Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Goosebumps: One Day at Horrorland Part 1

Enter: the Morris family: Mr. and Mrs. Morris and their daughter, Lizzy, and younger son, Luke. They're on their way to a vacation at Zoo Gardens. But there's a killer on the road, and his brain is squirming like a toad, and if you give this man a ride...oh, wait, wrong vacation. They're just lost. The Morris family succumbs to stereotypes, as Papa Morris refuses to ask for directions. (Considering they're surrounded by seagulls, I'm not sure who Mother Morris wants to ask.) Luke whines about going to Zoo Gardens. Not pictured: a scene where alpacas revolt from their roles as pack mules to maul tourists at Zoo Gardens.

The family drives off. Then some insanely fake holograms rush the family and they scream. Fireballs! I do commend the family on their reaction to the drawn in special effects. Turns out they're at Horrorland, some kind of theme park. Mama Morris expresses her doubts. It might not be safe. Oh, that's what they said about the Pirates of the Caribbean ride when it first opened at Disney Land. And before you can say that the pirates never tried to eat the visitors, may I remind you of the year that old Uncle Walt decided to remove the mandatory rabies shots from the Disney employees' health plan?

As they exit, we see something emerging from under the car, tampering with it. I wonder if this could be important later.

A big sign says, "The Horrorland Horrors Welcome You to Horrorland." A Tyler Perry production. (And I gotta say, based on having seen this episode already, Madea is a thousand times more frightening than any of these so called Horrors.) The family goes to the ticket booth, where a Horror pops up.

So...he's moonlighting from his Foot Locker job? And tells them that admission is free. And if I learned anything from Zoo Tycoon, it's that not charging admission and not providing cages puts you in the red. Horrorland Horrors, have you played Zoo Tycoon? Have you even played the cheaper, more nostalgia infused, Dino Park Tycoon?

The family almost bump into a monster. They look on, disgusted, as it holds a girl's decapitated head. "Stay off the guillotine ride! Sharp turns!" says the head. The monster tells them not to listen to her.

The mom finds this a little too creepy. Yeah, well, I felt this way about the Black Experience part of Colonial Williamsburg. Shudder.

The Morris parents tell the kids that they can go off on their own for a while but to meet back here in an hour. Lizzy and Luke run off. On their way, they see two parents comforting a crying little girl.

(Yeah, that's pretty much how I felt the time my parents forgot my brother and I at Disney and we had to sit through eight showings of Captain EO. Oh, the humanity.)

A monster runs up to Lizzy and her brother, telling them they need to get out, that it's not safe. Lizzy and Luke look weirded out. Yeah, I know the feeling. This reminds me of that guy in that Salem Village recreation who asked me if I'd ever churned butter. "No, but...I mean, have you ever really churned butter?" Amusement park types who get a little too into their roles skeeve me.

So the kids decide to visit the House of Mirrors. Really? The House of Mirrors? You can go to a Vampire Village, or, from the sound of howls, some kind of Werewolf encampment, but you choose something you could do at ANY AMUSEMENT PARK on the planet? (In the distance, I hear R.L. shrieking, "Don't listen to her, kids! The House of Mirrors is fun, interesting, and on budget--er, educational!")

A Horror shows them in, saying, "Reflect before you enter--no one may ever see you again!" Oh, man, R.L, I told you--puns don't make up for poor plot development! The kids go in and get separated. Lizzy finds herself in a part of the house that's got a checkered floor and is covered in mirrors. Creepy images pop out at random (yawn--come on, this was done to way better effect in Willy Wonka, am I right?) and then Lizzy can't see herself in the mirror. And then the walls start closing in.

The Morris pere and mere go to a snack shack to get something to eat. The Horror provides them with monster punches which he squeezes from out of his finger. (And I thought milk, which I refer to as glorified cow juice, was bad.)

Looking grossed out at the selection of beverages, the Morrises decline Monster Pudding.

Back to Lizzy and Luke. We cut in between shots of Lizzy screaming in the House of Mirrors and the Snack Shack Horror telling the parents that usually people don't let their kids go "running around" Horrorland and "I'm sure they'll be just fine." Oh, R.L. Stine, you mastered irony. Now how about plotting, characterization, and endings that don't try to make use of "twists"?

Lizzy falls through a long vortex-like tunnel, landing outside. What next? The Cantina? A Horrorland Horror asks her if she enjoyed the ride. Would she rate it a 5? What would make her experience at Horrorland truly...horrific?

Lizzy's brother runs up saying how awesome the ride was. Lizzy's pissed and wants to leave but Luke wants to go on. So they go on the Coffin Ride.

The Morris parents wait for their kids. Mrs. Morris sees a family shepherded into a building and points it out. "Honey, I just saw a family go in there...and they didn't look too happy." Yeah, well, that's how I felt about the Port-a-Johns at Six Flags. And about being led by my own teachers into the Crochet Your Own Cod Piece room at Colonial Billysburg.

On the Coffin Ride, the kids get into coffins that float away in the water. All goes well, till the coffins slam shut. Lizzy is shut up in a coffin away from her brother. She floats off while screaming and no one acknowledges her. Oh come on, Lizzy, is this any different from that weekend at Neverland Ranch? Fewer chimp bites at least.

Meanwhile, Luke finds himself shut up with a tarantula in his coffin.

I see the Horrorland Horrors went to the same Torture Retreat as the guys in charge of Guantanamo. He screams, but when the ride ends and the coffin opens, the spider is gone. The kids run off and find their parents who agree that this place is creepy. They try to get out of the park but when they get to what they think is the way out, they see a huge sign.

Ooh. Looks like the Horrors love Jean Paul Sartre. The monsters descend on them, as part 1 ends on a cliffhanger.