Wednesday, October 16, 2019

GOOSEBUMPS By Frankie Franken

Frankie Franken
R. L. Stine
Hello, everybody, and welcome to today’s installment of The MonsterGrrls’ Thir13en For Halloween! This year our theme is Tales Of Unease, where we look at horror in literature and writing, as well as film and TV.  And today we’re taking a look a something that may be familiar to some of you horror fans that grew up in the ‘90’s—Goosebumps, the horror book series for younger readers by R. L. Stine. Branching out into a television series and two movies, Goosebumps was the series that brought an entire generation to horror, and it’s still popular today!

Robert L. Stine grew up in Bexley, Ohio, and started writing at age nine when he found a typewriter in his attic, and started typing out stories and joke books. Graduating from Ohio State University in 1965, Stine edited the humor magazine The Sundial for three of his four years there, and later moved to New York to pursue a writing career. (Our Mad Doctor remembers a humor magazine for teenagers called Bananas, published by Scholastic Press, that Stine edited and wrote most of the material for.) In the Eighties, Stine co-created and was head scriptwriter for the Nickelodeon TV show Eureeka’s Castle, which won an Ace Award for best children’s program in 1990.

Such horrors await...
Stine also wrote the elder-teen horror series Fear Street, and due to its success, he was asked to develop a horror series for younger children. Getting the title from a TV station add in TV Guide, the first Goosebumps book was Welcome To Dead House, published in July of 1992. Though the series had been originally aimed at girls (and Grrls, presumably), both boys and girls loved the series, and Goosebumps took off. Stine would eventually write a total of 62 original Goosebumps stories, with many spin-off series following such as Tales To Give You Goosebumps, Give Yourself Goosebumps, and Goosebumps HorrorLand, spun off from One Day At HorrorLand in the original series.

The Goosebumps stories were written specifically for younger children, following child characters who found themselves in scary situations with supernatural elements such as vampires, ghosts, mummies, and other supernatural monsters. Stine says that he intended for the stories to be funny as well as scary, and never puts the kids in his books into situations that would be considered too serious. In all of the Goosebumps books, the main characters triumph over evil and use their own wits and imaginations to escape the monsters.

The popularity of the Goosebumps series brought about a children’s TV anthology series, also called Goosebumps, that aired on Fox Kids Network from 1995-98. Forty-three of the original stories were adapted as episodes for this series. Many of the familiar characters from the books, such as the HorrorLand Horrors, the Haunted Mask, the Monster Blood, the Headless Ghost, and Slappy the living ventriloquist’s dummy would appear in this series.

The 2015 movie
The legacy of Goosebumps is still loved today by adults who remember reading the books growing up, and by children who are introduced to it through libraries, school book clubs, and seeing episodes of the TV series. In 2015, a Goosebumps feature film was released, about a teenager (Dylan Minnette) who discovers that his next-door neighbor is not only the author R.L. Stine (Jack Black, appearing as a fictionalized version of Stine), but that all the monsters from Goosebumps are real, trapped in the books, and that Stine has been guarding the books to keep them from being unleashed. Of course, all the monsters get loose, and Stine and Zach must work together to save the town. A sequel, Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, was released in 2018, with Jack Black once again appearing as R. L. Stine, in which two young boys again release the monsters of the Goosebumps series from an unpublished Stine manuscript called Haunted Halloween. Both would be great for a Halloween movie night, especially with young kids.

So that’s my installment, and here’s hoping you have a fun time, with lots of goosebumps of your own, this Halloween! Come back soon and see what we’ve got for our next post on the Thir13en For Halloween!

Francesca “Frankie” Franken

MAD DOCTOR’S NOTE: The Goosebumps books in all their various permutations, and the Fear Street books (warning: not for younger kids) are available for purchase on Amazon, or probably for borrowing in your local library. The Goosebumps TV series is available for streaming at Netflix, and both Goosebumps movies are available at Amazon for purchase or rental (requires Amazon Prime).