Well, it’s our last Goosebumps post, so this pretty much wraps up our Halloween celebration!
We last left our 90s heroes in the 90s. Also, Shari’s gone missing, and Greg’s picture has accidentally been taken with the demon camera! OH NOOOOOOO!
But we interrupt the horror and the narrative pacing to meet a vicious gang of street toughs!
He recognized them immediately – Joey Ferris and Mickey Ward – two ninth-graders who always hung out together, always swaggering around, acting tough, picking on kids younger than them.
Oh no! Things don’t look good for our heroes! What sorts of terrible things can we expect from these dangerous characters?
Their specialty was taking kids’ bikes, riding off on them, and dumping them somewhere.
Oh no! What unruly miscreants!
Both boys were wearing heavy metal T-shirts and jeans.
Greg, Michael, and Bird try to run away, but the bullies take the camera from Greg! I bet this won’t have terrible consequences for Mickey and Joey!
“Hey – say cheese!” Mickey aimed the camera at Joey.
Bird, however, doesn’t like having such easy solutions to his problems.
“Don’t do it,” Bird interrupted, waving his hands frantically.
Joey and Mickey make fun of Bird.
“I know this kid,” Mickey told Joey, pointing at Bird. “Thinks he’s hot stuff.”
To which Bird has the greatest response ever.
“I don’t think I’m hot stuff.”
Anyway, they try to take their picture again and there’s nothing they can do to get the camera back and all is hopeless! So Greg grabs the camera out of Mickey’s hands and runs away. And, uh, that’s how that problem is solved. But there’s still plenty of trouble in store for Greg, who now looks at his picture and reacts very naturally!
“Oh no!” he cried. “I don’t believe it!”
The picture shows Greg! And Shari! Sitting on a playground bench and paralyzed with fear as a large shadow passes over them. What could it mean?!
Anyway a couple days pass and nothing happens. Greg feels guilty a lot and finally starts to question why he took the camera and took all those pictures with it. There’s a really tense scene where he stares at the pictures, desperately looking for clues, and then tears them up. It’s tense.
he flung himself facedown on his bed and closed his eyes, waiting for his heart to stop pounding, waiting for the heavy feeling of guilt and horror to lift.
So far the scariest thing that’s happened in this book is some Crime and Punishment-esque psychological self-torment, which is actually kind of freaky. Like, considerably freakier than, say…
Then SHARI CALLS!
“Shari, where were you?”
The line was silent for a long moment. “I don’t know,” she answered finally.
Man, this is like season six of LOST level of mystery solving.
“It was just so weird, Greg. One minute, there I was at my birthday party. The next minute, I was standing in front of my house. And it was two days later. But I don’t remember being away. Or being anywhere else. I don’t remember anything at all.
Greg has an internal debate – again – whether the camera is actually causing bad things to happen. I THINK IT IS PRETTY CLEAR BY NOW, GREG. Greg and Shari agree to meet to discuss the camera, and, if they have any common sense at all, they won’t meet at a playground, like in the picture that the camera just took.
He met Shari on the playground the next afternoon.
God fucking dammit, Greg.
He and Shari gaped in terror as Spidey’s slithering crept over them.
Who could have seen this coming? Wait, Greg could have. Fuck you, Greg.
Don’t worry, Greg and Shari are suddenly saved by a character we’ve never met before.
It was Jerry Norman, who lived across the street. Jerry lowered his car window. “Is this man chasing you?”
Be a bit more nonplussed, Jerry Norman.
The next day, Greg and Shari decide to go back to the haunted house to put the camera back where Spidey can get it so that Spidey will stop hunting them down to get the camera back. I guess. They check to see if Spidey’s in the house and then break in and then there’s a loud crash behind them!
Turns out the loud crash was just the wind making the front door slam.
A gust of wind had made the front door slam.
The suspense is killing me, R. L. Stine.
Shari asks Greg why he doesn’t just leave the camera in any old place in the house, but Greg is insistent he puts it back exactly where he found it.
“No!” He pulled out of her grasp. “He was in my room, Shari! He tore everything apart, looking for it. I want him to find it where it belongs. If he doesn’t find it, he’ll come back to my house. I know he will!”
So Greg instead breaks into Spidey’s house and goes into his room to put the camera back.
But then SPIDEY IS THERE!
They desperately explain to Spidey that they put the camera back and that they know it’s not a normal camera and that it takes weird pictures.
“The camera is evil … I should know. I helped to create it.”
Then Spidey reveals his secret identity!
“My name is Fredericks. Dr. Fritz Fredericks.”
Dr. Fritz Fredericks, who has managed to now have a stupider name than Spidey somehow, explains that his lab partner invented the camera, but he stole the plans for the camera from him to get rich.
“I was evil, you see.”
Dr. Fritz Fredericks explains that his lab partner, however, was super evil (this is almost exactly what’s written in the book) and put a curse on the camera that caused it to steal people’s souls and harm them, which is exactly what it does now. He does not, however, explain what the camera did before this curse was put on it that made it so special/dangerous and worth stealing, however, so, uh, I’m not sure I understand any of this.
In fact the one thing I know for certain is that the bad guy just explained the plot, which means…
“I can never let you leave,” Dr. Fredericks said, his face flickering in the blue glow of a lightning flash.
Dr. Fredericks tries to take Greg’s picture! But he is thwarted, like every single other character in the book, by someone just grabbing the camera out of his hands.
Shari grabs the camera and tries to wrestle it out of his hands, and then the camera goes off!
Greg and Shari run out of the house with the camera, pursued by Dr. Fritz Fredericks.
“Did it take our picture or his?” Shari asked.
“I don’t know. Just hurry!” Greg screamed.
Except it turns out Dr. Fritz Fredericks isn’t chasing them because upon closer inspection he’s dead.
“He knew better than anyone what the camera could do,” Greg said. “When you snapped his picture, I think… I think it scared him to death!”
Or, um, maybe you just took his picture with the demon camera and it killed him? Let’s follow up on that.
The photo showed Dr. Fredericks lying on the floor, his eyes bulging, his mouth frozen open in horror. […] The camera had claimed another victim. This time, forever.
So, um, that’s the climax. The next day, Greg is chilling with his friends, telling them the whole wacky adventure.
“Wow. I can’t believe one old camera could do so much evil,” Bird said.
Greg and co. are still hanging out near the haunted house, for some reason, and see Joey and Mickey emerge from the house – with the camera!
“They couldn’t hide the camera from us. No way, man,” Joey said. […] “Say cheese.”
BUM BUM BUMMMMMMMMM.