This takes me back. I remember arguing with my sisters about what to watch on Saturday night on the family TV, their choice was the anthology series Goosebumps, based on the R.L. Stine book series of the same name, on YTV. Goosebumps was paired well with that other YTV chestnut Are You Afraid of the Dark? in the TV block “Kids are Easily Scared.” Of course it was effective, and in this day and age of re-branding and rebooting, it’s almost surprising that it’s taken this long to get Gossebumped again. (more…)
If you grew up reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street YA horror novels like I did, the thought of one of the author’s career defining series finally being made into a movie probably seems like a strange proposition. It’s not that the books are bad or unadaptable (quite the contrary), but instead are simply old; an anthology that has been continued long enough that the stories have become multi-generational (to give you and idea —Welcome to the Dead House, the first Goosebumps title, was published twenty-two years ago!). Goosebumps has already been turned into a Canadian TV series (which ran from 1995 to 1998) and Tim Burton first attempted to get a film adaptation off the ground fifteen years ago.
So here we are, with a Goosebumps movie finally going into production, only to find that it stars Jack Black as R.L. Stine. Yes, that Jack Black. Where most nerd-boys get themselves worked up into a furor over Michael Bay messing with their precious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I choose to fret over a long-gestating YA adaptation of silly horror novels aimed at children. We all have our defects, it seems.
If you grew up in the 90s, you are probably well acquainted with the works of R.L. Stine, but if you’re not he has a written output that makes Stephen King and John Grisham look like slackers. Basically, many of Stine’s novels fill a void between the Great Pumpkin and Freddy Krueger, perfectly inoffensive spine-tinglers for tweens, a kind of Twilight Zone meets Are You Afraid of the Dark? kind of thing. But while Goosebumps‘ popularity may have waned in the wake of the likes of Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games, it’s still got that magical name cache that studios love. So let’s take it to the movies!
Director? How about Rob Letterman? The man behind the animated hit Monsters Vs. Aliens is in negotiations with Sony to take over the project. Last year it was reported that screenwriter Darren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer) was hired to do a page one rewrite after attempts made to bring the book series to the big screen in 2008 and 2010 by Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander (Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters) and Carl Ellsworth (The Last House on the Left), respectively.
So is Letterman the one to make this happen? Good chance. His directing has leaned to the side of youth material that also might appeal to adult moviegoers. Aside from Monsters Vs Aliens, he also directed the animated Sharktale and the live-action Gulliver’s Travels. I would say that he definitely knows how to walk the fine line between kid-friendly and broad appeal, which might produce a focus group proof take on the concept that could get Sony to pony up a production budget. Time will tell.
Goosebumps was previously brought to the screen, be it the small screen, in the mid-90s as a series produced by Canadian cable network YTV. Like the books, it was an anthology series and feature a host of young Canadian talent, some of whom went on to have a career after Goosebumps like Laura Vandervoort (Smallville, V), Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil) and Hayden Christensen (the Star Wars prequels). Adam “Batman” West, also guest starred on a couple of episodes.
More news as it develops.
If you were born anytime after 1980, chances are that the last thing you saw everynight before you went to bed was the page of an R.L. Stine book. Stine, the master of horror for kids and pre-teens has been at it for 20 years, churning out over 100 “Goosebumps” books, a TV series, and now Hub TV’s R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.
Last week I had the chance to chat with Mr. Stine, armed with questions crafted by myself and my newfound partner in crime, Anne Sisk, and I got to ask the King of Spookiness what scares him, why we want to be scared, how it is writing children’s books in the internet age, and all about the challenges of writing his adult novel, Red Rain. Here is what Mr. Stine had to say: