RL Stine’s beloved horror books get a meta- movie adaptation in Goosebumps
GOSEBUMPS,WHAT’S THAT THEN?
If you grew up the ’ 90s, this is the world’s stupidest question. But for anyone who was playing with MASK toys before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Goosebumps is RL Stine’s astonishingly successful series of kids’ horror books with 62 titles clocking up 350 million sales. These unashamedly clean- cut books would usually revolve around the old “new- kid- on- block discovers goings on of both an ooky and kooky variety”, and were often fun spins on familiar classics.
With 62 titles, you’d think the movie would be spoilt for choice for stories to adapt. Instead, the screenwriters – Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski – have gone down the meta route. Here, RL Stine himself is the lead character, a prisoner of his own imagination as the monsters he creates become real. The author protects his readers – and his teenage daughter – by keeping his ghouls magically locked in his Goosebumps books. What could go wrong?
Bloody teenagers, coming round here with their raging hormones and curious natures, accidentally unleashing a mysterious author’s library- worth of terrible beasties on their small town. Who do they think they are? Dylan Minnette plays Zach, the new- to- the- hood kid that befriends girl- next- door Hannah Stine ( Odeya Rush). She captivates him, he lets out her best- selling dad’s diabolicals on the pleasant streets of Greenland, Maryland, and together the three of them have to try and wrangle the wrong ’ uns back into the manuscripts.
TURN IT BLACK
So who’s playing the genial 71- year- old author? Well, it’s safe to say they haven’t gone for precise casting, with Jack Black lined up to give some high- octane mania. But the actor won the author’s blessing to get sinister with the character, creating a more "creepy crawly" movie version of Stine, more likely to be haunted by his monstrous Midas touch than spouting "googedy googedy" vocal improvs.
WHO YA GONNA CALL?
The man charged with corralling Black’s energy and the plethora of ( both CGI and practical) scary beasts prowling the screen is Rob Letterman, who directed the actor on Gulliver’s Travels. While that movie was a pretty terrifying experience for viewers, Letterman has genuinely nailed this sort of playful spook- tacular action before as the man behind the animated Monsters Vs Aliens. We’ll keep all our tentacles crossed on this one.
The advantage of the meta route means the movie has all of Stine’s huge back catalogue to cherry pick the finest villains from. Which is exactly what they’ve done. A lot. The citizens of Greenland can expect to have autographs and selfie- requests rudely refused by the likes of the Scarecrow ( The Scarecrow Walks At Midnight), Murder the Clown ( When The Ghost Dog Howls), the Mummy ( Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb) and the Executioner ( A Night In Terror Tower).
Of course, the Goosebumps movie’s not- so- Big Bad could only be one angry ventriloquist’s dummy. Slappy was carved out of a cursed coffin and his gleeful rudeness quickly turned him into a fan favourite, with the psychotic Pinocchio headlining a number of Stine’s books, including the Night Of The Living Dummy series. Here the chucklesome Chucky will function as Stine’s alter ego, a vessel for the author’s meanness made flesh – or at least timber – and will play ringleader to rest of the carnage: one nasty piece of woodwork.
WHEN’S IT OUT?
Goosebumps will prick up your skin on 5 February 2016.
“What do you mean, we’re from a tweens horror series?”
“Look, you characters need to listen
to me and do as you’re told!”
RL Stine, his daughter and the boy next door.