Welcome to the third review in the Fear Street reread project in celebration of R.L. Stine rebooting the series! You can read the previous review here.
It all happens in the dark…
Holly Flynn is cajoled into being a camp counselor for her uncle’s struggling Nightwing Camp. Unfortunately, it’s not a camp for superheroes, but murder and intrigue do occur!
Another Bill Schmidt cover, it has the usual scared, pretty young female, but I find this one disappointing. There’s nothing particularly cheesy about it, and anytime I see a full moon in the background, I expect werewolves. There are no werewolves in this book. Unfortunately.
The chapters in Lights Out alternate between letters addressed to a person named “Chief” and signed “Me” and the third person narrative typical to Fear Street. The first begins with one of these letters where “Me” diabolically insists that he/she will “make them pay.” So much intrigue! Who will pay?
We then switch scenes to Holly Flynn, our heroine and junior camp counselor, trying to shoo a spider out of her cabin. Even though she is terrified of spiders, she cannot bring herself to kill one. This will become a problem for Holly. In fact, she hates all things creepy, crawly, and outdoorsy. So why is she a camp counselor, you ask? Well, her Uncle Bill cajoled her into helping him out at Camp Nightwing. Now with a name like that, you might be picturing something like this:
Turns out Camp Nightwing is not nearly this cool despite a disaster happening every year: lightning strike, fire, accidental death, the plague. (Okay, it was the measles, but the plague is so much more dramatic.) So Uncle Bill invites Holly even though she lives on Fear Street because he’s desperate, and what’s worse than fire and death anyway? And he is family so it’s not like Holly can say no without like major guilt tripping at the next family get-together.
So here Holly is at Camp Nightwing, freaking out over a spider, and swearing off boys after a bad break-up.
Holly’s BFF Thea Mack shows up and starts prattling on about boys, but then they hear someone calling for help. Oh, noes! They run off and find Uncle Bill buried under part of a cabinet that fell off the wall. They recover Uncle Bill from the mess, and as they are cleaning up, Holly notices a red feather in the bolt hole where the top of the cabinet came loose. Could it be a clue?
Holly and Thea chat as they clean up, and Holly learns that her arch nemesis Geri Marcus is also at the camp. Oh, and guess what, Geri has short red hair!
So Geri and Holly used to be friends, and Geri would use Holly as a front for hanging out with her 18-year old boyfriend that her parents forbade her from seeing. Well, Holly is a terrible liar, and one night, Geri’s mom called looking for Geri and caught wise. Geri was grounded for the rest of the semester and still blames Holly.
Later, Holly and Thea meet senior counselor Debra Wallach, and Holly finds herself very attracted to Debra. Seriously, here is the wording:
Holly just stared. She thought the girl was incredibly attractive. No. Holly thought she was perfect.
So Holly is queer, woot! Or she will be from now on in my Holly Flynn fanfic.
Holly is Debra’s junior counselor. Debra grills Holly on her experience and finds her wanting because apparently you have to have a Ph.D. in arts and crafts at Camp Nightwing. (I’ve been a camp counselor. You give the kids paper, glitter, and glue, and just try to keep them from eating the glue or getting glitter in their eyes.) I guess Debra and Holly won’t be making a love connection anytime soon.
Holly and Thea find Geri sitting with some dude that looks like Kevin Bacon. Stine could just be appealing to the teenage girls of the 90s with some dreamy Bacon, but as my editor pointed out, he could also be paying homage to Bacon’s role in the first slasher-sleep-away camp flick, Friday the 13th.
So the Bacon doppelganger is named Mick, and apparently doesn’t have a mission to bring dancing to Camp Nightwing because he is too busy writing letters! Could this be the “Me” who is writing to “Chief”?
(Wo)man, the carefully crafted plots of Fear Street throw some serious curve balls.
Holly returns to her cabin to find a bat trapped in there. She frantically tries to get the bat out, but when it flies at her face, she screams. Debra shows up and berates Holly then takes care of the bat.
Cut to everyone sitting around a campfire discussing horror films. Everyone starts introducing themselves, but then a guy in a hockey mask and a hatchet leaps out of the dark and advances on Holly. Holly freezes up which apparently will be a common problem for her.
Turns out it’s just the jokester Kit who is kind of a nerd and way into Geri who wants nothing to do with him. We also meet Sandy Wayne, some rich kid who will be leading wilderness treks and teaching tennis (of course). Thea points to a dude named John who she had a fling with last summer, but he’s being all weird sitting by himself. Hm, could this be our culprit?! The creepy, loner guy?
Uncle Bill then covers the rules: lights out at 9, recycle, don’t date the campers. First of all, how old are these campers that this has to be said?!
Mick flirts with Holly, and his bad boy vibes get her libido going.
Holly wakes up early the next day and decides to go swimming. Along the way she bumps into Mick. He says he cut through the woods because “it’s more interesting than taking the marked path.” He probably like reads Robert Frost (or more accurately that one Frost poem that we are all required to read in elementary school).
So as Mick is leering at Holly in her swimsuit (for reals), he notices that some of the canoes are missing. Turns out somebody punched holes in the canoes, and they sunk. As Mick and Holly inspect the scene, she finds another red feather.
Holly hurries to greet the campers arriving on the bus that morning. Debra chides her for being late. Holly gets her campers and takes them to their cabin. As they are claiming beds, one of the bunk beds collapses on one of the campers. Holly gets the camper out and tries to comfort her. Debra then shows up and starts yelling at Holley for not comforting the girls better because:
And guess what happens – Holly finds another red feather! Holly decides this is surely a sign that someone is trying to sabotage the camp. Okay, recast:
Holly tries to explain her theory to Uncle Bill, but he’s not having it because adults are mean. Bummed, Holly leaves and crosses paths with Debra. In a surprisingly adult moment, Holly apologizes for her poor performance and asks if Debra wouldn’t yell at her in front of everyone. So Debra yells at her. Then Debra yells at her again over an incident in the cafeteria. It’s not worth writing about.
Holly while patrolling the grounds for campers out past curfew bumps into Mick. He says he was looking for her and more or less tells Holly how’s she not like other girls. How flattering.
He asks her to walk with him, but she refuses. He then gets pissed off and grabs her arm. Once he leaves, despite being afraid, Holly is “flattered that someone as good looking as Mick” is interested in her.
Well, I guess this is the horror genre so what’s scarier for a young woman than an entitled dude?
She then bumps into Sandy, and they chat a bit. He’s one of the few counselors who is actually nice to her. He will probably die.
Holly takes a garter snake under her pillow (and another berating from Debra) as further proof of her Camp-Nightwing-is-in-grave-danger theory. She tries to get Uncle Bill to believe her again, but no one will take Holly seriously.
Holly decides no more dicking around, she has to be her own Shelby Woo. She starts sleuthing by learning more about the other counselors. She begins with Mick, and they meet that evening. Mick shows up in cut-offs, and whatever happened to dudes wearing cut-offs? I think far too many man thighs are being concealed from us. Bring back the cut-off! Well, we know where this goes, Mick wants to fool around, Holly doesn’t, he gets pushy. She pushes him in the water.
Geri is watching and thinks Holly is trying to steal Mick from her so she threatens her since Holly already “ruined” her life once. Geez.
Holly later bumps into Sandy. They chat, and she reveals her theory. Sandy, skeptical, invites Holly on the upcoming wilderness trip because he thinks it will help her adjust to the camp.
Holly bumps into Thea who is all upset because John, her fling from last summer, is just not interested even after she invites him out for some necking after dark. Stine didn’t use the word necking, but I bet he would. John uses the excuse he has to write letters. Oh, no, is he the culprit?
During pottery, Holly is helping the girls. One of the girls breaks one of the pots. Debra berates her. Fortunately, Debra’s going to die soon so it’s cool. Too soon?
Walking back to her cabin, Holly is cornered by Kit, Mick, and Geri. Kit and Mick grab Holly and bring her to Geri who pushes Holly into a creek and dumps a bucket of leeches on her.
During this time, Holly sees Sandy watching from afar. Then Holly runs back to her cabin where she bumps into Sandy who acts like he saw nothing. So much for being the nice dude.
On the way to dinner, Holly goes looking for Debra. She stops by the darkened craft cabin where, lo and behold, she finds splatters of blood everywhere and Debra slumped over the pottery wheel with her face “a bloody mess of raw pulp.” It’s obviously “a horrible accident.”
But then Holly finds a red feather.
The police come, and Holly tells them her theory. They don’t believe her.
Later, everyone is telling ghost stories around the campfire. Holly decides this is her chance to sneak off and investigate by snooping through the other counselors’ stuff. She finds a small wooden box in John’s bunk, but she’s caught in the act by John! When he insists she explains herself, she reveals her theory because despite claiming to have watched detective shows, she thinks you should totally tell all to your prime suspect. She then stops by Mick’s cabin and peering through the window spies a Native American rattle with…red feathers.
More nobody believes or likes Holly. More diabolical letters to “Chief” about somebody dying on the wilderness trip. Some more John weirdness, but we know it can’t be him because it’s too obvious. Let’s skip to the wilderness trip, shall we? Cuz we know shit’s going to go down!
Before dawn, Sandy wakes Holly and invites her on a canoeing trip to see the sunrise. She realizes she likes Sandy more and more ever since he got creepy. In my Holly Flynn fanfic, Holly finds a way to channel this into a healthy sex life that involves partners who respect her and safe words.
So Sandy’s the “Me” of the letters. Turns out the camper who died before was his brother whom he called Chief. Awww, sads.
Sandy killed Debra because she was the counselor on call when it happened. (Okay, so Debra’s neuroses makes a little more sense now.) Sandy now plans to kill Holly since she is on to him. A struggle ensues, and Holly knocks Sandy out with a canoe paddle. Then the canoe crashes into a rock, and she is thrown into the water. She manages to get onto land, but Sandy finds her anyway because this was before Scream taught us that you make sure the killer is really dead.
More struggling! Holly decides that running into a nearby cave and thus cornering herself is a brilliant escape plan. She makes it to the cave, but the entrance is blocked by a pit of snakes! Sandy gets to her ankle by then, and Holly grabs a snake and throws it at him. You go girl!
Startled, Sandy loses his footing and falls down the hill. Holly limps down the hill after him, but he seems dead. *Shrug*
So police are called, things are handled. Mick’s there. He reveals he feels bad for throwing leeches on Holly and that he “really” does like her. They walk off into the sunset. I hope he gets killed in the sequel.
Moral of the Story
Make sure the killer is actually dead.
2 few, get it?
Sleep-away camp, diabolical letter writing to dead people, Mick – the date rapist
Kevin Bacon, possibly Jason Vorhees since the sequels ran up to the 90s, but Jason is timeless really