GOOSEBUMPS: THE MOVIE. 2015. BASED ON THE BOOKS BY R.L. STINE. DIRECTED BY ROB LETTERMAN. STARRING JACK BLACK, DYLAN MINNETTE, ODEYA RUSH, AMY RYAN, JILLIAN BELL AND RYAN LEE. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Have you ever given yourself GOOSEBUMPS…? I certainly have, and so have my kids. They’ve been fans of R.L. Stine’s excellent horror books for children for years. The books have titles like NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY, RETURN TO HORRORLAND and THE WEREWOLF IN THE LIVING ROOM and every single one of ’em has a gorgeously-designed creepy cover in fluorescent covers like bright pink, orange, green and yellow. They make a terrific-looking library!
Anyway, this is the GOOSEBUMPS movie based on the books and I suppose the only mystery here is why it took so long for Hollywood to get around to filming the works of R.L. Stine, the writer who’s been called ‘the Stephen King for kids.’ That’s quite an accolade!
Naturally, I took my kids to see this and, while it didn’t exactly blow our minds as such, it was still great fun and I’m assured by my offspring (the real experts on the subject!) that it’s a loving tribute to the great man’s works. That’s good enough for me…!
The movie tells the story of a teenage boy called Zach (Why are they always called Zach? Aren’t there any other boys’ names…???) who moves with his Mom to a place called Madison, Delaware from New York. His dad’s not long dead and his Mom, who’s lovely, has just accepted a position as Vice-Principal of Zach’s new school so naturally, Zach kind of has a lot on his plate right now.
A pretty teenage girl called Hannah helps take his mind off his troubles. She lives next door and it just so happens that she’s the daughter of famous childrens’ horror author, R.L. Stine, a grumpy Jack Black talking in a funny accent. The Stines keep their true identity under wraps, however, and when Zach accidentally happens upon their library of GOOSEBUMPS manuscripts, he finds out why…
The beautifully-bound books have to remain locked at all times. Why? Well, because they contain R.L. Stine’s most horrific creations, of course, and if they manage to get out, all hell will break loose. Zach and Hannah and Zach’s new chum Champ (short for Champion, now there’s a great name for a boy!) could find themselves up against such nightmarish monsters as The Abominable Snowman, a savage werewolf nattily togged-out in blue sports pants and trainers and Stine’s creepiest creation of all… Slappy The Ventriloquist’s Dummy…
Ah, come on, you know those dumb kids are gonna open one of the books. How can they resist it? The trouble is, can they get the creature they’ve unwittingly unleashed back in the book before it destroys the town and everyone in it? And it’s the night of the school formal, too. Eeep…!
Also, Hannah’s Dad (R.L. Stine) is gonna be mighty pissed off to find out that those darned-fool kids have been messing about with dangerous stuff about which they know nothing. The stage is set for some truly monstrous shenanigans. Strap yourselves in, folks. As the legendary Bette Davis may once have said in a little-known film called ALL ABOUT EVE, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…
The monsters are fantastic. I can’t fault them. The gigantic praying mantis (God, those are creepy creatures, they make me shudder!) in particular looks like something out of the film version of Stephen King’s fantastic novella, THE MIST.
We’ve also got scarecrows, clowns, zombies, mummies, evil pumpkins and the sweetest assortment of evil garden gnomes ever seen outside of a haunted garden centre. When I was a kid, I read a picture-story in a girls’ comic like the BUNTY or MANDY or something like that about a bunch of garden gnomes who burned down a family home with the family still inside. I’ve never really trusted garden gnomes since reading that story. Maybe they’re not all as harmless and funny as they look. You just never know, do you?
And speaking of Stephen King, probably the funniest bit of the film is when R.L. Stine, fed-up with being likened to the King of horror fiction yet again, snaps at the kids with biting sarcasm:
‘Steve King WISHES he could write like me…!’ So there you have it, folks.
The real R.L. Stine has a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo in the movie, which delighted my kids and the people in the audience who knew what he looked like. The way was left open for a sequel, by the way, which means that we may just see a follow-up film in a year or two. It wouldn’t be the worst thing that might happen. I’d go to see it, anyway, and so would my kids.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can contact her at: