In the first Say Cheese and Die,
Ryan Gosling Greg and his friends find a camera in a spooky house. When they take pictures with it, it shows bad things happening to people, and those bad things come true. It only takes the entire book for these idiots to decide maybe they should, I don’t know, stop fucking taking pictures! Apparently some mad scientist is responsible for the camera. He was also a master of the dark arts and cursed the camera so it can’t be destroyed and will make bad things happen. God, I hate when this shit happens! Anyway, the first book ended ambiguously where some bullies take a picture of Greg himself and are waiting to see what comes of it. So I assume this book opens with a skeleton version of Greg murdering these bullies?
So apparently Greg is just in class. I guess in the mind’s of most kids, this actually is a pretty shitty thing to have happen, so perhaps the camera did live up to its curse.
A shiver ran down the back of my neck as Mr. Saur called my name. I had been slumping low in my seat in the last row of the classroom. I tried to hide behind Brian Webb, the big gorilla of a kid who sits in front of me.
And I folded my hands and prayed that Mr. Saur wouldn’t call on me to give my report next.
“Greg Banks!” he called.
I felt another cold shiver. Then my legs started to shake as I climbed to my feet. Then my throat tightened until I could barely breathe.
I hate giving reports in front of the whole class.
See what I mean? I bet that photo in the last book had Greg standing in front of the class pooping his pants or something. God, that would have been a hilarious book cover. Fuck the skeletons! Bring on the kid pooping!
The teacher in question is apparently quite the hardass.
Mr. Saur doesn’t think anyone is funny. That’s why we call him Sourball Saur. He probably wouldn’t think that was funny, either!
Probably not. But in his defense, most people wouldn’t. Fucking kids, man.
For his report, Greg recaps the last book. My recap was way better, so I bet Sourball Saur wouldn’t have failed me like he does Greg.
Matthew says: I get that this is Goosebumps and all, but I still feel like I can complain about Greg’s motivation making absolutely no sense. A huge part of the first book dealt with how Greg didn’t know what to do because he knew nobody would believe him, so why is the first thing he does in the sequel is use that as his example of a true story?
“We went inside. Down to the basement. And we found an old camera. And that’s what my true story is about. Because the camera had evil powers.” […]
I heard some nervous giggles from the back of the room. I glanced up to see puzzled expressions on a lot of faces. […] Mr. Saur had his elbows on the desk and his round, bald head buried in his hands. His face was hidden. So I couldn’t tell if he liked my report or not.
Yep. That’s a tough one, Greg.
Old Sourball explains that Greg was supposed to tell a true story and that he was being a little piece of shit by making up this wild tale. Greg can’t believe that his wildly unbelievable tale isn’t believed!
The grade was so unfair. And it meant so much to me.
It was a matter of life or death!
“Mr. Saur—you can’t give me an F!” I wailed. I felt like dropping to my knees and begging for mercy. “You will ruin my life!”
For someone who was actually involved in matters of life or death last summer, you’d think Greg wouldn’t just throw around that kind of phrase willy nilly. The stakes are raised when Greg explains that he’s supposed to visit his cousins in California this summer, but if he fails English he can’t go. Well, SHIT, Greg, if I’d known California was in the cards, I wouldn’t have been a dick about saying this was a matter of life or death!
Sourball says that Greg needs to prove the story is true by bringing in the camera. Greg has a moral dilemma.
The camera was too dangerous. Too frightening. Too evil.
But I needed a good grade. I needed it desperately.
What should I do?
Greg goes to have lunch with his crew. Bird, Michael and Sheri. Bird’s defining feature seems to be that he somehow gets his egg salad on every part of his face, including his forehead. However, Michael is somehow categorized as the weird one because he gulps his milk carton down then crushes it with his fist. Sure. Sheri makes some comments but is otherwise not really distinguished from the guys except that she has a vagina presumably.
Matthew says: No, really, the characterization in this scene is even weirder than Ariel’s making it sound like:
He always gulps his milk down first, then crushes the carton. We’re not sure why.
Michael is a little weird.
Dude, you just tried to use a story about a demonic camera in an assignment where literally the only requirement was tell a true story. Not sure you’re really the standard for normal behavior here.
For some reason during lunch Greg and his friends briefly engage in some sassing with bullies. But not the bullies from the last book, I don’t think…Also, the twist from the end of the last book is never mentioned. Leading me to believe that Greg has been dead this whole time.
Matthew says: I like these bullies a lot better though, because they’re actually in the story this time as opposed to just two people that show up once about halfway through.
“Click! Click!” Brian called. “I’ve got an evil camera here!”
“Say cheese!” Donny shouted. “Say cheese – and die! Ha-ha-ha!”
No, Donny, that was the title of the first book! Christ on a bicycle, no one in this book can get anything right and it’s only the third chapter.
Anyway, Greg decides that he must prove his story was true, and he’s going to go get the camera back from the spooky building. Wait. I thought the other bullies had the camera? Lord, I’m confused!
Matthew says: I guess the ending of the last book wasn’t canon? Clearly the mythology of Goosebumps requires more intricate study than we thought.
Greg asks his friends who’s with him, and they all tell him to fuck off. I don’t blame them! Why should they put themselves in harm’s way because Greg is a fucking idiot who wrote his report on something no fucking teacher, especially a guy called Sourballs, would ever believe.
After school, Greg is going to go retrieve the camera, when two guys from his class (who heard the report) show up and say they got the camera. They snap a picture of him! Man, Greg is mister popular. I guess it’s because he’s a young Ryan Gosling and all.