Monday, September 18, 2017

Focusing On Fear Street: Sunburn

Book #19 in the Fear Street Series
Published June of 1993
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt
Might not be the best image of the cover seeing how on mine the redheaded girl lying face down in the sand and surf has a purple swimsuit not a metallic blue like this one. The colors are mostly blue, red, black and flesh tones. Obviously the girls haven't gotten much sun yet and there are two more not pictured but the redhead is Claudia and the blonde is Marla. A scene like this sort of happens in the book but a little more blood and a little less seaweed but that almost feigned look of horror yeah it's there. The other US cover I found is well:
Um yeah a skeleton with sunglasses and a fiery background? Does the skull have a tan? I find this more funny than frightening because you know it's grinning at me and the blank pits of the eye sockets are covered by shades! Nice try, cover artist but those Bill Schmidt artworks far surpass this mess. You want something actually creepy? Check out this French cover:
That face of terror, those blue/green color tones of the skin almost give an undead look and that full moon are a perfect cover to give you chills. Kudos for also depicting a scene that happens in the book! My only hang up is that it's a log and not a rope bridge but still points for effort. I always love the German covers and I found two of them (one was a reprint I believe) but can't decide which I like better:
Both of them are bleak, dreary and menacing: a pair of hands holding on for dear life upon a dreaded peak to keep from falling on the rocks below and a girl running away from something or someone terrible with foreboding clouds and an eerily calm surf. I guess I like the second one best just because it goes more with the beach theme though the first one is good but not even close to anything depicted in the book.
On the front we have "The perfect tan...or the perfect murder?" and on the back we have "You could get burned..." I guess both of them are okay and a little creative to the title of the book and might grab my attention.
The First Lines: "Claudia Walker surfaced slowly from a deep sleep. She felt something cool and damp covering her chest and legs. She could smell the salt air of the sea."
Okay I extended it past one sentence for a paragraph just to get a good description for any beginning reader. Also, some Fear Street books actually have titled chapters and well when you see the title of this one...*chuckles* We'll come back to that in a minute since that's exactly what the story does and it's not even a prologue!
Claudia receives a letter from her camp buddy Marla Drexler inviting her and the rest of their bunkmates to a reunion at her beach house in Summerhaven. Marla is stinking rich with a guest house and tennis courts along with a private stretch of beach and it sounds like a nice getaway from a messy breakup and the dreariness of Fear Street for Claudia. Besides Marla and Claudia we have Joy, an exotic looking girl with black hair and Sophie, frizzy brown hair with glasses but not described as "not pretty" so basically a makeover montage away from hottie town.
So in going back to that first line? Apparently the girls visited the beach and buried Claudia in the sand! They kind of forgot about her I guess and left her to not only fry in the sun by falling asleep but to then wake up screaming her head of in terror. I don't really blame her for that but it is kind of her fault as she did volunteer to be buried in the sand and her antihistamine for her allergies knocked her out. Don't worry about Claudia she gets free from her wet, sand prison thanks to a mysterious, tall, dark and handsome boy on the beach! He introduces himself as Daniel and helps Claudia back to Marla's mansion where he mysteriously knows the security code to let her inside. The other girls race out to meet Claudia and before she can introduce him...he's vanished like a ghost! Seems it was just a little misunderstanding as Joy and Sophie were told by Marla that Claudia had already gone back to the house...oh well mistakes happen!
Over the next couple of days, a few events happen that seem to make the week of fun and sun a little strange and unsettling. The girls go for a picnic on the beach and run into a pair of really hot deep diving hunksters named Dean and Sam...I mean Carl. Both Joy and Sophie get flirty and Claudia would too if not for her face being burned by her little "accident" the other day and having her face slathered in pink sunscreen. Marla on the other hand seems more than pissed about their arrival and tries her bitch best to get them to leave which isn't like her. The girls go to the boardwalk later and run into Carl and Dean again but Claudia goes off on her own and runs into Daniel! The two of them go to ride the Ferris Wheel and being up so high when they stop to let other people on breaks the romance as Claudia remembers just maybe why Marla is being so...weird.
I want an episode of Supernatural with Sam and Dean at the beach damn it!
The previous year at Camp Full Moon (nice subtle name huh?) the four girls were pestered all summer by Marla's sister Alison. She was a tag-a-long that was so bratty she even got under Sophie and Claudia's skin being the nice ones. When Alison threatened to tattletale if the older girls didn't let her participate in their Truth or Dare game, Marla dared her to cross a gorge at night. Sneaking out that night, Marla got caught but Claudia, Joy and Sophie met Alison at the gorge where she made it out halfway on a large log but got hit with vertigo. Trying to come back, the other girls got scared off by the counselors' flashlights and the last thing Claudia heard was a scream. The next morning, only Alison's bloody shirt was found on a jagged rock jutting out from the water.
This begins to make Joy think that Marla only invited them to get back at them for letting her sister die even if it was an accident and not directly their fault (it was Marla who dared Alison remember?) when Sophie almost gets electrocuted by the security gate and Joy finds leeches in her bed! Things come to a head when both Sophie and Claudia almost drown while water skiing but are saved by Carl and Dean. The tow rope had been cut but by whom? Is Marla really out for revenge at Alison's death or could Daniel, the boy who mysteriously vanishes be behind all of these nasty tricks?
I always enjoyed this book but you can see the ending coming from a mile away once the backstory is revealed but maybe not in the way that you think. There are some scenes that made me just as paranoid as Joy, Sophie and Claudia. Anything horror driven involving the beach does that to me and well let's just say there is a shark involved as well as a dog and a lot of detail and leave it at that. As I said you'll probably figure out the twist and of course you get a nice ending but it's more bittersweet then happy depending which characters you like. There's not really a reason to dislike any of the characters but again it's all up to your own opinion.
Body Count: Well there is a dead body or two and unfortunately, a poor Irish wolfhound meets its end in a scene that still has me traumatized to this day.
I'm beginning to think R.L. Stine doesn't like dogs?
Cameo Time!: Again another story around a main cast of characters set in a town that isn't Shadyside so no cameos the second time around.
So we aren't in Shadyside this time but there are still gems to highlight the nostalgic summer of the early 1990s! It's always nice to imagine that the teenage characters in these Fear Street books are/were just like us with their music and movies.
Not a part of the 90s but it is mentioned in the book that the girls rent the movie Bye Bye Birdie to watch. A 1963 movie musical based on a stage play that stars Dick Van Dyke, Ann-Margaret and Janet Leigh its one of my favorite films thanks to my mom!
Marla also mentions that there is a movie theater on the Boardwalk that does play some pretty good movies. Hopefully, Summerhaven plays the latest movies and doesn't wait to release them about two or three months later. If that's the case, there are a couple movies I think the girls would enjoy (I mean I love them!) from that certain summer:
As for the music that the girls could have been listening to in Marla's Mercedes or in her bedroom is unknown but I know for me the music of that summer I was listening to isn't completely forgotten because I still like them today:
NEXT TIME, NEXT BLOG: What's a girl to do when the terror that is high school has you facing...The New Boy?


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Focusing On Fear Street - The Cheater


Book #17 in the Fear Street series
Published April of 1993
Cover Art by Bill Schmidt
The girl on the cover is our main heroine, Carter Phillips, either receiving or making a call in terror. A menacing young man is looking in through the window, which is either the reason Carter is on the phone or she has yet to notice him. Awesome cover with lots of pale yellow shading.
I have this copy but I found a different piece of US cover art that is again simple but not as great as the artwork shown above:
Now of course I love the artwork on the German publications! They are always bleak and simple in the concept but always so well illustrated:
The color scheme of course isn't bleak in color but an overturned chair, scattered papers on the desk and floor...that is creepy enough. Who was sitting in the chair and just why is the studious person no longer at their desk?
I also found a Spanish edition with some interesting cover art:

Again our heroine on the phone with a shadow not looming outside but within her own house! Is she calling for help or has she just now noticed a stranger bent on doing her harm?
Taglines: On the front "Now she has to pay..." and on the back we have "No way out!" These are not very riveting *yawn* but reading the blurb on the back might make me interested in reading it.

The First Line: "The first time Carter Phillips thought about cheating, it was a joke."
So it seems that Carter has considered cheating before and no not on her boyfriend Dan Mason...but on anything involving math, her worst subject. She took a Math Achievement test and got a 570 (don't ask me if that's good I don't remember what I got for a score but seeing as Math is not my best subject...I don't think I even got that!) and that didn't sit well with Daddy.
Carter's father is a judge and an alumni of Princeton who of course wants his little princess to follow in his footsteps. Did I mention Carter is blonde and quite wealthy as she lives in the richest neighborhood of Shadyside? Her father wants Carter to retake the test and get a higher score while her mother is always running off to all sorts of fundraisers and other rich people activities and I don't think she could care either way. Carter doesn't seem to be as much a snob as people would believe and she even jokes that Dan could take the test for her which he doesn't seem to think she would do. When Dan leaves their date of shakes at the local hangout, Carter is told by a young man that he'll do it.
We now meet Adam Messner, he's from the wrong side of the tracks but a whiz at math. He isn't the All-American type like Dan but with his long black hair he's mysterious and different so Carter takes him up on the offer. He asks for a date in return even though he has a girlfriend named Sheila and it also means Carter has to blow off her already planned date with Danny Boy. The day of the test arrives and everything goes without a hitch so the rich girl goes with the poor boy from Fear Street to some place called the Underground where they dance and then kiss in Adam's beat up Mustang.
Well that wasn't so bad! Wait...Adam wants to meet her at the country club to play tennis tomorrow? What for another date? Oh no what has Carter gotten herself into now? Adam does indeed show up and he also shows up one of the preppy, snobby guys which impresses Carter but she still has to explain to her friend Jill why someone like Adam got in their ritzy country club anyway.
So of course Adam wants more dates and Carter is also threatened by Sheila (remember Adam's girlfriend?) to stay away from her man or she will put Little Miss Rich Girl in her place. Carter handles herself pretty well until Adam gets a little too handsy and then things just go from bad to worse...the real Adam starts to surface and he isn't as nice as he seems. Soon a car starts following Carter around town with the intent to mow her down and she even finds a heart in her tennis bag! (That is so gross! It's not a human heart thank God but whatever animal had to be sacrificed for that...I don't wanna know!)
The straw that really breaks Carter's back is when she has to have Jill accompany her on a date with Adam and his buddy Ray and they take them to some dive bar. It's not the bar itself but when all of the guys get a little too rough with the girls where Jill is in hysterics and Adam doesn't even have any intention of helping...what a creepo! Carter and Jill make it out okay but the next day Adam has the gall to now just outright blackmail Carter for money or he'll tell her daddy what they did. In desperation, Carter has to pawn of her jewelry and even though I'm sure she has plenty to spare but when she has to pawn of the earrings her father gave her for "passing" the test a second time with a 730 is what is really sad.
 He was genuinely proud of her and even though I wish I could spend $3,000 on a pair of diamond earrings (not my speculation it's what Carter believes) it really is heartbreaking to part with a gift of a father's love just to pay some loser off. Being pushed to the edge, Carter is even beginning to have thoughts about just killing Adam to get him out of the way and when the police show up to her house one night to tell her that he has been shot dead...will Carter really finally have no way out and have to pay for something she didn't do?
I wouldn't say The Cheater is one of my favorite Fear Street books but it is a good read with some nice twists along the way but nothing too shocking. It has of course one of those cheesy endings about learning lessons but the characters aren't too obnoxious so you don't roll your eyes out of meanness.

Body Count: Of course I let it slip that Adam Messner bites the dust but does anyone else? In a word no unless you count whatever animal had to lose its heart to squick out Carter. As the words "warm" and "sticky" come to mind I'm guessing it wasn't from a butcher shop...*shivers in disgust*

Cameo Time!: No cameos this time around as the plot basically goes around a main and central cast of characters.

So it is mentioned that one of Carter and Adam's "dates" is going to see some horror movie that is more silly than scary with less than stellar effects. Now two movies come to mind and I guess it depends on your taste which one you think it would be. Either way it's still giving me the impression that the movie theater in Shadyside plays movies months after their original wide release. It's not that far fetched as I have been to theaters like that in very small towns and budget theaters where you get charged more for the concession than the tickets. Anyway it's a toss up between Leprechaun or Army of Darkness but I'm going more toward Leprechaun than AOD because well I love The Evil Dead series and have never seen the latter film except for a few clips when people talk about horror films but with the more absurdity of the sequels that's the winner.
Now if they had went to something released more around April, even though it wasn't a romantic date, there are a few choices I personally I would have rather seen (besides Army of Darkness that is).
Dan rents a few movies to watch over at Carter's house for one of their actual romantic dates seeing as they really are a couple. The choices are Batman Returns and Wayne's World which Carter picks the latter as she really isn't in the mood for comedy with the situation she happens to be going through. I like Wayne's World but I would have gone with her choice regardless...Batman Returns never gets enough love.
I'm not really sure what kind of club Adam and Carter went to for dancing but Adam's vibe kind of makes me think he was more of a rock kind of guy you know like Aerosmith or Def Leppard. Maybe a Cranberries fan...or something like Lenny Kravitz or Radiohead? Looking for something a little more upbeat then how about some Spin Doctors?
I don't even want to think that any club they went to would have played the number on song around this time:
NEXT TIME, NEXT BLOG: Summer may be over but that won't stop me from or protect you from a deadly case of...Sunburn.