Disclosure: The following review contains affiliate links.
What was Ryan Gosling doing before Hollywood superstardom came knocking at his door? Appearing in “Say Cheese and Die,” an episode of the 1990s campy kids’ Goosebumps TV show, based on the wildly successful kids’ horror books by R.L. Stine of the same title. (Available on DVD here through Amazon.)
The series ran from 1995 to 1998 and is now being released on DVD and broadcast on the Hub.
Horror for children might seem like an oxymoron of sorts, but kids LOVE to read about characters their own age in scary situations (i.e., the even more wildly successful “Harry Potter” series), as long as they can be reassured in the back of their minds that everything is going to turn out okay in the end. Stine nailed that formula in the “Goosebumps” series, both in the books and on the TV show.
Kids eat it up, and parents will find the child protagonists’ semi-life-threatening situations in the books and TV show acceptable for kids nine to thirteen.
The production values of the TV episodes aren’t stellar. In fact, they’re downright campy, but I think kids, while used the spectacular visuals of the “Harry Potter” films, will still find them to be entertaining and fun. Parents can often be hard pressed to find spine-tingling viewing material for their tweens’ slumber and Halloween parties. Many Halloween specials are baby stuff, and most horror films are far too mature. These TV shows contain no bad language , other than some name-calling, and the only gore your likely to find is in the form of green slime.
Each episode is about 20 minutes, so rent several at one time if you’re planning a movie marathon for your kids. A “Goosebumps” movie is reportedly in the works.
Reel Mama’s recommendation: Appropriate for age nine and up. With names like “It Came from Under the Kitchen Sink,” the shows can be creepy and weird. Most episodes contain at least one intensely scary scene, so parents of younger tweens may want to preview the film.
Horror for kids is a tough genre to crack when it comes to film and TV. Disney has tried off and on over the years with mixed results (it worked in the case of “The Watcher in the Woods.”) There have also been some misses, with The Descendants being the most obvious.
The Goosebumps TV show Season 1 DVD is available on Amazon here and also for streaming with Amazon video.
Goosebumps came out when I was young….but not young enough to read them (the reading level was way under what I read when they came out) But I do remember watching a couple of the shows with my little sister – I also would catch an episode of “Are you afraid of the Dark” when I was younger 😉
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I know! I was too old for them when they came out, but I remember wishing that they had come out when I was younger so that I could really appreciate them. Of course, even though I’m an adult, that didn’t stop me from enjoying “Harry Potter”!
I don’t remember any kids horror shows when I was growing up. The closest I came to scary things was the radio mystery hour at night and Twilight Zone. Both were great – audio for the former and visual for the latter – that were appropriately scary enough for me.
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I used to love watching reruns of “The Twilight Zone”! I was pretty obsessed with it. My favorite was the one where the mannequins come to life in the department store. I also watched “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” reruns, but looking back those are pretty dark. It’s neat that now there are shows and films geared to kids that can fill that curiosity and desire to feel a little scared, all with the safety of knowing it’s “only a movie” (or TV show). Thanks for stopping by, Ann!
I have read almost all of these books. I like reading these books when I was a kid but some of these books were scary for me. I didn’t know they came out with a TV show I am going to have to watch it. I did read allot of scary stuff as a child. Also I watched a ton of scary movies.
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