Hello, Spongey here.
So uh…I’ll say it now: I have never heard of what I’m reviewing today. I didn’t even know it was real until now.
Which is why I’m here. I just want to share my first time experience with it. But first, some backstory. In December of 2011, I reviewed a book from RL Stine’s The Ghost of Fear Street Series.
It’s a kid friendly spin off his teen series Fear Street. It’s like Goosebumps, but weirder and at times, cooler. Also, it takes place on or around Fear Street, and the town of Shadyside. It has a couple nods to locations from the sister series, but continuity wise, it’s all new.
I’ll discuss more when I review some of the other books, but I’ll say it’s a fun series. However, Stine only ghostwrote them…but he said on Twitter that he came up with the basic plot for all them, which explains that.
It was…popular, I guess. It has MANY books in the series, but have most of you heard of it? Probably not. But it seems like it got a TV….pilot. Yes, they made a pilot for a possible GOFS Tv series to bank on it’s short lived popularity.
It only aired once and it was never heard from again. It became another lost Tv pilot. Awhile ago, I heard a rumor on some backwater forum of this pilot’s existence, and I even saw some Website’s TV listing of it.’
But I thought it flat out didn’t exist. But…today, I was on Twitter, and I was looking to find find that tweet where Stine said he came up with the plots. And I found a link to a youtube video of the pilot.
I was SO happy to found a piece of RL Stine history I didn’t even know was real. And yes, it’s not some dumb fan film. It’s 100 percent real, I checked.
So how is it? Well, let’s find out for ourselves..
This, is the Ghosts of Fear Street TV Pilot.
First off, there’s a snippet of the end of the intro. It’s just some music with a bad CGI Skeleton dancing. It’s kind of catchy, and it has the names of some unknown actors at the bottom/.
Why there’s no BASED ON THE BOOKS BY RL STINE credit, I’ll never know. The episode opens on Fear Street in 1972, with some narration by some dude.
Said dude is the adult version of this kid we are following. His friend Fred got into an accident and hasn’t been to school for a week, so he and the gang decides to drop by and cheer him up.
“Fred lived in the house your parents told you to stay away from”
First off, I should say that this kid is actually…a blog repeat actor! Yep, say hi to Luke from the Halloweentown movies!
The unnamed kid heads in to meet Fred and his friends. He walks in the living room and finds his friends covered in cob webs, stuck in a game of twister.
This…is too silly to be even remotely scary.
PJ, the kid, bumps into Fred.
“My…science project got a little out of hand. You know how they say Don’t try this at home? I tried it”
Oh I get it, this is a PSA! Now It all makes sense.
Then he…shoots webs from his armpits.
What the fuck. What Is he, a mutant Spiderman?!
He webs up PJ. He says he’s been hungry since…the accident. He head turns into a spider’s head. See, he IS Spiderman! Then he…gets out a bendy straw.
“Not the bendy straw!”
The hell is this. And….we cut to the twist: It’s all a story a dude is telling to his kids. Okay, THAT is why it was so freaking stupid.
They snark on the fact that a Bendy straw is not deadly. The dad is a horror author, who is about as scary as…well RL Stine.
The son is Mickey, and we find out they will be visiting their Grandfather…who lives on Fear Street of course.
“Don’t knock Fear Street, it’s getting you through college”
So he’s the author of a Fear Street centered series. He holds up a book…which we only see the back of, and it has the EXACT same back pattern as one of the actual GOFS books.
Whoa, this just got META.
MOM: Fear Street is a perfectly normal place. Infact, it’s down right boring.
Is this some weird meta work Troy Steel wrote?
Also, the dad picks up a bendy straw…AND BENDS IT
“What’s she talking about? It’s terrifying”
I see the Dad from Dog with a blog never changed.
When cut to the next scene, the credits play at the bottom and HERE they say the BASED ON THE BOOKS BY RL STINE thingy.
We also see that this was written by series creator Karl Schaefer. What else has he done? He only co-created Eerie, Indiana. I’ve never seen, but it’s a big cult thing from what I hear. Meanwhile, the director has done the films Follow That Bird, and Sisterhood of the Traveling parts. Clearly,. A master of horror.
Back to the story, the family is staying at grandpa’s creepy hotel on Fear Street. Mickey (who is a shit actor) sees what he thinks is a ghost waving at him from a window.
Mickey the sister Joey meet up with Gramps. At dinner, while the parents are somewhere else, we find that their great uncle is Simon Fear. Yep, these guys are part of the Fear family. So this is more connections with the normal FS series, cuz Simon was rarely apart of GOFS, and I only remember one book where the Fears played into the story at all.
Mom never told them about him that much cuz she’s into that kind of stuff. Gramps then jumps into a story:
Uncle simon was in some tower experimenting on himself. Trying to cross into the spirit world. Okay, that was never part of Fear Street, so I guess it’s just doing what the books did: Use the Fear Street location to create a kid friendly story.
Only this time, it didn’t turn out well, cuz whoops Fear Street burned down. I hate it when that happens. Simon’s body was never found. They say he haunts this place and all that. So it’s just a normal haunting story that the books would do. Lame!
The parents show up and the kid says he feed some of their food to Grandpa’s dog while he was telling the story.
DUN DUN DUN!
Mickey says the dog is invisible. Did I mention this kid is a shitty actor? Cuz he is. And…cut to later as they kids explore the outside world. Guess that’s the end of that.
Wait, so is it one son and two daughters? Cuz earlier we see Mickey with some Joey kid, but during dinner, we also see an older/hotter chick. And here, it’s just Mickey and the older chick whose named hasn’t been said yet.
Whatever. They come across a house covered in webs, which means we may be seeing armpit spiderman again. Well, not really, but we do meet a goth chick.
The older sister chick says she is Kit, and …i guess Mickey isn’t here now, cuz is see this is another brother named Joe. So that was a dude? It’s two sons, and a daughter. Okay, see this is why you establish characters first.
The goth chick is Christina, but everyone calls her cricket. She’s a bug freak. They head inside her house and see some of her bugs. Joe is scared, while Kit is into it.
Joe walks off and while trying to exit the house, he bumps into a weird guy with a drink. Inside his drink…are two bendy straws.
Joe screams and runs out. Seriously. BENDY STRAWS are the big thing that scares him? This is making Goosebumps look like Saw!
But….then the guys turns into armpit spiderman and spews webs. Seriously, our first big scare is some dude with a spider head spewing webs from his armpits? Before it was meant to be dumb, but now it’s less dumb.
Think about this: I previously saw a killer TURKEY in a TV show, and knew it was meant to be dumb. But here, I am not 100 percent sure.
The kids runs out for real. And kit doesn’t hear this…how?
Cut back to home as Dad is playing around with Gramps. Mom doesn’t look him encouraging Gramps, as she wants him to get rid of this creepy stuff.
“The only person he’ll sell this place to is…you!”
Dad then goes on to say/joke that it wouldn’t be bad. He’d much perferer Fear Street to the real world. I think we’ve found some Hall of Fame Questionable Parenting.
Thankfully, they are interrupted when they see Joe stealing their car Battery. What. (Shit, I’m turning into Troy now)
Gramps says Joe said he needed a giant bugzapper. That’s what the car battery is for. After getting the Battery, Joe goes around with his…back pack bugzapper, but he accidentally zaps Dad when he tries to pull him away.
The way that last bit plays out, it feels like a damn sitcom.
“How many times have I told you? Electricity is not your friend!”
Haw…wait, is this is a freaking comedy?
Anyway, Joe tells them about Bugman.
“Some things are meant to be real, and Bugman is one of those things”
Joe runs up to Cricket’s room to tell them about Bugman. Then the bugman he ran into shows up, and whoops, he’s actually that Fred friend from the opening. It’s all a costume and stuff. Dad runs in and sees and he’s all laughing.
Oh yay you scared my kid shitless, great job pal.
Back at home, Mickey is with gramps in the attack, and they find a doll to belonged to Mom. The “Normal” kids used to tease Mom about being a Fear. One time they even tore that doll’s head off.
And this ends up being…a sweet moment? The hell? How did we get from Bendy straws to an almost decent moment? As bad as Mickey’s acting is…this bit isn’t that bad
Mom comes in, having found the doll’s head. She asks if they rolled the doll’s head down the stairs. They did not. But Mickey says Grandma’s ghost did!
…Yeah. But then we cut to the next scene with Dad, Kit, and Joe..
“Everything in your books really happened”
“I stretched things a little but basically..yes”
First off, you’re not Marty, kid.
…You know, Bugman did kind of…turn into Fred and it wasn’t a costume. But I assumed it was cuz everyone reacted NORMALLY, especially Kit.
So that’s the twist? Fear Street really is full of the freaky stuff Dad puts in his books, even Bugman? Which actually has no real explanation? Well, they did a crap job of revealing that twist with the cut to something completely different.
“This is so so heavy”
Great Scott, stop!
“But even with the occasional Paranormal Anomaly, Fear Street is still safer than a big city…like san Diego”
Take THAT, San Diego!
They make it home and it seems like Mom was of course in on this too.
“How’d the talk go?”
Sex Jokes I could have made: 1
And now Mom stops being anti Fear Street and tells Gramps he can’t sell this place. Dad mentions it’s now summer break, so maybe they could stay for the summer.
“We are staying!”
Then the ghosts dog shows up, knocks Mickey down, and licks him. Keep in mind, he is invisible. Does the image of a kid getting licked by an invisible dog creep you out. It better.
Especially cuz that’s when they choose to roll the credits. On a creepy image. Makes sense, I guess.
Wait, that’s the end? Not much of a story…i guess. Um…okay.
Well, this was…interesting. It was a fascinating piece of RL Stine history. But is it any good? ….Um…yes and No.
I have no idea how to feel about this pilot. Some aspects of the concept I like, such as Dad being the author of a Fear Street series, or even Mom getting used to her Fear Streets.
But for one, the latter is BARELY focused on, and while one cute scene comes out if, she just changes at the drop of a hat! If they focused on that, this would be awesome.
But the story itself has nothing to it. Dad tells a story about a bugman. Kid moves into Grandpa’s house. Sees Bugman in friend’s house. He freaks out. Kids are told all the dad’s stories are real. Lame dog joke. Roll credits.
And in between are some pointless bits. There’s no one story going on, and it’s a mess. It’s not scary, but it doesn’t seem to be trying to be scary. A few minor parts…maybe. But we also have the whole…Armpit Spiderman thing.
So is trying to be scary of just kind of silly but with a horror setting? I don’t know, I think Bonechillers did a better job at that. Even the siller Goosebumps episodes didn’t seem THIS stupid.
Oh, and it has nothing to do with the source material as well. None of this happened in any GOFS book that I know of. From this pilot, it seems like the series would focus on the same characters, getting into weird situations.
Which, again, Bone chillers did. They took an anthology series, and kept the same people, AND used the book’s plots. So my guess is, the other episodes would use the books plot, just with the same characters every time.
And that idea…actually seems interesting. I would have watched the proper series if they did that. But it was not meant to be.
The pilot itself just didn’t do a great job at setting this up. It just has weak pacing, and uninteresting characters. The acting is…okay, nothing to bitch about here. Except for Mickey, he sucks.
Compared to the first episodes of Goosebumps, The Nightmare Room and the haunting hour, this is pretty weak. Compared to the creators other work, this is weak. And when the first episode of Goosebumps is much sweeter and scarier than this, you did it wrong.
Bless their hearts, they tried. And you know what? It’s not…BAD, it’s just kind of weak. It can be so bad its’ good at times, like with ARMPIT SPIDERMAN.
So I say…check it out. It’s stupid but it’s a fascinating piece of TV history that you must watch. If you don’t like most Stine stuff, then don’t bother since you may hate it.
But if you like Stine stuff for whatever reason, it’s a weird thing that is fascinating to watch. Why they did a TV pilot of a semi-obscure Stine product and didn’t even adapt it right is beyond me.
But in the end…it’s not too bad.