Saturday, 2 May 2020

Review - Goosebumps SlappyWorld: Diary of a Dummy

I was a few months shy of being an 11-year-old during the summer of 1992 when I first ventured into the haunted world of Goosebumps by R.L. Stine after stumbling upon Welcome to Dead House and Stay Out of the Basement at a Walmart. I had no clue how popular the series would become until I saw other middle graders reading the books. Then it became a phenomenon when the low-budget anthology series debuted on Fox Kids in 1995. The love for all things Goosebumps disappeared by the start of the new millennium. Scholastic relaunched the Goosebumps franchise in 2008 with R.L. Stine returning to write the spinoffs Horrorland, Most Wanted, and SlappyWorld.

Goosebumps SlappyWorld: Diary of a Dummy (available on Paperback and Kindle) has been sitting on my desk for nearly two months. It didn’t dawn on me about having the book until earlier in the week when I learned that a new Goosebumps television series was in development.

Diary of a Dummy centers on Billy McGee and his younger sister, Maggie. After their mother’s death, the bills were piling up, so their father, Dave, decided it was best for them to move to Middlebury and invest all their money in an old house which he plans on fixing up and reselling himself. To save money on their investment, Dave resorts to dumpster diving, and occasionally he lets Billy and Maggie go with him. This is how they came across a suitcase containing a ventriloquist dummy. Inside its jacket pocket, they find a note stating the dummy’s name is Slappy, along with the strange words, “Karru Marri Odnna Loma Molonu Karrano.” Billy repeats the words and brings Slappy to life.

After a very brief and horrifying encounter with the evil dummy, Billy and Maggie find Slappy’s diary, which suggests the dummy knew the location of “The Gold.” Wanting to help their father get out of debt, they decided to do everything they can to locate “The Gold,” even if it means going inside the haunted Coldman House.

Final Thoughts

If you ask a Goosebumps fan, "What's your favorite villain?" Most likely they will say, "Slappy."

The original Night of the Living Dummy trilogy was scary, especially through the eyes of young readers. Slappy became so popular that Mr. Stine brought the character back again and again. It has gotten where the character is no longer scary. Slappy is more or less a spoof of his former self, similar to the horror-icon Freddy Krueger throughout the Elm Street film series during the 1980s. For Slappy, the main issue has been the repetitive storylines, usually involving a 12-year-old who's gifted or finds a ventriloquist dummy. He/she brings Slappy to life, and then the dummy runs amok, tells cruel jokes, and plays a few evil pranks on innocent victims.

Diary of a Dummy begins with the familiar formula, but then there are several plot twists involving a weird diary, an old house, and a female ventriloquist dummy. And, no, she's not Mary Ellen from Goosebumps Series 2000: Bride of the Living Dummy.

Overall, Goosebumps SlappyWorld: Diary of a Dummy is a refreshing entry in the ongoing series. There are fewer silly jokes and more thrills. The descriptions are slightly darker with creepy imagery. It's definitely one of the best installments of the SlappyWorld series, so far.

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