[A group of students is huddled outside Mr. Haney's office.]
Arthur: Mr. Haney is about to post a list that tells us which teacher we'll get this year.
[Mr. Haney enters with the list. The students gasp and murmur in anticipation.]
Mr. Haney: Oh! Forgot a tack. [reenters office]
Arthur: ...and Mr. Ratburn, the toughest, scariest teacher in school—no, in the whole world—no, in the whole history of the world.
[Mr. Haney pins the list to the billboard.]
Student: Oh, here comes the list.
Francine: Let's go look. Arthur, we're... in the Rat's class!
Arthur: Maybe you read the list wrong, Francine. Let me look. You're right. It's Ratburn!
[On the baseball field]
Buster: Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn...
[On the soccer field]
Francine: Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn... Ratburn...
[A soccer ball bounces off her head and lands in the goal.]
Francine: Ratburn... Ratburn...
[Walking down the sidewalk]
Arthur: Ratburn... Ratburn...
Mrs. Powers: Free samples of a new flavor, rocky road. All you can eat!
Brain: Maybe he's not as rigorous as everyone says.
Francine: Prunella had him last year. Let's ask her.
Prunella: [laughs] "Is the Rat bad?" Does a bull fight? He eats nails for breakfast...
[The others gasp.]
Prunella: ...without milk!
[Ratburn is seen pouring a bowl of nails. He eats a spoonful, stopping to pull a screw out of his mouth and toss it away. He then eats the spoon.]
Prunella: And make sure you never answer any questions wrong... or he'll send you to death row.
Arthur: Death row?
[Arthur is seen locked in a dungeon.]
Ratburn: Have you done your math exercises?
Arthur: I did the first 5000, sir.
Ratburn: Then you have 9,995,000 left! Get to work! And after that, you have 37,000,000 spelling words to memorize. And you spiders, get moving!
[Spiders are seen spinning a web that looks like a map of the world.]
Prunella: And he's also a weird vampire... with hypnotic, magic powers.
[Ratburn is seen opening his casket at the front of the class.]
Ratburn: You are in my power.
Students: We do not like recess.
Prunella: Well, good luck!
[In Ratburn's classroom]
Ratburn: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to grade three. My name is Mr. Ratburn.
Arthur: He doesn't look so bad.
Francine: It's probably a trick.
Ratburn: Let's start with a two-minute math quiz to see what you remember from second grade.
Francine: I told you it was a trick.
[Ratburn hands out the quiz. Arthur sees Mrs. Sweetwater's class having fun and eating popcorn, while Mrs. Fink's is exercising to the beat of a boombox.]
Mrs. Fink: Welcome to the first day of school. School is cool! School is cool!
Ratburn: Arthur Read, you'd better concentrate on those problems before time's up.
[Recess starts. The other classes burst out the doors and run outside, while Mr. Ratburn calmly opens his door.]
Ratburn: Class, you may now file out in an orderly fashion. Quietly. No talking. Arthur Read, are you standing in your proper alphabetical position?
[Arthur moves behind Francine. Cut to the baseball field.]
Arthur: Boy, Ratburn's tough! He gave us homework on the first day.
Buster: Get with it, Arthur. We're not dealing with a human being here. This is serious!
[Binky hits the ball into the bushes under Ratburn's window]
Arthur: You find it yet?
Ratburn: Hello, this is Mr. Ratburn.
Ratburn: Yes, I have all the eyes I need, but I'm completely out of heads. I need heads. I can wait for girls' heads, but I must have boys' heads immediately.
[Arthur starts to leave]
Buster: Wait, he'll see us! And we have... boys' heads!
Ratburn: There's no time! I need them now. I'll have to get them myself. [hangs up]
[Arthur and Buster scream and run to the Sugar Bowl.]
Francine: What are you doing?
[Arthur and Buster scream.]
Arthur: Ratburn. He—He's looking for body parts—heads! Boys' heads!
Francine: You must have heard wrong. A vampire doesn't need heads.
Arthur: This is no ordinary vampire.
Buster: He's beyond vampire.
Arthur: What's beyond a vampire?
Buster: A Ratburn.
[Ratburn is seen across the street walking to a Hardware Store. Arthur and Buster scream and hide behind Francine.]
Francine: Hey! What—
Buster: Stand still. He wants boy heads, not girls'.
[The three look in the window of the hardware store and see Ratburn picking up a box of nails.]
[Ratburn picks up a saw and puts it in his bag. Arthur and Buster hold their necks.]
Francine: What do you think he's gonna do with that saw?
Buster: I read a book where kids discovered a scary mystery like this and became detectives to solve it.
[Ratburn exits the store. The three scream and run into an alley.]
Buster: We should probably investigate.
Arthur: You know, we have a lot of homework to do.
Francine: You're just a fraidy-cat.
Buster: Arthur, we have to chose: face horrifying, scary danger or do our homework.
Francine and Arthur: Horrifying, scary danger.
[The three surreptitiously observe Ratburn checking out books at the library, reading a newspaper, and refereeing a basketball game.]
Francine: I'm bored. He's not doing anything weird. You probably heard him talking about heads of lettuce.
Arthur: Boy heads of lettuce? I don't think so, Francine.
Francine: Oh, yeah? It's probably the term grocers use for the rotten ones. I'm gonna do my homework.
Buster: Arthur, look!
[Ratburn is seen wheeling a large suitcase down a flight of stairs. Suddenly, it opens and an arm pokes out. Ratburn puts it back and closes the case, when suddenly his watch beeps. It's 3:45. He rushes off with the suitcase.]
Buster: [afraid] M-Maybe we should go do our homework.
Arthur: Come on.
[At the entrance to the carnival]
Arthur: He went into the carnival.
Buster: Of course he went into the carnival. Look at all those boy heads!
Arthur: We've got to warn them.
[They run into Ratburn.]
Buster: Oh, no! He's got us! We're trapped!
Arthur: Look! There he goes! Come on! He went into that booth.
[Arthur and Buster enter the booth and get sprayed with water guns. They leave.]
Arthur: Okay, it was that one.
[Inside, Mrs. MacGrady is taking a picture of Mr. Haney sitting on a horse.]
Mr. Haney: This is very authentic, Mrs. MacGrady, but I'd prefer a real action pose.
[Arthur bumps a cactus cutout, which falls and startles the horse. The camera captures him right before he falls off.]
Arthur: Sorry, sir.
Buster: Okay, I pick this time.
[He points to another booth, inside which can be seen two silhouettes. Arthur and Buster gasp.]
Arthur and Buster: One... two... three... go!
[They run inside, finding themselves on stage in front of an audience of kids.]
Arthur: Run away!
Buster: You're not safe! He'll get you!
[The audience laughs.]
Jack: Hey, you're not in this story.
Puppet radio: And you're doing my lines! I warn Jack to run away, but not till he hears "Fee-fi-fo—" you know the drill.
[The audience laughs again.]
Ratburn: Arthur, Buster, get off the stage!
Jack: Okay, fellas, when you leave that castle, make a left, down that beanstalk, and you'll be back in Elwood City.
Buster: Wow! The Rat does kids' puppet shows?
Puppet radio: Jack, you're disorganized. You'd forget your head if it wasn't attached.
Jacket: Uh-uh! Would not!
[Jack's head falls off.]
Puppet radio: Grab your head and hide! Here comes the giant!
[Jack's cracked head rolls over to Arthur and Buster.]
Buster: Arthur, look!
Ratburn: They always crack when I do that. I must go through 50 boy heads a year.
Arthur and Buster: Boy heads!
Ratburn: I can never have enough boy heads.
Arthur: We didn't know you made puppets.
Ratburn: Can't talk, boys—I have 40 seconds to get Jack ready. Must always stay on schedule because of all I do.
Arthur: You do a lot! You're a teacher, a coach, you work on the school paper... [laughs] I can't even find time to do my homework and eat!
Ratburn: You need to learn to organize your time. I've heard that some people think I give a lot of homework.
Arthur and Buster: We never heard that.
Ratburn: But once you've learned good work habits, you'll discover—
Puppet radio: Jack! Where are you?
Ratburn: [as Jack] Just a second! The cat rolled my head into the litter box. [to Arthur and Buster] You're capable of more than you think. I'll teach you how to do that homework and then have more time for things you enjoy.
Arthur: Like how you do all that stuff plus puppets?
Ratburn: Exactly. [checks watch] Ah! Two seconds early. Self-discipline is as important to learn as two plus two. [as Jack] Okay, I got my head on straight!
Puppet radio: Hey, man, your head's on straight, but your body is backwards!
Ratburn: Please don't stand there. I have to concentrate on my work.
Arthur: Oh. Sorry. [to Buster] Boy, were we wrong.
Ratburn: By the way, boys, I can't wait to see your Geography projects tomorrow.
[Arthur and Buster scream.]