RL Stine’s beloved hor­ror books get a meta- movie adap­ta­tion in Goose­bumps

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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.


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.


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.


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.

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