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A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: A Tribute to 'Goosebumps'

Crammed on a bus with the smell of cheerios and horrid body odor lingering in the air, I learned to love the twist ending. Yeah, when I was in elementary school, that 20-minute bus ride from my house to school could seem like an endless and depressing stretch. Luckily, that wasn’t always the case — Mr. Robert Lawrence “R.L.” Stine made sure of that. If I had a Goosebumps book in my hand, I could tune everything else out. I devoured these things. Most of the books were short — around 120 pages — and a lot of them featured a plot twist near the end. This was one of my motivations for finishing these books so quickly — I needed to know what new twist Stine had in store for me. Goosebumps, like many of the shows I watched when I was younger, always brought, and still brings, a smile to my face. That’s why I ripped off a few fist pumps when I found out a Goosebumps movie is slated for 2016

There were 62 Goosebumps books,* so it would be easy to look at this project skeptically. How do you sum that up all in one movie? It looks like they’re taking a page** from the Stranger Than Fiction book, and having Jack Black*** play an author whose spooky, scary creatures come to life and haunt the shit out of him. I’m on board with this.

The whole thing reminds me of my feelings when I first heard about The Lego Movie. It seemed like a horrible idea, but the final product was creative, funny and pretty darn clever. I’m hoping the Goosebumps film can repeat that success. Hey, maybe we’ll even see it get some Oscar attention! (Note: We definitely won’t see that, but I have to acknowledge this weekend’s Academy Awards in some fashion. And I have to express my disappointment that none of this year’s best picture nominees have a fake beer tie-in as cool as Zero Dark Thirsty. 12 Years a Wine? That’s the best I have.)

So, what’s your favorite Goosebumps book?**** It’s hard to narrow them down, but here’s five titles that have stuck with me over the years …

Attack of the Mutant
Maybe not the best from a storytelling perspective (though still great), this one is still the first book I think of when I reminisce about this series. I remember getting this for Christmas when I was in third grade. I even remember the first line (“drop this book,” which, I of course did). It inspired me to write a series of books (10-page, hand-written books with some definitely awesome drawings) about a super mutant. You’ll just have to trust me that these definitely something to put a Pulitzer on.

The Cuckoo Clock of Doom
Those twist endings again! This had one of my favorite conclusions. And who doesn’t like some good ole’ fashioned time travel?!

One Day at Horror Land
This should be a real amusement park. Let’s make this happen.

Stay Out of the Basement
The second book in the series — I remember this one actually frightened me a little. And R.L. Stine totally nailed the ending here too. It’s amazing that he didn’t have that many duds when it came to plot twists. These days, too many fictional stories try to force a surprise development, and it just doesn’t work a lot of the time.

The Ghost Next Door
The Sixth Sense before The Sixth Sense even existed. This is how you do a ghost story.

*If we were playing “never have I ever,” and you said, “never have I ever read all the Goosebumps books” … I would drink. I’ve read them all. Then I would take another drink because, kudos to you, that’s a great “never have I ever” question.
**Oh man, #puns.
***But how cool would it be if they cast Jack White instead? I would buy one million tickets. In 3D even.
****A question I should start asking on dates.
A Scott Pukos Pop-Ed: A Tribute to 'Goosebumps' Reviewed by Scott Pukos on 2/28/2014 Rating: 5

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