“Hello. My name is Mr. R. L. Stine. Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts: the beginning, the middle, and the twist.”
Author R. L. Stine’s famous (if that isn’t understating things) line of book geared toward giving children and tweens a good, healthy dose of the spooks first came out in the summer of 1992. By that time, I had graduated High School, and was firmly ensconced with the more advanced works of Stephen King, Brian Lumley and Clive Barker for my literary horror fix. Also, I was 18, so the Goosebumps series wasn’t exactly geared for my target demographic. I did, however, find some amusement with the television anthology that was based on the book series that ran from 1994 through to…I think some time in the early Aughts, I want to say? I wasn’t a diehard fan of the show. But, this is besides the point. Point is, it was the show itself that provided me sufficient amount of interest to watch this big screen movie about Goosebumps. Well, technically about R. L. Stine. That’s not a docu-drama. Let me see if I can explain without making your collective heads do that cute popping noise I love so very, very much.
Goosebumps, the movie, takes the second question* every writer sooner or later gets tired of having to answer–“Where do you get your ideas from?”–and turns it into a fantasy/horror/comedy befitting the spirit of the Goosebumps series. While I hesitate to use the phrase “Family Friendly Horror”, but this is really what it is: a movie that is as whimsical as it is dark, something akin to an intense roller coaster ride that can entertain not only the grade schooler and tween crowd, but will entertain the adults who have to take them to the movie in the first place.
The story consists of a teenage boy and his mother moving to a small New England town and, in a series of Rear Window-like events, end up discovering that his next door neighbor is none other than famous young adult horror novelist R. L. Stine! Oh, and also he inadvertently sets free all of the creatures and monsters from all of the book manuscripts that he’s written. Now, he-along with his best friend, Mr. Stein and Stein’s daughter-is in a race to get all of the book characters that have sprung literally from the mind of R. L. Stein back into the pages from whence they came. Only, there’s one book character that thinks this is not a great idea.
Goosebumps the movie itself is a surprisingly entertaining movie; surprising because it is a Goosebumps movie, in more than just one way it seems. If you’re wondering what the heck I’m prattling on about: if you’re familiar with the movie The Naked Lunch, you know that is less a movie adaptation of the William H. Burrows novel, and more a movie about the writing of the William H. Burrows novel. This is kind of lik that, as it’s rather meta fiction that isn’t based on any one book of the Goosebumps series, but is more of a loving tribute to it. I consider this a good proper scaring for the kiddies that the parents can get into as well. Recommended.
[*- the first question, in case you were wondering, is “How do you write?” It’s so very hard not go shoot back with a sarcastic answer with that one]