Sunday, June 6, 2010

"Freddy Krueger's Tales Of Terror #2: Fatal Games" by Bruce Richards

Chip Parker, his mother and his adopted brother Al are moving to Elm Street, where the mother hopes to make a go of it as the owner of a donut shop. Al is a bitter, angry teenager and resents his adopted family. Tensions only increase when both brothers try out for the position of quarterback on the football team at their new school.

Chip meets and falls for a strange beauty named Alicia, and learns of her connection to the history of the house he now lives in. She was having eye surgery when she discovered the dead bodies of several local teenagers stuffed into the boiler in the basement. The eye surgeon's nephew had hung himself nearby, apparently guilty of the crimes. However, she confides to Chip that she thinks the killer was Johnny Murphy, now locked up in an insane asylum.

Other strange things occur. Alicia's ex-boyfriend Scott Miller thinks that she was possessed by some sort of evil spirit while been operated on in that basement. As for Scott, badly injured in the same car accident that blinded Alicia, his grotesquely maimed face can inexplicably not be cured by plastic surgery, and only seems to get worse as time goes on, so he hides from the world. Meanwhile, Al is getting progressively nastier, and is having mysterious conversations with an unknown person in the basement. Suspicious accidents start occuring at school. What on Earth is going on?

To be honest, I really have no idea. Just reading that synopsis back to myself makes me think I possibly imagined reading this book. Back in the heyday of teen thrillers, which ran for about ten years between 1986 and 1996 (R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike were the big names), just about every publisher flooded the market with their own versions. There were about three different series based on hororscopes, while both Freddy Krueger and Michael Myers (from the "Halloween" movies) had a handful of books released. I was quite happy to pick this one up for curiosity value, and would certainly love to get my hands on more.

Because "Fatal Games" isn't actually half-bad. Sure, the plot is all over the place, but there is the germ of a good idea here. Disappointingly, it all turns out to be the work of Freddy Krueger himself, which didn't make much sense. Either the author couldn't figure out a way to hang this all together, or there was a mandate by the publisher that Freddy Krueger had to be the villian. After all, this is one of his tales of terror. I suspect it's a mixture of the two. Once the story is over, there are several questions left unanswered. What was the deal with the voodoo doll Chip found in the backyard? Why did Johnny originally murder those cheerleaders and run over his football teammate? Why is he seemingly helping Al injure his current teammates? What's the connection to eye surgeon Dr. Hawke and the fact several of the dead bodies had the eyeballs removed? How was Alicia's blindness miraculously cured? You're probably getting the idea by now. So, with a little fleshing out of his ideas, the author really could have been onto something with this book. Not bad for an obscure relic from the teen-thriller era before "Twilight".

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