Goosebumps on the Silver Screen

By Payton Pruitt

            There are many people who can remember being terrified by horror and ghost stories throughout their lives. One of the ways that were most popular, especially around the time people went to middle school, was the Goosebumps horror story series written by R. L. Stine. These books have monsters of all varieties scaring kids of the story’s demographic that would send spine-tingling, nightmare-making, heart-falling-into-the-stomach feeling of fear that one would expect from a good scary story. However, unlike the more adult horror stories, none of them end in death (the demographic plays a large part in this obviously) but it also leaves the reader with the lingering feeling that the monsters could come back.

Goosebumps is a very successful book series that was created back in 1992, and it gained much more popularity after it was selected as a Scholastic’s book series, making it allowable in school libraries, both public and private. There were no new books made after 1997, however there is no one within that time that didn’t know about R. L. Stine’s monsters, like the abominable snowman, and the ever-popular Slappy the dummy. Stine likes to describe his stories as ones that are “scary books that are also funny.” Now as we approach 2015, over 20 years after the series was started, we get to see a Goosebumps movie.

Considering that Goosebumps was the series that not only gained its own television show, nine spin-off book series, three video games, a stage play written by Rupert Holmes, along with merchandise like T-shirts, puzzles, board games, hats, dolls, fake skulls, fake blood, bike helmets, and boxer shorts, it’s surprising we didn’t get a movie sooner.

However, given that the series has also been met with a multitude of challenges over the years, it isn’t that surprising. According to the American Library Association (ALA) a challenge is defined as “an attempt by a person or group to remove or restrict materials from a library or school curriculum.” While Goosebumps is an undoubtedly entertaining horror series that helps to get kids interested, there are many schools and adults who will say that the books are not appropriate for young people and have banned it from their school library, saying that it’s too frightening and depicts occult or satanic themes. Considering the genre, it’s hard to avoid that sort of stigma and there are plenty of people that are not happy about it. From 1990-1999 Goosebumps was the 15th on the list of most frequently challenged books by the ALA, and 94th on the list of top banned/challenged books during 2000-2009.

The movie will star Jack Black as R. L. Stine, though it’s rumored that the real R. L. Stine will make an appearance amongst the cast as well, or perhaps he’ll be a greeter at the end of the film. The story of the movie is that a young man named Zach, played by Dylan Minnette, moves to a new town next door to a girl named Hannah, played by Odeya Rush, and her father R. L. Stine. As Zach starts to notice strange goings-on next door, he decides to investigate, and upon his investigation, he discovers a large collection of manuscripts in the house. As he looks them over, he accidentally ends up releasing all of Stine’s monsters from the Goosebumps stories and sets them loose on the town. So it’s up to him, the author, his daughter, and his friend to find them all and put them back in the books before it’s too late.

The first attempt to make a Goosebumps movie was in 1998, just a year after the books were no longer being released, however it never materialized. In 2008, Columbia Pictures gained the rights to make a Goosebumps film and asked people who worked on the television show to come in and be part of it. When writing the script, everyone agreed that it would be best not to stick to any one story of the Goosebumps books, believing them to be too short. They worked together to find a way to create a universe where all the monsters could exist at once – what better universe than the one the author calls home? They elected to make it a fake biographical film where every monster that Stine writes about would come to life and had to be hidden away for the safety of the world.

The movie promises a mixture of humor and thrills so that the entire family can enjoy reliving the monsters from their childhood. It is said to be released on October 15th of this year and hopefully everyone can enjoy it as a good Halloween movie. Here’s hoping that your hands don’t shake too much that you lose all your popcorn!

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