This Throwback Thursday Alex Casey finds a hotbed of young talent in the TV adaptation of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. Reader beware, you’re in for a scare/moderate surprise. //
The hottest news in the cinematic world is obviously the adaptation of R.L. Stine’s terrifying children’s horror series Goosebumps into a feature film starring Jack Black. So, now is a better time than ever to have a look back it’s original adaptation- the terrifyingly dutch-tilted 90s TV series that deeply entrenched my love for both horror and Ryan Gosling. I just didn’t know it back then.
That’s right, move over Mickey Mouse Club, there’s another television school of hard knocks that groomed some pure Hollywood royalty. I’m talking Ryan Gosling, I’m talking Hayden Christensen, I’m talking John White (forgotten star of American Pie: Beta House). Huge names, huge scares.
The 1995-1998 series adapted each book into an episode, breathing life into my childhood classics such as The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight and Night of the Living Dummy. They might sound stupid now, but I still maintain that Slappy the ventriloquist dummy could run rings around Annabelle or Chucky in terms of doll-invoked-terror per second. The theme song is not something you want to hear late at night, that’s all I’m saying.
Ryan Gosling makes several appearances on the show as a young lad. His most challenging role by far is as floppy haired hooligan Greg Banks in the episode Say Cheese and Die! The spooky story is inspired by The Twilight Zone‘s 1959 episode “A Most Unusual Camera” wherein some crooks get hold of a camera that prints pictures of the future.
Stine tamed the Twilight Zone story for children by making the camera print pictures of people DYING. Just that old chesnut, just that old “Death Mask” instagram filter. Young Gosling finds the camera in a creepy warehouse owned by your typical 90s long-haired coat-wearing villain. It’s humungous and looks like a toaster/Sonic the Hedgehog combo. Gosling doesn’t seem to notice, and starts feverishly snapping his pals.
The photos develop, and his pals are not in good shape. He heads home to his family, and takes a photo of them having a lovely al fresco dinner. The photo prints out, and his whole family are SKELETONS. This is when the Gosling acting starts to happen, as the Sonic Toaster starts to hurt the people he loves. It’s honestly almost as affecting as The Notebook.
We really start to see early flickers of his brooding Drive intensity when one of his best friends goes missing after having her photo taken. You’d think they would have learnt by now, but anyway. “Stupid pictures,” Gosling mutters, tearing them into shreds. “And stupid camera,” he growls, kicking Sonic the Hedgehog down the street. It’s a powerful scene of pure despair, a man-boy on the edge.
Who would have known that years later that same moody kid would be stomping a guy to death in an elevator? Goosebumps did, that’s who.
You can watch the whole episode below, IF YOU DARE