NIGHTMARES: THE NEXT GENERATION
The premise of each "Goosebumps" is as basic as a campfire ghost story. Kids are threatened by supernatural phenomena that adults can't seem to perceive.
"Reader beware...you're in for a scare!" warns the back cover of WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE, the 1992 book that launched R.L. Stine's frightfully successful "Goosebumps" franchise. Little did parents realize that they, too, would be in for a scare, as their children collected more than fifty follow-up books. And that was only the beginning. "Goosebumps" went on to spawn television adaptations, audio books, board games, and CD-ROMs.
The premise of each "Goosebumps" is as basic as a campfire ghost story. Kids are threatened by supernatural phenomena that adults can't seem to perceive. Disquieting situations build to spooky, but ultimately reassuring climaxes, and the young main characters always discover they have the power to overcome the paranormal dangers.
Though Scholastic recommends that no child younger than eight watch "Goosebumps," some of the videos may be enjoyed by kids as young as six, provided they're not prone to nightmares. The scares in "Goosebumps" are always supernatural, and although they aim to thrill, they frighten many children less than the more realistic dangers presented in movies such as BAMBI or 101 DALMATIANS.
With varying degrees of success, the "Goosebumps" episodes often try to incorporate themes relevant to young viewers. WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE deals with the fear of moving to a new neighborhood. True, the "Goosebumps" kids meet vampires, but viewers concerned about moving may find this one oddly comforting. In other episodes, dysfunctional families--more disturbing than the paranormal elements--may cause kids emotional distress. In STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT, a young girl's self-esteem is affected when a plant duplicate of her father insults her for prying.
Production tends to be fearfully uneven. The technical quality of ONE DAY AT HORRORLAND, one of the worst offenders, is so bad it distracts from the story. However, in THE HAUNTED MASK, the home video-like camera work gives the episode a kind of realism.
Luckily kid fans aren't too picky about factors like production value and acting. According to the GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS: MILLENNIUM EDITION, "Goosebumps" is on its way to becoming the all-time best-selling children's book series, surpassing even Nancy Drew in popularity. The videos are nearly as popular as the books...and just as scary.
Weekly Series, Video Series
Copyright Twentieth Century Fox, 1995