Decapitated Dan Reviews the Top 5 (Ranked) GOOSEBUMPS Books of All Time

One Day at Horrorland - Goosebumps

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Strange Kids Club is happy to welcome back Decapitated Dan (Ghastly Awards, Monsters & Metal Postcast) to our month-long Goosebumps celebration for another Top 5 countdown. This time, Dan is taking a look at the five highest ranked titles based on various sites polls. Never one to rely (or trust) the laurels of the masses, Dan took all five books to the proverbial wrestling mat. How do they rank in his slightly bulging, ocular orbs (hint: his eyes)? Let’s find out…]

ONE DAY AT HORRORLAND

(Ranked #5 of All Time)

goosebumps-horrorland-coverSYNOPSIS Werewolf Village. The Doom Slide. The Coffin Cruise. These are just a few of the famous attractions awaiting Luke and Lizzy Morris at HorrorLand, the amusement park where terror comes free with every ticket. Step right up and join the Morris family as they ride each ride–and scream each scream–for the very first time. Because it might also be their last.

RATING 5 out of 5

MINI REVIEW Now that was a roller coaster ride of TERROR! Unlike the other books, I REALLY wanted to personally be a part of this one. I mean, come on people, how can you not want to go to Horrorland? I think what made this one extra special was the total B-Movie feel of it. It was so obscure, it was great. Lost in the desert, looking for the actual amusement park you were supposed to be going to, and—BAM—out of nowhere you find a different amusement park. You park your car, and start to walk up to the ticket counter and your car BLOWS UP! Yet you really don’t care, you just want to enter the park? WTF IS THAT! It’s so off the wall it is solid gold, SOLID GOLD! Then the ending is just fantastic, as it just gets even more out there. This was a perfect read, probably better suited for an adult, just in terms of picking up all the crazy things.

WAS IT SCARY? No, it’s not scary, it’s just highly entertaining.

HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? This one suffers pretty good when it comes to technology. You get lost, well whip out that GPS before you leave and that won’t happen. You lost your parents, well call them on your cell phone. So if you look at it like that, then yeah, it doesn’t hold up very well.

SAY CHEESE AND DIE

(Ranked #4 of All Time)

goosebumps-saycheese-coverSYNOPSIS Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he found. The photos keep turning out…different. When Greg takes a picture of his father’s brand-new car, it’s wrecked in the photo. And then his dad crash- es the car. It’s like the camera can tell the future–or worse. Maybe it makes the future!

RATING 3.5 out of 5

MINI REVIEW What the hell kind of camera uses this stuff called film? Yeah, yeah…I’m not that young, just making a joke y’all. “Say Cheese and Die” is one of the very few GB books that I actually remember owning, but I could not recall a thing while reading it. This book is also the first, of the ones I have read, to not be told by a character in the book. It’s strictly all narrator, so that was pretty refreshing. I also really like this concept, and I know it’s been done in various forms over the years, but I think it’s cool to see how things play out to get to the point where the camera told the future. I also enjoyed how this book played out at the end, leaving it open for it’s eventual sequel. So overall a good read, not the best of the bunch, but it’s solid, with an action ending.

WAS IT SCARY? No, this one is not scary, I would lean more towards it being a very tense, how will it play out thriller.

HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? With the whole book being based on an evil film camera, it’s safe to say that this does not hold up at all. However Polaroids do still exist, so it’s not entirely was off base.

WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE

(Ranked #3 of All Time)

goosebumps-deadhouse-coverSYNOPSIS Amanda and Josh Benson move into a new house in Dark Falls, where the residents are all zombies who have died while living in the same house and are preparing to make the Benson family one of them, as they need blood to survive.

RATING 4.5 out of 5

MINI REVIEW Damn, this book was dark, disturbing and so different than any of the others I have read so far. Out of the eight that I read up to this point, only two came close to mentioning/hinting at any kind of death, but this one offered it up quite easily. I think it’s safe to say that because this is the first book in the series, so if any standards were to be set, it would be after this one. This book also plays up the ghost/living dead factor to the extreme. Something odd is going on, and R.L. was able to really spook it up. It makes me wonder if I had really read the series as a kid, would the bar have been set too high by this book?

WAS IT SCARY? Yeah it kind of was…then again, kid ghosts freak me out.

HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? Take away the cell phone factor, for when you need to reach your parents, and this one hold up just fine. It was a fantastic read.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY

(Ranked #2 of All Time)

goosebumps-dummy-coverSYNOPSIS When twins Lindy and Kris find a ventriloquist’s dummy in a dumpster, Lindy decides to “rescue” it, and she names it Slappy. But Kris is green with envy. It’s not fair. Why does Lindy get to have all the fun and all the attention? Kris decides to get a dummy of her own. She’ll show Lindy. Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil things. It can’t be the dummy causing all the trouble, Can it?

RATING 3 out of 5

MINI REVIEW I have always enjoyed the concept of a dummy coming to life a wreaking havoc, but I also know it’s not scary to me. Child’s Play, Dolly Dearest, Dead Silence… they’re all good flicks, but none of it really dives deep into my head to torture my soul. So what I was able to take away from this book was simple: one twin has to have what the other twin has. A spooky saying is read, and then the crazy begins. I enjoyed the school scene, and LOVED the ending, which I was waiting in anticipation for hoping it would happen, but overall the book itself was just okay.

WAS IT SCARY? No, but it could have been if the little guy went on a killing spree, but alas, this is just a kids book. I’m sad now.

HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? When you think about technology and all that today, this book holds it’s own. No devices needed as they say…or would say…whatever Batteries Not Included!

THE HAUNTED MASK

(Ranked #1 of All Time)

goosebumps-hauntedmask-coverSYNOPSIS Carly Beth thinks she’s found the best Halloween mask ever. With yellow-green skin and long animal fangs, the mask terrifies the entire neighborhood. Before long, it has a surprising effect on Carly Beth, too. She tries to take it off…but it won’t budge! Halloween is almost over, but fright night is just beginning.

RATING 1 out of 5

MINI REVIEW I am just going to sit here and scratch my head for a little while because this one has me confused. How on Earth is this book the #1 rated Goosebumps book?! I’m sorry, but out of the 10 books I read, this one was by far the worst and I read “You Can’t Scare Me.” Matter of fact, maybe that is why these two books were so blah to me, they were based on trying to scare someone else. So instead of reading about something scary, I was reading about how to NOT scare someone else. So yeah, Carly gets a mask stuck on her head and only “love” can save her…really? Oh well, at least we got books that were good from this series like “Welcome to Dead House” and “The Curse of Camp Cold Lake.”

WAS IT SCARY? No, and I can’t even see how it would be then. If anything it would just be cool because you get to wear a mask all day every day and scare people.

HOW DOES IT HOLD UP AFTER 20 YEARS? I am sure if this happened today someone would just look up online how to remove a mask from their head. This one doesn’t falter to bad, it’s just not a good story.

Written by Decapitated Dan

Decapitated Dan is a horror comic journalist living in Illinois. He has been covering horror comics since 2009. He currently hosts two podcasts; Monsters & Metal and Tales From the Water Cooler. Dan is also the founder of Dan Con and the Ghastly Awards.

5 posts
  • Dex

    After seeing the movie trailer, I decided it was finally time to read the whole series because I’d never read even one before.

    • I will say that the movie is a bit different than the books and TV series, just in terms of tone (there’s more action/humor in the film) – just an FYI. Still, I love the books. 🙂

      • Dex

        Oh I know but that’s what made me love the trailer. For decades I’ve been seeing these monsters on the covers at book stores and thrift shops (and what Strange Kid doesn’t love monsters?) so I thought this was as good a time as any to jump in.