I know the cover says that HorrorLand is “where nightmares come to life,” but honestly most of the rides in this amusement park sounded pretty fun to me, but I’m a big fan of scary movies and haunted houses, so I guess I’m weird like that.
Honestly, I think that a day watching Flavor of Love or NYC Prep would be when “my nightmares come to life.” A park filled with dangerous rides and hulking monsters? I can handle that.
The next ride might be their last…
The Morris family got lost trying to find Zoo Gardens Theme Park. But that’s okay. They found another amusement park instead. It’s called HorrorLand.
In Horrorland there are no crowds. No lines. And the admission is free. It seems like a pretty cool place.
But that was before the heart-stopping ride on the deadly Doom Slide. And that terrifying experience in the House of Mirrors. (Is that when Clinton and Stacey made you check out how your outfits flatten your butt? Because yeah, I know I would be freaked out by that.)
Because there’s seomthing weird about the rides in HorrorLand.
Something a little creepy.
A little too real…
We start off with Lizzy Morris stuck in purgatory: she and her little brother, best friend, and perpetually fighting parents are trying to find Zoo Gardens, but are hopelessly lost. Mom urges Dad to ask for direction, but Dad counters that they’ve somehow found themselves in the middle of the desert, and there’s no one to ask even if he wanted to–which he doesn’t.
Feel free to imagine Mom and Dad the way I did:
Most of the first few chapters involves Lizzy begging her parents not to fight and/or threatening to hit her little brother, Clay, for pinching her and her friend, Luke. It’s like a really bad remix of those old National Lampoons movies, except in this one, they don’t find Wally World closed with a lone John Candy to guard it–they just find a lame, horror-themed fun park.
Speaking of which… The Morris family is driving along, minding their own business, and suddenly they see a scaaaaary green monster! Aaahhhaaahah!
Psych! It’s just a statue holding up a sign with directions to HorrorLand. But you were scared, weren’t you? I know I was.
Well, get ready for the ride of your life, folks, because every “scary” part in this book is pretty much the same type of cock-block: Lizzy sees or does something, gets frightened, then realizes it isn’t real and won’t actually hurt her. This happens like, five times. Seriously.
Anyway, the Morris clan decides to go to HorrorLand, instead, seeing as how Zoo Gardens has pretty much disappeared and their only option is to keep driving into the uninhabitted desert until their gas tank runs dry.
And HorrorLand isn’t so bad, really. It’s staffed by people in big, scary monster costumes who call themselves “Horrors.” Just be sure to enunciate that, particularly with the female staffers.
Oh, and the Morris’ car blows up.
Yeah, I know, right? Totally random, but it’s true. At that point, there really is no other option than to go into the park. The ‘rents slip off to argue and find a phone while the kids wander around to have some fun.
Lizzy’s bro, Clay, is in love with HorrorLand. He loves being scared, and so is really interested in all the crazy rides like the Doom Slide, Coffin Cruise, and Alligator Lake. Luke, meanwhile, is a total wussy who whines about almost everything. Our girl, Lizzy, takes the middle ground, though she soon begins to feel very cautious about the dangers of HorrorLand.
You know, because all the scary rides they go on are so terrible and dangerous that they somehow always end up safely on the other side of the track. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say there’s a lot of sensory description about the wind blowing in Lizzy’s hair, the fear choking in her belly, and the urine soaking her high-waisted Levi’s, but nothing bad ever happens on those so-called “dangerous” rides.
It’s really pretty standard fun park stuff. You go on a roller coaster, you scream your guts out, and then you roll back on to solid ground. The point is, Lizzy, that you’re supposed to get scared, but you enjoy it because the rides aren’t really going to hurt you.
Ugh. So yeah, we get like, 12 chapters of ride descriptions. This book must really have been absolutely pornographic for kids who were never able to go to theme parks. Of course, if Stine writes one about ponies, I’ll be totally into it. That might be why I’m so obsessed with catching up on that show Wildfire now that it’s on YouTube.
That and I sort of want to make out with Pablo… but I digress.
Anyway, the kids eventually catch up with their parents–
Actually, time out!
Here’s a memorable cliffhanger. Lizzy is standing around, minding her own business, when suddenly (oh noes!) someone tries to throw her into the Alligator Lake!
Oops, no wait, it’s just her dad patting her on the shoulder! *facepalm*
–at which point the kids find out that Mom and Dad haven’t been able to find a phone. Seems the Horrors aren’t very cooperative on that front.
Methinks maybe Dad should have enunciated more clearly.
So now the Morris clan is up Alligator Lake without a paddle–no car, no phone, no hope of a real plot. These are dire circumstances.
And suddenly all the Horrors have crawled out of nowhere and surrounded the Morris clan. Turns out, it was the Horrors that blew up the Morris car so they would go into HorrorLand in the first place. The family attempts to flee, but the park is locked up and they can’t get out! They have no choice to follow the Horrors to a big studio, where they are told they are the newest contestants in the Monster Channel’s popular TV show, HorrorLand Hidden Camera!
Dammit, Stine, why you gotta bring me down? Believe it or not, I listened to an almost hour-long interview with him where he sounded like a fairly serious children’s writer, and then he busts this crap on me. Cheese and rice, man.
Now the Morrises have to fight for their lives against various real monsters in order to entertain the masses of Horrors that have gathered in the audience. Mostly, this involves a lot of running, but luckily everyone makes it out alive.
At some point, Lizzy actually tries to pull the mask off one of the Horrors in order to find out who he or she is, but is shocked to find that they’re really monsters. OMFG!
In any case, the Horrors have had their fun with the Morris clan and are now ready to dispose of them as they see fit: by pushing them into a big pool of purple slime. If this were Nickelodeon Studios, I’m sure Lizzy and Co. would be all over that, but in HorrorLand this is clearly not a good thing.
Somehow, everybody breaks through and finds a way out of the theme park, with the Horrors in hot pursuit. The family clambers into one of the big empty HorrorLand busses parked near the shrapnel of their dead car, and miraculously finds keys in the ignition!
The family drives for hours to get back home, and strangely, they don’t get lost. The Morrises are just pulling the big bus into their driveway (like a grisly Partridge Family with no talent whatsoever and a woeful lack of sweet David Cassidy man-meat) when suddenly they hear a scary rumbling coming from somewhere on the outside of the bus.
Holy crap! It’s a Horror who managed to climb on to the back of the bus to follow them home! What do you want, you green bastard?
Oh, nothing much, really. He’s just there to give them their free passes to visit HorrorLand next year, that’s all.
No word on whether or not they offered the Horror a ride back. I’m pretty sure this guy’s not going to be able to hail a cab, though.
As we entered the gates to HorrorLand, we had no idea that, in less than an hour, we would all be lying in our coffins.
Damn you, Stine.
This is the line that kept me reading, waiting for something cool to happen. Turns out the coffins were actually part of a relaxing boating trip along a stream. The bastard.
The Moral of the Story:
Don’t ever go on vacation with your family. It’s just going to be lame, even if it involves explosions and monsters. If you must go on vacation, just go to Cabo with your gal-pals and go wild in exchange for a trucker hat and a pat on the head.
Alternatively, we could also say that the moral of this story is to simply NOT read this book. If you must, watch the Goosebumps TV episode, or just read the recap by Sadako here.