The immortal words, "Beware, you're in for a scare," will forever be etched onto the minds of Goosebumps fans everywhere. The brainchild of author R.L. Stine, Goosebumps was basically The Twilight Zone for kids. With living dummies, possessed cameras, and murderous piano teachers, the books were dripping with OTT cheese where nothing was quite what it seemed.
Starting back in 1992, curling up with a #Goosebumps novel was the perfect '90s frightfest in a time before we owned iPhones, and the most advanced piece of tech was a Tamagotchi. Spawning 62 books in the main series, numerous spin-off titles, and that spine-tingling TV series of the same name, Goosebumps was the franchise we just couldn't get enough of. However, with Stine amping the family-friendly vibe of the series, was there ever a time he went a little too far and took a leaf out of Stephen King's book?
The Kids Are All Fright
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Goosebumps, Stine spoke in a Q&A on Entertainment Weekly's Facebook page. Reminiscing on his work, he revealed there was one time he went a little too far in trying to live up to the name and give us all goosebumps:
“Usually my editors are saying to me, ‘Hype it up… make it scarier.’ [But] there was one time, very early, where I did a Goosebumps book and everyone thought I had gone too far. It was a very early Goosebumps book called ‘The Girl Who Cried Monster.’ This girl realizes that the librarian is a monster. But no one will believe her.”
While some might expect Stine to have run out of ideas toward the end of the run and tried to amp up the horror to bring in new readers, the incident in question actually happened in 1993 in only the eighth book published:
“In my original manuscript, the librarian eats a kid. And everyone thought that maybe was going a little too far. They said, ‘You can’t eat a kid in Goosebumps.’ So I changed it. I put a big bowl of live turtles on the librarian’s desk. And every once in a while, the librarian would reach out and grab a turtle and chew it. Eat it up. Which actually is better than a kid. It’s crunchier. It’s a lot crunchier. And you can hear it. It’s more horrifying, I think.”
While eating a child nowadays may not exactly seem like R-rated fodder, it didn't exactly fit the Goosebumps brand. Although kids frequently came to harm or were left in perilous situations by the end of a book, being gnawed on by your local librarian may have seemed a little extreme back then. Ironically, and although the cover was adapted to feature the mole-like Mr. Morton chewing on something other than the neighborhood children, the book still ended with a flip of the story and the librarian being devoured by our leading character herself.
Given that Roald Dahl's The Witches took things much further, I don't see the Goosebumps story being that much of an issue. However, with Jack Black signed on for a comedy sequel to 2015's live-action version of the novels, don't expect to see any little kids getting nibbled on in 2018 either.
Check out the trailer for 2015's Goosebumps and don't forget our poll below.
Do you think Stine's story sounds too extreme?
(Source: Entertainment Weekly)