Prior to the phenomena that is Harry Potter took over my life, it was hard to get me to read as a kid. My mother picked things and while I read them… it really didn’t hold my attention. At 2 years old, I was watching Tales from the Crypt with my mother… Good Times. So I remember being in the 3rd grade and taking a trip to the library. My teacher wanted to teach us how to search for content within the library. We were starting out our accelerated reader program… which rewarded kids with points for every book they read and tested on. When were turned loose to look at the books on our own… I came across R.L. Stine and the rest is history. I had to get approval to read it… because they felt as though my reading level was higher and they wanted me to read something more challenging. So I did end up picking something else but I still got my Goosebumps… And when I found out it was a series… that was really the only reason I went to the school library after that first introduction.
I remember consuming these in large chunks and being annoyed when I had to pick something else for class. Because it is published by Scholastic Publishing, it had me begging to visit the book fair and save my money to do some real damage. It was the talk of the town again when the series was given a television show. So not only could I read it… I could also watch to my hearts content. I am pretty sure that I annoyed my dad by taking over the tv on Saturday mornings… or looking for a tape so that I didn’t miss anything. So I am back here since my cousins wanted to know what I used to watch as a kid.. and I showed them the Goosebumps tv show on Netflix… Yes it is there… so check it out. I remember having avid conversations with the kids at lunch about the books… so you were not cool if you were not reading them.
Goosebumps is a series of children’s horror fiction novels by American author R. L. Stine. The stories follow child characters, who find themselves in scary situations, usually involving monsters and other supernatural elements. From 1992 to 1997, sixty-two books were published under the Goosebumps umbrella title. (I have not read them all but I got damn close. The older that I got I moved on to some of Stine’s other books aimed at older kids… so Stine was with me for a long time before I decided to switch from horror and thriller to the fantasy that is Harry Potter.) Various spin-off series were written by Stine: Goosebumps Series 2000, Give Yourself Goosebumps, Tales to Give You Goosebumps, Goosebumps Triple Header, Goosebumps HorrorLand, Goosebumps Most Wanted and Goosebumps SlappyWorld. The series has sold over 400 million books worldwide in thirty-two languages since the first book, Welcome to Dead House in 1992, becoming the second-best-selling book series in history, after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Individual books in the series have been listed in several bestseller lists, including the New York Times Best Seller list for children. Fifty Give Yourself Goosebumps books were published from 1995 to 2000, starting with Escape from the Carnival of Horrors. The books in this series were ghostwritten by several authors, including Kathryn Lance and Stine’s sister-in-law Megan Stine. Of these I have read Give Yourself Goosebumps… that was fun as I would continuously start over and still end up bad off. I am older now so I know that is really the only way it was going to unfold. Due to declining Goosebumps sales and increasing competition (primarily from another series from Scholastic, Animorphs), Scholastic and R. L. Stine decided to create Goosebumps Series 2000. From 1998 to 2000, 25 books in the series were published, beginning with Cry of the Cat. The books in this series were written in a similar format and featured similar content to the original series, but Stine classified them as being “much scarier.”
Goosebumps was listed 15th in the list of most frequently challenged books during 1990–1999 and 94th in the list of top banned/challenged books during 2000–2009 by the American Library Association (ALA). According to the ALA, a challenge is an attempt by a person or group to remove or restrict materials from a library or school curriculum. The series was challenged for being too frightening for young people and depicting occult or demonic themes. In the hearing, most of the parents and children felt the books should not be banned, and the school district’s book review committee decided to keep the books. I wonder when people will get that when you try to have something banned… it just causes more interest in it…
So as I normally do I am going to pick a few of my favorite stories or the ones that scared the shit out of me as a kid. I am only going to pick a handful. I may even throw in how the coinciding episode played out for me. I look forward to gifting my niece and nephew these sets because they, like me, love to scare themselves. So they are already watching the shows, but once they start reading they will love these. So without further ado, let’s jump into it.
- Stay Out of the Basement – This really messed with my sense of what I knew to be true. And if you read the story you know what I am talking about. The episode was just as disconcerting to my 9 year old mind. Stay Out of the Basement is the second book in the original Goosebumps book series. It was first published in 1992. The book follows Margaret and Casey Brewer, whose father has been acting very strange since losing his job as a botanist at a nearby university. When Mrs. Brewer goes out of town, his obsession with his plants gets out of hand. When Margaret and Casey try to go down to the basement to see his works, their father, whose hand is bleeding, warns them not to enter. Margaret and Casey are suspicious of their father wearing a cap all the time… day or night…. Margaret discovers that he was eating plant food… A few days later, the kids are playing Frisbee, and Dr. Brewer is outside with them. The kids accidentally hit Dr. Brewer on the head. This knocks off his hat, revealing green leaves growing on his head. Dr. Brewer sits down with his children again and explains that the leaves are only a side effect of his experiments. Dr. Brewer goes to the basement again quickly. My young mind railed against this explanation. HE IS NOT YOUR FATHER MARGARET!!! That night, Margaret spies her father in the bathroom, watching as he removes the bandage from his hand, revealing bright green blood instead of red blood. Before returning to her room, Margaret takes a small look at her father’s room, discovering moist dirt and worms in his bed. The kids hear noises coming from a supply closet. When they open it, they find Dr. Brewer bound and gagged with plants tendrils. They untie him, and Dr. Brewer tells them that the one who went to the airport to pick up his mother is not him. Instead, it is a hybrid plant clone created during his experiments. Dr. Brewer grabs an axe and waits for his clone to return. Dr. Brewer’s clone appears on the basement stairs. He tries to trick the kids into believing that their real father is the clone. However, Margaret grabs a knife and makes a small cut to her father’s hand, revealing red blood. The real Dr. Brewer uses the axe and cuts his clone in half, revealing bright green blood and a stem-like interior. One week later, Dr. Brewer burns all the mutant plants in the yard, planting a few into the garden. He tells Margaret and Casey that he will stop doing experiments permanently. The kids are walking back inside when one of the plants begins to touch Margaret with its leaves and beckon for help. The plant assures her that it is her real father. (R.L. Stine is the king of cliffhanger… I would like to point out I had no clue what the term cliffhanger even meant before this series.)
- The Girl Who Cried Monster – I understood this book’s protagonist. I am sure every kid has tried to point out something and the parents or adults in their lives dismissed them. Lucy is twelve years old and lives in Timberland Falls. Lucy loves to scare her younger brother, Randy, with terrifying monster stories. Much to the irritation of her parents, Lucy is obsessed with monsters. Lucy also participates in a summer reading program at the local library. The librarian, a balding man with glasses named Mr. Mortman, tries to get Lucy to read classic literature, but Lucy only wants to read books about monsters. Shortly after leaving the library one day, Lucy returns having left her roller blades. Lucy goes back inside. She observes Mr. Mortman through the window of his office. Mr. Mortman is sitting in front of his desk, and he pulls out a container full of flies, which he uses to feed his pet turtles. Without warning, Mr. Mortman’s head begins to swell, and his eyes bulge and turn black. His mouth becomes a long row of sharp teeth, and he grows claws. He proceeds to eat flies from the pan. Horrified, Lucy flees the library. Lucy tries explaining that Mr. Mortman is a monster to her parents and friends, but nobody believes her story. Refusing to give up, Lucy formulates a new plan; instead of going to the library, Lucy will investigate Mr. Mortman’s house. Lucy, accompanied by her friend Aaron, follows the librarian to his house. Lucy spies on Mr. Mortman through an open window. Wanting to gain a better vantage point, Aaron looks for a ladder. While he is distracted, Lucy watches Mr. Mortman eating unpleasant dishes such as raw fish, snails, and eels. Aaron doesn’t see any of this. Mr. Mortman’s sees Lucy, and Aaron flees. When Mr. Mortman asks her what she is doing at his house, Lucy says that she was visiting him to tell him that she will no longer be attending his reading program. The next morning, Lucy is forced to go to the library. When she arrives, she discovers that nobody is there. Mr. Mortman appears and locks the door behind her, telling her that he won’t let her escape. (I remember closing the book then and being incredibly shaken.) Mr. Mortman transforms into a monster and tries to attack Lucy, but she quickly runs away from him. Lucy exits the library through a window. Lucy runs into Aaron. He tells her that he had hidden in the library and observed Mr. Mortman turning into a monster. Aaron apologizes for his prior disbelief. With Aaron as a witness, Lucy tells her parents about Mr. Mortman. Lucy’s parents decide to invite Mr. Mortman to dinner. A few nights later, Mr. Mortman appears at Lucy’s house. After a brief talk, Mr. Mortman asks what they will be eating for dinner, and Lucy’s parents say that they will be eating him. Mr. Mortman is frightened by this comment. Lucy’s parents begin to transform into monsters, and they devour the librarian alive. Lucy and Randy encourage their parents all the while. Although Lucy and Randy are also monsters, they can’t join in as their fangs haven’t grown yet. Lucy’s parents explain that they don’t want more monsters moving into their neighborhood. My young mind could have exploded. The episode does this story justice… it was just as creepy to me….
- The Haunted Mask – This story still kind of creeps me out even as an adult. But it is a simple story. It is the first story in what becomes a 3 part saga and was actually the first special when the show was being brought to television. Carly Beth is a quiet, shy, and overly trusting girl. She is easily scared of almost everything, and repeatedly humiliated by her friends, Chuck Greene and Steve Boswell, at school who call her a “scaredy cat”, and delight in making her life a misery. After being tricked by Steve into eating a sandwich that contained a live worm, Carly Beth flees home in shame and vows revenge. At home, Carly Beth discovers her mother, Kate, has made a perfect likeness of Carly Beth’s face from plaster of Paris as a symbol of her love for her. Carly Beth is also annoyed to discover her mother has made her a silly duck costume. She calls Sabrina on the telephone. They talk about the cruel prank Steve played on her and Carly Beth swears she will never fall for one of their stunts again. Then she muses about buying a horrible mask from a new shop that has just opened. On Halloween day, she collects her money and sets off for the costume shop, distraught that it is closed. However the mysterious owner of the shop allows her entry and she unwillingly stumbles upon a back room filled with the many of the most hideous masks she has ever seen. The owner refuses to sell her the one she wants. But she is insistent and takes off with the mask while throwing the money to him. Thrilled, she goes home, puts on the mask, and scares her brother. However the mask will not come off at first, when it finally does, Carly Beth and Noah are unsure as to how she unintentionally changed her voice to a hoarse growl. Carly Beth simply remarks, “I don’t know…but I like it”. She then makes her way to the front door, stares at the mirror for a second or two, hesitating to put the mask back on, but she does anyways. Carly Beth steals the Plaster of Paris mold of her head that her mother made, and goes in search of Chuck and Steve, determined to make them pay. Yet strange things start happen to her. She acts like a totally different person: she attacks Sabrina, frightens young children, vandalizes the neighborhood. After finding Chuck and Steve and scaring them however, Carly Beth is horrified to notice that the mold of her face spoke, imploring Steve and Chuck to “help” her. Steve and Chuck run off in fear and Carly Beth gleefully abandons the plaster face. Back at Sabrina’s house, Carly Beth tries but cannot remove the mask. Sabrina tugs and pulls at Carly Beth’s sweaty mask, but it does not seem to give. To her horror, Sabrina discovers that there is no space between the mask and her skin. The mask has somehow fused itself to Carly Beth’s own face. Rather than seeing her own normal eyes staring back at her in the mirror, Carly Beth sees evil, animal-like, orange eyes leering back at her. Now, I was creeped out but honestly I wasn’t sure I felt that badly about her… since she stole the mask that the guy didn’t want to sell. Despite her desperate pleas, the shopkeeper tells Carly Beth over and over that the mask cannot be removed as it is not simply a mask…it is a real, living face. He tells her that he created them and they were once beautiful, but they slowly decayed over time and became hideous, repulsive monsters. He refers to them as “The Unloved Ones”. It turns out every so often a young, innocent person like Carly Beth, finds one thinking it to only be a latex mask, puts it on and the mask begins to become one with the victims skin as the mask fuses with them and begins to slowly take over their mind. The shopkeeper says, “The only way to remove the mask is to find a ‘symbol of love’. But if the mask is ever put on a third time, it will be forever.” Carly Beth begins to cry out and scream in horror, realizing that she might possibly never see her true, young face ever again. Unfortunately, Carly Beth’s hysterical screams and shrieks begin to slowly awaken the evil masks who before laid dormant, lying in wait for their next victims to consume. They begin floating off of their model heads and start to slowly, but surely, fly at Carly Beth. They pursue her down the street and Carly Beth finally realizes that the mold her mother gave her is a symbol of love she needs to remove the mask from her body. Carly Beth uses it to deter the masks and remove the monstrous face that has attached itself to her.
- Night of the Living Dummy – This is definitely the reason that I hate ventriloquist dummies and the show didn’t help that image. Scared the shit out of me. Lindy and Kris Powell are walking through their neighborhood. The two girls decide to inspect a house that is under construction. While searching through a garbage container near the house, Lindy finds a mysterious ventriloquist’s dummy and decides to call him Slappy. Lindy uses her dummy to gain popularity, and Kris becomes jealous. Since some of the neighborhood kids seem to love her ventriloquism, Lindy decides to start using Slappy for children’s acts and birthday parties. Lindy and Kris’s parents ask the two girls to share the dummy. However, when Kris tries to take Slappy from Lindy, Slappy hits Kris in the face. Mr. Powell gives a ventriloquist dummy to Kris that he purchased from a pawn shop. She decides to call him Mr. Wood. Mrs. Berman, Kris’s music teacher, asks her to perform a ventriloquist act for the school’s upcoming spring concert. Lindy offers to help Kris improve her act, but Mr. Wood, begins hurling insults at Kris. Since Lindy is the one operating Mr. Wood at the time, Kris assumes that Lindy is the one speaking, but Lindy insists that she isn’t controlling the dummy. That night, Lindy and Kris hear strange noises coming from inside their house. When they go to find the source of the noise, they find Mr. Wood strangling Slappy. (Weirdness.) When the sisters tell their mother what happened, of course, she doesn’t believe them and tells the girls to go to bed. Kris continues to hear noises coming from the kitchen throughout the night. Kris investigates the kitchen and sees Mr. Wood lying near the refrigerator with food around him. Before Kris and Lindy can clean everything up, Mrs. Powell goes downstairs and sees the giant mess. Both girls try to convince their mother that Mr. Wood is responsible for the mess, but Mrs. Powell threatens to take Slappy and Mr. Wood away if the girls keep insisting that Mr. Wood is alive. While the girls clean up the mess, Lindy reveals to Kris that she is the one who has been doing all these horrible things. She was tired of Kris being a copycat, so she decided to pull this big prank on Kris. She mocks Kris for buying it. (I wanted to punch her in the face.) Kris is infuriated, but doesn’t tell their Mom about this, as they have been banned from talking about the dummies. A couple of days later, Kris finds a small card in Mr. Wood’s pocket that reads, “KARRU MARRI ODONNA LOMA MOLONU KARRANO,“. After reading the card out loud, Kris thinks she sees Mr. Wood blink. The Miller’s come to visit the Powell’s come to visit. The Powell’s make Lindy and Kris perform a ventriloquist act for their neighbors. Lindy decides to go first, and hers is a success. Before Kris can perform her act, Mr. Wood begins to insult the elderly couple, making fun of their appearances and their breath. Kris is grounded but still allowed to attend the school’s spring concert the following day. However, at the concert, while Mrs. Berman is adjusting a microphone for Kris, Mr. Wood begins to insult the teacher for being overweight. Mrs. Berman demands an apology, but Mr. Wood responds by spewing a green substance on the teacher and the audience. Mrs. Bergman tells Kris that she will be suspended from school for this. Mr. Powell announces he will return the dummy to the pawn shop on Monday. Kris locks Mr. Wood in a closet and goes to sleep. Kris is awakened by the sound of footsteps. When Kris decides to investigate, she discovers that Mr. Wood is alive. Mr. Wood tells her that she and Lindy are now his slaves and that the magic words brought him to life. Eventually, a fight breaks out and the dummy end being run over my a steamroller. A mysterious green mist rises from the smashed dummy’s body. When the girls get to their room, they find Slappy waiting for them. Slappy asks if the other dummy is gone. (Again with a freaky cliffhanger… enough to leave 9 year old me on edge. The episode creepy good.)
- The Ghost Next Door – Again R.L. Stine knows how to give you a twist in a story… It was his thing and I could never decide whether or not I liked it. It could be argued that since I kept reading it… I loved it. I think this made me better at recognizing foreshadowing as there is a lot here. Hannah Fairchild isn’t having much fun since all her friends have left for the summer vacation. Even though Hannah writes letters to her friends, they never write back. Not even Hannah’s neighbors seem to pay attention to her. To pass the time, Hannah makes campfires in the backyard of her house and tells ghost stories to her younger brothers, Bill and Herb. (So much foreshadowing… I can laugh about it now.) Hannah discovers that a new family has moved into the house next door. Hannah meets one member of this new family, Danny Anderson; Danny is twelve years old, the same age as Hannah. Hannah does not recall Danny’s family moving into the house. She thought the house was abandoned. (But was it??????) As the days go by, Hannah begins to become suspicious of Danny. He mysteriously disappears every time she turns around or becomes distracted. Hannah begins to suspect that Danny is actually a ghost. Meanwhile, Danny befriends Alan Miller and Fred Drakes, two spoiled children who are always getting into trouble. Danny decides to go with Alan and Fred as they vandalize around Greenwood Falls. They decide to go to the home of Mr. Chesney, the postmaster of the city, to destroy his mailbox. They are quickly caught by Mr. Chesney, but the postmaster only seems to pay attention to Alan and Fred. Hannah, observing in silence, witnesses this, and this event seems to validate her theory that Danny is a ghost since he can seemingly avoid Mr. Chesney’s detection. After their scolding, Alan and Fred tell Danny that they are going to get revenge. Hannah confronts Danny. The two begin arguing, and Hannah accuses Danny of being a ghost. Danny tries to push Hannah, but his hand passes through her chest. Scared, Danny runs away. Hannah slowly realizes the truth; she is the ghost. Danny and his friends end up breaking into Mr. Chesney’s house again but they end up setting his house on fire. Hannah had overheard some neighbors talking about how she and her family died in a house fire and here it was happening again. Refusing to let her friend die, Hannah manages to save Danny, leaving the shadowy figure behind. Hannah and Danny manage to escape from the burning house as ambulances begin arriving at the scene. Back home, Danny explains to his mother and Mr. Chesney that Hannah saved him, but nobody believes him. They try to explain to him that Hannah passed away five years ago. Hannah begins to notice that everything around her is fading. She hears the voices of her parents calling for her to return to them. As Hannah begins fading away from the real world, she cries a final goodbye to Danny, asking that he never forget her.
- Say Cheese and Die – Greg Banks and his 3 friends, Shari Walker, Doug Arthur, and Michael Warner, decide to sneak into the mysterious Coffman House to entertain themselves for fall break. (It is things like this that made shoot down friends ideas of exploring… It never ended well for the kids in these stories. ) The old Coffman house is said to be haunted. Greg finds a camera hidden inside a compartment in the wall. (I would like to point out that I probably take something from a haunted house.) Greg is interested in photography, so he picks up the camera. He asks Michael to pose for a picture. Michael stands against a staircase railing. After Greg takes the picture a photo comes out of the front of the camera. Michael asks to see it and leans against the railing. The railing breaks, and Michael falls to the ground, hurting his ankle. The group later inspects Michael’s photograph. To everyone’s surprise, Michael’s picture shows him falling instead of leaning on the railing. Later that day, Greg takes multiple photographs with the camera. First, he takes a photo of his father’s new car, but the picture shows the vehicle wrecked. Then, he takes a photo of his older brother, Terry, but the picture shows him on a baseball field in a worried state. Greg, Shari, and Michael go to Doug’s baseball game. Before it starts, Greg takes a photo. The picture shows his friend lying on the ground with his neck at an unnatural angle. Doug refuses to believe that anything bad could happen to him. He assumes the camera is broken. However, during the game, a baseball hits him, causing him to fall to the ground. His neck bends to an unnatural angle, as the picture predicted. Greg is completely sure that the camera is responsible for these events, but his friends refuse to believe him. Greg, Shari, and Michael go to Doug’s baseball game. Before it starts, Greg takes a photo. The picture shows his friend lying on the ground with his neck at an unnatural angle. Doug refuses to believe that anything bad could happen to him. He assumes the camera is broken. However, during the game, a baseball hits him, causing him to fall to the ground. His neck bends to an unnatural angle, as the picture predicted. Greg is completely sure that the camera is responsible for these events, but his friends refuse to believe him. Terry appears on the baseball field in a worried state. Terry tells Greg that their father has just suffered an accident and that the car is completely totaled. Shari continues to be skeptical of the alleged camera’s “powers” and asks Greg to take it to her birthday. Initially, he refuses, but he eventually takes the camera to the party. During the party, Greg takes a photo of Shari, but the pictures doesn’t show her. Soon after, Shari disappears mysteriously without a trace. Greg gets an idea: to tear up Shari’s picture. When he does this, she reappears, but she doesn’t have any memory of where she had been. Later, the kids decide that the camera is too dangerous and resolve to return it to its hiding place in the Coffman House. But, when Greg and Shari they enter the old house, Spidey, a man who had attempted to keep them from leaving with the camera in the first place, catches them and reveals the camera’s origins. It turns out that Spidey’s real name is Dr. Fritz Fredericks, and he is a deranged scientist. His lab partner created the camera. Spidey’s greed led him to steal it and present it as his own invention. What he didn’t know was that his partner also was a master of the dark arts. His partner placed a curse on the camera. Now, whenever a photo is taken, something bad will happen to the subject of the photo. Spidey mentions that the camera caused the death of all of the people he ever loved. He spent his whole life trying to hide it. Now that the four kids know the truth, Spidey believes that he must keep them prisoners in his house forever. Greg and Shari try to escape. During the struggle, Shari takes the camera from Spidey and takes Spidey’s photo with it. Spidey dies of fright, an event that the photograph seems to depict. Finally, Greg and Shari return the camera to its hiding place and leave the building. They tell the Pitts Landing police that they found Spidey’s corpse in the house. Joey Ferris and Mickey Ward, two local bullies, had followed Greg and his friends to the Coffman House. The bullies retrieve the camera, and they take their own photo. They wait for their picture to develop. (I still can’t find myself feeling bad for them.)
- The Werewolf of Fever Swamp – This one prayed on my sense of knowing who was in my inner circle. I would never want to visit a place named Fever Swamp much less live there. This one was pretty scary because it actually involved attacks and people dying. Grady Tucker and his sister, Emily, are forced to move to Fever Swamp in Florida because of their father. Their father is a scientist attempting to study the effects of a Floridian swamp’s environment on a group of deer, which he keeps in a pen outside of his family’s new house. The siblings decide to explore the swamp, but they quickly become lost. Eventually, they come across an old shack. The two enter to see if there’s anyone inside who can help them. However, they are scared away by the crazy looking hermit that lives there. That night, while Grady is hanging out by his family’s new house, he is befriended by a local boy named Will Blake. As Grady learns from Will, the only other local kid close to their age is a strange girl, but Will doesn’t elaborate on this. Will also tells Grady about how the swamp was named. According to him, many years ago, the residents of the swamp all came down with a terrible fever. The fever caused madness or death in everyone who had it. At night, as Grady tries to sleep, he hears howling coming from somewhere outdoors. The following morning, he decides to go outside. A dog jumps out at him, but it appears to be friendly. Grady’s father allows him to keep the dog, and Grady names it Wolf because it looks like it might be part wolf. The Tuckers decide that Wolf was probably the one causing the noises they heard last night. Later, Grady and Will explore the swamp, and Wolf follows. The kids find a dead heron, which they are puzzled by. Grady goes home. Grady lets his dog out at night, and the next day he is shocked to discover a badly mutilated rabbit by their home. His family is quick to blame Wolf, but Grady defends his dog, not believing that he was the culprit. Later in the day, Grady meets Cassie O’Rourke, the strange local girl that Will mentioned. Cassie tells Grady about the werewolf of Fever Swamp, explaining that the swamp hermit is a werewolf. Then, the children are approached by the hermit. Wolf growls at the man. The hermit’s shirt is covered in blood, he’s carrying a dead turkey, and he cries out, claiming to be the werewolf. The kids try to run away, but the man catches up to them. The hermit admits that he had been hunting and had wanted to play a joke on the kids. Before separating, the old man warns Grady about trusting Wolf. Deers in the pen are being killed and Wolf is blamed. Grady’s father plans on taking him to the pound. Grady sets the dog free into the woods and that night goes into the woods to investigate. The swamp, he discovers that Will is also sneaking about. Will says that he was investigating some howling that he heard. Grady tries to stick with Will, but he loses track of the boy. Suddenly, a werewolf jumps out at Grady. As the creature attacks, Grady recognizes the distorted, monstrous face. He can tell that the werewolf is Will. The monster bites Grady, but Wolf appears and attacks Will, scaring him off. Grady falls unconscious. When Grady regains consciousness, he’s back home. As he learns, the swamp hermit carried him back to safety. He tells his father that Will was also in the swamp… when the doctor goes to check on Will, they find the house abandoned. A month passes, and Grady is staring up at a full moon. When Will bit him, Grady became a werewolf. Now, whenever there is a full moon, Grady goes hunting in the swamp. The book ends with Grady running side-by-side with Wolf into the swamp. Crazy scary.
- The Horror at Camp JellyJam – I think that prior to reading this one, I was all for going to a sleep away camp. R.L. Stine sure knew how to ruin a thing. I read another book about a camp and it sealed the deal. Wendy and her younger brother, Elliot, are on a long road trip with their parents. To quell their boredom, the kids decide to ride in the trailer hitched to their parents’ car. After several minutes of riding in the trailer, the kids notice something odd: the trailer appears to be rolling in reverse. The kids soon discover that the trailer has become unhitched, and they are rolling uncontrollably down a hill. Once the trailer finally stops, they are rescued by a camp counselor named buddy who works at a nearby camp King JellyJam’s Sports Camp. Buddy offers to let Elliot and Wendy stay at this camp until they can make contact with the authorities. While making their way to the camp, Wendy sees a small girl in the woods. The girl warns Wendy not to go to the sports camp, but Wendy ignores this. (RED FLAG!! Of course it was… but I was too young to know or care.) The siblings are brought to the camp. They see that the camp’s logo is a purple blob monster. (What kind of logo is this?) Wendy and Elliot are taken to separate bunks. Wendy meets her three bunk-mates: Dierdre, Ivy, and Jan. The girls want to go swimming, so Wendy borrows a swimsuit from Dierdre. Despite the fact that Wendy wants to relax in the pool, all swimmers must be competing. Wendy races with several other campers, but she ends up losing. Dierdre wins and receives a “King Coin”; when campers win six of these, they get to walk in the “Winners’ Walk”. Wendy doesn’t really mind losing the race, but she is lectured by Counselor Holly for not living by the camp slogan, “Only The Best.” , Elliot is having a great time at camp. Wendy gets to watch Eliot play ping-pong against another kid named Jeff. Elliot wins and receives a King Coin. After Elliot leaves, Wendy feels an earthquake-like tremor. Noticing Wendy’s concern, Counselor Buddy says that the tremors are normal occurrence for the camp. The next day, Wendy begins searching for Dierdre again. Wendy asks Buddy about Dierdre and Alicia, he simply says that Dierdre and Alicia are both gone. Later, Wendy tries to call her parents, but she finds that all of the accessible phones don’t allow for outgoing calls. Wendy watches her brother compete against Jeff at basketball and lose, winning Jeff his sixth King Coin. After this, Wendy is told by Buddy that she needs to compete more. Wendy meets a girl named Rose. Rose wins her sixth King Coin. The next day, Rose and Jeff are both gone. Wendy begins planning an escape for her and Elliot. Sadly, Wendy can’t convince Elliot to leave. Elliot wants to compete in a race the following morning to win his sixth King Coin. (Noooooo Elliot NOOOOO). That night, Wendy sneaks out. She follows several counselors. They lead her into a theater in a clearing. Wendy decides to investigate the building. She witnesses Counselor Buddy hypnotizing all of the counselors. Wendy finds a passage to a cave. She enters and sees dozens of kids working hard, including Alicia and Jeff. All of the Winners’ Walk champions are moving furiously with mops and hoses around an enormous, purple, gelatinous creature wearing a gold crown. The children are trying to clean him. Wendy finds Dierdre, and Dierdre explains that the monster is King Jellyjam. She says that the camp counselors are hypnotized and pushing the kids in sports because “Only The Best” are chosen to be King Jellyjam’s slaves. The creature can’t stand his own stench so he needs the most athletic beings to keep him clean and he sweats snails. The earthquakes were from his burping. Anyone who stops cleaning King Jellyjam, or refuses to clean him, gets eaten. Wendy sneaks out. She devises a plan to get the slaves to stop cleaning him. King Jellyjam suffocates on his own stench. They watch as he melts into a pile of his own rancid, purple goo. There is still the counselors that need to be dealt with. Those counselors arrive and are about to attack but the police arrive to investigate the source of the campground’s stench, which had been plaguing a nearby town. The officer’s whistles seemingly snap the counselors out of their trances. Wendy and Elliot are soon reunited with their parents and they go home.
- Monster Blood – There are a few things that are synonymous with the world of Goosebumps but Monster Blood is one of them. Monster Blood started out as third book in the series but ended up as a long running saga. Evan Ross and his friend Andy find Monster Blood in an old toy store in a metal can. It’s innocuous at first, cool to the touch, glowing, stretchy, and bouncy. It evolves and becomes warm, sticky, and bubbling. Soon after Evan and Andy open the Monster Blood, Evan’s dog eats some and grows very large. The Monster Blood itself grows larger and larger as the story progresses, eating several objects and even a couple people. Creepy! It’s later revealed that the Monster Blood’s abilities were caused by a spell cast by a witch named Sarabeth. She meets her demise when Trigger knocks her into the huge mass of Monster Blood, which causes it to shrink to a puddle. Later when Evan and Andy go to collect it, they find that it mysteriously vanished.
- Ghost Camp – Another camp one… No wonder I was hellbent on not going to any sleep away camps. Harry and his brother Alex Altman are on a bus traveling to Camp Spirit Moon. Alex, a talented singer, is sad that his parents didn’t sign him up for a music camp. Camp Counselor Chris introduces the boys to Uncle Marv, the giant man who runs the camp. Uncle Marv alludes to a test that will take place at the camp’s campfire gathering later that night. Uncle Marv takes the boys their cabin, and they unpack. They notice a strange blue liquid pooling in multiple places on the floor. After unpacking, the boys go to the camp’s campfire. A girl named Lucy greets Harry, and the two begin roasting hot dogs. Harry’s hot dog falls into the fire, and, to Harry’s shock, Lucy unflinchingly retrieves it. Uncle Marv guides the campers in a song. Uncle Marv begins telling a ghost story about a group of campers who wanted to spend a night in the woods. The group stopped and set up their tents, but they heard thumping noises. The group realized that they were camping on a giant monster, and the monster ate them. Next, Uncle Marv tells the story of a ghost camp. A mysterious fog settled over an entire camp and turned everyone there into ghosts. (Red Flag… older me knows this is what actually happened at the camp but 10 year old me….) Harry is shocked when he sees a dark fog descending on the camp. Uncle Marv begins leading another song. Suddenly, Harry notices that everyone except for his brother has disappeared from the campfire. Harry assumes that this is another joke. This is confirmed when the boys head back to their cabin and find other campers. Harry enters his cabin and sees more puddles on the floor. Harry lies down in his bed and tries to rest. Harry wakes up and thinks he sees Joey floating above his bed. When he jumps up, Joey is not floating. The next day, Harry goes to the soccer field and practices setting up tents alongside Sam and Joey, two of his bunk-mates. Sam and Joey start wrestling. Sam steps on a tent pole, and Harry sees the pole goes through his foot. Sam pulls it out and says that the pole missed his toes. Later, Harry goes to the mess hall. Joey scares Harry by stabbing himself in the neck with a fork. Joey says that this is a trick, but he never explains how he did it. During a camp soccer game later in the day, Harry and Alex talk about some of the weird things that they’ve witnessed. Harry suddenly sees a girl get hit in the head with a soccer ball. Harry think that he sees the girl’s head fly off, but she is fine when he goes to check on her. The next day after dinner, Uncle Marv leads the campers on a night hike. Near the end of the hike, Lucy pulls Harry aside. Lucy reveals that Uncle Marv’s second ghost story was true; all of the campers at Camp Spirit Moon are ghosts. Harry touches the girl’s hand and feels that it’s icy cold. Lucy explains that the blue puddles in the cabin are protoplasm that the ghosts create when they appear. (GROSS ME OUT!) Harry tells Alex that all of the other campers are ghosts, but Alex says that he already knew that because had Elvis told him and previously tried to possess his mind. Suddenly, campers and counselors appear and surround the boys. Uncle Marv instructs the ghosts to take the boys back to camp so their bodies can be possessed by spirits. The mist floats away, and the two boys begin running in search of a nearby highway. As the boys run, Harry hears Alex humming a song. Harry stops running and demands to hear more of the song. Alex continues singing, but his singing sounds horrible. Harry deduces that Elvis possessed Alex’s body. Elvis promises that he will never sing again if Harry will keep the possession a secret. That is it. That is how the story ends…. Do they go back and get the brother? I NEED ANSWERS.
I eventually graduated from Goosebumps books and the tv show. But that didn’t mean that I left R.L. Stine behind. I moves on to Ghosts of Fear Street and later his Fear Street series. All of which were great in their own right, although I just found out those were ghostwritten. So I can’t wait for my nieces and nephews to get a bit older so that I can give them the gift that is goosebumps. That is all for now… This was a fun write up and a trip down memory lane. There is nothing like being the talk of the lunch table when you have read the latest thing.