Fear Park: The Last Scream

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The Cover

the last scream

This is the least inspired cover from the series (pulled from its Amazon page). I’ve enjoyed the mix of theme park imagery and screams, the two work well together, but this falls back on tired things. The best thing about it is Dierdre’s outfit.

Tagline

It’s closing time… for Dierdre.

Dull, boring, blah. There’s no menace to it. “Time for the last ride” might’ve been a better one. I don’t know. It’s not good.

Summary

We’re introduced to Dierdre dreaming about the Hatchet Show at Fear Park, and the text tries to fake us out where she thinks it’s a dream and then thinks it’s not but she wakes up. She reminds us of what happened in the other books, and she mentions the park is closed for a while since they’re doing more safety checks on it. Which is crazy. A literal bomb went off in the house of mirrors. It seems like it’d be shut down for the rest of the summer.

Dierdre goes downstairs and finds her dad choking and pulling worms out of his throat. We cut to Robin Fear, who is in his father’s study making worms appear in Jason Bradley’s throat. I’m realizing that Robin has near infinite power. He can cause people to murder each other, cause people to commit suicide, and make people explode from the inside out, and yet for some reason he just cannot get this park shut down. Anyway, Meghan comes in and asks him what he’s doing, and he tells her he’s casting a protection spell. Meghan tells him she’s tired of trying to keep the park safe, and she’s tired of being immortal, and I don’t blame her. It seems like she’s had a bum rap this whole time. Robin’s tired of her complaining and decides to kill her off as soon as possible. This starts a trend of Robin starting to choke people to death and changing his mind, having to play off his throat grabbing in an insincere way.

Dierdre and her father get to the park, with him exhausted and scared. He refused to go to the doctor, and she thinks it’s because he’s embarrassed, but he tells her he sunk all of his money into the park, every last scent of it. The money Dierdre’s mother left, Dierdre’s college fund, and took out huge loans to cover it. They’re broke. They’ve got nothing left. This is at least a reason for them to keep the park open. Dierdre promises to do what she can to help him out. Robin comes in, and she announces to him they’re doing everything they can to keep the park open. He’s clearly annoyed and tells her he has his shift at the Ferris wheel, and as he leaves, Dierdre gets a call warning her to stay away from Robin Fear.

Robin storms away and imagines straight up hitting Dierdre, which is maybe the most upsetting thing he’s done. He steps into his booth on the Ferris wheel and is so filled with anger that he yanks down on the speed control, sending it into a terrifying frenzy, which I’m not sure if Ferris wheels are made for. I don’t know if you’d build something like that and give it a speed control like that. A bunch of guards run up and reach for the control, but he tells them it’s stuck and they have to get Mr. Bradley. No one even tries to touch the lever again, and when Mr. Bradley shows up, Robin shoves him into the wheel. He reaches down again to strangle him to death, but then he remembers that there are people right behind him and maybe this isn’t the best time to do this. He’s more surprised when Meghan shows up. Shes asks him if he dies, if then the park will close, and Robin wishes that was true. As they leave, Robin sees a skinny, redheaded boy staring at him and feels unnerved.

Dierdre receives more phone calls as she leaves the the trailer to go see her dad in the hospital. She runs into Robin, who she acts coldly to, and she blurts out that they have no money and they have to keep the park open. She’s stopped by the same redheaded boy, and the text cuts back to Robin, who watches their conversation from a distance. It must be so difficult for Stine to keep a sense of suspense and mystery through the entire book. He sees the two of them talking furtively, and Dierdre looks unhappy to hear what he’s saying. for some reason this puts Robin in a panic, and he races back home.

He calls Dierdre under the pretense of asking about her dad, and she acts very distant and cold to him, refusing to talk to him. This convinces Robin that the redhead boy is an immortal. He goes to the park to work and sees Dierdre and the redhead kid there together. It’s very clear the two of them are on a date, and I’m sort of in love with the idea of a villain thinking their significant other is suspicious of them and not cheating on them. Though this does paint Dierdre in a bad light, as it’s clear she either doesn’t know how to break things off with boys or she’s uninterested in doing that.

He overhears her call him Gary, and he stalks them around the park for a while. He sees them get on one of those swing rides and starts to cast a spell to cause Gary’s swing to break, but gets distracted when a kid starts screaming. In the confusion, the ride starts up, and one of the swings breaks free, throwing itself off into a power line where the body is electrocuted. In his excitement, Robin runs up to it, realizing with horror that it’s not Gary at all! He can’t tell if dumb luck saved Gary, or if he’s an immortal who has magic of his own.

Dierdre goes to visit her dad, Robin unsuccessfully tries to strangle Mr. Bradley again, unsuccessfully tries to kill Gary again, Robin gets bullied by some rando, Meghan begs to grow old, and then in a strange scene Meghan and Robin get into an argument that ends with them literally tearing the flesh off each other’s faces. There’s actually a kind of nice scene between the two of them where Robin puts their faces back together with magic and they talk for a bit. He asks her if she remembers a Gary, and she says sure. Gary Barth.

Dierdre is at the park, and Robin finds her. He forces her to walk with him. She’s freaked out and uncertain and at some point just turns around runs away from him, framing it as just wanting to race. She buys some cotton candy, and Robin casts a spell that makes it stick across her face, choking her. He pretends to go get help, but thank goodness Gary arrives with a cup of water, which is all that’s needed to dissolve it. Robin runs up to them. Deirdre gets nervous and tells him that Gary was her boyfriend last year, and now that he’s back she wants to pick things up with him again. Robin thinks this is a ploy and she’s lying. I don’t know why he thinks this. He returns home and goes through his spellbooks, trying to figure out how to get rid of Gary. He finds a passage that tells him an immortal can only be killed by the dead, and he concocts a scheme, inviting Meghan to the park with him.

He gets Meghan, Deirdre, and Gary to meet him at the Hatchet Show. The lights dim, the four of them take their seats, and the actors walk across the stage. But when the actors turn around, they start screaming. They’re not actors at all! They’re zombies back from the dead! They crawl out to the audience, but instead of attacking the others, they drag down Robin, raising their axes, and chopping him to pieces. The girls cheer as the evil is defeated. They hug each other and thank each other for helping out with their plan. It was Meghan sending the messages, and it was Meghan who turned Deirdre against Robin, and they found the spell to bring the kids back to life and engineered a way to bring Robin here. They explain all this to Gary, who must be really confused but seems to just roll with it. The dead kids run off to enjoy the rides they died for, before disappearing forever.

Favorite Line

Robin smoothed the skin over Meghan’s cheek with two fingers.

“Like new.” She smiled.

“No–don’t smile!” Robin warned. “You’ll crease it.”

Fear Street Trends

Actual fashions this time around! It’s so weird to read about robin being in “baggy chinos”. All the boys are in baggy pants, Gary wears a muscle shirt, Dierdre wears a scrunchie (so 90s!), as well as pink crop tops with cut offs.

Rating

I’m torn on this one. I found this the most boring of any of the Fear Park books. It’s repetitive and there’s nothing that actually happens in it for most of the book, but the ending is probably the best in the series and a really good, satisfying ending to this trilogy, and it honestly ties everything in together. So I’m going to give it three throttled necks out of five.

Fear Park: The Loudest Scream

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The Cover

the loudest scream

I like the cover (taken from its Goodreads page). It reminds me of that weird cover I found of Goodnight Kiss, with the sinister merry-go-round. Like many things that evoke a childlike innocence, it’s pretty easy to make them creepy, and I’m fond of this image. It’s unclear what the girl on the cover is screaming about, and her outfit looks a little old fashioned, so I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be Meghan or Deirdre.

Tagline

Buy a ticket to terror.

That is a good tagline. Thematic, sinister, but no spoilers. It’s what would be on the movie poster.

Summary

We open about where we left off. Robin and Deirdre have just attended Paul’s funeral after his unfortunate accident at the Ferris wheel. Deirdre is very sad about this for good reason. She’s the one who found him after all, and they were dating, except she was cheating on him with Robin, which makes his appearance at the funeral a little crass. Robin tells her that Fear Park is cursed, that Nicholas Fear cursed it all those years ago, and that maybe her father should consider giving up on building that park. As Deirdre babbles about her father’s dream and how sad she is about her dead boyfriend, robin considers killing her as well, but not before a phantom walks out of the graveyard, someone who looks just like Paul. Only it’s not. Jared is a year younger than Paul, and Deirdre warns us he’s “kind of wild”. So just like every guy who attends Shadyside.

Jared snaps at Deirdre when he sees her, though he doesn’t bring up her bringing her new boyfriend to her now dead boyfriend’s funeral. He’s instead more concerned about her father, who’s still going through with building Fear Park. Robin is delighted by his anger. Jared threatens to go down to Mr. Bradley’s office himself and have it out, and Deirdre is worried about any trouble he might bring. As she and Robin walk away, he catches his reflection in a car window. Half of his face is fine, but the other half has sunken in, turned purple and grey, and started to rot. He quickly ditches Deirdre and hurries back to his manor.

He goes into his father’s library and finds his books. At no point does he explain why he’s remained immortal since seventeen, so pretty soon after the last book, and his father didn’t, or what happened to his mother who returned as a skull-faced ghost and then promptly disappeared from the story. He chants, channels some of that purple smoke, and fixes his face, only to be interrupted by a noise in the house. He goes to investigate and finds Meghan waiting for him. Meghan, for the most part, seems unbothered by anything she’s learned about the Fears. Robin tells us that he told Meghan he wanted to stay immortal to stop the Fear curse, rather than cause it like he’s actually doing, and he took her along in his journey. It seems all Robin has done with this is lock her in the manor. It’s been about sixty years since this would’ve happened, and Meghan seems only mildly annoyed that she has to stay inside while Robin gets to go out and play. We don’t see a ton of manipulation from him, which would’ve made for some good villainy, and it’s unclear why she agreed to this or how she feels about all this witchcraft nonsense. When we do get her perspective later on, it’s all about how jealous she is of Deirdre. Typical girl stuff amiright.

Deirdre goes to visit her father at his office in Fear Park and finds Jared there instead. He stammers through an apology and tells her he needs a job for the summer, that he could take over for Paul. He’s doing this as a ploy, of course, hoping to get on the inside so that he can cause trouble from there. Mr. Bradley walks in, and Jared has trouble keeping his cool, but when Mr. Bradley explains that all the positions are filled, he snaps at him and puts the blame for Paul’s death at his feet. He storms out where his friends are waiting, picks up a rock, and tosses it. They hear a shriek , and Jared realizes he accidentally he hit one of the monkeys in the park’s zoo portion. I’d always gotten the impression that parks are stocked with rides and things that any teenager could pick up the controls on without causing horrible death or mild inconvenience, and the animals they keep are better suited for a zoo. Honestly if I went to an amusement park with a lion preserve, I’d be worried about those lions.

Anyway, he gets into it with the animal keeper Gunther, who threatens to have them removed, and the boys walk away. Robin sees them and catches up, telling them he knows exactly how they can get even with Gunther. He leads them through the woods until they come to a cliff. It’s unclear how tall this cliff is, but it doesn’t really match my geography for the Fear Woods. But the story needs it. Robin says that Gunther feeds the lions from this cliff, and they can see them below. This seems exceptionally unsafe. If nothing else, there shouldn’t be an overhang where any old child could slip and fall to be mauled by lions. There would at least be a railing, but again, amusement parks seem like the kind of place where they would cut costs like this. Robin tells the boys he’ll let them in, and if they want to come along and scare Gunther when it’s feeding time, he won’t say a thing.

The boys lie in wait for Gunther, discussing how this might maybe be a bad idea, but then they see him walking up the trail to the cliff. The boys flank him as he comes to the feeding spot, and they do the whole song and dance of “I’m gonna push you off the cliff”, and as they threaten him, a strange purple smoke spills over the cliff. The boys start to back off, and this is where I wonder why Robin needed these punks at all. What happens is Gunther becomes possessed and just walks off the edge, falling into the lion pit below, where he is torn apart. This required no witnesses, and no one starts to suspect someone pushed him. Later when the police arrive, it’s an accident. It would’ve been far better if the boys became possessed and started tearing at each other like the kids with the hatches, sending all but Jared over the cliff. But, no. Jared and co. run away, even running into some security guards, and at no point is it brought up that they might be the culprits.

Deirdre and Robin find the body, the police are called. The lions get shot with tranquilizers because they’ve tasted human flesh and now want more, which is really kind of big-headed of us to assume that we taste so darn good it makes carnivores go into a feeding frenzy. As they walk away, Robin almost decides right then and there to smash Deirdre’s head in with a hammer but is stopped when a few workers come by. We cut to the next day, where Robin tells Meghan he has to go to the park to make sure nothing happens. Meghan, being trapped alone in the house for the past sixty years, her anxiety gets the better of her, and she decides to go the park. It’s actually kind of a nice scene, where Meghan marvels at the modern fashions and new electrics, and her heart is warmed to see Fear Park operational. Until she sees Robin, making out with Deirdre. She runs back in tears towards the mansion.

Robin and Deirdre, meanwhile, are enjoying their break from work as they walk around the park. He tries to convince her to go on the Ferris wheel with him so he can push her off the top, but she’s nervous because of that whole dead boyfriend thing. He tells her when you fall off a horse, you have to get back on, which I’m not sure is the exact same as the trauma of seeing your boyfriend sliced up by a machine meant to bring joy. She tells him no, and he goes back to his shift.

Jared and his buddies are watching the news, trying to figure out what to do about Gunther. They’ve figured out no one’s coming for them, but they do know there’s a loose end: Robin Fear. They decide to go to Fear Park and see what he knows, which may be the worst idea this gang of bad ideas has come up with. They go up to the ticket counter, where they are appropriately asked for tickets, and Jared flips out, saying he just needs to talk to someone. He gets so angry about being asked to pay entrance into the park, he grabs the man through the booth and starts shaking him violently. When security arrives, Jared has now changed his tune and says they can’t kick him out if he pays for a ticket, which is obviously wrong. Jared and co. quickly back away and find another entrance, sneaking into the Hall of Mirrors through the emergency exit. Robin sees them and starts to follow. To compound their mischief, the guys plant firecrackers along the route. Jared sees Robin watching them, and Robin quickly ducks out, delighted at this turn of events.

Robin finds Deirdre and points her to the Hall of Mirrors, telling her to take her turn. It’s great, he tells her, she’ll have a hoot. She turns around, telling him she’s got to get something to her dad first, but she’ll meet up with him later. Only slightly disappointed, Robin begins to do a spell, and possibly for the first time in this series, the magic words are written down. “Jadot kalisto,” Robin whispers, and “Exto denota.” I’m guessing this is some modified Latin, but I can’t tell you what it’s supposed to say. The air vibrates, and from within the Hall of Mirrors comes an explosion. A body with no head lands at Robin’s feet, and it seems to be raining body parts. I’m not an expert in explosions, I’ve only watched every single episode of Mythbusters, and I’m not sure if this is how that works? It makes more sense to see splattered and burned meat than say severed limbs, but maybe in the Fear Street universe people are built like those robots in the World’s End. Robin also watches Jared and his friends react with horror and then bolt. Bradley comes running up, presumably with firefighters in tow, and Robin grabs him, telling him he saw exactly who did this.

While the park is cleaned up, Deirdre goes home, exhausted, afraid, and defeated. She finds tucked in an envelope a news article from 1935 with a picture of the kids before the massacre happened. A picture of Robin Fear. Robin gets home after telling the police a description of four boys, and Meghan comes running at him with a knife. She plunges it into his chest, and he pulls it out, blood free, no damage. She tells him she saw him with another girl, and he tells her that girl is Deirdre Bradley. That he had to get close to her to make sure the park was running smoothly. That Meghan is the only girl for him. She seems to believe him, though he’s not sure and starts planning her demise.

Jared and co. are having a real rough day, and are trying to figure out what to do about it. One of the boys suggests running, but they know there’ll be police on the roads. Jared figures Robin Fear saw them, and he saw them planting firecrackers, which may be enough to clear them. They decide to go to him and get him to tell the police they’re innocent.

Deirdre sees Robin too, and she holds the news article in his face. He’s confused at first, and tells her that he looks a lot like his grandfather. She’s obviously embarrassed, and I’m not sure what she was accusing him of in the first place. I guess with a surname like Fear you get that sort of thing a lot. Robin immediately storms home and demands to know from Meghan why she sent that, and she’s confused. How could she give Deirdre the article? This is more concerning to Robin, because it might mean someone else followed him from 1935.

He leaves the house, only to get nabbed by Jared and co. They show him the sketches, and he plays innocent, telling them he hasn’t even seen them yet. Robin sneaks off, pretending to talk to the police, and when he returns he tells them that they refused to listen, and they have orders to shoot on sight. The boys panic, and Robin tells them they have to make the police listen. By taking a hostage. By taking Dierdre as hostage. The police are just human, he reasons to them. Surely once they hear what you have to say, all this explosion and hostage-taking nonsense will be forgiven.

Robin leads Dierdre to possibly the stupidest boys in any of these books. As soon as he walks through the door, he’s knocked out, and Jared grabs Deirdre and knocks her out. She comes to in room, Robin on the floor, with the boys arguing in the next room about what to do. She immediately searches for something to cut her ties with and sees some shears. She inches toward them, and Jared comes into the room. They all start to argue as purple smoke fills the room, and one by one, the boys explode. Robin grabs Deirdre and tells her it’s the curse as they watch them all pop, and then the smoke disappears without harming either of them. They stand up in the horror show, and Dierdre says she has to convince her father to abandon this project, and Robin promises to help her.

Favorite Line

“I’m giving you a two-man escort out of here. We only do that with our VIPs–Very Import Punks!”

Fear Street Trends

Not too many. Jared, of course, as a bad boy, has one ear pierced, and as Meghan wanders through the fairground she sees girls in short skirts and jeans, marveling that even old people wear sneakers. I’m hopeful Meghan and Deirdre interact in the next book, with some contrast between the two of them.

Rating

I cannot imagine reading these as three separate books. There’s no separation between them. At least this one felt like it might have an actual plot, but it still feels incomplete. The only real addition to the story is the return of Meghan and the mysterious voice. Nothing else went anywhere. I’ll give it two hungry lions out of five.

Fear Park: The First Scream

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The Cover

 

I get what they’re going with in the original cover (stolen from its Amazon page), but considering the park isn’t even built until the last ten pages, it seems a little baity. Still, I like the imagery of a haunted amusement park a lot, so I’m willing to be nice. The boy leering over the scared girl is a nice touch too. I think it’ supposed to be a Ferris wheel because there’s not track underneath, but I don’t see any structure to support it.

The second cover is the collector’s edition (stolen from its Amazon page), which I’m reading out of. I actually do like this a lot. The amusement park with the sinister face leering over it is perhaps more apt to the story, especially since it seems to take place over decades. I like them both.

Tagline

Are we having fun yet?

I actually really like this one? It’s what these books need, something indicative of the danger inside, without revealing too much, and giving us a sense of foreboding. This one nails it.

Summary

Part one puts us in 1935, a few years after the stock market crash has plunged us into a depression, though besides a few people talking about “bringing more money into the town” it doesn’t really feel like the Depression. Not that I’m an expert, but everything seems pretty much the same.

We’re introduced to Meghan Fairwood, fiddling with a fountain pen her parents purchased her, thinking about her boyfriend Richard Bradley, football player and bully. She notices someone watching her, a pale solemn-faced boy with a familiar name. Robin Fear. Her magazines fall out of her locker, and he helps her pick them up, noting Clark Gable on the cover. They have a friendly conversation over their favorite movies and radio shows when Richard comes marching in, scooping her up in a kiss. Meghan’s a little annoyed that he does this without asking, and then he sneers at Robin, telling him to step off. He does some basic bully work, and Robin stutters away. He trudges home, so mad he couldn’t stand up for himself in front of his crush. He goes to his home on Fear Street, not the long abandoned mansion but a newer home. It seems the Fears have held onto their money somehow. He looks for his dad, opens the door to the study, to find a strange sight.

Nicholas Fear is floating in the air surrounded by purple swirling smoke like he’s doing light as a feather stiff as a board. He’s chanting something to himself, and Robin quickly leaves. He knows his father’s study is full of books on the occult. This apparently has never raised his suspicion before. I don’t know why the Fears don’t indoctrinate their children. Raise them on the black arts. Make them do their first blood sacrifice at five years old. I’m not saying you’re raising healthy children, but you don’t get situations like this.

He hears a soft thud in the library, which makes me think Nicholas stopped chanting and fell to the ground. The doorbell rings, and Nicholas emerges, telling his son to go answer it. Four men are there, one of them Jack Bradley, Richard’s father. Nicholas invites the men into his sitting room, and Robin peeks in from the doorway. His dad is pretty rude to these men who take it very kindly. Jack Bradley discusses Coney Island, and tells us that the town of Shadyside currently has little income thanks to the stock market crash. Most of the men in town are unemployed. Bradley has an idea to build an amusement park in Shadyside, offering work to the unemployed and bringing in tourism. But he needs land from Fear Woods to do so. They already have approval to start building. All they need is Nicholas to say yes.

Nicholas obviously says no and starts shouting at them. He tells them to get out, and Bradley won’t take no for an answer. He says he’ll send him the plans, that he needs to say yes, and then suddenly the men start choking. He’s pulled a Darth Vader on all of the men present, and Robin watches in horror as they start to collapse to the ground. He runs into the room shouting for his dad to stop it, and suddenly Nicholas pulls back. Nicholas plays dumb and says there must be something in the air, can I get you a glass of water, are you okay? But it’s clear what just happened.

I went back to my other recaps of the Fear Saga, because I remembered them saying the Fears had no money and I thought their land was forfeit too, but I forgot about Nicholas. I assume it’s the same Nicholas that showed up to claim his birthright, who went to one of the town leaders and ended up with a job, and who married his daughter after she killed everyone else around him. Book two in the sagas never revealed what happened after he decided to pledge his life to evil, so I’m assuming this is the definitive version. Nicholas is now completely evil. Ruth is now dead (don’t worry, we’ll see her soon), and all the land her father owned is now in Fear hands again.

After all this, Robin decides to get out of the house. He starts to leave and runs into his father, who offers to join him. Robin asks if he had to say no to those men (and if he had to murder them), and Nicholas tells him he’s a Fear, and the Fears stand apart in this town, they’re better. As they walk, they run into Mr. Bradley, holding a surveying tool in his hand. Nicholas calls him out for trespassing, but Mr. Bradley tells him the town council will back him on his plans. We’ll later learn that Mr. Bradley is on the town council, which suddenly makes this all look like a deeply unethical use of funds to put back into the pocket of Mr. Bradley himself, but I’ll forgive him because he’s not going to survive this book. Anyway, Mr. Bradley tells the Fears the town council is going to allocate part of the woods for the project. I’m not really sure how that works legally, though it’s possible the Fears don’t own all the woods, since that wouldn’t make much sense. I don’t think we’re ever shown the full extent of the woods, but they seem pretty large. It looks like that whole corner of Shadyside is mostly undeveloped.

Anyway, Nicholas storms back to the house, and Robin continues walking. He runs directly into Meghan. She says she comes to this spot in the woods because it’s her secret place. He calls the woods his backyard, probably showing off a little, and Meghan reminds us there’s a bunch of scary stories about the Fears, though she doesn’t name one. They make a little small talk, and then Meghan shouts because she got something in her eye. This is supposed to be the romantic moment where the love interest sees an eyelash on their face and leans in to get it off, fingers brushing against their face, eyes meeting, the protagonist vulnerable. But in this instance, there’s a dust mote in her eye, and Robin is described as touching her eye gently, which no. No. That’s not how anything works. He invites her inside the house for a drink, when two rough hands grab him. Guess who’s back! Richard is livid, thinking he saw Robin kissing Meghan. I actually love Robin’s internal monologue during these segments, because he’s always like “am I going to have to fight? Can I fight? This dude’s so much bigger than me.” Meghan shouts at Richard to stop, and he steps back, busting out laughing. He pretends it was all a big joke, and when he asks Robin if he really thought he was going to punch him, Robin’s like “Yeah dude.” It’s pretty clear Richard is covering up his anger after Meghan got so mad. Richard pushes Robin out of the way and starts making out with her.

Robin runs home, feeling empty inside. He pushes open the door and finds his father collapsed on the floor. He doesn’t seem to be breathing, and he shakes him, only to notice the purple smoke emerge again. Slowly Nicholas wakes and pretends he just fell. But once Robin gets him into the chair, he admits he was practicing. “Practicing what?” Robin asks, and Nicholas asks him if he saw his mother. Robin reminds him that she’s dead, and he insists that he could still see her. But they hear something at the door, and a figure floats into the room, veiled and surrounded by purple smoke. Nicholas rises from the chair, proclaiming, “It is she!” Robin can’t quite tell. It looks like a woman, yes, but more like a shadow or a flame. He tries to remember what his mother looked like, but he was so young when she died. Ruth leans forward, and her veil slips away, revealing a skeletal face of grey-green bone and rotted skin. Worms crawling across her face. Robin screams and doesn’t stop screaming for two full days.

He wakes in bed with a nurse over him and his father looking concerned. He’s told he had a nightmare, that he’s been in a “deep sleep” for several days. He tries to remember what he saw but can’t. Nicholas is raging because the council voted to take part of the woods away, and again I can’t help but note that Bradley is said to be on the town council.

We cut to Bradley himself with a handful of men who are getting started on the work. They’re doing some survey work and getting the land ready for when they have to build. Bradley says he doesn’t believe in all those stories, but he doesn’t want to stay past sunset either, and so they hurry. Or, they try to, until one of the men drives a wooden stake through his foot. The others take him to the hospital, and Bradley finishes up. As he’s working, he starts feeling itches on him from bugs he can’t see. He’s swarmed by them, his whole body now being bit and him scratching at it. He scratches the skin off his neck and chest but they’re still coming, and he can’t stop.

Meghan is wandering into the woods again to meet her boyfriend. Isn’t there a backseat of a car these kids would rather be in? He shows up late, and they walk and talk. She’s clearly annoyed at him, clearly more interested in Robin, but she isn’t sure she wants to give up the perks of being a sportsman’s girlfriend. Richard trips on the rope they were stringing up, and they notice what they think is a deer far away, but as they approach, it’s clearly not. It’s the skeleton of a man, but don’t worry. His head is intact. Richard drops to his knees when he sees it, the head still staring up in horror, but his skin and bones and muscle completely eaten away from the rest of him. It’s less a horrifying image and a more comical one, but it works.

Smash cut to a few weeks later, after Bradley’s funeral. The police don’t know what caused his death, but Robin does. His father is to blame. He hurries to his father’s study to confront him and hears voices. Multiple voices. Women’s voices. He pushes open the door, but it’s only Nicholas Fear, sitting in a chair, with a book in his lap. Robin asks him pretty directly if he killed Jack Bradley, and of course Nicholas says no. Robin, of course, does not believe him.

At school Meghan sees him again and chases after him. They talk about nothing at all, an then Meghan just kisses him. She has no impulse control. And, of course, Richard comes charging out of nowhere to punch Robin in the face. He wails on him for a while, and Robin’s only concern is that he’s not fighting back, that he looks like a wuss in front of Meghan. Robin runs all the way home. That night, Meghan gets a call from Richard who wants to apologize and she hangs up on him, only for him to show up at her house. He seems less bothered that she was kissing another boy and more that she was anywhere near Robin Fear. Meghan refuses to break up with him, and I guess after seeing his temper I would be too, but she never thinks that. She just doesn’t stop dating Richard. And when he tells her they’re going ahead with plans to build the park, she’s excited for him. Richard tells her that they’re asking all of the teenagers, even the girls, to come help clear stumps for a dollarĀ  a day. I went to an inflation calculator to see what that was, and it’s equivalent to about $17 of today’s money, which doesn’t seem like a ton but it’s the depression. She’s very excited about this.

Meghan sees Robin at school and asks him to meet her. Robin asks if she wants to meet in the woods, but she’s still scared after finding Richard’s dad, so they go get a malt together instead. It’s not very sneaky, even with Richard at practice, considering all their friends are probably also there. They got to the malt shop and listen to Cab Calloway on the radio. Robin is nervous, and Meghan at first thinks he’s going to ask her out, but instead he blurts out that his father is evil and might be doing something to stop construction on the amusement park. Meghan is confused, and when he tells her he’ll be on the work crew, she’s not sure it’s a good idea. He seems to realize this isn’t going the way he wanted, and he adds that he mostly wants to join the work crew to be around her. She kisses him again.

Once the school year is out, work begins. They’re all given extremely sharp hatchets to chop stumps with, and Robin shows up a few hours later, helping Meghan with her work. Someone takes a photo for the paper, which seems like a bad idea if Robin’s sneaking around, but whatever. Suddenly Richard comes rushing forward, axe in his hand, screaming at Robin to stay away from Meghan. Robin manages to avoid the first swing, and several kids grab onto Richard to get him to stop. Unfortunately, it means Richard slices open one of the other boys in response. Another kid strikes Richard down for it, and suddenly all the kids are doing it. It turns into a full on Battle Royale. They all start killing each other, and Robin grabs Meghan, pulling her away from the fray. She runs home, looking behind her to see the purple smoke rising up through the trees.

Robin also runs home, desperate to find his father. He runs into the room and tells him it worked perfectly, exactly as expected. He’s a real Fear now.

But that’s not all! We’re sent hurtling into “This Year” (publishing date looks to be 1996). Here we meet Dierdre Bradley hanging out with her boyfriend Paul. Paul is working at the newly built Shadyside amusement park all summer, which Dierdre’s dad owns, after spending so many years trying to get it built. The first week is free and open to the public to drum up publicity.

Dierdre’s a little guilty because her boyfriend gave up a better job upstate to stay in Shadyside with her, and when their date is over, she sneaks off with some other guy. She’s also worried because there’s been so many accidents building this park, but so far, on opening day, there’s been no problems. They go on some rides, and then he has to get to work. She goes off to meet her other boyfriend, Rob. I think this is supposed to be a reveal, but Stine didn’t even change his name.

She gets away from her second boyfriend and finds her dad speaking with some TV crews. Part of the park is a reenactment of the hatchet incident. Her dad says this is in honor and remembrance of those that died, but that’s a lot of horseshit. When they sit down to see it, it’s realistically done, from the sets to the limbs flying off. Which, there’s also barely any acting in it. A narrated tape is played over the action. The kids walk into the woods to clear stumps, and then they just start murdering each other. Limbs are flying, blood is gushing, and the reporter tells us it looks so real. This isn’t a way to honor anyone. This is gratuitous. But the kids get up once they’re done and take a bow, all except Paul. Dierdre runs up to the stage, but it’s just a cramp. She kisses him and realizes Rob is in the audience, watching them.

She sees Rob later and asks him why he was at the show. He’s mostly annoyed about her other boyfriend and brushes her off. She tells him goodbye and goes to meet Paul, only to find him crushed beneath the Ferris wheel. The park is shut down again, looking unlikely to reopen, and the workers have split. Dierdre’s dad bemoans his lot in life, but Robin arrives and offers his services. DUN DUN DUN.

Favorite Line

Wisps of purple smoke floated into the living room, carrying a sweet-sour odor. Spicy with a hint of decay.

Fear Street Trends

The fashions of the 1930s segment comes straight out of a magazine, with Meghan’s knee socks and Robin’s brown trousers. When doing work, Meghan wears men’s clothes and feels a little nervous about it, but so are all the other girls working. Nothing much from the modern sections, though we spent so little time there.

Rating

This first in the Fear Park series is pretty meh. There’s no real plot here, and no real climax. It’s all prologue, and if it’d been self-contained to just the 1935 segments, I think an actual story could’ve been built there. I think the idea is good, though as a late addition to the Fear mythology, it seems strange that something like that hatchet murders aren’t mentioned more often, especially since we’ve spent a lot of time in the Fear Woods at this point. I think I’ll like the concept a lot more once we spend time in the actual amusement park. Two hatchet mutilations out of five.