Goosebumps-Welcome to Dead House

May 21, 2012

“Hello, Spongey here

Welcome back to Goosebump-athon!

Let’s start with the first one ever written!

…As opposed to starting with number 34 or something”

10 Years Later

Hello, Spongey here.

Ten years ago (well almost, I didn;t wanna post this on a saturday), I did my 2nd attempt at a marathon review thing. In it, I did my first real look at Goosebumps, reviewing the original 62. I did it badly but it was really started my descent into making this blog very Stine focused. It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve grown a lot since then.

For all its faults, Goosebumps always gives me things to talk about, and I will keep talking about it until I’m dead. That said, I would like to return to the past this time. I knew exactly what I would do for 10 years of the Goosebump-a-thon.

And we’ll get into that. But first, I gotta do some stretches. Alright, I’m doing that while typing what I do for some reason. Oh, I just bumped into something. Let’s look at wha-..oh, this old thing. This is machine that lets you peek into other dimensions,. I once spent a month using it see me as different reviewers.

I really should have put that away. We don’t need Spongey in the Multiverse of Madness again. Eh, it’s not like be bumping into it activated it or anything. …And those noises I hear indicate it did exactly that. Oh boy. A portal is opening again. Crap let me turn it off before anything happ-

Universe 792

Hello, Spongey here.

When it comes to books around here, we tend to focus mostly on just one author, that being our lord and savior Betsy Haynes. Bone Chillers has offered us plenty of mixed delights, as well as Fabulous Five and her other works. But sometimes I wanna mix it up. So today we’re looking at someone else that had a not as successful attempt at a kids horror series.

That someone being R.L. Stine. While not the biggest author ever these days, he’s still decently known for his Fear Street series. However, not many know he tried something else in the middle of it that didn’t take off. That being his own kid horror series, Goosebumps. After he hit it big with Fear Street, the publisher wanted him to do something for kids. He wasn’t sure at first but went for it, with the contract just being for 4 at first. Sadly, those four didn’t take off and the series died there. Thankfully, Fear Street was big enough at the time that it didn’t hurt him too much. He’s living fairly well these days, just isn’t the biggest household name ever compared to others.

As the story goes, Betsy Haynes was one of the few that read those at the time and got inspired to do Bone Chillers. As we all know, that took off with a hit TV series and films and all that. So kids got to grow up on some horror after all. Some think Goosebumps is one of those Bone Chillers ripoffs we’ve looked at, but nah, it came first and may have gave her inspiration.

I’ve always been curious about them. How do they compare to what I’m used to? Are they any good? Were they hidden gems that should have taken off? That’s what I’m here to figure out. We’ll start with the first one and some other time we’ll look at those others out of the four. For now, we’ll see how this first attempt turned out.

This, is Welcome to Dead House

This cover actually comes to us from Tim Jacobus, who of course also did the Bone Chillers ones. It’s pretty good. Not super exciting but decently creep with this house. Good use of color too. That random guy in the window is a bit much but overall, it’s a solid and effective cover that draws me in. So yeah, it’s good.

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The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine

Hello, Spongey here.

I figured it was time for another misc book review. This is a rather special one for a few reasons. It’s a book published in 2001 that was not one I read back in the day, unlike other misc book review subjects. It’s one I heard about a few year’s back via a podcast. I won’t say which as it’s part of a big reveal I’m building up to.

I’ve been wanting to fit in a review of it since I discovered it. Now I figured it was a good time to cover it. I will say off the bat that unlike our last misc book, it does tie into Goosebumps. In a rather interesting way too but we’ll get there. I skim read it a bit back and knew it would be fun to review.

It’s written by Diane Stanley who has tons of other works under her belt, from picture books to biographies. Nothing I’ve really heard of but her bibliography is hefty. She’s still writing to this day (her most recent book being from this year), which is cool. It got an ebook in 2014, won and was nominated for some awards here and there, and has some critic quotes on the back. I’m not used to covering such acclaimed literature lol.

With that said, what is it about this book that makes it worth a look? Is it even any good at all? Let’s dive in and see just how fine it is.

This, is The Mysterious Matter of I.M. Fine

The cover artist is not credited, just the “book designer’, whatever that means. There’s two covers but this is the most common one. It’s fine. Basic with some weak shocked kid faces, but the gummy worms peeping out of the book is eye-catching enough. And it actually happens so points there. It’s an okay cover but nothing that would make me rush to pick it up, honestly. 

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A.N.T Farm-fANTasy girl/modeling assignmANT

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s been a while since I did a stand alone kidcom episode review. I have done a few complications like the Happy Madison trilogy but that’s about it. The reason is that I’m not quite as interested in episode reviews on the blog these days. They’ve fallen out of favor anyway with full series retrospectives being more common, I don’t mind doing some in general but I feel like I’ve said what I can say about bad kidcom episodes at this point.

If I find more unique ones, I’ll do it. But otherwise I’m not as interested in that stuff these days. I like doing kidcom stuff though, it’s just that I wanna either riff on it or truly talk about them beyond just saying why it sucks. The compilation ones are a step towards that. Today, I wanna start talking about episodes that are just…odd.

You know the ones. The ones where after you last saw it, it pops in your head and your life “wait remember when this happened? What was up with that?”. These shows will have episodes like that, and I wanna talk about them. So if there any oddball kidcom episodes you want me to remind everyone of, throw some suggestions out there.

With that said, ANT Farm. I’ve talked about it and a bit and I don’t wanna go over the details. It’s fine, but it could be out there. Mostly with the humor but a few plots threw some curve balls. One such example is what we’re looking at today. It’s a two parter…of sorts, we’ll get to that. It is seemingly par for the course for the series but takes an odd turn.

I was going to just cover the first one in depth but I may as well do both. I think it’s time to jump as all the details will be inside. Let’s head in and see what is up with these early season 2 efforts.

First up, is fANTasy Girl

Writers: Tim Pollock & Jeff Hodsden

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Ben & Arthur

This poster makes it seem like a gay porn. Fitting.

Hello, Spongey here.

Oh boy I’ve got a doozy for you all today. In April 2012, I created my 2nd theme month where I looked at films that at the time were on TV Tropes’ So Bad It’s Horrible page. I didn’t do the best job, leaving the month incomplete without a big finale. Still, I did it and suffered through some flicks. I did better when I did it again, even if the movies were less bad there.

To celebrate 10 years of that, I wanted to cover another film from the page. I was going to binge a few but I found what I wanted on the 2nd try. My first try was Who’s Your Caddy which was…meh. Then I popped in this and…oh boy I knew it was a lock. I would have tried maybe one more but I think most other options would be either anger inducing or annoying. This is at least way more fun, even if that wasn’t quite intended.

This has been on there for a while non, also being on Wikipedia’s list of movies considered the worst. I heard of it but didn’t care to look further for a while. It’s been covered by a few notable people here and there, so while certain people haven’t covered it, it’s more covered than some others. I haven’t seen any other reviews of it, so we’ll see how this goes.

This is a movie from 2002 that is a drama but is so bad at that Wikipedia has a citation need to the mention of the genre. I love that. It has been hailed as the gay version of The Room. Forget Brokeback Mountain and Carol, this is the true height of gay cinema. Bad movies are way too straight, it’s about time we had some diversity.

The director/writer/star/producer/you get it is Sam Mirovich. This was his first credit and he’s only done like a couple things since. It was made on a super small budget, and Sam is very aware of it’s not so good production values. He talked about the whole thing once and how he’s somewhat happy about that given it gave the more publicity.

He’s not wrong. He even said people are totally in their right to criticize it, which puts him above other folks I know. It’s one of those low budget movies you can’t really hate since it’s clearly got some passion behind it, and it’s hard to hate on super low budget movies for being low budget. I’ll still make fun of it, it’s what we do here, it’s just worth noting.

It’s a wild experience, and we’re going to dive into it. There’s much more to say before we get into it. Exactly what is this movie’s deal? How amazing is it? Let’s take a look and see how this turns out.

This, is Ben & Arthur

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General Review: The Bad Guys

Hello, Spongey here.

It’s finally time for the first theatrical animated movie of the year. We had some “pushed to streaming” ones but finally we have one that made it to theaters. This comes to us from DreamWorks and I’ve been looking forward to it.

It’s based on the Scholastic book series by Aaron Blabey. I’ve never read them but as I’ve noted before, I see them in every place that sells books these days, including thrift stores. I saw one just a few weeks ago even.

DreamWorks tends to be find success with adaptations and the premise seemed fun. I got more interested as the art style looked pretty neat. They clearly have high hopes for this as they’ve been advertising out the wazoo. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a marketing blitz for one of their movies be this big. Hopefully it pays out.

The director is Pierre Perifel. This is his debut, as he first worked on some Dreamworks specials before moving onto some of the movies. He also made the short Bilby, and worked on The Illusionist. The writer has had credits on some solid live action comedies like Tropic Thunder as well as Madagascar 2. He also directed by Holmes & Watson. …We’ll forget about that one.

So will this be a fun time? Let’s see.

This, is The Bad Guys

After a lifetime of pulling legendary heists, five notorious bad guys attempt their most challenging job yet – going good.

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Hello, Spongey here.

For this month’s R.L. Stine review, we’re doing something I’ve wanted to do for a while. And despite what it’s part of, Stine actually has little to do with it. We’ve been mostly touching on literary works to some extent, so this time we’re going to the world of television with the Goosebumps TV show.

I’ve talked about the series plenty and through that Goosebump-a-thon thing, I’ve touched on most of the series. There are still the short story episodes but as we go through the other books, we’ll touch on those. But then there’s the big one. But first, let’s turn back the clock.

The Goosebumps show is really interesting to me. For all its low budget and mediocre child actors, it still had plenty of effort put into it, and it’s fascinating how they adapt the books. The showrunners for the operation were Billy Brown & Dan Angel, and we’ve already talked about them plenty regarding Haunting Hour and Spooksville.

You can see their talent when it comes to ideas, especially when they adapt something. Like the products or not, it’s interesting how they expand on certain things and add their own takes. In this show, that is their strength. Everyone I’ve seen who has worked with them has nothing but good things to say, this includes their stuff on this show.

But the progression of the series got a bit rocky over time. Much like Stine, they were pumping a lot of these as time went on. At a certain point, there were only so many they could do or so many that existed. Thus we get the short story episodes to pad out Season 3.

Billy & Dan stretched themselves, as they started by just doing straight forward adaptations but eventually started playing things loose, most notably with Haunted Mask II. Then there was More Monster Blood, an original story using an established idea. This seems to have gone well, with the network and such trusting them, as eventually they would make their next step.,

But before that, problems arose due to our old friend executive meddling from the network! We don’t know everything, but we do know a few things. Such as them being forced to adapt Say Cheese and Die Again as the first episode did well in the ratings, resulting in something even his highness Ron Oliver claims no one was happy with. Oof.

The final straw came with Werewolf Skin. Their draft of the script was rejected by the network for being too dark and wild for them. After everything else and some spats, they left the series, leaving Ron Oliver to take over for them, and even then some of his stuff had to be edited down. #ReleaseTheOliverCut

The show wrapped up soon after that, likely just because it was all slowing down, the show ended in 1998, as Series 2000 was going on, and would eventually stop. That’s a long winded way to provide context for this, where Billy/Dan came up with their own totally original idea, with nothing from Stine whatsoever.

I sadly don’t know the backstory behind this, but I assume this was first hatched as another way to get extra episodes while they waited for more books and all that. But it ended up being big, as this is a 3 part story. This ended up being the only time this happened, making this a notable moment in Goosebumps history.

We don’t know if they would have done more OG stuff if they didn’t leave, but Haunting Hour was basically them mostly doing original R.L. Stine stories, so it doesn’t matter. This is an interesting product for many reasons. I’ve always wanted to review it and I figured now is a good time.

Reception seems to be mixed-ish, I haven’t looked at it too deeply. It has some who look fondly on it, and I do recall liking it. But exactly how good is it now? After all, this was early on in the career of Billy/Dan and it being Goosebumps limits how far they can go, That said, let’s see how this original 3 part story stacks up.

This, is Chillogy

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The Twelve Candles Club-Becky’s Brainstorm

Hello, Spongey here.

April Fools! Yes, it’s that time once again already. I swear it comes quicker every year. I admit I’ve lost the meaning of it lately, I don’t exactly pull jokes so much as use it as a chance to do things that I may not do otherwise. I need to do another “guest review” someday, remember when I did those?

Anyway, I went back and forth on what to do this year before I hit upon an idea, inspired by our last few years. For 2020, I reviewed a book from a Christian Goosebmps ripoff, to start a theme month. In 2021, I reviewed Humanomorphs, an Animorphs ripoff by someone I have a blood feud with now. Both of those original series were by Scholastic, and were pretty big.

They made up two of the Scholastic big three at the time. Since I covered those, I kind of wanted to close out the trilogy. That’s right, to close out what I consider the big 3 of the company, we’re doing a Babysitter’s Club knockoff. When it comes to BSC, I talked about my limited experience with it here, you can go there for that:

I currently have less personal experience than the others, but from that read and some research, I know enough to get by. BSC is of course pretty big, but it doesn’t have as much direct ripoffs as you’d think. That’s because most of them are more sly. In the 90’s, there was a lot of these girl-centric series about a group, each each book focused on a certain one, with their name in the title. Things like Sleepover Friends, Girl Talk (it lacks the character title things but whatever) and even Betsy Hayne’ Fabulous Five Series. This means Betsy should have an Animorphs one.

They are clearly copying BSC at least a bit, but with enough of a gimmick to not be as blatant. When it comes to super obvious ripoffs, there’s only like two. One is “The BY Times”, which is a Jewish series. Yes. You can read all about it from Mara Wilson over here:

The other is what we’re talking about today: The Twelve Candles Club. This is a 12 book series that was published by Bethany House from 1992 to 1997. They were slower on putting these out. BY Times saw enough success to get a spinoff (about the little sisters, yes it was that blatant of a ripoff) while this got just that. Both have been lost to the sands of time, but this one is easier to get. Most of them are easy enough to get online, and most are on Archive, while BY is harder and I found only one of those on there.

The author is Elaine L. Schulte, who I couldn’t find much info on. She has plenty of other works, mostly YA/middle grade stuff, from the California Pioneers series, to the Colton Cousins Adventures. She seemed to have dropped off the Earth around the 2000’s, but that latter series got ebooks in 2015 for some reason. She has enough slice of life-y stuff for this to fit for her.

That said, what are we in for? With the exception of one fact we’ll get to when it comes up, I’m going in blind here. This is the first entry so I wouldn’t expect anything wild, but I don’t know what I’m getting into. Will it be any good at all? We won’t know until we get into it. Let’s see how this is.

This, is Becky’s Brainstorm

The cover artist is Andrea Jorgensen. This cover is…fine. It gets the job done, showing the girl’s opening presents. It’s nothing that eye catching but it gets the job done and is drawn well enough. Just nothing too crazy. My only beef is that tagline: “A Wacko idea for Wacko girls!”. What. What about this is even a little bit wacko? Even worse is the back tagline: “Four best friends + One Summer = Fun + Adventure!”. That’s not how math works! …Fine cover, moving on.

(Side note, the About the Author page is at the start instead of the end. Weird)

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Josie and the Pussycats

Honk if you love pussy…cats.

Hello, Spongey here.

In March of 2012, I launched my first theme month, Toon’d Out Month. There I looked at live action movies based on cartoons,. the good and the bad. Mostly the bad of course. I did some theme months since and that was my first attempt at it. I look back fondly on these, as I found these movies interesting.

I didn’t end up covering every example but that would take forever. I did hit up most at least. For the 10 year anniversary of it, I wanted to do another. I wasn’t sure which to do, but then I recalled something. A movie I wanted to cover but never did. And it’s one that has a following and at least one person on Twitter wanted me to watch it.

So…here it finally is. This 2001 film is based on the Hanna Barbara cartoon of the same name which in turn was based on a Archie comic. I haven’t seen much from it, but I know the basic premise: Scooby Doo but it’s a girl band. This was the 70’s after all, the era where the company just did the same things over and over.

That’s a bit harsh but I think it’s fair to be hard on the spin off where they’re in space. Yes. Anyway, they actually formed a real life version of the group to sell the show, as even cartoons aren’t free from that practice. It was remembered enough to get the live action film treatment, so clearly it saw success.

The film got mixed reviews at the time and was a flop, earning 14 million worldwide on a 29 million budget. Ouch. It actually got a PG-13 rating, which tells you what we’re in for, and that was a turn off for parents. On of the offset it turned off audiences so it didn’t catch on.

It managed to get a cult following later on, mainly for the humor and satirical edge. Yeah, this has that, we’ll get to that as it comes up. It was written and directed by creative team Harry Effont and Debroah Kaplan, who did Can’t Hardly Wait…and were writers on Flintstones Viva Rock Vegas and Surviving Christmas but we’ll forgive that.

I actually did start work on a review during a Toon’d Out month but it fell through. I may have noted that in the following review. But now I finally get to it. Is it the underrated gem, I hear it is? Let’s rock out and find out for ourselves.

This, is Josie and the Pussycats

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2012 Blog Post Retrospective

Hello, Spongey here.

At this point we’ve hit on most of my major 10 year milestones. 10 years of overall blogging, 10 years of doing proper reviews, and 10 years of scene by scene movie review. Now it’s time to finally close off everything. This time it is the 10 year anniversary of me moving to WordPress in March 2012. At the time I moved because Blogger gave me trouble that was actually more my fault.

But now I see that WordPress just works better for me. It’s not perfect, the “blocks” thing is a mistake, but it works and I found more success here anyway. I wanted to tie into this move and there was really only one way to do it. I’ve been doing retrospectives on every post I’ve done each year for a bit now. I looked at back on the scene by scene reviews I did in the years I’ve been doing this as well.

I looked back on the posts I did on Blogger. Now it’s time to look on the misc posts I did during my first year of operation on WordPress: 2012. Ah yes, 2012. Things seemed simpler back then. What even went on that year? Well, the world didn’t end as they were a few years off, Kony 2012 was a thing, Nostalgia Critic retired before coming back, there was an election, The Avengers hit the scene and basically truly solidified the MCU as a big deal, and everything in-between. It wasn’t the most bonkers year ever but it was an interesting one.

I can’t recall much as fr as internet stuff but it feels like it as same as usual. A lot of internet drama from ages ago feels so quaint now. I hardly remember my own life at the time, I was like 16 so I wasn’t doing much. Let’s just move it back to the blog. It was my first year where I got more serious about this, putting more time into these and doing them more often.

I introduced the scene by scene movie reviews, which I have gone into. I was getting better but I still had room to grow. My spelling and such is really rough in these days, something I was aware of back then. I still don’t know how much better I am. I wasn’t the best at summing things up yet, and I was really bad at spacing.

I had passion but I was rough. It’s weird to look back at this era, it feels so long also like it was just recently. I can only kinda remember what it was like to write these. It was an odd time for me, and an experimental one. I was trying different things, so I did types of post I didn’t do much of going forward. It’s all part of growing, you see what works and what doesn’t.

Still pretty cringey to look back on now. So today we’ll back at the misc posts I did in this year. The good, the bad and the ugly of what I had to offer this year. It should be a wild ride. Let’s dive in.

This, is the 2012 Blog Post Retrospective

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General Review: Turning Red

Hello, Spongey here.

Three months into the year, and I can finally a general review. This isn’t our first animated film of the year, and sadly not even our first theatrically released one, but it will be the first I am doing a blog review for. I decided to only do general reviews for animated movies I see in theaters, and ones I watch at home will be just on Letterboxd. This is to lighten my load a bit…and because if I did one for Hotel Transylvania 4, the 10 year scene by scene thing wouldn’t be my 1000th post.

Yes, that was the real reason. I’m starting to like the LB ones more, since I can get things done quicker. I usually would do this movie like that since it got booted to Disney+. But there’s two reasons I am still doing this. For one, it’s my way of protesting this move to begin with. Second, I’ve covered every Pixar movie on the blog up to this point, it would be weird to end that tradition. And while this could end up on my top films of the year, I don’t wanna risk it.

So here we are. In regards to this being moved from theaters to streaming, yeah I don’t care for that. It’s cool that it’s more accessible and all that, and streaming is a perfectly valid platform for orginal movies. It’s just that it felt like they pushed the panic button too easily. It happened when that new variant cropped up, but fast forward to March, and it’s not affecting box office too much.

Maybe if they just waited a month to put this on there like they did with Encanto, it could do well and be able to get big online. But whatever, what’s done is done. Anyway, with this Pixar continues to stretch itself a bit more. The director Domee Shi did the short Bao, and before that was a story artist on some Pixar movies like Inside Out and such.

That short had a unique vision to it so it was cool when it was announced she’d be able to direct her own movie. We saw with Luca how they were being willing to do different things, with the directors adding flavor from their upbringing. This seems to be doing more of that and it’s pretty neat. For whatever reason certain sections of Twitter were hating on it for looking different or whatever, which was…fun to deal with.

Let’s ignore that and see what we have here. For the two writers, we have Shi alongside someone who worked on a few shows like Fringe. With all that said, let’s see how good this ends up being for me.

This, is Turning Red

Set in Toronto in 2002, Meilin “Mei” Lee, a 13-year-old Chinese-Canadian student, is horrified to discover that whenever she gets too excited or stressed, she turns into a giant red panda; however, she can turn back if she becomes calm.

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