Saturday, October 1, 2016

Recap: Goosebumps "The Haunted Mask Part 2"

You know, if you took all the supernatural elements of this story away, it would be about a bullied girl who invents a new persona after donning a stolen mask, thus freeing her repressed dark side as it manifests in acts of random violence.

Which, I think you'll agree, is not likely to get a Y-7 rating.

So as much as some parents and teachers campaigned against Goosebumps's supernatural elements, I think we can all agree that those same supernatural elements ended up making this particular story more suitable for kids.

And isn't it ironic, don't you think?
After a brief recap of the events of the first episode, Carly Beth resumes strangling her best friend before breaking out into laughter. She hasn't quite become crazy enough to be a Batman villain yet, she simply wanted to scare her best friend. By choking her.

Scratch that. She's crazy enough to be a Batman villain.
Sabrina: "It's not that funny, Carly Beth. It's a little sick."
Carly Beth: "I'm sore-y. I'm just staying in character."

Ah. A method actor.

Carly Beth: "You know, gettin' in the mood."

Some people light candles.

Carly Beth: "I like scaring people. Usually, I'm the one that's always afraid of everything."
Sabrina: "Well, next time you decide to go berserk like that, please warn me. Okay?"

Forget that, Sabrina, you need to set up a safe word first.
Suddenly, though, Carly Beth has become that trick-or-treater. She continues to try and scare random passersby and rings the doorbell an obnoxious number of times when she and Sabrina finally reach their first house.

When the mother inside answers the door with her two kids, she expresses disgust over Carly Beth's mask, despite the fact that... you know. It's Halloween. A green-skinned, fangly mask is pretty tame, all things considered. I mean, those skull masks that drip blood are more hardcore than Carly Beth's mask.

These are scarier than Carly Beth's mask.
To sort of drive the point home, the woman's son is actually more preoccupied with Sabrina's costume of indeterminate species. Apparently, she's supposed to be a cat.

I would not have guessed that.
At first, I thought she might be a mouse, but there wasn't enough bare skin for that.

Actually, I think Sabrina's costume looks more like a mouse than this one.
Little Girl: "I don't like the other one, mom. Too scary."

Well, welcome to Halloween, kid.

Mother: "Oh, it's just a funny mask, hon. Don't be afraid."

But Carly Beth decides to take it too far and tell the kid to watch what she says around her.

Carly Beth: "If you know what's good for ya!"

The little girl is understandably scared by this.

Mother: "Listen, don't scare her like that! She's just a little girl."

Yeah, Carly Beth took it too far, but... perhaps your daughter shouldn't answer the door with you if Halloween masks scare her?

Carly Beth threatens the mother with "what's coming to her" and flees the scene. But not before taking a handful of candy. Because even when turning evil, Carly Beth still has her priorities straight.

No joke here. Her face just cracks me up.
Mother: "You tell your sick little friend that I'm gonna call the police!"

"How dare she take more than one piece!"
All Carly Beth has to do is say she was pretending to yell at the kid. It apparently worked for Rosenstern and Guildencrantz when they "pretended" to be prowlers at Sabrina's house.

Sabrina chases after her friend, who seems to be rather chill about the fact that she's getting the cops called on her.

Carly Beth: "I'm not afraid of her."

And I'm sure that will matter when the cops find you.

Carly Beth: "It's not me, Sabrina. It's the mask. The mask made me do it."

There's precedent.
Since Carly Beth is making a nuisance of herself, Sabrina suggests that they go back to her house.

Carly Beth: "No. This is my night. Halloween is my night. It's the one night I get to have fun. The one night I don't have to be pitiful, scare-able Carly Beth."

Carly Beth runs away from Sabrina, despite how sore-y she claims to be, and starts terrorizing more innocent kids. Meanwhile, Rosenstern and Guildencrantz are in front of the cemetery dressed up as pirates.

Rosenstern: "Ohhh. What a haul!"
Guildencrantz: "Yeah. I got some great stuff."

Huh. I didn't know the cemetery was a good place to collect candy. Let me try!

...This doesn't seem to be working.
As they head inside the cemetery, Carly Beth is smashing pumpkins. And if she has enough time, she might even try counting crows. As she terrorizes some more kids, Rosenstern and Guildencrantz dance around together and sing sea shanties. To quote my girlfriend, this is homoerotic as hell.

So now I'm shipping these two together alongside my Carly Beth/Sabrina ship. OTP! OTP!
As they split up their Halloween booty, Rosenstern "hears" something rustling around. When Guildencrantz investigates, Rosenstern scares him with a skull mask. His laughter afterwards clues Carly Beth in to their location, so now it's her turn.

Carly Beth runs up to them and gives them a good RAAAAAAAAUUUGH. It scares them, but not in the way she intended. Carly Beth wanted her mask to scare them, but they seem to be more unnerved by the fact that a total stranger ran up to them and snarled.

Guildencrantz: "You're Carly Beth, right? You really scared us."

Having failed at the jumpscare, Carly Beth decide to delve into psychological terror by convincing them that Carly Beth's actual head is on that stick, rather than a plaster model. It's not clear if they believe that Carly Beth's dry, waxen, head and hollow neck are really on that stick... but they seem to believe that this green goblin is certifiably nuts.

"Oh, crap, are we in a Stephen King novel?'
Rosenstern: "How are you making that weird voice?"

Yeah, how are you making that weird voice... that sounds like the actress doing a fairly-standard scratchy voice? I mean, it's a fine vocal performance, but what is everybody's obsession with her voice? Did the sound guy forget to put a filter over it?

Anyway, Carly Beth demands that the two bullies should tell the plaster head how "sore-y" they are for tormenting her every day of her life.

Rosenstern: "We were just goofing around."
Guildencrantz: "We only did it 'cause we liked her."

...What? That's not in the book. Also... it doesn't quite work.

To be fair, it's hard to be a boy at this age. It's also hard to be a girl, but that's a whole 'nother ball of wax. Basically, teenage years are hard on everybody, but for many different reasons.

Middle school is that tough time where each boy matures at a different rate from every other boy. So while some boys still want to tease and annoy girls, others are starting to realize certain... stirrings within them, which they don't know how to deal with. Oftentimes, boys will resort to what they know how to do: teasing. Turned up to eleven.

All the adults assume you're just intentionally being a jerk to girls when you're trying and failing to reconcile conflicting urges within yourself as you grow into adulthood.

True story, a classmate of mine once said this in 8th grade without a hint of irony:

"Ha ha, you got kissed by a girl? That's so gay."

So it makes sense that these two would have a hard time reconciling these feelings for Carly Beth and would resort to teasing her. However, the lengths they go to are pretty extreme.

"Hey, Carly Beth is kind of pretty. Let's trick her into eating a worm!"

That's stretching my suspension of disbelief. In a show about a haunted mask. I am aware of the irony.

But Carly Beth sets these two young men straight.

Carly Beth: "That's not excuse. And it's not how you show someone you like her."

I love how the bird's all like "Dude. Chill."
After the kids start repeating how "sore-y" they are, the plaster head actually replies by saying "Help me" to them, freaking out everybody involved.

"Am I symbolism? Am I Carly's Beth's soul made manifest? I don't even know."
Including Carly Beth. And everyone runs away from the crazy girl, as well they should.

Carly Beth cackles and howls as they run away before digging a hole to bury the plaster head in for good. And with Carly Beth buried in both her psyche and the dirt, she runs off, doing a little cartwheel for good measure.

She heads across the neighborhood, where Sabrina finds her. She deflects any and all questions as to where she was, what she was doing, and why she ditched her plaster head. And it seems as though she's having a little trouble remembering what she's been doing.

Sabrina and Carly Beth head back home, hand in hand. Once inside, Sabrina shows off her major haul for herself and her flu-ridden cousin. As she counts it, Carly Beth tries to take off the overheating mask, but it seems to be stuck to her skin.

When Sabrina tries to help, they discover that there's no seam between the mask and her skin. For all intents and purposes, the mask is her skin.

Let's not worry about the logistics of her rubber teeth over her lips.
Carly Beth: "Those eyes... Those eyes in the mirror."
Sabrina: "What about them?"
Carly Beth: "They're not my eyes, Sabrina."

"These eyes are not my eyes. And these eyes are not the color that my arid eyes might be."
Carly Beth freaks out and runs away, needlessly freaking out the people outside.

Witch: "What are you supposed to be?"

Forget Carly Beth, is that a vampire Hulk?
Carly Beth: "I'm supposed to be me, but I'm not."

Yeah, well, stow the philosophy. You're scaring people.

She heads to the Happy Mask Shop, finding the creepy guy expecting her.

"You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?"
Carly Beth: "I can't get it off me."
Creepy Guy: "I know."

He reveals that the "mask" is actually a real face. They all are. When they were first made, they were beautiful. But one by one, they all turned ugly.

Creepy Guy: "I called them the Unloved Ones. Because no one will ever love them now. Only you, Carly Beth. You're the only one who ever wanted them. The only one who ever loved them."

Dude, go to a horror convention. People will want and love them there, too.

Carly Beth doesn't care, and still wants the face off, despite him telling her that she has no hope to remove it.

Geez, it's not even 10 PM? Not even the supernatural stays up late in Canada, it seems.
Creepy Guy: "There may be one possibility."
"Not sure why I didn't lead with that, actually."
Creepy Guy: "How many times... have you taken off that mask?"
Carly Beth: "Taken off? Once."
Creepy Guy: "There still might be a chance...."

If Carly Beth can find a symbol of love, she can take it off. Carly Beth wants to rightly know how they heck this guy knows all this, and he reveals that he made the masks in the first place.

Creepy Guy: "I was like you. I did not love myself. I made these face to hide behind them. To hide my faults. But the faults were inside me. That's what infected the faces, turned them into monsters. Like this one is turning now."

I was gonna say, you're looking a little... gangrenous.

Well, don't pick at it, man.
Creepy Guy: "I don't dare show you what's underneath. Or perhaps I should... so that you will appreciate who you are... and what you've always had!"

Dude, don't be pulling anything off, for the love of all that's good and holy.

Carly Beth yells and screams again, but the shopkeeper shushes her. The Unloved Ones have woken up. The creepy shopkeeper yells at her to run, and she does, trying to ignore their intonations of "Join us, Carly Beth!"

Okay, Goosebumps, you actually got a little creepy. Good job.
In desperation, she heads back to the cemetery and uncovers her plaster face as they follow her. The plaster face repels them, and she realizes that she can suddenly take the mask off.

The plaster bust, made because her mom loves her, was a strong enough symbol of love to loosen the mask's grip on her. And she buries the mask, as is the sensible thing to do.

Oh wait no.

That's not what happens.

She takes it home with her because we need to set up a twist ending.

Once home, she tosses her mask down before her brother freaks out over the scary mask she's wearing. But it turns out to just be a joke, referring to her actual face.

Mildly distraught, Carly Beth runs up and hugs her mom, who wants to know what she's been doing, why she ditched Sabrina, and most importantly, why she didn't wear the duck costume.

It's an important question.
Carly Beth: "Well, let's just say I've learned a lot about myself tonight, Mom."

They hug again, and the episode gets its twist ending as Noah shows up with the mask on.

Unfortunately, it was permanently grafted to his face. The bills for the plastic surgery bankrupted the family.
R.L. Stine reappears to bookend the episode, asking us if it was really that scary.

R.L. Stine: "Let's ask my family. Mom? Dad? What did you think?"

"We think the makeup people could have done a better job making us look presentable for your little show, son."
R.L. Stine: "I think they liked it. I hope you did too. Have a scary day, everyone."

That's just precious, R.L. Stine. "Have a scary day"? That's something I'd expect a little cartoon skeleton to say.

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