Gary van Nikkelen Kuyper, $0.99
How can I resist something with a cute cover like that? No, I’m serious. That thing on the cover is nowhere as delightful as the description of the actual Zoomie, the killer teddy bear, though, but maybe getting a custom cover art is beyond the author’s budget. Not that I am being facetious about this, mind you – we all make do with what we can afford, after all. I just want people to know that Zoomie in the story looks even more adorable with alligator claws and teeth and all.
Teddy Scare is basically about this fellow, Theodore Stone, a nine-year old kid who likes pulp horror and sci-fi comics – this story takes place in the early 1980s – much to the disgust of his hard-nosed military father. He is also horribly terrorized by two bullies in his new school, only to have his father sneer at him because Ted clearly needs to man up more. Eventually Ted stumbles upon the neighborhood voodoo witch, who patches up his teddy bear Zoomie and makes it… special. Before long, Ted’s enemies begin to experience really, really painful episodes.
Ted never speaks like a nine-year old kid here – try forty-nine pretending to be Steve Buscemi pretending to be hip and trendy – but that’s alright. With some cheeky humor here and there that pokes a little fun at the tropes in the story as well as its the premise, this one has me treating it like a long lost script of Tales from the Crypt, and it’s a pretty decent one at that. While the gore happens off-screen, the descriptions given are deliciously nasty enough without being too graphic.
Given that this is a pretty short story, it’s quite odd, therefore, but it nonetheless applies here: the last few pages are pretty superfluous and serve only to dissipate any momentum generated by the climax of the story. If the story had ended at the very moment the second bully gets his just desserts, this one would be just about right – good pacing, good enough characterization to get me to sympathize with Ted while still relating to his conflicted feelings about using Zoomie to get back at his bullies, good ending. The author, however, has Ted grow up, tell me Ted’s life story as a grown up, has the witch give a long-ass exposition dump… and then it’s the end just as I’m about to nod off. The last few pages are a good example of how an author can cut off his story at the knees by not knowing when to stop his story.
All things considered, though, this is a pretty decent Tales from the Crypt episode. Trust me, I’ve seen far worse nonsense on that show, and this one is a work of art compared to, say, pretty much everything about the final two seasons of that show.