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Literature / De Griezelbus

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De Griezelbus ("The Spooky Bus") is a Dutch series of Defanged Horrors children's books written by Paul van Loon (Alfie the Werewolf).

In each book, a group of children listen to stories written by the enigmatic author P. Onnoval in his horror-themed school bus, which get creepier and more ominous until they realize that Onnoval has lured them into a trap and they have to fight to survive.

It was loosely adapted into a movie in 2005.

These books provides examples of:

  • Alternate Continuity: Book 1-5 and book 0 are all set in the same continuity, but book 6 and book 7 follow the storyline of the film.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: In one of the stories, a boy's father and mother become vampires and want him to join them. He plans to stake them while they are asleep, but cannot go through with it because they are still his family. He decides to wait until they wake up and can turn him.
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: In one of the stories, a Sadist Teacher punishes his students by sitting them down in a big, soft chair and hitting the chair with a ruler since he cannot physically punish them. Eventually, the chair becomes so fed up with the teacher that it eats him.
  • Author Filibuster: At one point, one of the children asks Onnoval why he doesn't tell real scary stories, like those movies his brother watches in which "body parts are flying around". The author replies, and is presumably channeling the author of the book here: "That's not scary, that's disgusting!"
  • Badass Teacher: In the third book, Mister Jacques is initially a Distressed Dude after he's captured by Beentjes. When he hits his Rage Breaking Point, he breaks free, smashes Beentjes, and destroys the computers that are keeping his students captive.
  • Bad Samaritan: In one of the stories, a girl who survives a car accident finds herself in a hospital room being cared for by a kind and pretty nurse. When her condition keeps getting worse, she discovers that the nurse is actually some sort of vampiric creature with a syringe-like sucker in her tongue that has been feeding on her while she was asleep. Another victim who is already dying sacrifices herself and uses her last ounce of strength to help her expose the vampire to sunlight, killing it.
  • Bald of Evil: After returning as a vampire, Onnoval loses all his hair. Initially, this was to ensure he Looks Like Orlok, but he retains this appearance after he becomes a ghost.
  • Big Bad: Onnoval is the main villain in each book, telling stories and either trying to devour children or drag their souls into the Dark World. At least, until he experiences a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • One set of covers make the books appear way more cartoonish to market them towards an even younger demographic, more in line with the author's other famous book series Alfie the Werewolf.
    • A mild example, but the original cover for book 5 shows Onnoval with a full head of hair. He's bald from book 2 onwards.
  • Dark World: The Other Reality is an alternate dimension controlled by Onnoval, filled with monsters from his imagination.
  • A Day in the Limelight: One of Paul van Loon's short stories focuses entirely on Beentjes, who picks up the wrong set of passengers and transports them into a miniature town.
  • Defanged Horrors: Almost every installment deals with a group of kids who are forced to listen to the stories of the werewolf, and later vampire/undead writer P. Onnoval, with a climax at the end of each book. The stories are a combination of horror clichés like vampires, werewolves, etc. and a great deal of suspense and most stories leave the end open, leaving you to wonder what happened. Overall, the tone of De Griezelbus is about on par with Goosebumps.
  • Dem Bones:
    • The driver of the Griezelbus is a skeleton named Beentjes. While initially he appeared to be a creation of Onnoval, he is later revealed to be his formerly living best friend.
    • One of the stories in book 1 has a young man assemble a complete skeleton from a miniature assembly kit. Naturally, the skeleton comes to life and tries to kill him. Originally, this was Beentjes' origin.
  • Demonic Possession: In book 4, Onnoval starts possessing Mister Jacques from the Other Reality to write and read his stories to his class. He also forces the teacher to change his appearance into Onnoval's step by step so nobody will notice when they switch places later on.
  • Down in the Dumps: The second book takes place in a car scrapyard. A group of kids end up in the Griezelbus after it's been condemned as scrap, hearing Onnoval's stories over the radio as a pack of Savage Wolves prevent them from leaving.
  • The Dragon: Beentjes is Onnoval's right-hand skeleton and the driver of the Griezelbus.
  • Dragon Their Feet: Subverted. Beentjes survives the demise of Onnoval in the second book, but he decides not to go after the heroes and jumps into a grave. Of course, that doesn't stop him from returning in the next book to continue serving his master.
  • Evil Old Folks: In one of the stories, a girl begins an Intergenerational Friendship with a sweet old lady who listens to all her woes. Eventually, one of the girl's bullies goes missing. It turns out the old woman killed her with a butcher's knife and used her fingers to make a birthday pie.
  • Framing Device: The main story is basically an excuse for a horror anthology. The short stories comprise the bulk of each book.
  • Fight Unscene: The film did this with the final fight, only showing the shadows and people's reactions (actually, the evil monster involved in this is never shown at any point in the film).
  • Freudian Excuse: Onnoval wasn't born evil, he was made that way. Ferluci stole him as a baby, paid two abusive foster parents to raise him, then turned him into a werewolf as a teenager so he would kill them. By the time Onnoval is a grown man, he has been traveling the dark path long enough that he willingly signs a Deal with the Devil to collect souls for Ferluci.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: While Onnoval is the Big Bad and the main threat of most books, his benefactor is none other than Satan.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Eddy C. becomes a slave of Onnoval and aids him in his plans, but in book 4 he briefly returns from the Dark World to help the heroes defeat Onnoval.
    • In book 5, Onnoval himself turns against Ferluci when he realizes that he's fallen in love with the now adult Liselore.
  • The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: In one of the stories, a girl buys grass for her cat from a mysterious shop that turns into a Man-Eating Plant, nearly eating her and her pet. After her father kills the plant, they return to the shop only to find that it's a derelict. One of the locals tells them that the former owner was a Mad Scientist who died years ago after trying to feed people to his plants.
  • Love Redeems: Onnoval finally stops his evil ways in book 5 once he realizes that he has fallen in love with Liselore and refuses to deliver her and her students to Ferluci.
  • Louis Cyphre: Ferluci is obviously Satan, being an anagram for "Lucifer".
  • Most Writers Are Writers: The Big Bad Paul Onnoval is a horror author and something of A Darker Me of Paul van Loon himself, while several of Onnoval's In-Universe stories feature similar authors. One story goes for a bit of Self-Deprecation with an author who hires a secretary to handle all his fan mail, who turns out to be a demon that gives his fans a spell that turns them into monsters. In another one, a sinister author invites one of his fans to a fictional town where the creatures in his stories are allowed to live but cannot leave, before revealing that the fan is also fictional.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: Throughout the books, oblique references are made to the organization G.G.G. aka Geesten, Geraamten, en ander Gespuis (Ghosts, Skeletons, and other Ghoulies).
  • Precocious Crush: Zigzagged in the fifth book. Paul Onnoval, an immortal combination between a werewolf and vampire has a crush on the mortal school teacher Liselore, making this a Mayfly–December Romance. However, after defeating Ferluci, Onnoval asks Ferluci to allow him to become a mortal human again, so he can spend time with his love Liselore. Ferluci does so, but reincarnates Onnoval into the body of a child and one of Liselore's students. Onnoval accepts that he is now too young for Liselore and decides to wait until he's become a grown-up again.
  • Rewriting Reality:
    • From the second book onwards, Onnoval's magic increases to the point where the monsters in his stories come to life and consider him their "father".
    • This proves to be the key to defeating Onnoval in the fourth book. His book writes itself in real time on Mister Jacques' computer. After dragging most of the class into the Other Reality, the main heroes rewrite the ending to make sure Onnoval loses.
  • Prequel: De Griezelbus 0 was the fifth book written, but covers the origins of Paul Onnoval.
  • Savage Wolves: In book 2, the four kids are trapped in the condemned Griezelbus by a pack of snarling wolves. When they finally leave, it's only so they can be sacrificed to Onnoval himself.
  • Shout-Out: The character Eddy C. from the second, third, and fourth books is named after Eddy C. Bertin, a friend of Paul van Loon and a fellow writer.
  • Silent Antagonist: Beentjes does not talk at all in the first two books.
  • Silver Bullet: At the end of the first book, Onnoval transforms into a werewolf and is about to eat the entire class when Liselore suddenly produces a silver gun from her handbag and shoots Onnoval with it.
  • Sinister Car:
    • The Griezelbus itself is a converted schoolbus used by Onnoval to tell his stories and lure in groups of victims. The artwork usually depicts it in a very ominous manner, with a skull and cross bones above the front window.
    • In one of the stories, a brother and sister are on holiday with their family when they are menaced by a pitch black Rolls Royce in a parking lot. Apparently, the car itself is malevolent and was involved in so many vehicular deaths that it was put in permanent storage. The souls of the children it killed, still trapped in the car, are lonely and want new people to join them.
  • Soul Jar: Onnoval's book is tied to his lifeforce. One of the heroes figures this out at the end of the second book and lights it on fire, causing the vampiric Onnoval to burst into flames.
  • Staying Alive: No matter how many times he's killed, Onnoval keeps coming back as a different type of monster. Apparently, this is part of the deal he made with Ferluci.
  • Vampiric Werewolf: Onnoval starts out as a werewolf. After he's shot with a Silver Bullet, he comes back to unlife as a vampire. After being killed again, he becomes a ghost who can turn into either of his previous forms at will.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Onnoval and Beentjes are the only characters to appear in every book. The main protagonists are different groups of children. A few characters like Eddy C. and Liselore do reappear in later books.
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the end of book 4, Onnoval almost breaks down into tears when his Evil Plan actually succeeds, but is then foiled when his manuscript is rewritten on Mister Jacques' computer. He whines about how "unfair" it is, curses the children for defeating him yet again, and disappears into the Dark World as a puddle of slime.
  • Villainous Friendship: Beentjes was once Onnoval's best friend, who killed him when he figured out his friend was secretly a werewolf. Beentjes becomes a skeleton and tries to kill him years later, but Onnoval is so happy to see his former friend that he refuses to destroy him. They continue their friendship even after both of them become undead monsters.
  • Virtual Reality: In the third book, the characters put on virtual headsets to go into Onnoval's dimension.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Onnoval, and by extension his master Ferluci, always go after children.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Eddy C. becomes a henchman for Onnoval in the third book, but when he screws up and his four victims escape Onnoval's clutches, Onnoval reaches through the computer screen and drags Eddy C. himself into the Dark World in their stead.
    • Onnoval himself is on the receiving end of this in the fifth book. Ferluci is so fed up with Onnoval's repeated failures to bring him new souls the past several years that he gives him an ultimatum: either deliver him a fresh batch in three days, or Ferluci will fire him.