Hello, Spongey here.
So on October 8th, it will be RL Stine’s birthday. Oh, Stine. You’ve been so much joy for all the wrong AND right reasons. So today we celebrate his special day about two days early.
I didn’t do anything last year, but in 2011, I did a list of the worst Goosebumps books. My how things have changed since then. If you remember, there are 3 RL stine based films I call the RL STINE TRILOGY.
The first was called “When Good ghouls” go bad, which is based on a work by him though I don’t know if that’s true. He at least had a hand in the story. Then years later came “The Haunting Hour: Don’t Think about it” which is an odd but spooky and fun film with Stine’s prints all over it. I already did that one.
And to close out the trilogy, they finally did a movie based entirely on one of his books. See, in 2004, Stine did a mini-series called “Mostly Ghostly”. It was a 6 book series about a kid who had to help two lost ghosts find out about their missing parents and how they died,
The series sadly never had an official ending and after 6 books they weren’t any closer to solving the mystery. But in 2008, they made a movie out of the first book anyway. I have no idea how many sequels they planned to make, but this was obviously meant to start a franchise.
Sadly, they haven’t done a sequel yet. Thankfully, as you will see, they don’t leave it too open like the book did. /So it stands on it’s own. The film was directed by Richard Correl, who I know, as one of the three creators…oh Hannah Montana.
I am not kidding. He’s even directed tons of Disney sitcom episodes since then. Weird choice, but i’ll go with it. He wrote the script along with Pat Proft, whose credits include Mr Maggo and Scary movie 5.
…Okay, not off to a great start. But trust me, it’s better than most of his credits. It also has a lot of actors only I know, but we’ll get to that. Yes, I read the book but as I haven’t read it in awhille, I won’t compare it a lot.
You must be really happy. So anyway, let’s get into it.
This, is Mostly Ghostly
The movie opens on a completely normal neighborhood. Except an evil ghoul comes out of a CGI bird. This is our villain, Phears, played by Arwin himself, Brian Stepphank. This is guy is beyond great as the villain. He’s threatening but most all…incredibly hammy and fun. For whatever reasons, Phears steps into some random house which happens to hold our main family.
Phears steps into a room our main character, a young boy named Max. He’s into fake magic stuff so we see him doing his failed routine. He is less then pleased. But Max tries out his magic words.
“From the light of the earth the dark desceneds, should they return? That all depends!”
This…pisses Phears off.
“WHO IS THIS MORTAL WHO DARE UTTER THOSE WORDS?”
Told you he was amazing.
Once he sees how much Max fails in spite of those arc words, he just walks away. Why he was there in the first place? I have no idea, really.
But someone even more evil enters…Max’s brother Colin, played by Luther Waffles himself, Adam Hicks. Max was using his camera, which did not please him. He is the dick brother, but Hicks at least makes him fun.
They argue a bit and Max goes downstairs to his Mom, played by the Mom from Suite life of zack and cody. So far we have Arwin, Luther, and Carey martin. That’s not even the start of it. Anyway, she is the caring parent who supports Max’s magic stuff.
Which means Dad is the one who doesn’t like it. This dad is played by the Dad from wizards of waverly place. Yes, he has a son named Max here who is into magic. If that was an actor allusion, this is the best movie ever made.
Dad is sports guy, and so is the brother. Which means Max is frequently picked on for being nerdy and different. I think Dad is sour of magic because all the times magic blew up in his face before thanks to-okay, I’ll stop.
“You know what is magic?”
“Colin remembering to flush”
Dad wants Max to get out there and do sports but Max just isn’t up for it. Thankfully, Dad just shrugs it off and lets him go. There are points where you could think of Dad as dick for not punishing Colin the dick more often because he actually does sports. I don’t get that too much but in the book, that was a different story.
Anyway, Mom asks him to go the basement to get some laundry. Then the lights flicker on and off…
“Okay, are you man or a mouse? …Well, I do like cheese”
Then everything goes dark. He stumbles around and gets scared by little things. But then he hears voices coming from the walls, so he goes to check it out. And…then a ghostly hand pops out of the wall.
This scares him and he runs upstairs. He bumps into Colin and they fight a little bit. Yeah, Max kind of forgets about the hand and just stumbles around like nothing happened. He doesn’t even try to tell anyone. Okay.
We then cut to the owner of the ghostly hand, who resides in a world on the inside of the wall. It’s full of ghouls, all run by Phears here. Phears announces that kids named Nicky and Tara are still out there and if they remember anything, they could banish the ghouls forerer.
We’ll meet them later.
“I know you are all in eternal pain, but try please..to walk it off”
I’m not even mentioning the normal lines Phears says incredibly awesomely. He even does weird things with his fingers like a true evil villain. Anyway, Max now lives at Nicky and Tara’s house, which is why he was there.
Since Max seems to know the words (the dog found that bit on a piece of paper in the basement) Phears doesn’t want Nicky and Tara meeting him or anything like that.
“I must…destroy Tara and Nicky”
The way he says that is just delicious. I love it. Anyway, on Halloween night, he will be at full power and he will use that power to have him and his ghouls take over the mortal world.
Speaking of Tara and Nicky, let’s meet them. We see these kids walking down the street who are confused by the cold and the Halloween decorations. It was 4 of july for them earlier. That gives you our first hint.
Tara is played by Madison Petis, who you may remember Cory in the house. Should would later join Stine again for The Haunting hour episode “Black mask”.. Nicky is played by Luke Benward, who you may remember from Minutemen and more recently, Girl Vs Monster.
This came out the same year as Minutemen, but he’s still a tiny bit older. Then by the time GVM comes around, he will have aged faster than the brother from HallloweenTown.
Confused, they ask some joggers something but they don’t respond. Then a car comes by…and drives right through them. DUN DUN DUN!
That’s right, Nicky and Tara are ghosts…and even they didn’t know it. How did they do? That’s our big mystery but more on that later. Then suddenly they fade, and they can only hear each other.
Back at Max’s house the next morning, he actually does tell Mom and Colin about the hand, but of course they don’t buy it. Mostly Colin, who acts like an enjoyable dick. Max tells Mom about the words the dog found.
‘Buster is not a dork!”
‘….I think he meant you’re the dork”
That was a cute joke bu why doesn’t Mom put a stop to this? I’ve seen worse bullying but he should be punished for insulting his brother like that. Anyway ,we find out there’s a school talent show on Halloween, and that’s why Max wants to work on his magic act.
Mom mentions there is also a dance that night, and Dad is on the cometiree. They do parent-y stuff after saying that. The mom from Suite life of zack and cody is married to the dad from wizards of waverly place. Now THAT is an OTP I can get behind.
So anyway, after that Max gets on the school bus. It’s here we meet stock bully #454. Only this one is actually one of the funny ones. Max jokes about how now the bully can beat him before school instead of during school, which saves him healing tim.
“Nah, I’ll beat you up going to and from school.”
See, their relationship is sort of amusing here. But thankfully, it’s never as amazingly romantic as Buford and Baljeet.
Later at school Max meets his love interest and her friends, who follow the Jennifers’ rule of walking in slow motion wherever they go. His main love is Tracy, played by Ali Lohan. …Not every casting choice was perfect, though she’s perfectly okay here.
“I can’t believe I got a D in yesterday’s science test. I studied in between texting the night before. …Oh my gosh, no way, h20 stands for water? I thought it meant “hi to only you”
She’s…not exactly the smartest person ever. I liked that they made her dumb instead or dull or bitchy. Max then has an imagine spot where Tracie is his lovely assistant during a success magic act.
After that, we find that Max isn’t exactly as a Casanova as he tries to ask her out, but he fails epically. This gets him some funny mocking from the bully. You could say a lot of the step scenes at home and school are pointless. But I say they do a good job at setting up the characters, and Max proves to genuinely funny instead of just a loser.
Anyway, we cut to that night as Nicky and Tara return and they can now see each other. They are right in front of their house but they think Mom and Dad are still there. Which won’t matter as they are ghosts and no one can see them.
However, Nicky has some fun while running through people. He also (somehow) found out that he can touch some things if he concentrates really hard. So they use this to mess with a few people.
“Now stop having fun, this is serious”
Moving on, they find it odd that their house’s mailbox does not have their name anymore. They head in and find that their parents are not there. They try to talk-er yell at Dad and Colin but of course they don’t hear them.
I have to give David Deluise credit. I would so fail at pretending this yelling kid isn’t here. This is why I am not an actor. So instead Nicky just plays a small prank on Colin. Then Max comes in and…he can see Tara and Nicky.
Of course he is shocked that no one else can see them. Nicky and Tara are happy and ask what the hell is going on. Max keeps talking to them even though he knows he looks crazy talking to no one. Smart guy.
Eventually he does go with them to the kitchen and finds another ghost. The ghost of Nicky and Tara’s nanny/maid person, lulu. She’s happy to know that Max can see them. For whatever reason, she has no idea what happened to the parents or herself. While my memory of the whole movie is sketchy, I think she does nothing in the plot.
But she does know that the parents somehow locked up all the evil ghosts in that tunnel. She also tells them about Phears and how he will let them all out on Halloween. So now we know their parents knew about these ghosts somehow.
Also, only the living can help stop Phears, which is pretty (in)convenient for Max, Then Lulu fades like the ghost kids did earlier. Why they don’t do the same is beyond me. Max has no idea what to make of all this.
Nicky and Tara then bug him about the location of their parents. Why are they being such dicks to him? Why would some random kid know?! He says he will help them anyway. Max then takes his dog for a walk so they can all discuss the matter outside.
Max tells them about the weird word’s buster found, and Tara thinks is a clue to where their parents are. She thinks mom and dad left them a note, so they should dig in the backyard. That makes perfect sense.
Even Max thinks so, as he just tells them to wait until the parents go to bed. So the two kids wait in the garage while Max continues his walk.
Then the dog splits in half and Phears comes out of him. …Must be a monday. Anyway, Phears shows his hammy face to Max.
Phears is so hammy and fun taking to Max and trying to get him to tell him about the ghost kids. He didn’t see or hear them coming in or anything?
Max plays dumb, so Phears summons some ghouls from his cloack (Don’t ask) to mess witrh Max, and then he sends them back to the cloak void.
“Next time, I’ll tell them to make you feel the pain”
Seriously, everything about Phears is awesome and enjoyable. Love this guy. Phears tells him that the parents are gone forever, and if Max tells anyone that they met, his cape friends will do some real shit.
I don’t get the cape ghouls. It makes no sense. But let’s move on anyway.
“Have you ever seen your parents grovel and bed for mercy?”
“…My cousin’s piano recital?”
Haw. So Phears goes away. So he just showed up to say “Hey dude, back off” and that’s it.. Seriously, Tara and Nicky were right there. How did he not know they are there?!
Also, the dog turns back to normal. Phears goes back to his tunnel and tells everyone that max knows part of the chant. So he must make sure they don’t find the rest of the words. So he has a plan to walk amongst the human in disguise.
So he changes his form to…well Brian’s normal self. Guess he got sick of the impressive make up. Now he looks more he did in Hatching Pete. Another movie he stole the show in, but I digress.
Somehow, Arwin being evil as his normal self makes him even MORE fun.
Anyway,Max arrives home.
“I promise not to do anything that will make a ghost haunt you for he rest of your lives”
“…That’s considerate of you”
The movie is full of great lines like that, but i’m skipping most of them.
Anyway, the ghost kids go to bed, cuz ghosts sleep. But it’s on his bed (jerks) so Max must sleep on the floor. Mom shows up and says she got a book on wizards and stuff. She shows it off to him and stuff.
After that, she leaves and Max goes to bed. We get a close up on the back of the book and it has a pic of the authors and their kids. The kids? Tara and nicky. The books authors are Tara and nicky’s parents.
DUN . DUN. DUN!
Wait, how did Max not see that? Also, that was not in the book. The next morning, we get an out of context line.
“Why would I be startled when the first thing I see in the morning is a head popping out of the toilet?”
Nicky says he didn’t find anything in the backyard. Also Tara is inside his computer, cuz ghosts can do that.
Anyway, Tara found that book and points out that their parents wrote it. So went online to find out more about all of this.
“I went IN the internet!”
There was a lot of porn in there!
Eventually, she found a file on some university site saying their parents were doing a report there on some ghostly stuff. They vanished before they could publish it. The paper was about all kinds of ghostly stuff, inlcuding Phears.
Max guesses Phears is behind their disappearance, cuz of that paper.
“Tara… I miss mom and dad”
Aww, Nicky does have a heart!
So a bit later, is getting ready to go on the bus and he tells the ghost kids about Billy, the bully. So the ghost ghost kids pop up to fuck with the bully.
Then they leave. I’ve done the pointless moment gag too much recently.
At school, Tracy pulls Max aside. She says she wants to be his assistant in the magic act. Yes, really. They actually have the popular girl be nice and willing to do stuff like this on her own accord. Well, okay she says she MIGHT.
She asks that they not hang too much as doesn’t want to be seen with an underclassmen. See, nothing too personal there. Also, she wants her name in all advertising materiel. Also, she needs torturing.
Max accepts all this so she joins the act. I’m impressed we have a popular character this “nice” in a movie like this. Even if she is dumb.
Back at home, Nicky tries to look for the tunnel. Guess Max didn’t think that maybe that’s where the hand came from earlier. Speaking of, Nicky hears voices come from the walls and he knows he found the tunnel.
Tara shows and says she went online again and she found an old email from Dad to mom. She didn’t find any actual personal info. She just found that a wizard can banish an evil dude. But that doesn’t matter as Nicky tells her about the tunnel.
A bit after that, we cut to the school as a teacher (played by that blond chick from the cheetah girls) sees a mouse split in half and Phears pops up. Couldn’t have, just, you know….walked or something? He didn’t have a big show and freeze this teacher.
Anyway, Phears turns into his human form. Tara pops up at school to tell Max they found the tunnel. But Max is busy, with you know, school as he can’t talk right now. Also he is working on his magic act with Tracy.
Tara then fucks with Max as he talks to Tracy. So should I bash Max for caring more about this than tara, or should I bash Tara for not knowing that Max has a dang life outside of all this? …It never goes anywhere, so neither.
Perhaps Tara randomly disliking Tracy means she likes him. But 1. She’s a tad too young. 2. This never goes anywhere. 3. SHE’S A FREAKING GHOST.
So anyway, Max and Tracy go rehearse. Also, he asks Tara what as up.
“Pay attention to me!”
…That came way more bitchy than the writer intended. Also, I get THAT but why try to fuck with his love life? Not cool. Nevermind that they have plenty of time before Arwin comes out on Halloween.
Speaking of Phears, he pops up to spy on Max. He is disguised as a janitor. If he’s as good as cleaning up messes as he is at being a handyman…we’re all doomed. Anyway, Phears turns ghostly, takes Tara, and runs away.
He didn’t exactly need a disguise to go do that but okay. Max gives chase which confuses Tracy and Mom (who showed up to give him some stuff). Then Phears vanishes with Tara before Max can catch up to him.
Then he pops up, without Tara and he locks Max in the room. Phears hams it up some more and even summons his cloak ghouls to bug him some more.
Max tries the half spell but Phears say that won’t work. Then he leaves and of yeah that teacher un freezes. Needless to say no one has no idea what is going on.
But whatever, let’s cut to later as Max arrives home. We also find out that teacher was taken away in an ambulance as she just snapped. Hope they buy her story about a ghost dude popping out of a mouse.
Nicky pops up and Max is about to tell him the bad news when Dad forces him to play a little basketball with colin. So Nicky uses his ghost powers to make Max kick colin’s ass at hoops. It’s awesome.
Max runs inside and tells Nicky the bad news.
“If I would have payed more attention, phears wouldn’t have been able to snatch her”
Oh okay, now I get it. Though Tara still seemed a tad selfish to me. Anyway, you would expect Nicky to be pissed right?
Well, no! He actually stops and thinks. He understands that it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. What matters is stopping phears and getting back. A mature moment and character development? Yay!
So now Max must enter that tunnel. Of course he’s afraid to do so but he sucks it up and Nicky throws him into the wall. He ends up in the tunnel.
Suddenly, Tara’s voice pops Obi Wan style to talk to Max. She tells where to go find her. See, in this world it’s the ghouls who can’t see Max, which gives him an advantage.
He heads to the main room and finds Tara. But she reveals only the living can leave the place, at least until Halloween night. She tells Max to do his show tomorrow night and make sure Nicky is there helping.
I was gonna ask why Tara wanted Max there is she can’t leave until they actually explained it. Curse my love for pointing out logic holes.
She gives him a box that has this ring that he must use during his show. So Max runs back and tells Nicky what happened. Turns out the box belonged to their dad, and phears was hiding it.
Nicky a bit confused about Tara’s instructions but they will go do it anyway. So the next day is Halloween and the day of Max’s big magic act. We cut to the dance floor that night as we hear the title song cuz this movie needed that for some reason.
After that, Max starts his act with Tracy the lovely assistant. With Nicky there he can pull off some ghostly feats of magic. It goes much better than it would have without Nicky.
At least until Phears rears his ugly head. He announces that his ghouls will now walk again and all that jazz. Yes, he hams it up some more as he wreaks havoc. The ghouls break out of the tunnel and head into the human world.
The ghouls run about the place and it’s pretty awesome. Phears takes Nicky and then a ghoul shows up with Tara. Then suddenly Max’s ring reveals the rest of that chant. So now we have a random magic mcguffin in here.
“From the light of the earth the dark descends, should they return that all depends. When hands point up to moonlit skies, on 10 31 the darkness dies”
These words are enough to upon up a tornado, that will suck up the ghouls .GHOSTNADO: COMING THIS SUMMER TO THE SY FY CHANNEL.
He says the words again and he gets everyone to join him. This awesome moment of everyone chanting is enough to suck up all the ghouls…including Phears. Once they are gone, the tonrado vanishes and max hits the floor.
That looked cool…but it was pretty simple. Not much of a climax. Phears didn’t even fight anyone. He got stopped by some magic words. Weak!
This awesome thing has everyone clapping for Max, cuz he saved their asses. They think it’s a magic act cuz they all lost 100 IQ points somehow. But the impressive-ness of that act helps make Dad proud of him.’
He tells Max to forgot all that sports crap, as this is his true calling. He backs him 100 percent now. D’aww, that’s pretty sweet.
“Everybody, this is my son up here”
This is a pretty awesome for Max he is finally respected and he even gets the girl. In the book…the magic act sucks, he gets no girl and his life sucks. But he saved the day so there’s that.
- like the movie better.
Nicky and Tara thank max.
‘Now with Phears out of the way, we can concentrate on finding your parents”
In the sequel…that never got made. Whoops.
“You know what? I can feel mom and dad”
…Okay. With the ring and all the ghosts gone, Tara figures they could search the tunnel for clues and find their parents. I actually like this more than the books ending. They didn’t even reveal some of that stuff about the parents.
And with that stuff I mentioned before, it’s a weirdly bittersweet ending. But the book is still pretty good. However, they left it too open and in 6 books,, they never came close to finding the parents. With this, they leave it open but it’s a more complete ending.’
For now, they let Max have fun with his family. He deserves it.
“We make an awesome team. Nothing can stop us”
Close up on Max and his family. Then a close up on a cockroach…as it laughs. I don’t think phears showed up again in the books, so i’m not sure what this means.
Roll credits. Yep, our first truly abrupt ending in awhile. That last bit felt oddly rushed since there’s tons of build up. Ah well, that’s the end.
This one was pretty good. I don’t have a ton to say though. Compared to The Haunting hour: Don’t think about it…i’m not sure. That tried harder to be scary and had a more different main character and some kind of complex development.
But at the same time, this has less flaws that could turn off a Non-Stine fan. That had some teen angst crap, as well some minor cliches I was not a fan of. This one however, dials down on that and gives plenty of everything.
The plot isn’t exactly complex or new but it’s well done. I was invested most of the time and main mystery with the parents is fine enough and I did care. I liked some aspects and it is better than some of the Goosebumps books or whatever.
I also liked the characters. Max is a likable chap and he actually proves to smart and clever, and more than just a dull loser. He also provides a lot of the laugh, and his actor does a good job. Sometimes he’s stilted but he also makes the funny lines funnier.
Nicky and Tara are pretty cool. Nicky’s douche-ness ends up being amusing and he even changes as the movie goes on. Luke’s performance helps In this, though it’s a weird jump from his character in Minutemen. Tara is less interesting but she’s cool enough.
Most of the others are cases where the actors make the charracters. As they are written they are just okay but David Deluise and Kim Roahdes gets some funny lines as the parents. Same goes for Adam hicks, of course.
Tracy is one I mostly like for how different she is from other characters of her type, more than the way she is. Ali Lohan is already though at times she’s kind of meh. Perhaps the weak link.
However, Brian Steppank easily steals the show as Phears. He isn’t a complex villain but he’s clearly having so much fun. Seriously, text can’t usm up how weird but amazing his line readings are. He’s just so much fun and the only thing this ghoul tears apart is the scenery.
They fit in decent development and sweet moments. It’s not as good of a Halloween movie as the haunting hour, but I did enjoy it more. It’s not all that scary but the ideas make up for it. It’s also a good comedy as I laughed a llot, and I only showed some of the great lines.
The writers and actors clearly had fun doing this and it shows. As far as adaptations go, this is decently close from what I remember, but the stuff they added actually ADDS to the film instead of the opposite. So RL Stine and Wimpy kid get this treatment but even the greats get shafted. How sad it s that?
You could argue over how good it is compared to the haunting hour, but I think they are both good for what they truly are. Its not the best thing ever, but it’s a lot of fun.
And hey, it’s funnier than anything in the writers other works.
Okay, that’s enough comedies for now. I need to do an actuall horror movie. Something spooky. Something…that is truly horrifying.