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The Latest Pull

DAY 5: A look back at Goosebumps

From the demented mind of R.L. Stine came the “Goosebumps” books. The books were always quite short so that Stine could write them in bulk, and sell dozens of them. Although the books are still being made today, the original series ended in 1997, but Stine’s creative genius he exemplifies in his books have proven to be timeless, rivaling even that of Dr. Seuss. What made the original books best was that because they were so short, and, at times, skimpy on the details, a lot was left up to the reader’s imagination. Young readers would find themselves captivated by what the book presented at face value, and then the true horrors were set in by what they imagined themselves.

 

 

As with most famous pieces of literature, a visual medium was soon to follow. Rather than making  a movie about one of the stories, Stine started a television series that ran for four seasons. This seemed for the best. Other shows such as “Tales from the Crypt” and “Are You Afraid of the Dark? proved that short story horror shows could work and be successful. However, “Goosebumps” never quite reached their level.

 

 

 

The show had a few good episodes, but the awful child actors that were cast mixed with some of R.L. Stine’s less than brilliant writing made for some episodes that were more comedically awful than scary. The show aired on Fox Kids, which was always struggling to keep up with other networks aimed at kids such as Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network. “Goosebumps” appeared to be their response to “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” but it just didn’t attract nearly as large of a fanbase.

 

 

 

While the show does not exactly hold up (except for that catchy as all hell theme song), the books to this day bring a smirk to new, and old reader’s faces. If you are going to pick one up, go with “Phantom of the Auditorium,” “Night of the Living Dummy,” or “The Haunted Mask.” If you are going to watch a show, you might want to get slightly intoxicated first, but afterwards, “Say Cheese and Die” and “The Haunted Mask” still definitely hold up.

 

Now, normally this is where the article would end, but there is actually a “Goosebumps” movie in the works.  Jack Black will be playing R.L. Stine in a film about all of his creations being released into the world, where they terrify everything they come in contact with. Although I am glad that the series is still trying to reach the next generation, I can’t help but think this goes against what the series was built on. First off, most kids probably won’t know any of the monsters in the film that came specifically from his books. Secondly, R.L. Stine is in his 70s. If he can’t play himself, that’s fine, but at least have an older actor play him, and give a chilling performance. Be honest, who would be a more believable and haunting R.L. Stine, Jack Black or Christopher Lloyd. Dewey Finn from “School of Rock” or Judge Doom from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” If the film works, great, but if you want to introduce the series to young kids, stick with the original books.