October 8, 2015

#31 Night of the Living Dummy 2

Judging a Book by its Cover

Slappy is back and this time it's personal! Or maybe it's not very personal, who knows yet? If you want to know about his past adventures check out my entry for the first Night of the Living Dummy HERE. Now he appears to be in a bedroom that is very very... pink. Very pink. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it is a girl's room because society has decided that pink is for ladies. The illustration likes to mess with the perspective making stuff kind of curve in like a fish eye lens or something. I guess it makes it sort of weird and slightly unsettling in a very simple way?

Unlike the first Living Dummy cover Slappy isn't up close (and personal! ... wait.) This good because it allows for details like the stuffed animals. Their worried, concerned faces are really what make this cover. Like even inanimate objects know ventriloquist dummies are creepy. The contrast with the cutesy girly room is excellent.

The front tagline is "He's still walking, he's still stalking." Which... doesn't seem like it really fits... or is funny.... or clever... or anything. I guess it rhymes, does that count for anything? No. No it does not. The back is "You can't teach an old dummy new tricks!" Which is slightly funnier. Based off an actual saying. I am not really sure what sort of new tricks you would want to try and teach a murderous dummy though. Is he even murderous? I don't remember his motivations, I should really go back and read my old entry. Oh well, on to the book!

Getting Goosebumps

It's family sharing night for the Kramers and naturally no one is enthused about it but the parents. Big sister Sara is the talented one that goes to an arts school. Little brother Jed is the annoying joker who considers burping really loud "family sharing." And Amy is our main character and first person narrator who gets frustrated at her brothers antics and feels a little jealous of her sister's talents. So basically your average middle child. For this particular sharing night, Jed shares that he learned how to whistle through his fingers (amazing!) Amy is the ventriloquist of the family. She tries to do a routine with Dennis the Dummy but his head falls off and she complains to her dad that she needs a new one. I wonder what dummy she will end up getting eeeehhhhhh? Finally Sara shows off one of her new paintings. Unfortunately it seems to have been ruined by a big smiley face painted on it, whoever could have done such a thing? Of course it was Jed the asshole little brother. Sara doesn't take too kindly to his shenanigans. Neither do mom and dad, as they proscribe the punishment of no going to the movies and no video games for an entire week! Egads, a fate worse than death! He doesn't learn his lesson though and later that night Amy is frightened by the disembodied head of Dennis the Dummy placed into the moonlight apparently because Amy "didn't have Jed's back." I am not sure how one should have the back of a little brother being an asshole, but oh well. This is just the beginning of getting spooked by dummies!

The next day Margo the Beatles loving "mini person" (she is apparently tiny) best friend of Amy comes over. Her dad owns a restaurant where you can throw people parties. She says her dad wants Amy to do her ventriloquist act for little kids' parties. And what a coincidence dad came home with a new dummy for Amy his name is Slappy! And it's strange the guy who sold it gave it away so cheaply like he just wanted to get rid of it... When Amy puts her hand inside she smooshes something inside the head. HIS BRAIN!?!??! No, a gross old rotten sandwich. Who puts a sandwich in a dummy? A dummy would, that's who. Deciding to further inspect for grossness Amy notices a paper with strange foreign words on them. She does what any person does while alone and finding a paper with strange foreign words would do, she reads them aloud! Surely that is an irrelevant small detail that in no way means she has summoned to life this evil doll via some strange curse... Immediately the dummy moves! Trying to convince her dad of this, the Slappy bitchslaps dear papa. That should convince him! Sadly it doesn't, and she apologizes. Oh well, at least she is ready to start doing kids parties!

First things first though, it's another wonderful family sharing night! They eat dinner which Jed does disgustingly. Then when Amy clears the table she sees her old dummy Dennis is now moving too! He's sneaking around the house! But when the head comes off she sees it's just Jed. Her family thinks it's hilarious, but being given her experiences with Slappy she's not so amused herself. Anyway, sharing time! Mom told a story about how a fat lady came to her store and insisted on trying on only small sizes. Hilarious. Jed asserted that his stunt with Dennis the Dummy was his entry. Then it was Amy's time to shine. It started off with a stale old joke. Then to a knock knock joke, which then turned into calling her mom a fatso and her dad a baldy. Also, they are all ugly. Now this would have absolutely killed at the Comedy Central Friar's Club Roast of Dave Coulier, but didn't go over well with the family. Trying to blame it on the dummy not the ventriloquist didn't help. What a terrible day. But there is always tomorrow, that'll be better! Well she dropped her lunch tray in the cafeteria. She got C's on her report card when her sister got straight A's. Even Jed's report card said he was a great student! His teacher is probably an asshole too.

The next morning Amy has to do her overdue homework but her little brother keeps bugging her to play Battle Chess. Which seems like an odd title to reference in a book. No Mario or Tetris? Battle Chess? I feel like RL Stine must have had a kid with that game or something, it's not the sort of title one just pulls out of thin air...
Anyway, homework. She needs markers but hers are all used up. Surely her older sister the artist has some! She borrows em and finishes her homework. As her sister comes home the family discovers that someone has again defaced Sara's things. Only this time it's not just a painting, all of her paints have been dumped out on the floor! Jed asserts that he didn't do it, that he saw Amy go in her room. Even though he has prier convictions on the same count, they seem to believe him. Amy tries to pull out the "dummy did it" defense, but that wont hold up in court. Not even with the evidence of paint at the scene of the dummy. Too bad. Now instead of family sharing night, they have what are we gonna do about the crazy little girl who thinks her dummy is alive night. She sticks to her guns and says she didn't do it. The word psychiatrist gets thrown about. Bad times to be a kid.

Anyway, despite all this "living dummy" nonsense the show has gotta go on. She's gotta preform for some youngsters and surely all will be well. Introducing the birthday girl to Slappy they shook hands... but Slappy wouldn't let go, and the 3 year old girl didn't take too kindly to that. Neither did her mom. What a way for your first paying gig to go! She ruined a little girls birthday, and possibly life. Can I 3 year old have PTSD? So now the show does not gotta go on and she goes home crying. They decide the best thing would be to put Slappy in the closet for awhile before all this madness continues. Too bad really because Margo's dad was ready to give Amy's show another chance with older kids that wouldn't be afraid of a dummy.

The next day wasn't any better. Immediately in the morning they are woken up to discover that Sara's room has been vandalized AGAIN this time with "Amy" written over and over again in red all over the walls. Once again blaming Slappy didn't work, even though he was holding a paintbrush. HOW MUCH MORE PROOF DO YOU NEED!?!?! If the paintbrush fits you must acquit! Wait... If the paintbrush is filthy he must be guilty? Oh hell, whatever, point is the Dummy did it, come on you dumb parents, open your eyes! Fresh Prince was right, parents just don't understand. So now, Amy is grounded.

That night Jed came skulking into Amy's room groggily claiming that he called him in, but she didn't. He must have had a dream. And a really boring dream at that. After he went back to bed Slappy went on the move, and Amy had to follow to see what was up. He was going back to vandalize her sisters room for a 3rd time! What a dick, clearly Jed is the one who deserves this torment! But no matter, Amy stops him! Only for Sara to wake up and see her sister in her room with a paintbrush and the dummy. Returned to the scene of the crime... the parents are not pleased. She is going to have to see a shrink (and honestly even if the Dummy was the one doing it a visit to the shrink might be a good plan.)

Finally Amy decides something must be done about Slappy. She should just get rid of him. Which really is a sound plan. I mean even if the parents didn't believe he was alive, why not get rid of the thing her negative actions were attaching to? Anyway, before she can do anything drastic Slappy decides to have a conversation with her. See it's like this, Amy is going to be his slave. Why does he need a slave? Unclear. Maybe he just wants someone to tidy up his room and launder his tiny little suits? Maybe he needs a whole slew of them to build a moderately sized pyramid to house his mummy dummy body when he dies? The point is this, he is determined that she will be his slave. The consequences of her not abiding by this will be him continuing to destroy her sisters things. Now, the simple fact that a power saw could end him easy, and a woodchipper even moreso does not see to sway him. So they have a bit of a wrestling match. Who is more powerful a middle school girl or a wooden doll brought to life, lets see! Manages to get him off and close the door behind herself, but he threatens to break it down. Attempting to get help from her older sister reveals that Sara KNEW Slappy was the one doing it, because she saw him. And she let her sister take the fall? What a bitch. But together they manage to tie Slappy's limbs together and dump him in the sewer. THE END.

Wait... Wait.. .Not the end? Oh man, I thought the sewer woulda had him. No, Slappy ends up right back in their house, a little slimy, but mostly no worse for wear. That night Slappy is on the move again, but this time Dennis the Dummy rushes in and smashes into him. Slappy's head cracks in half and the nightmare is over! Who could have imagine that something as giant and powerful as a small ventriloquist dummy could have been thwarted by some good old fashioned violence. And the whole family was in on it, they were finally convinced. In fact Jed was the one dressed up like Dennis the Dummy. But wait... Why did Jed just come in the door saying he just woke up and was sorry he forgot to dress up... THE END.

What I Thought

This is Slappy's first time to really shine. The first living dummy book, though it had Slappy in it, was really more about the other dummy Mr. Wood. We only learn that Slappy is alive too at the end. I believe Slappy continues to be the primary Dummy for the rest of the series, which is odd since Mr. Wood was the first "living dummy." So does Slappy make the most of his time in the spotlight in this book? Eh... Kinda? I mean, he doesn't really do anything that Mr. Wood didn't do, besides apparently have a desire for slaves. Mostly he is just kind of a dick, and as obscene as a book for 8 year olds will allow. If they could have gone into why he wanted slaves, or what he planned for them, maybe it would have been more interesting? I mean, his way to blackmail Amy might have been frightening to young people. Having your parents not believe you is a big fear, especially when it comes to something big. Especially when they seem to favor your older and younger siblings.

The problem though, is I can't help but think, boy, all her problems could be solved with a saw, or an axe, a
wood chipper, or a gas can and a book of matches. I think one of the flaws about Slappy is that Stine tried to make him seem physically imposing, but a dummy just isn't. Even a live one. It is relatively small, and made of wood. The dummy shouldn't have a lot of physical power, he should be sneaky. Perhaps even supernaturally sneaky. Yes they had him sneak around at night to do his vandalism, but they should have never had a physical confrontation. He should have never broken down a door. See Slappy the dummy should be smart. He should be cunning and devious. He should be defeated not by getting knocked out, but by getting outsmarted.

That leads me to the final part. What was with the ending? If the adults believed finally that Slappy was alive, why did they need the younger brother to dress up like a dummy and tackle him. In fact, why did they need him dressed up like a dummy at all. When you are going to lunge out and surprise someone, you really don't need a disguise. I feel like the only reason they wanted him to dress up is so Stine could have is "and the other dummy is alive too!" twist at the end. Here is the problem with that, YOU ALREADY HAD THE EXACT SAME TWIST. The first living dummy book ended with Mr. Wood being thwarted and Slappy being alive. Now Slappy is defeated and Dennis is alive? Except I think the next book (and the rest after) feature Slappy so it's not even like he is passing the torch. Anyway, I digress, my point was, if the parents know the Dummy is alive, and that two young teens can overpower him enough to throw him in a sewer, surely two adults can over power him and turn him into kindling? What need is there to involve the son in something that could be dangerous.

So, the best part of the book were the family moments. Being jealous of the older sister. Younger brother being a brat. Having embarrassing family together time. Parents not believing you. Slappy however was a little bit of a let down. He wasn't terrible different from Mr. Wood. The final confrontations were pretty lackluster, convoluted, and/or unnecessary.

Rating: 3 simple ways to kill a living dummy out of 5

Up Next

Well the next book in the original series is The Barking Ghost. I think, however, that I want to do a few different things for Halloween. I am hoping to see the new Goosebumps movie staring Jack Black with my niece, and if I do I'm gonna put my thoughts on here about it. I don't know that it'll be as long as one of these entries, but hopefully it'll be something. Also, it's been a long time since I've read a "Give Yourself Goosebumps" book, so I am hoping to do one of those this month. Maybe just maybe I'll do a few updates in October as it is the spookiest month of all. I guess it all depends on how motivated I get so... Don't hold your breath. I'll give a go though! Once again, thanks for reading a 30 year old mans thought on books meant for preteens.

1 comment:

  1. Later on in "Bride of the Living Dummy", Slappy gets cut in half by a table saw, and then we see what happens - his spirit moves onto another body, and he possesses it. Since NotLD 2 was written 3 years prior to BotLD, I guess RL Stine wasn't already planning for body possession (unless that is what that white worm stuff is about), but at least he finally addressed that you can't Gordian Knot your way out of your Slappy problem.