The other day, sj blogged about her freezer book. You all know about the freezer book, right? Here, if not, here’s the genesis of this fantastic phrase:
That’s not the best clip. The second book Joey’s reading is Little Women. Rachel talked him into reading it, and he didn’t think he’d like it, but then he did. But it upset him, so into the freezer it went!
You’re totally safe from a book in the freezer. The bad stuff can’t get out because the freezer is SEALED. And COLD.
So when sj mentioned that, I remembered MY freezer book, which I’d found the last time I went home and planned on blogging about but then totally forgot about for months and months because other things happened right after the last time I went home, like unemployment and crises and various random sadnesses and lots and lots of busyness. So I poked around my bookcase for where I’d put the freezer book.
TODAY WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MY FREEZER BOOK.
Only, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to be a freezer book anymore. It already looks ridiculous.
My freezer book was purchased in…let’s see, let’s check the publication date. Well, it says 1980, but there’s no way I bought this thing in 1980, because I was in kindergarten then. I’m thinking I had this in third grade, because I remember bringing it with me the first time I went to Florida as part of my reading material for the plane, then being SO SO SCARED I hid it in the bottom of my suitcase and refused to look at it again but was sure it was sending out evil rays the whole time.
Here is THE BOOK THAT SCARRED WEE AMY.
THE HAUNTED PLANET! Look, you can still buy copies of this from Amazon even though it’s thirty-some years old now. See how foldy the cover is? That’s because it was in the FREEZER for the past 30 years. The freezer in my case was under the bookcase, and then surrounded by other crap so it couldn’t get out. I’m not even kidding. That’s where I found this, shoved back behind my childhood bookcase, surrounded by random crap to keep it in its place.
How cheesy is that cover? The most, is how much. However, it still gives me the willies.
I think I got this from that Scholastic Book Order thingy? Remember that thing, where you’d get that newsprint order form and you could order books, and then you’d get them a few weeks later? Usually I bough puppy posters or puppy bookmarks but I think I bought this book from there. I can’t imagine where else I would have gotten it.
D.J. Arneson seems to have written a lot of these short little books back in the 80s and 90s. Tony Tallarico did the comics inside and apparently he’s kind of a big deal. I don’t know why he was associated with this book. WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME, TONY?
Here, let’s look at the back.
ZOMG YOU GUYS. The Haunted Planet is EARTH! Well, THIS doesn’t bode well.
So, in our freezer book, we have seven stories. It is less than 100 pages long and the type’s kind of big. It’s not like it’s a difficult book to read. Well, reading-wise, it’s not. CONTENT-wise, it is TERRIFYING.
Well, it was when I was a little Amy. Let’s see what grown-up Amy thinks.
Our stories are:
- The Haunted Gull
- The Empty Motel
- Ghost Flight
- The Bridge
- The Robot’s Revenge
- Don’t Go Into the Baby’s Room
- The House on Pearl Street
And just for YOU, my minions, I’m going to RE-READ these things, and see if they’re still creepy.
THE HAUNTED GULL
This story is about a boy who decides it’s a good idea to kill a seagull with a bow and arrow while he’s on a seaside vacation with his parents. When he kills one, he goes to examine his kill and the body is GONE. That night, he hears pecking noises outside his cabin and something breaks his window. When he gets up to get his parents, he finds a living room full of birds all covered in his parents’ blood and then “the gulls closed their circle around the terrified boy” so I assume they pecked and clawed him to death, too but since this is supposedly a book for children they don’t say that.
Well, this is really not appropriate for children, but it’s not that bad. It teaches you a LESSON. Don’t be shooting seagulls with bows and arrows. You don’t need to kill animals for no reason, that’s sociopath behavior, son.
HOWEVER! I think we have found the root of my bird-phobia! I am PETRIFIED of their feet and beaks because I think they’ll peck me to death and I never had any reason why! I THINK I KNOW WHY NOW!
Freezer-book rating on a scale of 1 freezers to 10 freezers: 3 freezers
THE EMPTY MOTEL
This one has a little italicized part under the title: The question was, why was the motel empty? UGH I DON”T KNOW IF I WANT TO KNOWWWW
This story is about a family that shows up to a motel in the middle of a rainy night. The father runs in to get them a room while the mother, the two daughters, and the dog stay in the car. But the dad doesn’t come back! And why are there no other cars in the parking lot SO WEIRD. So when the daughter rolls down the window and the stupid dog runs out into the rain they decide to go find their daddy and/or husband and go into the hotel. One of the daughters is all “I DREAMED THIS PLACE” and THAT’S not at all terrifying. So when they get inside it’s all EMPTY inside, it’s only a SHELL that looks good on the OUTSIDE, it’s like a TRAP, and the father’s nowhere to be FOUND, and there’s a creepy shadow-man that one of the daughters is talking to all, “Hi! I dreamed you! Where’s my dog where’s my father YOU ARE A LIAR DREAM SHADOW MAN! YOU SAID I COULD HAVE THEM BAAAAACK!” (this child is not right) and then the mom goes nuts and runs off into the shadows looking for her husband and then the daughters go looking for their parents and the dog and go into a room and two red glowing lights that are probably eyes blink on and the door blows shut. And the last line is “The answer was, the motel wasn’t empty.”
Oh, now THIS is terrifying for a kid to read with the shadow-men and dreaming something that came true and the family disappearing. I read this when I was NINE. Nine! That is too young to be reading about killer ghost shadow men with red glowy eyes and hotels that WEREN’T EMPTY.
Freezer-book rating: 6 freezers
This one’s about a plane. I’m bored just thinking about it.
This story is about a bunch of pilots. The pilots’ names are – I’m not even kidding – Buzz Arnold, Lem Calhoun, and Biff Bolt. BIFF! BOLT! It’s like they got these names from a baby name book for SUPERHEROES! Except for poor ol’ Lem. He sounds like a sad sack.
Buzz, Biff and Sad Sack Lem are pilots for a commercial airline and they have to fly through the BERMUDA TRIANGLE! Buzz and Lem are all “HA HA THAT’S A FALLACY” but Biff’s young and he’s all nervous-faced because I assume his heart hasn’t died yet. They’re in the air and their radios go out and they’re having trouble with the controls and a young boy on the flight is listening to a transistor radio (those things work in the air? huh, ok) and he hears talking and sees WWII jet fighters planes trying to warn the plane out of their flight path but NO ONE BELIEVES HIM and then the plane kind of drifts into the BERMUDA TRIANGLE and everyone on the plane is dead and frozen except the little boy who realizes he will be there FOREVER trapped in a plane of DEAD PEOPLE. It’s all a little confusing.
This story made me laugh because I found THIS written on the last page:
This is wee Amy’s handwriting. It says “Yeah good man.” You are seeing wee Amy’s first official book review. I am so hoping wee Amy was being sarcastic, because – hey, wee Amy? THIS WAS NOT “GOOD.” “MAN.” (Man? Really? Was I a hep cat, dude? What’s going on with this?)
Freezer-book rating: 2 freezers
This is a story about a boy who moves to a new town. There is a bridge with a sign that says not to cross it after dark. He’s all “WHAT THE EFF THAT’S DUMB” and he goes to the park and he plays around until he slips and falls and knocks himself out and wakes up and it’s nighttime. To get home, he has to cross the bridge. He’s all woozy and freaked out and when he steps on the bridge it starts to shake and quake and then a WRAITH appears and SHRIEKS at him and makes his hair turn white and stand all up around his head like he’s a dandelion and then WRAPS HIM IN HIS WRAITH-ARMS and then the wraith and the boy are gone. Then the neighborhood boys show up the next day and are all, “oh, well, he should have known enough to read the sign, this always happens to new kids in town, SIGH SHRUG” and then we get some sort of weird shoehorned in backstory about how when the bridge was built a man was accidentally cemented into the base of the bridge and if you listen, you can hear the voices of the people he’s trapped in there with him over the years. INCLUDING THE BOY HE JUST KILLED DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
I think this was scarier when I was a kid because I used to be scared of the dark. But now I like the dark, so I’m less scared. Also, that kid got what he deserved. Why the hell didn’t he pay attention to the sign? YOUR OWN FAULT KIDDO. The most disturbing thing in this was the laissez-faire attitude of the kids at the end, honestly. “Oh, well, another dead kid, HO-HUM.” It’s like they live in Derry.
Freezer-book rating: 4 freezers
THE ROBOT’S REVENGE
This is a story about robots getting revenge. Oh, you want more? FINE.
An unscrupulous scientist-type does this display for a bunch of people of a little robot called Micro-Mite. Micro-Mite is AMAZING! (Except it’s the 8os so it’s not so amazing reading it in 2012. He just does basic robot stuff like wheel around and talk in a robot-voice.) The audience is FLABBERGASTED! The man’s all, “how does he do it?” and the audience is all “WE DON’T KNOW!” but you find out later HOW HE DOES IT is that he has a tiny dwarf strapped inside, running the controls of Micro-Mite, and he is VERY MEAN to the dwarf, and never unstraps him or feeds him. So he accidentally covers up the airholes and the dwarf smothers. He throws Micro-Mite into the lake and drives off all “oh, well.” A while later, his trailer breaks down and he goes to a junk dealer to sell it. He sees Micro-Mite in the corner of the dealer’s office! “Where did you FIND that?” he asks, and the junk dealer is all “oh, on the side of the road, ha ha!” and the man’s all “oh shit shit, something is AFOOT!” and when the junk dealer leaves to get something Micro-Mite comes to life and attacks the man and drives him outside to his trailer and then wedges his trailer into a hidden tight place where there’s no air or food so the man will smother THE END. Oh, also Micro-Mite (who is now being controlled by a GHOST because the junkman says, “there’s nothin’ in you but some STRAPS hyuk-hyuk!”) kills the evil man’s cat (because the cat always got fed and loved and the dwarf didn’t) and also becomes the junkman’s new BFF and brings him lemonade. NOW it’s THE END.
This isn’t scary, this is stupid. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode written by a child with ADD.
Freezer-book rating: 2 freezers
Don’t Go Into the Baby’s Room
This story is about a very stupid babysitter who just randomly shows up at a stranger’s house to babysit without apparently knowing anything about the person she’s supposed to babysit for which I think might be the stupidest idea ever but whatever. Look at those shorts, I don’t think she was thinking clearly when she got dressed that morning.
The old old woman is super-creepy and only uses CANDLES and makes her drink some weird TEA and Bonny the Babysitter is all creeped out and then the old woman grabs her with her claw-hand and forces her upstairs and says “time to meet Cecil the baby!” and then hugs her so hard she can’t breathe and then swaps places with Bonny the Babysitter so it’s like Freaky Friday only without the hijinks. Then Bonny the Babysitter is all old and the old lady is all young but apparently also a ghost? Because she drifts through the door and disappears. And then Bonny’s all, eh, hi, Cecil, I’m your new babysitter, but we never see the baby, so I don’t know if there even WAS a baby, or if it was the devil or a euphemism or what, and that part was very confusing.
Again, I remember being SO SCARED of this when I was little, but now mostly I’m like Bonny, what the hell, going to some stranger’s house wearing hotpants, that seems foolish, you’re dressed like bait in a horror movie, how can you be surprised if you get bodysnatched by some weird old lady?
Also, the title makes no sense. Don’t Go Into the Baby’s Room? Who’s giving that warning, anyway? The author of the story? Bonny?
Freezer-book rating: 4 freezers
THE HOUSE ON PEARL STREET
This is the story that made this book a freezer-book. This story EFFED ME UP YO.
I’m kind of scared to re-read it. I STILL remember how terrifying this was. But the rest of these stories were pretty stupid and not scary so maybe I’m misremembering.
Here we go. Deep breaths. DEEP BREATHS.
A boy named Evan is taking a shortcut in the woods (yet…the house…is on Pearl Street? I am confused, is the woods on Pearl Street? WHAT’S WITH THE TITLE?!?!) and decides that the best course of action is to…walk through a very creepy house? I don’t know if that was well-advised. Once in the house, the door closes after him and locks. He looks out the window and it is winter out. Only it was SUMMER when he came in! Then a super-tall ghoul-thing (see above) shows up and shambles after him. These children pull him into a hidden panel in the wall and tell him they are ghosts who live there because the ghoul-thing killed them, too, and he’ll be joining them soon, because there’s no escape. They kick him out of the safe room (I assume because they want to PLAY with him, Danny, and in order for them to do that, he has to be eaten by the ghoul-thing) and he runs around (outside of another window, it’s fall, this is the house of all the seasons, although it’s not really explained why that’s the case) and finally escapes from the ghoul-thing into the backyard and is all “SUCK IT GHOSTS! I GOT AWAY!” only he left the door open, and ghoul-thing comes out and grabs him and drags him back into the house so he’s going to be one of the ghost-gang after all. And the last line’s all “Everything’s just as it was before…only one thing was different. The door was open. Now the creature could get out.”
OK. I don’t…dammit, freezer-book. This isn’t even that scary. I guess this might be terrifying for a third-grader, but for a super-jaded almost-forty-year-old, this is TAME. This thing had me petrified for YEARS. Is it the scariest story in this lame book? Yeah, probably. This one and the haunted-motel one were pretty scary for children. But not for GROWNUPS.
Freezer-book rating: 7 freezers
Dear HAUNTED PLANET. I have outgrown you and you are no longer my freezer book! I WIN! And I’m kind of embarrassed, honestly. If it helps at all, I was a terribly sheltered child. Everything scared me. EVERYTHING. Now, very few things do. I worry more about the well-being of my loved ones than I worry about stupid things like ghoul-monsters. Drowning. Fire. Losing the people I love. I have various stupid phobias but they don’t really count as things I’m SCARED of.
Dumbcat would like to show you what HE thinks of Haunted Planet: