Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Giving Everyone Goosebumps

I don't think anyone would consider it hyperbole to say Goosebumps was a goddamn cultural phenomenon in the early 90s. In addition to the 62 books in the original run there was a series of Choose Your Own Adventure books, several short story collections and a popular TV show that ran for a respectable 4 seasons (you can watch it on Netflix, just be warned that't age particularly well). In addition to the books and show it was also a massive merchandising empire that was made up of everything from T-shirts to Halloween masks to school supplies to bedsheets. Fun Fact: The Goosebumps sheet set I owned as a child featured glow-in-the-dark G's all over them, so sleeping on those things were like sleeping on one of those glowy beds in sci-fi movies.

Another point I don't think anyone will argue with me on is practically ALL horror fanatics my age had their interest in the genre fostered by Goosebumps. I know I sure as hell did. So now that you have proper context, you'll know why I'll be turning a blind eye to any plot holes that may or may not have been in this movie.

Imagine this is a dude  with a crew cut and wearing an And 1 shirt, and this is basically a photo of me.

Our story, in traditional Goosebumps manner, features an only child from a single parent household as our main protagonist. In this case, the only child in question is Zach, whose mother has up and moved them from NYC to a small town in Delaware just a year after the death of his father so she can take up an assistant principal job. Their new home shares a fence with a teenage girl around Zach's age and her single parent home, in this case a seemingly abusive father. After hearing a ton of loud fighting and screaming coming from the neighbor's he breaks in with the help of his nerdy new friend Champ and, instead of finding the girl, finds the original manuscripts for all 62 Goosebumps, all locked. Upon opening one, he finds out why he was warned by her father to stay away as the titular creature from The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena erupts from the pages themselves. In the ensuing scuffle Slappy, a malevolent ventriloquist dummy and star of the Night of the Living Dummy miniseries, is freed and goes about exacting revenge for being locked away.

Almost every creature from the books is somewhere to be found, and even books that don't actually have a monster either gets a namecheck in the dialogue (like Monster Blood, Go Eat Worms!, etc) or gets its own visual reference (The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, etc), but what's surprising are the characters that are conspicuous in their absence. Despite One Day at Horrorland being so popular it spawned its own spinoff series and a video game on the Wii, there wasn't a single Horror to be seen. And Curly, my god Curly, the fucking Goosebumps mascot doesn't make a single appearance. Granted, maybe a skeleton in high tops and an orange neckerchief with a purple mohawk/rattail combo atop his head wouldn't look quite as cool in 2015 than it did in 1994, but still!

 But no one worry, the lawn gnomes are all over this thing.

Aside from that, the only other problem I have is some occasionally shoddy CGI, but that's it. Overall this movie was pretty damned fun! Funny, good music, and for some reason Jack Black was kinda sexy as writer R.L. Stine in his all-black outfits and glasses. If you want some classic Halloween fun, can't do much better than this.

Oh, and quick not before I end this review I wanted to let everyone know Waxworks Records --the people behind the stunningly beautiful vinyl releases of such classic horror flicks as Re-Animator, Creepshow and Trick-R-Treat-- announced on their blog they will be releasing the soundtrack of this movie on 180 gram vinyl with album art by Tim Jacobus, the artist who painted the covers of all the original books! Pre-orders start this friday, details here.

Fun, funny and just a grand ol' time in general, I give Goosebumps 9 out of 10 cursed cameras.

Oct 28 - Hardware