Welcome to Saturday Morning Scares, a brand spankin’ new column where we’ll be taking a look at spooky shows meant for kids! Check this space the first Saturday of every month for the rundown on a creepy cartoon (or live-action show) that’s fit to serve your family. To kick things off, we’re taking a look at Goosebumps, which served as the entry point for so many horror fans born in the 90s. For example: me!
Look, I know that every horror fan online got into the genre when they did a double feature of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Cannibal Holocaust on their third birthday, but that wasn’t my experience. I got slimed by this television adaptation of R.L. Stine’s immensely successful series of juvenile fiction books. Their menacing (for a kid) covers sat on the library shelves offering tantalizing glimpses into the world of monsters and mayhem waiting just beyond the table of contents.
But, ehhh, books are for nerds, so let’s talk tv.
Goosebumps first invaded the airwaves just in time for Halloween 1995. It ran for four seasons, totaling 74 episodes. Most of the episodes adapted a full Goosebumps book, but there are several two-part episodes for the more involved stories, as well as some episodes that were based on R.L. Stine’s short stories. The show is insanely good. Watching it as an adult two decades after its original run (BARF!), it shows its age- the digital effects in many episodes could probably be replicated with a smartphone and a 99 cent app, and there are waaaaaay more overalls than you might remember. This isn’t necessarily a negative though; it feels more like a window to another time than a painfully-dated piece of disposable pop culture. Am I being wistful and nostalgic because I grew up watching this show? Oh absolutely. But the show is still super good. Let’s take a look at it from the top!
Theme Song: Does It Slap, Or Is It Crap?
Since this is our first run of Saturday Morning Scares, I’ll explain this as we go. For each show we look at, I’ll make a judgement on the theme song. The rules are simple: does is SLAP, or is it CRAP?
ForGoosebumps, this is really easy. The show’s intro music is iconic. It’s creepy, catchy, and it deserves a spot on your Halloween party playlist. If you don’t like this song, that’s a personal problem. Official rating: SLAP.
I mean, come on. One of the most famous Goosebumps characters is named Slappy.
There are so, so many great episodes of Goosebumps. There are some duds, but the general quality is so high that it took me a couple of hours and way more tears to narrow down my list. If you stopped me on the street tomorrow and forced me to list my favoriteGoosebumpsepisodes, there’s a good chance that I’d pick a different set than these. Also, I’d follow you anywhere, and we’d be friends, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But for today, here are some highlights:
Say Cheese and Die!: In addition to being a great title, this episode features a baby Ryan Gosling! Whaaaaat?!
Attack of the Jack o’ Lanterns: All of Goosebumps feels like Halloween (even the summery episodes) but this episode has some fun effects and a great premise.
Calling All Creeps: This one is surprisingly suspenseful, and actually works pretty well even if you watch it as an adult!
One Day at Horrorland: A two-parter! My favorite of the Goosebumps books, my favorite of the Goosebumps tv shows. There’s a scene from part one that has stuck with me my entire life.
The Haunted Mask: Another two-parter! This is one of the iconic Goosebumps images, and was the debut of the show. A very good step in the right direction, if I do say so myself.
Hot at the Shop:
In addition to picking best episodes and judging the theme song for each show, I’m pleased to announce a Nightmare on Film Street EXCLUSIVE! Every month, I’ll pick a breakfast cereal to eat while you watch the show. For your Goosebumpsmultisensory experience, I recommend Cap’n Crunch’s Halloween Crunch. This seasonal variation on the classic mouth-shredding sugar bomb features ghosts(!) that turn your milk green. Green is the most Goosebumpscolor for several reasons: it’s the color of the Haunted Mask, it’s the color of Monster Blood, it’s the color of most slimes, it’s classic. Additionally, Cap’n Crunch had a Goosebumps keychain in specially marked packages during the show’s run.
Where Are They Now?
So let’s say you’ve never seen Goosebumps, and you’d really like to. Where can you see it nowadays? Good news! You can catch Goosebumpson Netflix. You can also pick up select episodes on DVD (or VHS if you’ve got space for some more clamshells), but it won’t be easy to put the entire collection together this way. I recommend watching it on Netflix and never, ever skipping the intro.
That wraps up our inaugural installment of Saturday Morning Scares! I hope you didn’t get too frightened! Are you an old-school Goosebumps die hard? A recent convert? Are you a child, watching the show for the first time? Let us know over on on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Reddit! Not a Goosebumps fan? Then get outta my face!