Literary Corner

Trash Culture Literary Corner: Worlds of Power: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest: Chapters 14-15

It’s Halloween!  What kind of sublime horrors do we have in store?

Several hours later, in the middle of the Aljiba Woods, Tim Bradley’s satchel – the one with all the chocolate – flew away and splashed into the center of a quicksand pool.  It sank without a trace.  Tim, who had just fallen flat on his face after tripping over a root in the path, watched all this with a horror approaching panic.

Well, at least it’s a different kind of horror…

By this point F.X. Nine really starts spinning his discount gears and just going down a checklist of things in the game,  Simon finds an invisible wall that hides the Sacred Flame item and buys a chain whip, things that at least I vaguely recall do happen in the game, so there’s that.  Seriously, though, I miss the spirit and verve the book had in the beginning, when Simon was cornering middle schools in bathrooms.  At least I could make easy yet rewarding pedophile jokes then.  

“Just over here, I think!”  called Simon.  He stepped quickly down the cobblestones, holding up his torch.  The illumination showed a sign depicting a vampire with long fangs, pointed ears, a bat on his shoulder – and an red [sic] NO sign stamped over him  “The Ye Olde Anti-Vampire Shoppe,” Simon explained.  “Come in with me, Tim.  We’ll get some things we need here.”

See what I have to work with?  What can you expect, a five-page treatise on why saying “The Ye Olde” is completely incorrect?  The humor in this book makes me yearn for the subtle gags surrounding Simon Belmont in Captain N.

When there aren’t crappy jokes that would make even a ten-year old whose entire repertoire consists of fart jokes, Simon and Tim just run into an ally, easily get an item or weapon that’s a big reference to the game but doesn’t add to the plot in any obvious way, run into another ally, easily get another item or weapon, rinse and repeat, ad nauseam, for a hellish eternity, sans fin.  

Seriously, I’ve said it before, but I honestly got nothing, so let me repeat:  would it have been really that hard to write a kid-friendly horror yarn?  Whatever you think of R.L. Stine, he was able make a career out of doing exactly that.  Scholastic still publishes a ton of G-rated horror, including one book with the completely, objectively fantastic title of Professor Gargoyle:  Tales from Lovecraft Middle School.  Couldn’t we have had something like that, instead of Tim’s Orgy of Puns and Lame Jokes?

Well, in these two chapters Dracula’s spirit does show up in the form of a young girl named Melanie (totally a name you’d hear in Orange County as well as a place that’s supposed to be modeled after sixteenth century Transylvania) who of course has “dark eyes and dark hair,” because all black-haired people (myself included) are avatars for ultimate evil (I was being sarcastic especially because recent scientific research has indicated that’s gingers).  In most fiction the “villain tempts one of the protagonists” is a perfect opportunity to explore the hidden depths of a character.  Here, we’re just reminded for the 657,991st time that Tim really likes chocolate.   Seriously, Dracula tries to seduce a middle schooler with chocolate.  Count, I have to tell you, this is your worst showing since that time you lost your reincarnated wife to Keanu Reeves.  Seriously, you could have just picked  a random middle-aged guy who drives around in a van and spends his lunch hour near an elementary school and gotten some tips from him.

“You will be my friend, won’t you?”

“Sure.  Why not?”

“Here, would you like a piece of chocoate?”  

How does Tim see through the charade?  Not because Gargamel had more elaborate and sophisticated ruses to trick the Smurfs, but because…there’s no chocolate in Castlevania.  

“Impossible!  Nobody resists the temptations of Dracula!”

If you think this dialogue sounds corny and unrealistic, well, I say the exact same thing after a bad first date.

We’ll wrap this up next time, and finally put this curse to rest.  

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