October 17, 2018

Dr. Horror's House of Video - 30 Tales to Give You Goosebumps #16

Stop! Collaborate and listen... I am back with a brand new edition... of my blog about Goosebumps. Today I'll be talking about the 16th of 30 Tales to Give You Goosebumps. This story is called "Dr. Horror's House of Video." Back in ye olden days before Youtube and Netflix people who are old as dirt now used to get their media by going to a "store," and buying or renting "tapes" also known as "VHSes." There used to be a lot of these places. Some were big national chains like Blockbuster Video. Some were small local shops like the one I went to called 8th Street Video (even though it wasn't on 8th street.) Now I presume this story is going to be about a shop not unlike these, but perhaps purveying mostly in the horror genre. Am I right with this assumption? I hope so, otherwise I'm probably going to go back and rewrite this paragraph so you'll never know how wrong I was... Not let me read the dang story.

Things open with a giant plant monster rampaging. We quickly find out that is just a movie being watched by Ben Adams, 12 year old horror connoisseur. He is on a boring summer vacation with his parents without any friends or even other kids his age to play with. What else is there to do but watch the horror movies he loves?

Mom and dad are kind of sick of him being a couch potato. Mom takes him in to the city and what does he find but a movie store called Dr. Horror's House of Video. He'd soon find that this is no ordinary video store. Dr. Horror the owner makes his very own videos in the garage in back. They look pretty darn high quality too. The lizardman movie playing on the TV in the store is great! Unfortunately mom comes in and hauls him back home before he can see the ending.

Well later on Ben decides to shock his parents by going outside and riding his bike. Of course you know he's riding that back right on back to the video store. Sadly, it is closed but he could just sneak in and watch the rest of that video. I mean it's not like he's STEALING. He spends an hour in the store watching the movie, a timeless classic than ends with Lizardman eating a young lad, and the rest of the townsfolk for good measure. There is just one problem, he's locked in.

Ben spots a back door with weird sounds coming out of it. He knocks his way through it only to discover the actual Lizardman who grabs him. He is surrounding by a whole smorgasboard of monsters. Mummies! Vampires! Wolfmen! Amazing. This is where Dr. Horror shoots his videos, and man do the costumes they use look amazing. Most amazing of all though, is that Dr. Horror wants Ben to play the victim in the sequel to the Lizardman movie. Of course Ben says yes.

His part is pretty simple, he just has to get tied up and eaten. The first take goes bad because Ben is having too much fun to be scared. Then he realizes he should have makeup on too, I mean this is a movie. All the monsters make up is amazing. He reaches to take the Lizardman's mask off but it won't budge. The vampire ties him up tight. The mummy takes off his wrappings to show off his decaying flesh. You know... I think these monsters might be REAL. They move in for the kill, but Dr. Horror calls cut. Whew, things were getting out of hand. The director then fixes up Ben's hair and calls for the cameras to roll again... Wait.. WHAT?!?!

My Thoughts

There is a certain type of kid I think this would have especially appealed to. The kid who owned a camcorder and recorded his own low budget flicks. The kid who would grow up and a little older put stuff on youtube when it was first invented from a little handycam. You may not be/have been that kid, but you probably knew one. Maybe that kid even asked you to be in their movie. Maybe they didn't even have a camcorder but they still acted out movies without recording them.

Of course you didn't need to be this kid to enjoy it. I'm sure many more my age fondly remember going to the movie store, which was so much a different experience than going on netflix to pick a movie. You got to pick 1 movie, and that was it because that was how much money you had. That was it, you watched it, and maybe even watched it again if you loved it, and that was it until you got more allowance. Ah the good old days.

Beyond the nostalgia this story is kind of fun. While it focuses on the "not entirely classic" horror move villain of a lizardman, we have more classic ones like mummy and vampire in the back. These are what I would call "traditionally scary." They are familiar even to kids. The danger is pretty direct, they want to eat him. Fear of being eaten by a monster is pretty visceral. You just have the added layer of the monsters being assumed to be movie actors. Is that twist kind of predictable? Sure, but it works, and it makes enough sense in the story. It is not the kind of twist that drives me mad by how illogical it is.

All in all a solid entry. I am not sure it is the most memorable story out of the lot so far, but it stands out strong. It makes horror movies which already scary even more scary by the potential that they are real. Spoooooky.

Rating: 4 VHS tapes out of 5

Tomorrow's story is "The Cats Tale." I can almost guarantee that this cat will be black because someone decided black cats are scarier than normal cats. I don't know who decided this because the meanest cat I ever met was a fat orange tabby ironically named Buddy. That thing LIVED to bite little kids. Bastard. Anyway, check back for my next review tomorrow.

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