on Brandt’s neck, and then dressed Brandt in his clothes. He performed a ceremony until dawn, in which the drifter’s spirit passed onto Brandt. Cally is very excited to hear this, and she tells Brandt they’ll be together forever in the house, and she goes to kiss him right as the dark shadow makes itself known.It’s the drifter! Come to take back his life force! The ghost pulls the pouch from Brandt’s neck, and Brandt’s life starts to drain away. His skin turns green and falls off, and the drifter exclaims that he can hear his heart beating. Cally wails in anger, as she’s now, again, alone.

Favorite Line

I can live without basketball, Brandt thought. I’ve got plenty of other activities to keep me busy. Mainly, girls!

Fear Street Trends

The girls are described in detail in this book to no surprise. Abbie/Cally prefers oversized sweaters and tights, and at one point wears a blue vest with faded jeans, the most 90s look. Jinny dresses sexier in a black sweater, black skirt, and black tights. Brandt also jams to a cassette tape in his car.

Rating

All of the Fear Street trilogies feel very much like Stine wrote them in the same day, and so they interconnected well. This feels less true, especially since I read the Third Horror immediately after. It seems a lot more like Stine had some ideas he wanted to throw together, and most of them are good ideas. This one was certainly less derivative than the First Horror, and the twist ending was too good. I’m going to give it three zombie boys out of five.

99 Fear Street – The First Horror

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It’s Halloween on Fear Street and the ghouls are out! To celebrate this fiendish month, I started reading the 99 Fear Street series. I don’t think I read these back in the day and have zero nostalgia for them, but I’m told by others that they remember them fondly. Let’s dive into this haunted house!

The Cover

the first horror

The cover (borrowed from this Fear Street blog) is alright. I’m not sure which twin is supposed to be which, though I guess Kody is more tomboyish and Cally is more femme. I don’t really get the knife in the book. I think it might’ve been more imposing to just have a shot of the door, or the 99 splattered in blood. It’s alright, but I don’t love it.

Tagline

The House of Evil

I’m not actually sure if this counts as a tagline. It’s alright. It tells you exactly what to expect.

Summary

We start in 1960, where two boys, Jimmy and Andy, are doing construction work on a house in Fear Street. Andy calls it a bad luck job and mentions there were bodies found when digging out the foundation for the house. Jimmy cuts himself by accident, and a crack opens in the foundation, pouring out rats. A strange shadow emerges and blankets the two, and they’re dead.

We jump ahead to Cally Frasier, her sister Kody, their brother James, and their parents in the now, which is the 90s. Kody and Cally are twins who bicker on occasion and clearly see each other as the better twin. Kody is described as “quick and smart” while Cally is the funny one. Neither of these things are ever proven. They arrive on Fear Street, and all kids are disappointed to see how run down their house is. The house is old and peeling with parts torn off and streaked with brown. It’s also clearly based on the Amityville house with its two large eye-like windows on top. Kody is instantly proven a believer in ghosts. She tells everyone just by looking at it that it’s haunted, and Cally jokes to her that she thought their last apartment was haunted too.

Cally is almost immediately injured when a branch falls through the porch roof, but she manages to jump out of the way. While her family helps her up, Mr. Lurie the real estate agent arrives. He’s a little strange. He’s got white hair but appears young and smiles even after they tell him about the accident. He also lets slip that the house hasn’t been lived in for thirty years, and I think after a while they’d probably just bulldoze the place but I don’t actually know anything about houses.

The kids explore the house. James wants a game room and insists they use the basement. He and his sisters go down to look, and they’re attacked by rats. Cally tells her mom that a rat jumped on her, to which her mom replies, “I’ve never heard of a rat doing that.” which seems insane because rats can jump like crazy as far as I’ve ever seen. They decide to go out for lunch, and they meet a man on their doorstep, Mr. Hankers. He tells them he’s a handyman and they can pay him peanuts to fix up the house, which should’ve bee suspicious. They tell him about the rat problem, and he goes to get traps and spray to tamp down on them.

The next day the girls go out to find jobs. Kody’s hands get slammed in a window which I think is also straight out of Amityville Horror. She’s not really injured, though, and the girls go to town. Cally finds a job at a little clothing shop, and she waits to meet back up with her sister at a cafe, where she meets a cute boy named Anthony. Kody arrives soon after, disappointed she didn’t get there first to meet Anthony and that she doesn’t have a cute job too. They head back home and are jumped on by their brother’s new dog, named Cubby. Their parents tell them they got a housekeeper who, like Mr. Hankers showed up on their doorstep. It’s a real American Horror Story Murder House in here. Kody’s dad tells her she’ll work for him in the summer fixing up the house, and he’ll pay her hourly and they’ll treat it like a real job. They have a roast for dinner, but when their dad starts to cut it, his hand jerks, and he accidentally stabs himself.

Kody is now convinced their house is haunted and that a ghost attacked their dad. Cally doesn’t really believe her and tells her to stop. But at night, Cally hears a strange knocking at her door, and when she goes up to answer it there’s no one there.

They start doing work on the house the next day. Cally holds the ladder as Kody climbs up to the roof, but something starts shaking the ladder so hard Cally can’t hold it down. The whole thing tips back, and Kody falls, though she’s not severely injured. Their dad starts to lose it a little after that, just repeating, “So many accidents.” Cally writes in her diary everything that happened, goes to sleep, and when she wakes up all her clothes have been thrown out of her closet.

Everyone at the kitchen table is irritable and mad. Kody argues with her mom over eggs, their dad is arguing with the housekeeper, James and his dog are running around. Cally goes outside for some air, but on their porch someone splatters in red paint: 99. Kody tells them the ghost is trying to communicate with them. James comes back and says Cubby ran outside. The sisters agree to go help him look.

They can’t find the dog anywhere, but they do run into Anthony. He and Cally talk some while they look for the dog. She asks him if he lives on Fear Street, and he gets serious when he tells her no. She let’s him know she lives on 99 Fear Street, which shocks him. He asks her if they told her what happened there, and she invites him back to the house to tell the whole story.

They don’t find the dog, but that’s less interesting now that there’s a boy in the house. Anthony starts telling the story, claiming the “town historian” told them, which seems like not a thing Shadyside would have but don’t worry he’ll show up later. He tells them about Simon and Angelica Fear and how they were evil. They would kidnap people and kill them, dumping the bodies. Specifically in coffins. With the Fear crest on them. Which is insane. If you’re going to do a crime, don’t plant a bunch of evidence, and don’t bother with the coffins. It seems more likely they’d find a dumping ground of skeletons, but whatever, this is Fear Street. The bodies were dug up when they were laying foundation for the house, and the owner told them to keep building (which reminds me of an A Haunting episode that enrages me, in which they find a body and are like fuck it we’re going to keep building our garbage house for our children to live in and proceed to tell no one). Anyway, the guy building the house moved his family in, and one day he came home to find his family sitting in the living room, all of their heads removed, as though they’d been torn off. Everyone in Shadyside knew the story, and that’s why no one’s lived in the house for thirty years.

They’re distracted when James starts screaming because he hears Cubby barking from somewhere. It sounds like he’s outside, and they go to look, but they can’t find him. They go back to the kitchen, where he’s loudest. They search the whole house and can’t find anything. Cally goes to bed that night, unnerved by the story and by Cubby’s mysterious barking, and the ghost knocking happens at her door again. She manages to spring the door open, surprising her sister, who’s on the other side. Kody tells her she was doing it to make her believe the house was haunted, the same reason she smeared the 99 in red paint on their porch. Cally tells her she can’t do that, and they should keep the house’s history from their dad, who’s been getting more and more neurotic as more things keep happening. They both go back to bed, but Cally can’t sleep. She gets up, goes to wash her face, but what hits her is green, putrid, chunky water.

The whole sink starts filling up with what seems like vomit (and I’m trying not to vomit as I type that sentence). James wakes up as well as she’s screaming, shouting about hearing Cubby again, and then their mom starts screaming too. She’s covered in blood that’s been dripping from the ceiling, their bed completely soaked in it, and their dad goes upstairs to see what’s causing it. He staggers back down a few minutes later completely horrified, as he’s found the head of a woman and two children above their bed.

They call the police. They find no bodies in the attic, and the family spends the whole night cleaning the sour gunk out of the bathroom. They don’t finish until 5 a.m., and the whole family is exhausted. Their dad decides to call the real estate agent, especially when he hears the stories the kids tell him, but in looking at his business card, they find no phone number. This really should’ve been a red flag way earlier, but it’s the 90s. They call the operator to find the listing, and they’re told it doesn’t exist. Cally and her dad drive to the location they have, but when they get there it’s an empty lot.

With no idea what to do, they go to the town historian, an older man named Mr. Stuyvesant. He works the reference room at the library, which probably means he’s a librarian with an interest in town history, but I don’t know the qualifications for “town historian” so whatever. As a librarian, I absolutely love the exchange where he’s ready to discuss local history, and they tell him they’re looking for a real estate agent, to which he becomes noticeably annoyed and responds, “Have you tried the Yellow Pages?” My job would certainly be easier if people just learned to Google. But they tell him the name, which he says sounds familiar. He pulls out a historical record and finds an obituary for Jason Lurie:

Jason Lurie, real estate agent. In July of 1960, found his family murdered in the house he had built for them. Hanged himself one month later in the same house. House located at 99 Fear Street.

Not specifically stated to be an obituary, but terribly written anyway. I have no idea why they would write his death like that. Anyway, the whole family is freaked out. They can’t move, since they have no money, and they can’t sue a ghost. It does raise a few questions about them owning the house, but I guess they must’ve signed a legal document at some point. Still, I think you could get out of a haunted house based on ghost realtor (and I did in fact search whether anyone has sued over living in a haunted house and found this). They’re strangely trapped in the actual house, as they seem to refuse to leave, including Cally not going to her job. I think I’d find literally anywhere else to go after all that, but whatever.

Cally’s only spot of happiness is Anthony, who she’s been seeing. They’re going to the movies, and for some reason she has “a great idea” to invite him over for dinner while her parents are away. It sort of feels like she thinks this a great opportunity to do it, but Kody will be at dinner with them, so I don’t know why else she would invite him over, especially since he’s clearly terrified of the house, and they all have every reason to be. They make spaghetti and brownies, and the three hang out for a while before going to the movie. Anthony offers to help with dishes, but as he’s washing them in the sink, the garbage disposal starts, mangling his fingers. As a side note, a long time ago I Googled if it was possible to actually cut a finger off in your garbage disposal, and I think the answer is no, but it seems debatable (has Mythbusters ever done this?). His hand comes up a stump, and they have to drive him to the hospital, where they’re able to reattach the fingers, but he can’t use them.

Their dad seems to break from this, and refocuses efforts on cleaning up the house. The housemaid says something about the house being cursed, and I sort of assumed she was a ghost too, but she never really does anything sinister. He sends everyone off to bed, but James comes to Cally hoping she’ll comfort him. She goes to sleep, and in the middle of the night she hears him crying. Like Cubby, he’s trapped in the beyond. They can hear him, and he calls out to them. Cally’s mom sees him briefly as a ghost, but no one else does. They take a sledgehammer to the wall, and a lot of rats come pouring out. Her dad starts pulling the wall away with his bare hands, and then their mom falls on the stairs, breaking her arm. They try to call an ambulance, but the phone is dead. Their dad thinks he hears James in the attic, and when he goes up the ladder, a shadowy figure consumes him.

They manage to drive their mom to the hospital. They called their cousins, who offered to let them move in with them. When they return to the house, Cally tries to sleep again, but she hears the knocking at her door. She pulls it open, expecting Kody to be there, but instead its a ghostly figure in white, wearing her own face. The house absorbs her, the floor turning to a bubbling tar that drags her down. Kody tries to save her, but she’s drawn into the darkness. (Stranger Things has some answering to do, I think, with this ghostly otherworld.)

Her family has a funeral for Cally and James I guess. Cally seems to have absorbed all of the house’s anger as well, as she hates her family for still being alive, her twin sister in particular. Luckily the ghost real estate agent lures in another family with an attractive teen son, and Cally is ready to do some haunting. TO BE CONTINUED…

Favorite Line

“You’re not interested in his story! You’re interested in his bod!” Kody accused.

Fear Street Trends

No notables show up, though I believe The Corner, the coffee shop were the twins meet Anthony, has shown up before, and I think might be the one our protagonist works at in First Date, but I could be wrong. Simon and Angelica, of course, get name dropped. This was published in 1994, a year after the Fear Street Saga came out, so the details are a little more concrete, unlike Party Summer. I don’t recall them filling mass graves, but it may have been offscreen. We don’t really get their perspective after they move to Shadyside.

Fashion is truly alive with the girls wearing faded jeans and GAP t-shirts. Anthony is stated to wear one earring, which is how we know he’s a dream boy.

I realized that the idea of doing construction work as a teen summer job is a trend here and in other Stine books, which feels like an old fashioned thing. I don’t know anything about construction work, but it doesn’t seem like something most kids do as say a summer job.

Rating

The First Horror is derivative and just a bit cruel. I can tell Stine took the majority of his inspiration from The Amityville Horror (which is about as bleak) and Poltergeist. I liked it more than I expected, but not by much. Three decapitated bodies out of five.