Thursday, March 27, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The Stepsister


Book #9 in the Fear Street Series
Published: November 1990
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt

First of all I apologize for the quality of the cover art that I found being so bright and fuzzy, my copy of the book looks so much better. The girl with the chestnut hair is our main character, Emily Casey, looking in the diary of her titular stepsister, Jessie Wallner. Jessie is the pissed off blonde in the dressing mirror. This scene of Jessie catching Emily in the act of snooping on her does not happen but the cover gives us the feeling of suspense throughout the book. The cover is not one of my favorites but again it is nicely drawn. This was another of those 2005 reprints with updated covers:

It's a very simple cover but I like how you aren't really sure which girl it is on the cover - is it Emily or Jessie? The only problem I have is the girl obviously has a little piercing in her nose to I guess "modernize" her to the new millennium crowd. Trying too hard there, new cover artist? The only other thing I like about this cover is that the orange gives off the impression of fire and well yes a fire does indeed happen in this book so props for getting that right at least. There are not too many versions of The Stepsister cover art that I could find but of course I found the cover in German markets! It was actually reprinted there so there are two German covers but one is very spoiler filled if you have not read the book in English so here is the cover I like the best anyway:
Very dark, foreboding, creepy house, shadowy figure in the window - simple yet effective. This is how you do a good cover right - intrigued to read it but not so busy or too flashy.

Taglines: On the front we have "When she moved into Emily's room, the terror began..." it's okay and to the point but that wouldn't be enough to grab me without nice cover art. On the back "Just how dangerous is Jessie?" combine this with the blurb on the back and I would be intrigued. I like how on the German cover this is the main tagline (yes I can read a little German but I am not fluent in all printed words of the language) and this would be enough to make me want to read The Stepsister.

The First Line: "I hate my hair!"

Well with that I'm not sure whether I should continue because it seems like Emily is going to be one of those whiny girls who is pretty and looks gorgeous but thinks they look fat and ugly. Maybe Emily is just a high strung person in general or maybe she is just nervous to meet her new stepbrother and stepsister. Her older sister Nancy seems to be doing just fine reading a copy of Sassy magazine so I guess Emily is going to probably get on my nerves - a character you should be rooting for but end up hating. So Em and Nance's mom remarried a man named Hugh who has a daughter Emily's age named Jessie and a thirteen-year old son named Rich who loves to read Stephen King and is kind of shy (sounds like a male me) and of course Jessie is blonde and looks like an angel.

Jessie is moving into Emily's room to share it with her new stepsister and things of course start out bad. In private, Jessie shows her true bitchy colors first complaining about the smallness of the room, saying things about Emily's mom, taking Emily's bed, shoving her little terrier Tiger and then accidentally( or is it?) ripping the head off Emily's childhood teddy bear! If you thought you would hate Emily for her whiny personality Jessie has her beat! Maybe it's the stress of moving into a new home with a bunch of new people but that's no excuse for supreme bitch overload.

It doesn't seem to be nerves because Jessie just continues to be nasty wearing Emily's clothes without asking but then things seem to go a little too far almost...malicious. Emily's big school report ends up getting erased, someone puts peroxide in her shampoo, and then her dog is murdered with its corpse stuffed into Emily's book bag for her to find at school! It seems this game of sibling rivalry is turning deadly especially when Emily learns that Jessie may be responsible for the death of a girl at her old school causing her to visit a psychiatrist. Is Jessie crazy and doing all of these horrible things to Emily? Could she really be capable of murder?

I'd have to say that this is the shortest blog post about any of the Fear Street books I've read so far going in chronological order. I will tell you the plot has a good premise and the actual twist of an ending surprised me when I first read it but other than that it is mostly a lot of Emily whining and Jessie whining and even her brother Rich whining at different times. I don't think there is a character in The Stepsister that I actually like except for maybe Emily and Nancy's mom except for her judgement in men as her new husband Hugh is kind of a sexist pig and has a tendency to not think before he speaks. Also another reason this is so short is well because *sighs* there's a Stepsister 2 we'll get to eventually...

Body Count: Poor little Tiger :( I love cats and dogs and if you do to I have to warn you this isn't the last time a cherished pet dies in this universe on Fear Street. To make you feel better just focus on this cute little dog and tell yourself it's just fiction:

Cameo Time!: Emily literally bumps into Ricky Schorr from Halloween Party and Lisa Blume from The New Girl is mentioned to share a math class with Emily's best friend Kathy.

We learn that Emily's new stepbrother Rich loves to read Stephen King! The book he is mentioned to be reading is Pet Sematary, one of King's most terrifying books and a creepy movie too!

I'm guessing being such a fan of Mr. King Rich might be interested in going to see the movie adaptation of Misery which came out around this time:

I don't know about you but after everything that happens in this book I think the Wallner family should maybe go see a more light-hearted film. There's the blockbuster Home Alone or maybe the highly underrated Disney classic The Rescuers Down Under would be better?

NEXT TIME: The Prom Queen ... what more do I need to say?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - Halloween Party


Book #8 in the Fear Street Series
Published: September of 1990
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt

Well first off let me say that this scene does NOT happen in the book but would be so awesome if it did! Being chased by a pumpkin-skull-ghost light through the Fear Street cemetery is our main heroine Niki in front of the Cameron mansion where the titular party takes place. Another disappointing thing about this otherwise great cover is the fact that in the book Niki's cape of her costume is NOT's black. Another fact about this book before we get started is that I did not read this book until the time it was reprinted in 2005 but it did have this original cover and not this one:

A jack-o-lantern headed scarecrow is just not scary to me and compared to the above one it is so boring. I grew up with the Bill Schmidt cover art on my Fear Street paperbacks but I have to say I also am digging some of the foreign covers a lot looking for pics to spice up my blog. Mostly the German ones speaking of which:

Now that's a jack-o-lantern to be creeped out by...especially with the tipped over wine glass (this is a high school party so underage drinking is kind of forbidden...I like it!) sitting on black material which to me looks like Niki lost her cape...but why? *dun dun dun!* My third favorite cover is this Portuguese cover art because I kinda like the Gothic feel of it:

The three people on the cover I assume are Niki and her boyfriend Terry in the foreground and party hostess Justine Cameron in the back with the blond highlighted dark hair (Justine is blonde in the book). This cover is very mysterious and I like the jack-o-lantern being held by the skeletal hand...the horror-lover in me approves!

Taglines: "There's going to be an uninvited guest at this Halloween party on Fear Street..." on the front cover is a little long winded and not exactly accurate to the story (little spoiler for you so sorry!). The little tagline on the back "Invitation To Terror" is succinct enough.

The First Line: "The tombstone loomed gray in the moonlight, its edges eroded into irregular shapes."

Fairly simple start as our aforementioned heroine Niki  Meyer and her boyfriend Terry Ryan head through the cemetery on Fear Street to reach the mansion where new transfer student Justine Cameron lives. See she's having an intimate Halloween Party that only a small few were invited to and this is where we get a larger cast than my past two Fear Street books. Also invited is friendly yet overweight Trisha McCormick, practical joker dweeb Ricky Schorr, linebacker Murphy Carter, basketball player David Sommers, the loose Angela Martiner, science whiz Les Whittle and Niki's ex-boyfriend and Terry's ex-best bud Alex Beale.

It's a grab bag of Shadyside High's cliques and that's exactly what happens the factions get divided in a prank war between the jocks (Alex, David and Murphy) and the wimps (Ricky, Les and Terry) even before the party happens! I guess Angela is on the jock team and Trisha is definitely on the wimp team but Niki doesn't chose sides because even though Alex is her ex she's above all the high school bullshit and is madly in love with Terry. Terry acknowledges that Niki is special and I hope it's the romantic in him and not the obvious because Niki is hearing-impaired (she is deaf but is an amazing lip reader that she doesn't sign or use a cochlear...pardon I watch a lot of Switched At Birth on ABCFamily...)

Terry calls Niki Funny Face so I assume it's because she looks like Audrey Hepburn after the film she starred in called Funny Face right?

Anyway, the night of the Halloween Party arrives and we have Terry as a 50s greaser, Niki as a medieval carnival reveler, Murphy as a zombie, Trisha as a 50s cheerleader, David as a basketball player who uses a human skull (how original *yawn*), Les as a skeleton, Ricky as a frog (by far the most creative with long-johns and diving flippers) Alex as some Silver Surfer knock-off, Angela as a biker chick and Justine as Elvira but blond. The party goes on with the normal tunes for dancing, a buffet of pizza and worldly cuisine, sodas and of course the prank war continues. Okay so maybe the front tagline wasn't that off because some party crashers (uninvited guests) do show up making a big Animal House kind of entrance on motorcycles.

These two guys are Bobby McCorey and Marty Danforth, the biggest bullies in school getting back at Justine for not inviting them to her Halloween Bash. Clearly drunk, these jerks begin destroying decorations, picking on the guests and even take to harassing Justine's Uncle Philip, the party's chaperone. Terry and David stand up to the bullies and they soon leave with threats to be back and even though they suggest letting the police know, Justine refuses and declares the party is still on! Soon, everyone is divided on a treasure hunt about the mansion and soon the pranks turn real, the house is swallowed in darkness and Les' dead body is found with a knife in his chest! Things get even worse when Philip and Niki end up missing and the guests realize they are trapped with a murderer as the rain pours outside! With a killer about it's safe to say the party is officially over...and the killer's fun has just begun.

As I am talking about all my Fear Street books, I realize that sometimes the endings and twists are pretty easy to discover. Even now you can probably guess who the killer might be but if you don't I definitely won't spoil it for you. Halloween Party to me is one of the better Fear Street books even if it has a kind of predictable plot and one that turns up a lot in later books and maybe even in earlier ones I have yet to read. I really like the characters of Terry and Niki mostly because Terry is a brave guy who stands up to bullies and loves Niki so genuinely.

Niki is one of the better Fear Street heroines because she is very mature for her age, doesn't take sides in fights, has a fun personality and cares about everyone...even her jerk of an ex, Alex. Okay so Alex is not that bad but he just has way too much arrogance that reminds me of all the awful guys I had the pleasure of going to school with but he gets better as the book goes along. My other favorite character is Ricky because he reminds me of the other guys I went to school with that were not jerks but funny and even dorky guys who were nice and the kind of guys I had lunch periods with.

Body Count: Poor Les is the only casualty of our cast :(

Cameo Time!: Jade Smith and Deena Martinson from The Wrong Number get mentioned being buddies of Niki's not invited to Justine's party and Lisa Blume of The New Girl is still trying to get the big scoop mostly on the exclusivity of the guest list for the same reason as the rest of the unlucky ones who didn't receive invitations...more like the lucky ones, eh? Also, Bobby McCorey just so happens to be one of the guys Chuck Martinson got in fights with in The Wrong Number so he's still bad ass as ever for all the wrong reasons.


One song played at the party has the lyrics "Pump up the jam" repeating over and over again and the only song I know like that is "Pump Up The Jam" by the group Technotronic so points for a nice early 90s dance song!

For ambiance, Justine has the film Bride of Frankenstein playing on her big-screen TV during the party and Terry sits down to watch a little bit of it. Good film it is something to be watched around Halloween or anytime for that matter.

So far in reading, Terry and Niki have to be my favorite couple so far. So to celebrate their loving relationship I have the perfect song for them from around this time. Not a popular release but another song from my favorite band of all-time:

NEXT TIME: We get to see what living on Fear Street is like with The Stepsister

Friday, March 21, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The Wrong Number


Book #5 in the Fear Street Series
Published March of 1990
Cover Art by Gabriel ?

So here we are back on Fear Street with the fifth book in the series (at the time I found this I had not seen the three books that followed The New Girl) so chronologically this was the next one I read. This was the original first edition cover and I have to say its very nice. In the background again is the titular Gothic Fear Street and in the foreground our two main heroines of the book, blonde Deena Martinson and auburn Jade Smith. Both girls do indeed look scared and have a phone up to their ears. I don't think this scene is actually in the book because it looks like it's happening during a slumber party. I think the cover is meant to draw in male readers because well Jade is sporting a nice little slip and some major leg. I would have to say it is one of my favorite covers. My second favorite is this very simple yet ominous (and story accurate scene) German cover:

Not a lot of detail but it still gets the point across that the story you are about to read has elements of horror and suspense which is all you really need. I couldn't find a lot of versions of cover art for this book but I do have to admit that my third favorite is this Portuguese cover:

I like it because it is bright and eye-catching and well...they really sexed up Deena to sell this book didn't they compared to the first one we saw? If you are wondering yes there is a man with a chainsaw in this book and the guy on the cover is also in the story...his name is Chuck but more on him in a minute. I have one more cover mention and that goes to the Spanish edition because well it just looks so pretty:

Deena and Jade just look like models don't they?

Taglines: "It began as a prank...and ended in murder" on the front cover. I think it is a good one and they have this printed in all caps so it can grab your attention! On the back is a quote which I can't remember fully if it is indeed from the book because it reminds me more of Princess Leia's famous quote from Star Wars at the end but:

"Please come're my only hope!"

As with The New Girl, there is a prologue at the beginning of the book and at first glance, it isn't as much a spoiler to the action that will happen but having read it a couple of times it is a spoiler for me but not for any of you new readers. After the prologue and in to the the story proper we get...

The First Line: "The blob of green gel oozed like something from the bottom of a decaying swamp."

Wait did we switch genres? Are we in some weird sci-fi horror? Nope we are just joining Jade and Deena on a girls' night in doing some hair care with some stuff that is the staple of women being women. This is the Saturday night before school starts back up and both girls are B-O-R-E-D until Jade notices Deena's new hi-tech phone of the early 1990s and decides it would be fun to prank call some boys from Shadyside High and by prank I mean make sexy calls like ones men would dial 1-800 numbers for. Shy Deena isn't up for it until she makes a call to her crush Rob Morrell and soon discovers that not talking face-to-face with a cute guy is so much easier and she embraces her sex goddess side. 

Deena tells Rob she looks like Kim Basinger so here you go...

 After that fun opening chapter, we get to see that Deena and her family are going to pick up her half-brother Chuck (from her father's first marriage) at the airport. Chuck is a city kid expelled from his previous high school and a second-time senior moving to smaller Shadyside for a new start. To Deena, Chuck is good-looking except for the scowl/sneer on his face (which she calls a "snowl") but in the next minute he can have a goofy smile on his face. On the way home, The Martinson clan gets involved in a pile-up and Brother Chuck risks his own life to save a puppy from a burning, about to exploded vehicle for a little boy. Chuck is definitely an enigma going from hot to cold but as a person who lived in a big city and now lives in a small town I can understand that people handle change in different ways so this must be his. Of course, that also involves getting into fights at school with knives...oh Chuck what are we going to do with you?

I hear the name Chuck and this is what I see except now with a dog...

 So when Jade comes over a few nights later and the girls go back to doing their little sexy calls, Chuck stumbles upon them and says he will tell their parents everything unless they let Chuck join in on the fun. Chuck's idea of fun turns out to be making fake bomb threats to the local bowling alley and menacing the guys at school who have picked fights with him as "The Phantom of Fear Street"...really Chuck? So after it becomes clear that Jade and Chuck are getting closer Deena hopes that she will be a good influence on her brother and surely love redeems as the three teens agree to no longer make prank calls until a bat scares the girls so bad that they begin mentioning about how spooky Fear Street is all to Chuck's disbelief. To show Deena and Jade that there is nothing terrifying about an old creepy street he dials the first number in the phone book with a Fear Street address and calls it. I think fate steps in to prove him wrong as the number Chuck dials happens to be answered by a woman screaming for her life that someone is trying to kill her and then a gruff-voiced man tells them they have dialed...the wrong number. 

So of course comes the this a prank? Deena, Jade and Chuck go to the address of the Farbersons and discover that a woman has been stabbed and a masked man is in the house! The three teenagers get away but the next night the cops are at the Martinson house questioning Chuck and Deena about the murder of Mrs. Farberson whom her husband says was attacked by the two of them and another girl(Jade) as they robbed the house. The situation gets even stickier when Chuck's fingerprints turn up on the knife used to murder Mrs. Farberson (he picked it up to use in self-defense ignoring what we all know what NOT to do at a crime scene) so now he is being charged for murder and is thrown in jail. Both Jade and Deena know he is innocent so now the two girls must find a way to clear his name and they know the only thing they can do is to go back to Fear Street and find the real murderer...

Now by telling you the basics it is almost pretty easy to tell how this story is going to play out...and the fact that there was a Wrong Number 2 doesn't help much on the surprise. Besides that, I really enjoyed reading The Wrong Number because it is a good mystery story more than an actual tale of horror.

Jumpsuits - how Jade solves murders. It's her fashion of choice throughout the book...

Body Count: Poor Mrs. Edna Farberson :(

Cameo Time!: Both Lisa Blume and Cory Brooks from The New Girl show up. Cory appears in a newspaper article being one of the happy few ushered out of the bowling alley by Chuck's first prank call, ruining his perfect game as quoted in the book. Lisa shows up to talk to Deena about writing an article for the school newspaper concerning Chuck's arrest wanting the hot scoop.


Chuck sports a shirt featuring the band R.E.M. - a turquoise one at that! It seems our tough guy also saves puppies and enjoys some good alternative, college rock.

The night of the prank call that leads to all the big trouble, out three heroes get together for a little barbeque. They have burgers, potato salad and peach ice cream all to the tunes playing on Deena's tape player. The band name dropped by Stine is Dire Straits. So Deena likes Dire Straits? Kinda cool. This would be the album Brothers In Arms released back in 1985, a classic album.

It is clear that Chuck and Jade become very close in this book and I have the perfect song for them as a couple because you see my favorite band released an album around this time and well if you look past the lyrics I think this song released as the first single is a nice choice:

NEXT TIME: Not exactly the right time of year for a Halloween Party but on Fear's always time for terror!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Focusing On Fear Street - The New Girl

Hello there blog followers! As I said last post, I am moving away from movies for awhile and focusing on books because well as many movies as I have...I have just as many books in my collection. I always enjoyed reading from a young age and now that I am older I mostly fall within the categories of romance, fantasy and horror. When I was in middle school, the love of reading skyrocketed when I discovered a little series called Fear Street written by R.L. Stine which is probably what developed my full love for the horror genre (only having dabbled slightly into that movie genre and way before I discovered Stephen King and Anne Rice).

Whenever I would go out to Walmart or the mall with my mother if a Fear Street book was on the shelf I would get it and since the books were only (at that time) $4 sometimes I would get $20 worth of reading material for my birthday or Christmas. Today, I have almost the entire classic Fear Street series and as the series started to fade away I had trouble finding some books but thanks to eBay and Amazon I hope to add these to my collections.

R.L. Stine has made it known on Twitter that he is bringing back the Fear Street series and the first book Party Games may bring a new generation into liking this amazing book series. Since I have so many Fear Street books I am going to start blogging about them and I guess reviewing them in my own kind of style. I am going in mostly chronological order based on the ones I have read to the newer ones I have just recently required so today we are going to take a look at the first ever Fear Street book: The New Girl.


Book # 1 in The Fear Street book series
Published: June of 1989
Cover art: Enric Torres-Prat

This is the original cover that is on my copy of The New Girl. I wish it was bigger but basically the cover has our titular New Girl dressed in her nice little sweater and skirt looking very Nancy Drew lost in the fog on titular Fear Street with kind of a ghostly aura around her as she looks terrified. It is kind of boring but very nicely drawn and has a lavender/orange scheme going on which will of course draw a girl's eye to it especially in the late 1980s. In 2005, The New Girl along with 11 other Fear Street titles were reprinted with new covers like this one:

The new cover of the book (IMHO) is more boring than the original edition. It is supposed to be more eye catching to the newer generation this was geared towards and even though it is bright: nothing is going on. It looks like a Photoshop picture that used a camera photo with some effects added in and not like the cover art that was clearly drawn with painstaking detail on the first edition. Searching for images to spice up this blog I found a German cover for The New Girl and it is my second favorite because well just look:

For one thing, there is a lot of detail in the curtains in the background and even though you can not see all of her face, the half you can see has a set of devilish eyes. I haven't even gone into the plot elements yet and I can tell you this scene does happen in the book so kudos to the cover artist for getting that right!

Taglines: "He had to learn her secret-or die trying!" and "Dying for a kiss..." : front cover and back cover. As far as they go I think they are pretty good for grabbing your attention and aren't too cheesy for a beginning to a series.

I'm going to try to do the books differently than the movies so there may not be many spoilers but if I think anything is worth not telling just remember: the book if you are interested in discovering Fear Street for the first time or wish to relive your own nostalgic memories. So first thing: the book has a prologue but to me it spoils the entire story! If you look at the blurb on the back or even the cover, you can tell there is something otherworldly about the "New Girl"so you automatically think - ghost am I right? If there is something I learned from reading most books have plot twists so if you ever get a chance to read it, skip The New Girl prologue and go right to Chapter 1 on the third page and get greeted by...

The First Line: "When Cory Brooks saw the new girl for the first time, he was standing on his head in the lunchroom."

For intriguing openings, this might not be the best but it gives you development into our main character, Cory Brooks. Ah the high school male how I remember those guys like Cory who would do dumb things if their buddies dared them to ranging from the malicious to the down right stupid - like balancing your lunch tray in one hand as you stand on your head. This brings new meaning to the expression "falling head over heels" which Cory does when he sees the new girl- a pretty little blonde- and lands face first into his spaghetti. You see this is also because Cory is the star of Shadyside High's gymnastics team and when he learns the name of his mystery girl is Anna Corwin he starts blowing his fancy athletic moves and even admits:

"I'm falling for her."

So for most high school boys, Cory is one of the romantic ones who falls hard for a pretty face, can't concentrate on anything else and is still a pretty nice but sometimes clueless boy. So nice, athletic, a romantic and we learn he has black, curly hair and is sixteen so for a first time male character in the Fear Street universe Cory Brooks is at the top of the list. When I mentioned clueless, it is mostly because Cory may notice Anna as a love interest but he fails spectacularly to see that his long-time childhood gal pal Lisa Blume is totally into him. Lisa is the other character of focus in The New Girl and we learn she is editor of the school newspaper, witty and looks like Cher.

This is Cher as close to normally dressed in 1989

So despite being friends with a girl who looks like a pop star Cory seems to focus more on classic girly-girl Anna with her dresses to the point it makes Lisa sick and kind of bitchy. So she does some research about Anna for Cory despite crushing on him majorly and finds that Anna Corwin can't be real because she died with a fuzzy newspaper obituary photo to prove it. That doesn't stop Cory though from going to the creepy Fear Street whenever Anna begs and pleads for him to help her...or from making out with her so much that kissing causes his lips to bleed. Anna even gives this creep little gem of dialogue:

"You're all mine now."

Seems like a perfect catch doesn't she? Even though Cory has enough evidence from Lisa that Anna is in fact a dead girl and even keeps getting menaced by Anna's brother Brad saying his sister is dead, he just keeps going back to her driven by of course teenage boy hormones but possibly maybe even real love. This also doesn't stop Lisa from asking Cory to a turn-around dance (which I think is so cute) and being a nice guy, Cory accepts out of friendship. This may have turned into a love epiphany if Cory didn't blow it by talking about nothing but Anna especially after earlier in the day when the dead, blood-soaked corpse of a cat didn't find it's way into Lisa's locker by a jealous Anna and freaking Lisa the fuck out! Not being able to get into his teenage high-school boy head that Anna may in fact be a crazy, jealous psycho, Lisa runs away from Cory and ends up getting pushed down the stairs!

So is Anna a ghost or a flesh and blood girl with more than a few screws lose? Will Cory finally realize that Lisa is the real girl he should be with? These are the questions I will leave you with but the bigger one this book good enough to have you coming back to Fear Street?

As far as an exciting plot for a series beginner, The New Girl isn't bad but when I read the prologue and then got into the book proper I could already tell what the twist was going to be and maybe you don't even have to read the book to know it either. Character wise Cory is a good male character compared to a few later male characters that pop up in Fear Street and one of the few lead male characters centered in the story. I love Lisa for her sassy attitude and her totally relateable crush on Cory since I myself have had crushes on clueless boys with less than stellar results but none as bad as what Lisa Blume had to endure.

Anna Corwin is a good introduction into how crazy some of the characters get in future Fear Street books but is by far the blandest character in this book except maybe up until the twist...or maybe not depending on your own conclusions. Two other characters that seem to be the comic relief (there are always a few in the books to I guess relieve tension or maybe even cause more) of the story are Arnie Tobin and David Metcalf and even they are more interesting to me than Anna! They of course are the ones who dared Cory to stand on his head in the beginning but as Cory becomes Anna-crazed Dave shows real concern for his friend so it's nice to know he's not a total jerk.

Body Count: Possibly Anna and a dead cat (poor kitty!) As far as horror goes, more traditional suspense than gore...besides the cat :( but it's only the beginning you know...

Another thing I noticed about R.L. Stine and not just in his Fear Street books but in his other young adult horror ventures, he sometimes tries to sprinkle a little bit of pop culture in his books to hook this teenage readers and looking back now it really dates how old these books are and even points out (sometimes hilarious) anachronisms or idiosyncrasy moments. So when I talk about each Fear Street book I will be bringing these to light in something I will call:


At the turnaround dance that Cory and Lisa venture to, there is a passage about "a Phil Collins record with a driving, machine like drumbeat and pulsating bass." This has lead me to believe that the song in question is "In The Air Tonight" which was released in 1981 and gives me the impression that Shadyside dances are no fun with such ominous kind of dancing music that is almost eight years old. Given the plot of The New Girl and the lyrics of the song it actually is a cool concept.

Another passage also references music artist Prince and his new "high voltage" record. Being six when this came out, the only record by Prince that I remember being anything close to this is his song "Batdance" from the soundtrack to Batman. This almost knocks out the theory that the DJ of these dances retreats to his older record collection for ambiance music. If he's not going backward than the person responsible for this weird dance playlist has eclectic music taste.

Earlier in the book, Lisa depressed over Cory not noticing her decides to go to the video store and rent a film. She doesn't have a lot to choose from and ends up getting a Star Trek film which Cory is not a big fan of when he shows up and interrupts her pity fest. The film in question is Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home or the one with the whales. So I'm guessing they weren't going to see the new one that just came out around this time?

Based on evidence, I am guessing that Cory had posters of Cher on his wall and Lisa bought Cher's Heart of Stone album finding all of the songs on it cathartic towards her relationship with him. If they became an official couple, I think I have the perfect song for them out of two choices:

So that's my first book review and just the first in my looking back at the wonder of Fear Street. So what did you all think? I'm trying to make my blog a little more entertaining and I hope I have succeeded.

NEXT TIME: The Wrong Number

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Grease 2

Hello blog followers I apologize for the wait in-between posts. A lot has gone down in these past four months, I have gotten a job which frustrates me at times and always wipes me out that I kinda needed the hiatus I brought about. I also experienced another loss in my family which upset me greatly and the only other reason is I guess just an excuse in itself that I just had the winter doldrums and couldn't care enough to focus on my blog. But now I am back with the film I promised to talk about and also I have heads up on a few changes to the blog in upcoming posts...

Original movie poster

Well I am still feeling quite nostalgic for films that I enjoyed when I was younger and a few other nostalgic things as well (more about that later) so we are going to tackle a movie that most people seem to have mixed feelings about. With most sequels they never seem to live up to the magic of their originals (why do I feel like I'm talking about Mannequin 2 again? *shrugs*) and sort of become cinematic red-headed stepchildren. Of course everyone has seen the 1978 blockbuster that was Grease (at least I hope they have) which I had the joy of watching thanks to my mother and they even showed it to us when I was in the 7th Grade. It was around that time that (also thanks to my mother) I found out there was a sequel to it and I have to admit I fell in love with it after watching it (but maybe not for the reason you think...). So for those of you who have never seen this film let's dive right in shall we?

What's The Plot?
It is now 1961 (which is two years after the first film) and we are in the middle of the beginnings of the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK leading the nation and also motorcycles are the new trend (Grease Lightning is now a thing of the past). We have pretty much the same story except this time it is gender swapped with the guy being the one to try and fit in with the girl's way of life. The T-Birds are still greasers but with biker flair and the Pink Ladies are pretty much their "old ladies" which means no guy is worthy of a Pink Lady on his arm unless he owns a hog (no not that kind.) Enter in Michael Carrington, who is British which means he is of course charming, a regular clean cut but sort of awkward teen who is a real square. Unlike his cousin Sandy (oh did I mention that he was related to a character from the first film?)

Maxwell Caulfield as Michael Carrington

Michael has no summer romance but just happens to fall in love head over heels the moment he lays eyes on Stephanie Zinone, head Pink Lady who just happens to be the ex to head T-Bird Johnny Nogerelli. Even though they are over, Johnny still views Stephanie as his property thanks to the T-Birds only date Pink Ladies code but he's not malicious about it just young and wanting to keep that cool guy reputation (kind of like Danny in the original.) This causes problems since Johnny is also crushing on another Pink Lady, the Marilyn Monroe wannabe Paulette Rebchuck, and things also come to more difficulty when Stephanie lays a kiss on Michael at the bowling alley in part to a dare which only makes the Brit all the more determined to win her heart. Will learning to ride a motorcycle and becoming the Cool Rider of Stephanie's dreams be enough for Michael to win her heart or will Stephanie wanting to break free of being someone's "chick" allow her to see Michael for who he truly is without high school getting in the way?

Michelle Pfeiffer as Stephanie Zinone

As always I don't like spoiling films for people who have not seen them so I won't tell you anymore about the plot because if you ever get a chance to find Grease 2 you should put any prejudice aside especially if you love the first Grease. Even before we delve any deeper into characters, songs even acting you should know that I actually like the plot of Grease 2 better than the original. Before you pelt me with rotten Internet tomatoes think about it for just one second.

Adrian Zmed as Johnny Nogerelli

In the original, Sandy changes from a good girl into a kind of slutty greaser chick (even more so than the other Pink Ladies) and Danny only changed for like three seconds with that Letterman sweater before he went back to being the same old guy he had been throughout the film. I'm not giving away the ending to Grease 2 but I will say there is no flying away on a motorcycle which I always thought was kinda dumb (when did this turn into Chitty Chitty Bang Bang I mean seriously?) Anyway first let's tackle the songs...

Now the soundtrack for Grease as we know was very successful and even had a resurgence in popularity when I was in middle school as stated earlier. I can see why most people may not have purchased the sequel's soundtrack because some of the songs may sound silly but I personally love the songs because they are kind of fun which of course grabbed the attention of a younger me. There are some good songs in the film that are not silly (they may be cheesy) but they show really good talent which must have took a lot of coaching or came very naturally. First off, Michelle Pfeiffer plays Stephanie and gets two songs where she is not part of the cast ensemble to shine vocally and on the song "Cool Rider" she really kicks a lot of ass! Maxwell Caulfield who plays Michael actually starred on Broadway which got him this role and on the song "Charades" (which is my personal favorite) it shows that he has a really beautiful voice!

Beautiful voice beautiful face (Michelle too!)

 Another reason some people may not care for the soundtrack is most of the songs do have to deal with sex from the very thinly veiled to the out right blatant ("Reproduction" being the winner as it takes place in a sexual education class...damn spoiler!). To give you an idea some titles are "Prowlin'", "Score Tonight" (in a bowling alley but still...) and "Do It For Our Country" with it what you will. The other songs are alright but the main standout is the opening song "Back To School Again" which is performed by none other than The Four Tops with a few bits from the cast ensemble . Growing up listening to music from the 1950s and 1960s thanks to my parents when you can hear a classic Motown group like The Four Tops sing it is a real pleasure to the ears and this is what starts the movie for you so at least the first couple of minutes will be enjoyable even if the rest is not.

We already mentioned the two actors who are the main characters and we will get to them but first yes some characters from the first Grease film return with the same actors. Since I actually have yet to talk about Grease I won't go into much detail but Eve Arden as Principal McGee, Dody Goodman as Blanche, Eddie Deezen as Eugene, Sid Caesar as Coach Calhoun and Didi Cohn as Frenchy all return in this film. Since Frenchy flunked out of beauty school after dropping out of Rydell High, she's back either to get her diploma to make cosmetics or be the new Chemistry teacher but they really don't focus on her enough that I'm still confused as to why she's there except maybe to be kind of the same influence on Michael as she was to his cousin Sandy in the first film. Eugene is back too and since he was such a smart guy I assume he graduated Rydell and came back to teach or something (again kind of unclear as he isn't the main focus) so the other first film veterans as a principal, secretary and coach I do understand as faculty may stay on at a school for years.

Didi Cohn as Frenchy with Maxwell Caulfield

As previously mentioned, Michelle Pfeiffer is our lead female character and this was also her first starring film role after many small television appearances. Out of all the female characters, Stephanie is one of the most adult characters compared to her other fellow Pink Ladies and even the other females the film may focus on as she isn't a giggly, vapid, over sexualized or even snobby but she can be snarky and though not dumb just a young woman who isn't applying as much to her academics as she could be. Despite Grease 2 being sort of a bomb, it didn't seem to hurt Pfeffier's acting career as much as it did the other actors and actresses who appeared in the film and it just goes to show you that talent does pay off which is why Michelle is one of my favorite film actresses ever.

Now one of the reasons I love Grease 2 as previously stated is because it was the film that introduced me to one of many crushes I developed and this one was on Maxwell Caulfield! Not saying he isn't a good-looking man now but back in 1982 he was so damn cute in the face and hot in the body and of course he sings to! Now I have always been drawn to accents and that British accent sealed the deal in me crushing hugely on Maxwell (then 23 which makes him 24 years my senior) and I still do though not as much as I did when I was eleven/twelve years old. (In an interesting twist Maxwell has been married since 1980 to Hayley Mills' sister and his wife Juliet Mills is 18 years his senior so as I always have believed age is not a factor when it comes to attraction or love.) In a cruel kind of way, Grease 2 destroyed Maxwell Caulfield's career because he never had another starring film role again but was reduced to small parts and taking him back to Broadway where he has been more successful.

Did I mention I have a crush on Maxwell Caulfield?

The supporting cast of Grease 2 is kind of a mix for me because I can't tell if it is the way the characters are written or the way the actors portray them. Adrian Zmed plays Johnny and I do find him entertaining being comedic and a little brighter than his fellow T-Birds and he does have a good singing voice. The other actors who play Johnny's fellow T-Birds have one stand out who has a still thriving career and that is Christopher McDonald who plays the not very bright lug Goose: here in his first role McDonald is comedic and provides a laugh or two. I couldn't really find out a lot of information on actors Leif Green who plays youngest T-Bird Davey or Peter Frechette who plays ready to go all the way Louis except that Green is more into film production these days and that Frechette still acts in films.

From left to right: Adrian Zmed, Peter Frechette, Christopher McDonald, Leif Green

When it comes to our new batch of Pink Ladies, character wise I can not stand any of them and miss the originals (which I think is why they had Frenchy come back seeing as she was the nicest of the group to round out the horrible personalities of these new Pink Ladies.) As I said before maybe it is just the way they were written or maybe it really is the acting, I don't like to place blame even if this is just my own personal opinion. First, I couldn't find anything about Alison Price who plays glasses wearing Rhonda but character wise she isn't the worst of the Pink Ladies but her character is kind of clumsy and doesn't receive as much attention as the others.

From left to right: Maureen Teefy, Lorna Luft, Alison Price, Michelle Pfeiffer

Next not really an official Pink Lady but kind of like a mascot is the character of Dolores Rebchuck, little sister to the aforementioned Paulette and played by Pamela Segall Aldon. You may know Pamela more as a voice over actress doing the character of Bobby Hill on King Of The Hill but back in 1982 she was just the 16 year old  annoyance to her older, popular sister who actually befriends Michael and garners our sympathies as anyone who knows what it's like to be looked down upon by the older, cooler kids or your own siblings. Where do I begin with the final two Pink Ladies of Grease 2 and their respective actors? Answer: let's start with the one that annoys me the least...

Actress Lorna Luft who plays Paulette Rebchuck is a very talented woman and it is because she is the daughter of Judy Garland it is in her genes. She is a singer and a star on stage but here in Grease 2 as Paulette I can blame the writing of the character. As I stated before Paulette is kind of a Marilyn Monroe wannabe who talks in that breathy voice and wears tight sweaters and skirts but when she gets angry that all goes out the window and you have almost a tough New York chick peaking out from behind that pink satin jacket. The annoying thing about Paulette is that they make her seem so slutty and I don't think it plays up to how talented Lorna Luft really is as well as the fact that she was 30 playing a high school senior (I know they do it all the time but this instance is like an insult!)

Lorna Loft as Paulette Rebchuck

The final actress and final new Pink Lady of the main cast is Maureen Teefy who plays Sharon and I can not lie when I say the character of Sharon is my least favorite but the thing is I like Maureen Teefy! Maureen was in Fame and Supergirl which are two of my favorite movies and she doesn't annoy me as much as she does in Grease 2 and it is probably just all the fault in how Sharon is written combined with how hard Teefy is trying to become that character. Why do I not like Sharon? She has a screaming kind of laugh, is extremely bossy, talks a mile a minute and is kind of a know-it-all and it just rubs me the wrong way.

Other actors of note that appear in Grease 2 are actor Tab Hunter and actress Connie Stevens who had big movie and TV success in the 1950s and 1960s, twin actresses Jean and Liz Sagal who are related to TV actress Katey Sagal from Married With Children fame appear as two, very peppy and preppy cheerleaders (yet are not as annoying as Sharon) and Matt Lattanzi who plays Brad, a perfect example of 1960s clean cut teenage boys. I mention Matt Lattanzi because he has a Grease connection in the fact that he was dating Olivia Newton-John at this time after meeting her as a dancer on Xanadu (BTW if you haven't seen my post on that film, go check it out...I'll wait) and married her a couple of years later but they are divorced now which is kind of bittersweet :(

Wow that was one of the longest blogs I have ever had to tackle! So in retrospect. there are things about Grease 2 that you may find annoying and cheesy but it has an entertaining quality that I'm sure won't disappoint (whether it be genuine or derisive laughter) if you decide to give it a shot.

NEXT BLOG: Okay followers here is what's going on with Theresthegirl...I am taking a break from talking about films. I have a lot of movies to talk about but working on the movies takes a lot of time so I am going to be moving on to a different medium I enjoy as well: music and literature. Yes I will be doing book review blogs and discussing music with maybe an occasional new thing: Top Tens. These can cover a variety of subjects including film and may even bring about discussing television shows which I said I was going to do when I first started this blog. I am trying to shake up my dynamic so that I don't ignore this blog as much anymore so what I do next time is going to be my little surprise to you as well as myself so see you then!