You know, I expected this one to be really creepy for me since I’ve always had this odd fear of living dolls and the like. I attribute it to that horror movie craze in the late eighties with all those killer baby dolls and crap. Obviously, being a slightly stupid child, it didn’t occur to me to just… I don’t know… take a baseball bat to the killer doll and call it a day.
There’s a whole sequence where the two heroines attempt to destroy the dummy by really random means, and I’m a little embarassed to say that I probably would have had a similar moronic reaction at that age. But, wait! I’m skipping ahead.
He’s no dummy!
When twins Lindy and Kris find a ventriloquist’s dummy in a Dumpster (is that name trademarked or something? Me no understand) Lindy decides to “rescue” it, and she names it Slappy.
But Kris is green with envy. It’s not fair. Why does Lindy get to have all the fun and all the attention?
Kris decides to get a dummy of her own. She’ll show Lindy.
Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil things.
It can’t be the dummy causing the trouble. Can it?
Kris and Lindy are cute blonde twins with dimples and blue eyes. They’re almost Sweet Valley material, however the author makes it clear that the girls have noses that are a little too wide and are on the slightly shorter side, so I guess that means they’re stuck in this crappy book.
The twins have a bad case of sibling rivalry, with both of them wanting to one-up the other constantly. Lindy is the more vindictive of the two, while Kris has her own jealous streak, but prefers to live and let live. The problem with this situation is that, like most twins, they’re forced to be together and share things all the time, instead of getting to do shit on their own.
As a result, Lindy spends most of the book treating Kris like a piece of crap. I think she would probably be the “Jessica” in this scenario, though instead of guilting her twin into servitude, Lindy is much more straight-forward in that she simply likes to torture Kris and make her life miserable.
Oh, and their parents seem to totally hate the twins. This is a Goosebumps book, after all.
So anyway, next door, there’s a house under construction. Kris and Lindy like to wander around the construction site when nobody’s there, trying to guess what each room will be and other stuff like that. They should probably be careful, though–if I were a homeless person, I would totally shack up in one of those places and pretend it was my mansion or something.
So anyway, the kids are exploring the soon-to-be house next door and Kris notices something that looks a lot like a child’s body in the Dumpster (TM). Lindy’s a bitch and tells her to STFU, but Kris insists. They march over to the dumpster, where Lindy finds a ventriloquist’s dummy. Inexplicably, she claims it for her own (even though it was Kris’s damn idea to go look in the first place).
Kris names the dummy Slappy and proceeds to learn how to throw her voice, tell lame vaudeville jokes, and/or passive aggressively emotionally abuse Kris (as a slight variation to her usual brand of full-on aggression).
We have a few scares with Lindy saying mean, raspy things to Kris, then saying that it’s all Slappy’s doing. Each time we find out that Lindy’s really just fucking with Kris, and yet, for some reason, Kris keeps allowing herself to be fooled.
Kris, I like you and all, but if it isn’t glaringly obvious to you by now that your twin is using her ventroliquist’s dummy as a spout for her abject hatred of you, then there’s not much we can do to help you out here.
Lindy soon gets so good with Slappy that she starts getting paying gigs at children’s birthday parties around the neighborhood. Everything’s coming up Lindy! And she’s certainly not going to let Kris forget about it.
Finally, to stop hearing Kris bitching all the time about wanting to get a dummy, too, Mr. Powell breaks down and buys Kris a dummy from a pawn shop nearby. Because this is a Goosebumps book, I think it’s safe to assume that this dummy (who Kris names Mr. Wood) is some sort of harbinger of doom.
A good rule to remember is that if you get it secondhand, it’s probably got a curse on it. That’s something I’ll be keeping in mind at my next trip to the thrift store.
BTW, Mr. Wood is kind of creepy looking and ginger-haired and casually dressed, whereas Slappy is dark-haired and dressed in a fancy bow-tie. This means that Mr. Wood (being ginger and all) is the one who starts doing random scary crap to terrorize Kris.
Hard-core things like digging around in Kris’s bead collection, putting her clothes on, and re-appearing in different positions than Kris had left him in.
I would make fun of this, but yeah… If this happened to me (even today) I would probably crap myself. After the self-crapping, though, I think that I would go ahead and throw that wooden bitch into a fireplace, or maybe a wood chipper, depending upon whether or not I could afford to rent one at that time. Take that, living doll!
But not our darling Kris. No, no, no… Instead of any sensible measures, she just keeps Mr. Wood around, reasoning that the crazy events have lessened and so things should be ok from now on. At one point, she even has the balls to throw Mr. Wood down on the floor because she’s so angry with Lindy.
Umm, Kris, you think your dummy is alive and able to move on his own, and yet you feel ok about keeping him around and/or being mean to him?
Well, all this craziness with Mr. Wood comes to a head when Mr. Wood goes downstairs in the middle of the night and totally empties the contents of the fridge on to the floor. Bummer. Mom comes downstairs and tells the girls that she’s hella-pissed and will take the dummies away tomorrow morning because of all these ridiculous shenanigans!
However, the girls convince her that they’ll clean up the mess and stop screwing around, so they get to keep the dummies. If I were Kris, I totally would have been like, “Take him, Mommy! Take the bad doll away!” but she does exactly the opposite, which I guess makes sense… if you’re R.L. Stine.
Oh, and then we find out that it’s been Lindy posing Mr. Wood all along! What kind of bullshit is this? I signed up to read a book about a living dummy, dammit, not some prank-prone pre-pubescent poppet! Ugh.
Cut to a few days later. Kris is seething about Lindy’s evil trick and the two are barely speaking. Their parents don’t give a shit about this, probably because the house is finally quiet again. One day, Kris is home alone practicing her act with Mr. Wood, when she finds a little note in his pocket with some strange words.
She of course reads them aloud: “Karru marri odonna loma molonu karrano,” which (of course) brings him to life.
Let’s all try that the next time we visit a toy store, shall we? It should make for an interesting trip down the Barbie aisle. I think we’ll hear many insightful things such as, “Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl!”
Well, we’ve finally got ourselves a living dummy, which is good. Since it’s only the last 1/4 of the book and all.
Turns out, Mr. Wood is a real asshole. He ruins Kris’s first public performance by insulting people. Bear in mind that this is years before Triumph the Comic Insult Dog made his first appearance.
Soon, Mr. Wood declares that Lindy and Kris are going to be his new slaves. He says that he has “powers” (I have no idea what they might be, though) and, now that he’s finally back, this house now belongs to him. If the twins don’t do what he says, he’s going to hurt the ones they love.
So what do the girls do? In a rare moment of insight, they attempt to destroy Mr. Wood! Sweet! First they try to twist his head off, which doesn’t work because he’s not a freaking Barbie doll. He’s got like, working wood parts and stuff.
That’s what she said.
Then they try to cut his head off, which sounds like a good idea, except they try to do this with scissors, which is all like… WTF?
Ugh, anyway, Mr. Wood manages to get hold of the family’s small, loud terrier, who is imaginatively named Barky. Mr. Wood has finally found someone he can physically dominate–he starts strangling this poor little dog, but the girls manage to overpower him and rescue poor Barky. Thank God for that… that dog was the most sympathetic and well-rounded character in this entire damn story.
Unfortunately, Mr. Wood breaks free. But, fortunately, he soon accidentally gets run over by a steam-roller at the construction site next door. Oops! Where are your powers now, you beyotch?!
The girls go back up to their room and all seems well, until Slappy sidles up to them and announces how glad he is that Mr. Wood is finally gone since they’re his slaves, anyway!
Mr. Powell jumped up from the couch. “Stop acting dumb and apologize to your sister,” he ordered.
I like you, Mr. Powell. If only you could beam yourself to the Hatcher household, where Fudge rules with an iron, poo-covered fist.
“Out of the kitchen!” Mrs. Powell ordered with an impatient shriek. “Out! Get out! You two are impossible! The dummies have better personalities than either of you!”
Ouch, Mrs. Powell. You’re not so cool yourself, you know. At least the girls have entertaining, profitable hobbies–mostly it seems like you’re hobbies are 1) being a bitch and 2) menstruating.
The Moral of the Story:
Friends don’t let friends become ventriloquists! Seriously–what little girl wants to have more in common with an old vaudevillian than Britney Spears? It’s weird.
Oh, and what’s all this crap about “powers”? I saw nothing that would indicate this. I also have no idea why the little wooden bastards automatically want slaves, but I guess it would be handy to have someone around who could reach things on high shelves and stuff.
I’m also wondering why Mr. Wood came with special instructions to make him live. You would think that if someone cared enough to type it all out, then he probably wouldn’t have ended up in a damn pawn shop. But hey, the economy is bad, so I guess we all have to make sacrifices. Some people are eBaying their old items, others are being forced to pawn their evil dummies. I get that.