Friday, January 27, 2012
The Haunting Hour, by R.L. Stine
(hb; 2001: kid's horror anthology)
Okay anthology from Stine - a few of these stories ("Revenge of the Snowman"; "How to Bargain with a Dragon"; "Take Me with You") feel too-predictable, lazy, hackish, even for a young audience like Stine's: these are not the worthwhile works of a writer of Stine's publishing stature.
On the other end of the spectrum, these are standout stories: "Can You Draw Me?", "Are We There Yet?" and "The Bad Baby-Sitter".
Not a complete waste of time, this anthology is disappointing, at best.
The Haunting Hour - not these particular stories in their published forms - became the basis for a children's horror series, which began airing on October 29, 2010.
Review, story by story:
1.) "The Halloween Dance" - Two boys, bored at home, go out for kicks n' giggles, and discover how sinister Halloween night can be. Decent story.
2.) "The Bad Baby-Sitter" - Fun, excellent tale about a voodoo-minded babysitter (Lulu) and her two young charges.
3.) "Revenge of the Snowman" - A prank backfires in a big, terrifying way for one of the pranksters (Rick Barker). Decent set-up, plot-lame finish.
4.) "How to Bargain with a Dragon" - Interesting story about a peasant boy (Ned) who must capture a dragon in order to work for a cruel (but infamous) wizard.
This would have been a good story if Stine had provided logical foreshadowing for its end-twist. Disappointing, at best.
5.) "The Mummy's Dream" - A boy (Connor Franklin) suffers from a serious case of mistaken identity. Decent story.
6.) "Are We There Yet?" - Oddball, engrossing tale about a family road trip.
7.) "Take Me with You" - A girl (Kat) is given a musty, haunted trunk. This otherwise solid, mood-effective story is marred by a predictable, lazy ending that easily could have been improved with a mini-twist sentence or two. Disappointing, at best.
8.) "My Imaginary Friend" - Shawn, a boy with an imaginary friend (Travis), gets into big trouble because of Travis. Solid work.
9.) "Losers" - Two judgmental brats at the carnival get their comeuppance. Solid morality tale.
10.) "Can You Draw Me?" - Excellent, fun story about a young artist whose talent abruptly, mysteriously takes a disturbing turn.
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