The films and books that you connect with when you’re a spritely little pre-teener, full of hope and driven solely by fun, are some of the purest experiences you will have with art and entertainment. You’re old enough to appreciate a good story, but not old enough for the trash of teenage lust, or the pre-tense of a budding hipster, or the decaying hope as you enter your late twenties, thirties and beyond. For myself, and countless other eighties babies, the children’s horror series Goosebumps was the perfect marriage. Combining fun and engaging writing with the supernatural, author R L Stine took us on a monthly escape with mummies, ghouls, ghosts, werewolves, witches, shrunken heads and a couple more mummies, with twists and turns, and an almost brutal ability finish each chapter teetering on a knife edge.
I couldn’t get enough (well, that is until I discovered Animorphs) so you can imagine the rush of nostalgia as I read the news that they are planning to bring Goosebumps to the big screen! My head was swirling with fond memories – admittedly most were of the joy of reading the series rather than the actual stories themselves, but I banded together with fellow FFMM writers Dean and Jason to put together a couple of our favourites which we would love to see re-imagined. We’re not sure how the film will be constructed as yet, but whether it is an amalgamation of a couple stories, one stand alone feature or even an anthology-style film, all I know is it will be awesome- or at least mildly entertaining like that TV series they did…
Read on for our picks
Possessing what is arguably the greatest title in the series (and probably the greatest title of anything ever) Say Cheese And Die did not fail to live up to its name (though I’m not sure if the kids actually die). It follows a group of kids who find a camera. When they start taking photos of each other the images don’t turn out exactly how they looked in real life. Instead of goofy grins and bunny ears behind each other’s head, the photos show them in scenes of extreme pain and suffering. Creepy? Sure, but it becomes outright scary when it turns out the photos are predictions of actual events that are yet to take place!
How could that not be an entertaining movie? I guess that’s what the makers of the Final Destination films thought, right? I can’t remember the full story arc but it is the premise which makes it and there would be a little give around how the exact story is told. This is probably the most recognisable of all the books and would have to be included in any screen adaptation. A nice fin fact: Apparently R.L. Stine thought up the title of this book first and then wrote the story from there.
Possessing what is arguably the worst title of the series, this classic is still the one that resonates clearest in the cavernus halls of my memory. A magic mirror stored in some kids’ attic gives them the ability to turn invisible. Pretty much a dream come true for any mischievous 10-year-old and all the more handy when looking to impress the girl next door. But the power of the mirror starts to become apparent when the boys struggle to “return” from their invisible spells. Despite swearing themselves off the mirror, the appeal may just be too much to resist.
Another great premise to work with here, but what sticks the most is the great ending. Even today as an adult I think it was just perfectly constructed. Some spoilers to the end of this paragraph (for those of you who were about to pick this one up and read it), after the final adventure into invisibility the boys think they are lost for good. Some drama ensues but they eventually come back. Sure, not so great, but then when they go out in the yard to throw the ball Lefty picks up the ball and fires in a pitch at full speed…with his right arm. C’mon! It finishes like that. The best thing is thinking about what actually happened after. Is this reflection now a different person? Is he evil? That one had more thinking for days.
There are few things on this planet more terrifying than scarecrows. They’re harmless creations designed with the simple purpose of scaring away any pesky birds intending to feed on nearby crops, but they also do a pretty good job at inflicting stomach churning fear upon any passerby unlucky enough to lay eyes on them. It’s something about their lifeless bodies hanging from poles and their crude, emotionless faces that make them so unnerving. And when the wind roles in and their limbs start to sway seemingly on their own accord, you can bet that you’ll find your eyes constantly drawn back to them, just to make sure that they’re not trying to creep up on you while your back is turned.
So point made, scarecrows are evil and creepy, which makes them perfect fodder for the horror genre. The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight did just that, although on a wholesome scale suitable kids. This memorable instalment from the Goosebumps brand saw two young siblings arrive on their grandparent’s farm for a month-long stay full of chocolate chip pancakes and whimsical fun, but before long the young duo start to realise that something isn’t quite right. Their grandparents seem uncharacteristically exhausted, while the single scarecrow that used to watch over the farm has now been replaced by twelve new creepy ones, all of which seem to twitch and move without the aid of a breeze.
If the title didn’t tip you off it turns out that the twelve sinister new scarecrows are alive, brought to life by an enchanted passage from a mystical book. The stick and straw antagonists don’t do too much for the majority of the novel, with several key moments of terror revealed to be the work of tricksters. But once the scarecrows do finally abandon their posts and move on the children and their grandparents with intentions to harm, it’s game on. There’s no holding back as the rigid monstrosities pursue our heroes under the black cloak of night, eventually chasing them into a dimly lit barn for a final confrontation.
Even with its constant barrage of false scares and not-so-clever plot twists, The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight is an intense read for any young mind. In an act of restraint that you wouldn’t see in most adult horror novels or movies, the bulk of the story’s terror is held at bay until the final few chapters, allowing a long, gratifying build-up. It’s this deliberate pace that would make The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight a prime candidate for a big screen adaptation, sucking in audience members with a palpable sense of dread and countless questions before at last unleashing the horrific goods leading into the final act. This could act as a gateway to the horror genre for a younger audience, a terrifying experience that only the bravest of children would attempt to take on.
Theme parks aren’t exactly scary places. The joyful music, animated costumed performers and plentiful cotton candy stands make sure of this. But in R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps entry One Day At HorrorLand, the author takes the happy, secure environment of a theme park and turns it on its head, presenting readers with a dark nightmarish vision of Disney World or one of its many competitors.
The novel sees a family and a childhood friend accidentally wind up at the gates of the titular HorrorLand, where foregoing any form of common sense they immediately head in to explore. Upon entry the particularly naive parents almost immediately abandon their children in this strange new place in favour to search for a telephone, leaving the children to look around and fend for themselves. What they find waiting for them inside this bizarre park is unlike anything they could have ever imagined, morbid attractions litter the streets before them while grotesque characters loiter around, occasionally engaging in cryptic chatter with our young heroes. It’s soon clear that certain death waits around every corner, but that doesn’t stop the children from constantly putting their lives on the line by riding the many dangerous rides. There’s the Doom Slide that gives the rider a choice of multiple giant slides to ride down in the dark, but watch out! One of them leads to a never-ending descent to oblivion. Then there’s the Mirror Maze that lives up to its name, providing a treacherous and dangerous maze for the youngsters to navigate. Once the children do finally reunite with their careless parents, the group again defy all logic by hopping on one last ride, The Coffin Cruise. A calm tranquil trip down a river can be ever so relaxing, not some much so when you’re locked inside a dank wooden coffin however.
But while the previously mentioned attractions are fun and all, there is so much untapped potential here. How about a rollercoaster that delivers possibly fatal thrills? Or a haunted house full of real ghouls and monsters? What about that Werewolf that’s stalking the Werewolf Village? There are countless dark corners of the park just waiting to be discovered, all of which could be uncovered by a smart filmmaker armed with a worthy script.
Being that this is a Goosebumps book, eventually there is a major twist. It’s revealed that the park is in fact run by some homicidal monsters producing a morbid reality TV show or some such nonsense. This last-minute swerve is plain moronic even for a children’s novel, tainting all of the fun that came before it. There’s an argument that this twist could be used as a statement on the negative impact reality TV has on people, or at least on their brain cells, but a big screen update of this story would probably benefit from dropping this uninspired reveal. It’s the simple idea of a horror themed amusement park that makes One Day In HorrorLand an entertaining read, so let’s just stick with what works.
Overall One Day In HorrorLand could make for an incredibly entertaining cinema experience. Sure the questionable plotting of the novel would need some redesigning, but an amusement park littered with real monsters and horrific dangers is such a unique concept than one has to wonder why we haven’t seen it more often. It’s an idea laced with fun and potential big budget thrills, making for a film that could appeal to youngsters and adults alike. Someone make it happen!
My Favourite Goosebumps book of all time was no. 25 “Attack of the Mutant”. A fat, introverted kid named Skipper Matthews is this massive comic-book nerd. His favourite comic “The Masked Mutant” is about a Super-Villain whose superpower is that he can change his form into anything that’s practically solid. His nemesis; a hero – “The Galloping Gazelle” is in charge of “The League of Superheroes“. Skipper catches a bus one day and starts chatting up a cute little girl named Libby. Lost in his own world, he fails to realise that he’s missed his stop. He jumps off the bus in a panic and to his shock notices the building in front of him is strangely familiar. VERY familiar in fact… It’s “The Masked Mutants” HQ. He’s late for a Dentist appointment and decides to check it out later – BUT WAIT – when he returns – It’s gone!!!! How is that possible? Depressed, he heads home. At home awaits the newest issue of the comic, but alas – there’s something odd about the latest issue. Something uncanny. “The Masked Mutant” has recently placed an “Invisibility Cloak” over his HQ. WHAAA?? Is this the real life? Is this the fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Open your eyes, look up to the sky and see, I’m just a poor boy….. ehhh….it works, thanks Freddy.
Skipper and Libby decide to check out the building. Could “The Masked Mutant” actually exist?
As they approach the ominous building they get “scanned” by a light and enter the premises. It’s probably just the Publishers building designed to look like the Villains HQ, it can’t be the real deal. As they journey through the building they find a larger print of the latest issue, but somethings amiss… a few panels are left blank, and there’s a new character. A Character that looks exactly like Skipper.
I won’t spoil the rest, but Skipper becomes mistaken for a super-hero as he meets “The Galloping Gazelle“, tied to a chair, taken hostage by “The Masked Mutant.” ”The Masked Mutant” and Skipper eventually face off and things just get insanely awesome and crazy.
Imaginative is the best way to describe the book. So many twist and turns with characters not being whom they actually appear to be, superpowers that could match the “Green Lantern” in terms of variety and a true underdog story about a small boy taking on the biggest villain in the world is what makes me love this book to death. DEATH!
Like most of R.L.Stine’s books, it does have a twist ending that you could probably guess if you care hard enough, but I believe he has gone on record as saying that it’s his “best surprise-ending of all the books”. I personally think he’s had better surprise endings (Especially in earlier books), but this could easily transfer to the big screen as a stand alone movie and WORK!
They did make an episode out of it in the TV series, but it didn’t really do the book justice. They altered the ending – not for the better – but it did have “Adam West” star as “The Galloping Gazelle“, which was cool.
What I enjoy most about the story is that the comic book is based on the perspective of “the Villain” – something scarcely done. It’s a twist on the tired and true formula as it actually makes “The Hero” look like the weak, unintelligent and vulnerable counterpart and best of all – It’s every boys dream! A world in which superheroes and villains exist! That’s where I would love to live (If I was 12 again)
Pitch it as a stand-alone project, release it after the “Avengers 2″ hits the screen, and start laughing your face off as the millions and millions of dollars pour in. Plus as an addendum – “The Masked Mutant” looks like “Batman“, so Win-Win.
Alliteration adoration adulation actually annoys anyone at anytime. Awesome, aye? Not as awesome as my second favourite novel from the Goosebumps series. No. 35. “A Shocker on Shock Street” The title is pretty rubbish,but the book isn’t and I believe it’s intentional given the content. That’s right it’s about Horror Movies and if you’ve been paying attention, you know it’s all I pretty much write about on this site (because like horror movies they’re so damn easy to churn out HAR-HA!)
Erin and Her best friend Marty are fans of a fictional horror franchise known as “A Shocker on Shock Street” about various kinds of Monsters and not-so-nice-creatures like skeletons and Vampires and GIANT-FREAKING-PRAYING MANTISES that live on “Shock Street”. To their surprise, a new theme park (R.L.Stine LOVES writing about Theme Parks, doesn’t he?) based on the franchise is opening up – Think “Disneyland” -but with a “Tales From the Cryptkeeper” theme. How cool would that be? Take my monies now! Pulling a few strings, Erin’s Dad sets it up that the kids are to become the very first ones to attend the Theme Park and test out the rides and attractions. Best thing ever for a couple of kids? Eh…Not really.
As they explore the park, they notice things are slightly off. Small things. The rides don’t have seatbelts, the attractions aren’t really attractive at all and the monsters seem a little “too real“.
This one was also made into the show, but from memory it was terrible. I think they changed the ending as well (Why Fox, Why?)
The twist ending starts off pretty average and then totally redeems itself as something happens that makes you yell profanities at the book in surprise, hopefully in front of other people. Unexpected and very fitting would best describe it, but I can see how back then for the show it would’ve been hard and costly to justify it. Nowadays with our CGI doo-dads and Twitter-face social medias, it can easily be done. Seeing this on the big screen (As part of an anthology movie) would work as it would be abstractly meta. An anthology movie with a story about anthology movies would BLOW YOUR MIND. It has a nice mixture of monsters, suspense, likeable kids (for once) and the greatest named creature of all time “Ape-Face“. Plus Robots. Everyone loves Robots.If your don’t, then I’m guessing you’re a Robot. We don’t want your kind, Robot.
So after that little journey down memory lane let us know what you think and what you’d like to see as they remake books for young adults into films for old kids.
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