Monster Blood III & Monster Blood IV
Series number(s): 29 / 62
Number of pages: 126 / 118
Release date(s): March 1995 / December 1997
Tagline(s): Evan’s growing up way too fast! / This blood is bad to the bone!
Did I Read Them as a Child?: No / No
The Stories On the Back
Monster Blood III – Evan can’t stand baby-sitting his genius cousin, Kermit. Kermit refuses to play video games. He won’t even play Frisbee! All he likes to do is hang out in the basement doing strange experiments and playing mean practical jokes on Evan and his friend Andy. But now Andy’s found something that will teach Kermit a lesson once and for all. It’s green. It’s slimy. And it comes in a can marked . . . Monster Blood!
Monster Blood IV – It’s Four Times As Evil! Evan Ross can’t forget about Monster Blood — the evil green slime that never stops growing. It can turn ordinary pets into ferocious animals and twelve-year-old kids into freakish giants. But now there’s a new kind of Monster Blood in town. It comes in a can just like the others. Only difference is this slime is blue instead of green. And instead of just growing, it’s multiplying — into terrifying blue creatures with razor-sharp teeth….
The Stories On the Pages
One article into this series and I’ve already made myself a liar! I said there’d be an individual article for each Goosebumps book, but here I am, right out of the gate and combining two together! What nerve I must have!
But I also have a good reason. And that reason is that Monster Blood III and Monster Blood IV are exactly the same book. Same characters, same antagonistic force, same situations and circumstances, same everything! So, same article.
Let’s get right into it with Monster Blood III and Monster Blood IV, the two worst Goosebumps books of the original sixty-two series.
Both stories open with Evan having some sort of mild flashback to the “horrors” of Monster Blood, which is an ever-expanding goo that’s haunted him for… well, less than a year. The substance actually started out as something completely different in the first Monster Blood book, but from there onwards that continuity was ignored. You’ll hear all about that in the other Monster Blood articles though, so I won’t bog you down with my anger here.
At least… my anger over that.
As either Monster Blood III or Monster Blood IV progresses we see Evan with his little cousin Kermit. This kid is such a prat and 100% the reason I hate these books with a fiery, burning passion! He’s a tattle-tale, a liar, and his greatest passion is playing mad scientist with his mixtures in the basement. Over the two books he creates a shrinking potion, a laughing potion, a hiccup potion, so forth and so fucking on. He’s there for deus ex machina ways to counteract the Monster Blood come the end of the stories.
So anyways, Evan is babysitting his cousin Kermit to earn himself money for a Walkman and to get himself to sleepaway camp for the summer. Because apparently this twelve year old child is in charge of paying for his own summer vacation. Do you think he chips in on the power bill too?
While he’s with Kermit, a girl he met in the first book and has been around for every subsequent Monster Blood title, appears from the long grass like a goddamn Pokemon. Her name is Andy and she somehow always has fresh cans of Monster Blood around. So what are the problems that arise because of this Monster Blood?
In Monster Blood III the Monster Blood ends up in Evan’s mouth and he grows huge because of it. Because along with being ever-expanding itself, it’ll also make anything that eats it big. He spends his time as a huge twelve year old tormenting his bully and playing baseball before finally getting Kermit to make a shrinking potion to get him back to normal.
In Monster Blood IV the Monster Blood is different. It’s blue this time instead of green. And instead of expanding, it crawls out of the can as a blue slug. If the slug comes in contact with any water, it splits in two like an amoeba. Take a guess what Evan, Andy, and Kermit’s bright idea is concerning these things? If you guessed putting them in a bathroom, you win a prize! Except not really because I’m the one that had to read this so I deserve the prizes and am taking them for my own! This chapter of the Monster Blood saga ends with hundreds of blue slugs about to kill Evan but then they turn on each other and eat each other instead.
Why? A scientist shows up to say that he made the blue Monster Blood to be an elite underwater fighting force but they’re too mean and always just end up killing each other.
Sure, whatever. I guess that’s an acceptable ending to, not only the Monster Blood sage, but to the original run of the Goosebumps series!
While these two books have different events occur, they follow the exact same structure. It is as follows:
- Evan has a daydream or nightmare about Monster Blood
- Evan is harassed by both his cousin Kermit and his bully Conan
- Andy appears and says she has new Monster Blood, offers to slip some into Kermit or Conan’s food as revenge, Evan refuses
- Kermit and/or Conan harasses Evan again and he agrees to the Monster Blood plan
- Something goes wrong with the Monster Blood
- For the next 50% of the book, Evan tries to figure out how to stop the Monster Blood
- The Monster Blood is stopped via pure happenstance
The only difference between III and IV is the colour of the goo. Green in three and blue in four. Was that really a big enough reason to produce yet another Monster Blood story, Stine?
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and never seeing anything change. That’s what the Monster Blood mini-series within the Goosebumps series is. Insanity. There’s no doubt about it.
Always found among the rubble of Monster Blood stories is Evan, our main POV and all around personality-less twelve year old boy. In the first book, we learn he has red hair and a dog named Trigger. By Monster Blood II his hair colour is ignored, even though hair and eye colour are Stine’s calling cards for establishing quickly what characters look like. By Monster Blood III, Trigger the dog is next to non-existent, then completely gone in Monster Blood IV. All that matters is Monster Blood and that fact is compounded when meeting other characters.
Andy is a girl that likes bright colours and has a seemingly infinite supply of Monster Blood and stupid ideas. Kermit is the most annoying little fucker you’ll ever meet as he mixes his chemicals like a mad scientist without a clear goal. Conan is the neighbourhood bully and is as big and dumb as a Neanderthal, coming into scenes only when “tension” is needed. Not that he provides tension. He either wails on Evan or he threatens to. Never does he do anything else.
Again I have to ask if there was really call to make yet another Monster Blood story with such unchanging characters. Harry Potter changes over his seven books. He becomes infinitely more insufferable as each book passes, but that’s still change. Evan and Andy have four books worth of experiences with Monster Blood and yet they never learn their lessons.
Can a lot of this lack of growth be blamed on the fact that Stine was writing these books not as continuations of the last story, but as new stories to be ingested separately and in any order? Absolutely. If you’re writing for the 9-12 crowd you know there’s going to be a lot of jumping around. And when you’ve got sixty-two books in the series to choose from, you’re bound to go more to the ones that sate your interest. As a kid, I personally went for ghosts and classic monsters, skipping over stories like Monster Blood, Attack of the Mutant, or My Best Friend is Invisible.
So when approaching the mini-series within the overarching series of Goosebumps, there are a lot of variables to consider, the biggest one definitely being how your readership will ingest the media. Assuming they won’t do it in order, Stine had two workarounds for this: keep the characters the same with a different story, or keep the story the same with different characters.
Too bad Monster Blood III and IV he chose to keep both characters and story.
Spooks and Scares
It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly which Goosebumps books are worse than others because there might be a promising monster in one but terrible characters, or a great character but they’re bogged down in a topic that Stine clearly had no passion writing for. Pinpointing exactly what was wrong with Monster Blood III and IV was not one of the challenging times.
These two books are a perfect storm of shit. Annoying, unchanging characters, boring, unchanging plots, lazy, unchanging prose – it’s all here! And even if we’d had a perfect set of characters in an interesting story, Monster Blood III and IV would still be the worst of the worst because, and I cannot stress this enough, these stories are not scary in the least!
The spooks and scares of the first book of this mini-series, before it went completely to hell, were still subjective as hell. I had to really stretch into the thinnest of theories to have anything at all to say. Monster Blood as a concept just isn’t scary. It never has been, it never will be, I don’t care what colour you make it, how many times you have Conan the bully stomp through, or how goopy it feels to have Monster Blood in your hands – it’s not scary!
Could it be claimed that Monster Blood is scary working on the theory that the unknown is scary? Yup, because that’s what I claimed for the first Monster Blood! But there comes a time when the reader’s suspension of disbelief stops disbelieving and the unknown just becomes annoying because we want it to be known.
See, the human brain works on putting pieces together and horror works best on slowly feeding its audience those pieces. A good horror will answer all the questions it raises. A great horror will leave enough questions unanswered to keep the audience thinking about it while still providing a satisfying experience. A bad horror will raise only one question, drag it out as long as possible, and then deny you any solid answer come the end.
Guess which category Monster Blood III and IV falls under?