[EDITOR’S NOTE: In celebration of all things Goosebumps, we’ve invited our fiendish severed head of a friend—and my co-host on Monsters & Metal Postcast‘s “What’s Crackle’n” segment—Decapitated Dan to join us all October long! In this piece, Dan takes a look at five of creepiest covers from the Goosebumps franchise to see how well these frightening tall tales have held up after 20 years. Can the story really be as good as the art…?]
SYNOPSIS While staying with his weird great-aunt Kathryn, Evan visits a funky old store and buys a dusty can of monster blood. It’s fun to play with at first, and Evan’s dog, Trigger, likes it so much, he eats some! But then Evan notices something weird about the green, slimy stuff. It seems to be growing. And growing. And growing. And all that growing has given the monster blood a monstrous appetite…
RATING 2.5 out of 5
MINI REVIEW Instead of reading this one, I decided to take it in through the ears. I searched online for an audio version and I came across Dune Reads Goosebumps, not knowing what I was in for. As I prepared for a fright, I was instead treated to a hilarious delight. But I’m not here to review this audio show—which you MUST CHECK OUT—I’m here to talk about this book. I didn’t hate, nor love “Monster Blood.” I found some of the story to be really interesting, but I never really picked up on anything that would be scary. It’s just a blob that grows and grows…and then…I’m not going to spoil it. But there was a twist ending in a way. Overall it was just okay.
WAS IT SCARY? No, and it would not have been scary then. It’s just Gak that goes crazy.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? It holds up, you have no real technology issues or anything, unless you would wonder why a Google search wasn’t run on the Monster Blood once it got all crazy.
THE WEREWOLF OF FEVER SWAMP
SYNOPSIS There is something weird happening in Fever Swamp. Something really horrible. It started with the strange howling at night. Then there was the rabbit, torn to shreds. Everyone thinks Grady’s new dog is responsible. After all, he looks just like a wolf. And he seems a little on the wild side. But Grady knows his dog is just a regular old dog. And most dogs don’t howl at the moon. Or disappear at midnight. Or change into terrifying creatures when the moon is full. Or do they?
RATING 2 out of 5
MINI REVIEW This book was actually my first jump back into the Goosebumps world after many, many years of being away. I should also make note that I was not a BIG GB reader, I was more into comics back then, but I did own a few (not that I recall which ones). So, being a Horror Junkie, it is probably no surprise that I LOVE Werewolf entertainment. When I saw this book I knew it was a must read, and I knew it would be my first read. That cover alone got me all excited to sit down and take it in, but…yeah, not what I was hoping for. It seemed like every time something cool would happen, it was for nothing. The big build just kept building, and building and building…and then fizzled out for me. Of course the big bad wasn’t who I expected, but I also thought that by the time it was revealed I didn’t care anymore. If anything this book cried wolf too many times.
WAS IT SCARY? No, not at all. Not even suspenseful really.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? It holds up a little. If you are talking technology though, it is way off, due to what cell phones can do today. So with that, I think a kid today would really question some things.
YOU CAN’T SCARE ME
SYNOPSIS Courtney is a total show-off. She thinks she’s so brave; and she’s always making Eddie and his friends look like wimps. But now Eddie’s decided he’s had enough. He’s going to scare Courtney once and for all. And he’s come up with the perfect plan to do it. Eddie’s going to lure Courtney down to Muddy Creek. Because he knows that she actually believes those silly rumors about the monsters. That there are Mud Monsters living deep inside the creek. It’s just too bad that Eddie doesn’t believe the rumors, too. Because they just might be true…
RATING 1 out of 5
MINI REVIEW What a let down this book was! I mean, good lord, talk about blue balling it. Look at the amazing cover, where the hell are the mud people? WHERE ARE THEY!?!?! Will the come and terrorize the town? Nope! Will they show up and eat your children? NOPE! Will they appear anytime before the final chapter? NOPE! It’s like putting a hot chick on the cover of your magazine, but when you open it up all you get to see are some 100 year old naked women, but…at the end, there is an ad for the next issue which has a hot chick on the cover. This book was basically a way to NOT scare someone who keeps one-upping you.
WAS IT SCARY? Absolutely not, there is no way it was even scary then.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? Do boys still put rubber snakes and spiders in girls lunches? If so then it holds up, but if not…look let’s be serious…don’t read this one.
THE SCARECROW WALKS AT MIDNIGHT
SYNOPSIS Jodie loves visiting her grandparents’ farm. Okay, so it’s not the most exciting place in the world. Still, Grandpa tells great scary stories and Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies are the best. But this summer the farm has really changed. The cornfields are sparse. Grandma and Grandpa seem worn out. And the single scarecrow has been replaced by twelve evil-looking ones. Then one night Jodie sees something really odd. The scarecrows seem to be moving. Twitching on their stakes. Coming alive…
RATING 4 out of 5
MINI REVIEW Just when you thought it was safe to go visit your grandparents. This book has your typical farm setting, with a nice friendly dim witted farm hand, but then everything just gets turned upside down. I will fully admit that the entire time I was reading this, all I pictured in my head was an episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog playing out. This book makes with the creepy early on, and plays with demon like summonings. I am assuming we are using a Book of the Dead here. So while I thought that the twist was kind of obvious, the ending was crazy good. I didn’t expect it, but it was a great way to go.
WAS IT SCARY? I think that this book had it’s moments where you could get that chill, but overall no, it was not scary to me.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? It’s pretty solid. I saw no real issues with anything that would leave a kid today scratching their head.
THE CURSE OF CAMP COLD LAKE
SYNOPSIS Camp is supposed to be fun, but Sarah hates Camp Cold Lake. The lake is gross and slimy. And she’s having a little trouble with her bunkmates. They hate her. So Sarah comes up with a plan. She’ll pretend to drown—then everyone will feel sorry for her. But things don’t go exactly the way Sarah planned. Because down by the cold, dark lake someone is watching her. Stalking her. Someone with pale blue eyes. And a see-through body…
RATING 5 out of 5
MINI REVIEW Brace yourselves, this one is chilling! I don’t even know how “kid friendly” this book is, because it is grim as hell. So you have a girl named Sarah who just can’t seem to get on the right side of anything at camp. So you just feel bad for her the whole time. Then when things start getting crazy after a stunt she pulls, you wonder if she is just going insane. BUT THEN…you get to the ending and HOLY S***, it gets even darker! This one just cut loose, and was so perfect. I know it came out later in the line, but how is it not in the Top 5!
WAS IT SCARY? I would say it is more dark and depressing than scary, but the ending will literally give you goosebumps.
HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? Minus your typical, this wouldn’t happen if they had a cell phone issue, this book totally holds up today. I would never read it to my kids though, too dark for anyone under 13.