As you grow older and closer to death, it’s natural to feel the pull of the past tugging at your skin and whispering, “Come back, remember Pogs?” But you can’t let nostalgia rule your world, and that’s why it’s time to look at all of the Goosebumps episodes that don't hold up and pick apart everything you thought you loved about them. Was Goosebumps really scary, or was it simply a lesser version of the peak '90s children’s horror that inundated our television sets? Even the theme song, which should set the mood for the show, was pure comedy. The scariest thing about the theme was the synthesized dog bark making up a section of the melody, and honestly it was more sad than spooky.
No matter how big of a wuss you are, you have to admit there aren’t a lot of scary Goosebumps episodes. There may be inspired visuals, strange digressions, and even a jump scare or two, but on the whole the series was DOA. Even though this is a systematic evisceration of the lamest episodes of Goosebumps, that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to have fond memories of the series. Maybe Goosebumps started you on your path towards being a true horror fan, and if so that’s great. But that doesn’t make Goosebumps a watchable television program. Sometimes it’s best to let the things we loved stay in the past, and that goes double for low-budget horror anthology programs adapted from middling YA series.
The Girl Who Cried Monster
The inaugural episode of the series features a bug-eating librarian (to be fair, he's legit creepy as a monster), who has this Divine thing going on when he's in human form (but way less inspiring and fabulous). If you were nine when this episode premiered, it's absolutely fine if it scared you away from your local library for a couple of weeks.
Watching now, however, it's very apparent the guy is a creep regardless of whether he's a monster or not. The twist at the end of the episode reveals that the parents are monsters as well, and it's definitely not as exciting (or scary) as you remember.
Return Of The Mummy
If this episode gave you the heebie jeebies when you were but a babe, that's totally understandable. Mummies are objectively scary and people who say they aren't are liars or possibly secret mummies who want to trick you into hanging out in their pyramid. Speaking of which, at one point in this episode a character gets lost in a pyramid and that seems insanely stressful. Regardless, it's hard to watch this episode as a grown human who knows better than to walk around by yourself in a giant triangle and not think, "You should have just stayed in the hotel, you idiot child."
Say Cheese And Die!
Listen, Ryan Gosling is in this episode. That doesn't make it good. You don't have to pretend like you like it on the off-chance R-Gos might smile at you on the street. Despite this episode showing a child be responsible for maiming his friends and family (which would be horrifying for anyone, not just children), it never hits as hard as it should.
Everyone (pretty much) makes it out of this episode in one piece and the whole thing ends up feeling like a big morality tale about not stealing haunted items. Honestly, watching this as an adult, the only real take away is "Hey girl, don't use those dumb death cameras."
The Haunted Mask
Why was everything always so haunted in Goosebumps? Couldn't "real life" be the monster or something in one episode? Or what about a contemptuous raven? Anyway, you know this episode like the back of your hand. It's the one where the oddly named Carly Beth's face gets locked in some stank Halloween mask. Out of all the subpar episodes of this show, this one mostly delivers with the creepy stuff. There's a mannequin head that looks like a girl, asshat teenagers wearing jack-o-lantern heads, and the concept of completely losing yourself in a new identity. Two decades later, this episode doesn't work. It actually begins with R.L. Stine telling the audience how good the episode is, and then explaining the entire plot before spoiling the ending.
You know what's great about all films, horror or otherwise? The way the writer appears at the beginning to remind you what you're watching is fiction, then spoiling the plot, and then making sure you know everything is going to be fine. That doesn't suck the tension out of every scene at all. The mannequin head is kind of creepy though. Kudos to the prop designer who made that ungodly thing.