Here we go...
6. Welcome to Camp Nightmare
Plot: A kid named Billy is sent to Camp Nightmoon instead of visiting his family for the summer. Unfortunately for him, Camp Nightmoon isn't your average summer camp. Right from the get-go we are introduced to characters that mysterious start to vanish overnight. When Billy asks his hard-ass counselor about his missing cabin mates he just gets scolded for asking questions. When he asks the man running the camp, Uncle Al, he get's the reply that there was never even campers by those names. More questions start to come up as the story moves on like, what or who is taking these missing campers? What's up with the forbidden cabin? And what's really up with Camp Nightmoon?
Best parts: I love camp-themed anything. Especially when people go to camp and shit-goes-down. The twist is probably the most complex even though it's basically a Twilight Zone rip-off but even re-watching it for this list, I didn't see the twist ending coming. Probably one of the twistiest of twists in this here R.L. Stine series.
Memorable bits: Honestly, I don't actually remember this story all that much until I discovered it just before making this list. I remembered there was a few camp related 'bumps tales I watched as a child and the one I was actually thinking of is an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? - a series that was on around the same time Goosebumps started to air. But this story itself impressed me so much even without any nostalgic value that I had to put it on this list. So, here it is.
Campy parts: (Other than R.L. Stine putting the camp in campy)... I don't think they did a very good job with that bad-ass kid with the bandanna and leather jacket. Everyone knows those characters and accessories are reserved for the bullies in the 90's! But no, he was just a friend, and even later on, comic relief. If you are going to put your character in a leather jacket, they gotta be the bully... that's the rules! Also, how did everyone already know each other's names when they've never met before coming to Camp Nightmoon?
Anything else worth noting: In the book version, Uncle Al gives the kids a ride the rest of the way to camp after the bus driver just leaves them in the middle of nowhere, but in the show, they have to walk a mile in the woods.
Worst counselor ever.
5. The Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes
Plot: One day, a garden obsessive father comes home with two new pieces for his tacky masterpiece of a lawn. The plastic statues standing in the back of pop's flatbed are two tall and ugly lawn gnomes that clearly look like they are up to no good. Turns out they really are up to no good as they start to wreak havoc on the neighbor's - who happens to be some sort of general - spotless yard and garden. Of course, no one's going to suspect that these hideous gnomes that look nothing like small people in plastic outfits as the culprits, so the general starts blaming the son. You know, since young boys are always trying to mess with neighbors' gardens. The son, being the only rational human-being and all, blames it on the gnomes and tries to prove that they are the ones coming to life and FSU-ing all night long...
Best parts: Come on, it's lawn gnomes coming to life and terrorizing stuff! The first time we see the gnomes getting count in the act and how they move and look (even if the gnomes are really campy and just little people in goofy plastic costumes again), it's still kinda creepy. I'll admit it.
Memorable bits: Not sure if this is memorable but did anyone else ever notice how little they used the mom in this episode book? Also, this story reminds me of that All Grown Up episode where someone is stealing all the lawn gnomes in town. Remember that?
Campy parts: The gnomes, The general and his crooked hat, The classic "I didn't do it! I swear" kid and his, "yeah right." sister.
Anything else worth noting: The ending in this story also differs between episode/book. I don't think I read the book but I do remember something about hundreds of slave gnomes trapped in the general's basement or something along those lines.
More like, Revenge of the Gnome Thugs.
4. Attack of the Jack O'Lanterns
Plot: It's Halloween and Drew and her friend Walker are pondering what they can do to make this year better as Tabby and Lee (two classic pranksters) have ruined Drew's favorite holiday two years in a row. On Drew and Walker's brainstorming walk home, they run into two of Drew's long lost friends and next door neighbors' Shane and Shana who are in town for the night and have a perfect plan to get back at Tabby and Lee for all the crap they have pulled on Drew. Shane and Shana tell Drew and Walker to invite Tabby and Lee to trick or treat with them and Shane and Shana will cover the rest. So, Drew and Walker hook up with Tabby and Lee for trick or treating with no sign of Shane or Shana anywhere. As the night goes by the group run into two pumpkin-headed figures that know the best spot for candy. What the unsuspecting kids don't know is that the pumpkin heads have brought them to a parallel dimension where you can never stop trick or treating! Are the pumpkin heads Drew's friends? Is this their sick trick to get back at Tabby and Lee? And are Drew's friends even human?
Memorable bits: I remember this one pretty well just on the premise that it takes place on Halloween night and while you think you have the twist figured out, Stine goes and twists it up some more! You bastard, you.
Campy parts: While the Goosebumps series weren't by any means memorable for their special effects (was there a kids show in the 90's that was?), the super fake looking pumpkin heads actually worked perfectly for the story since the kids argued that the pumpkin heads are just crappy costumes and got a good spook when they removed one to reveal - dun dun dun - nothing! Unfortunately all the other effects like the talking pumpkin head on the ground and the random orange bolt of lightning were a bit of a miss. I won't even mention when they reveal what the pumpkin-headed friends of Drew actually looked like... Oops.
Anything else worth noting: (Spoiler alert): If the aliens ate those four missing adults, who were those four possessed adults handing out candy in the infinite treat or trick dimension? Also, in the book, the only way to make room for more candy to keep trick or treating was to eat all the candy!
3. The Girl Who Cried Monster
Plot: When a girl (Lucy) leaves her 'blades' at the library after Reading Rangers, she stumbles upon her librarian, Mr. Mortman, partaking in a feast of crickets and tarantulas. He's not just feeding the tarantulas though, he is taking large handfuls of crickets and shoving them into his disgusting librarian face. Lucy continues to watch this hideous act until Mr. Mortman's body turns into... yes... A MONSTER! Unfortunately for Lucy, all her monster bluffs in the past have caught up with her and no one believes her when she tells them she has finally seen a real monster!
Best part: The Girl Who Cried Monster has arguably the best twist in Goosebumps' history. It's by far my favorite twist of any Goosebumps story/adaptation/video game and I dare anyone who has never read or seen this classic Goosebump' before to predict the ending. No, I double dare you!
You'll never get it right.
Memorable bits: Growing up (not that I'm done), I never read/watched Goosebumps for the spooks really. No, I was already into cult horror flix like Stephen King's It and The Leprechaun at the time, not too sound like a cool kid or anything, but I was a bit ahead of my time for my age. What I would really read/watch Goosebumps for - was their twists. The Girl Who Cried Monster was probably one of the last 'bumps books I read and I can still remember it really well. What will always stick in my head from this story, is the twist, of course, but also the way the librarian was described and how much I despised him for some reason. Maybe it wasn't because he was a slimy monster that ate bugs, but rather because he was a librarian. I hate librarians. If I was a monster, I would have eaten him, too.
Campy parts: It's camp-less.
Anything else worth noting: There's a subtle Fahrenheit 451 situation going on this story when Mr. Mortman tells Lucy she should stop reading scary, nonsense stories and start reading more classic novels. This was R.L. Stine's little poke at teachers who thought Goosebumps were not good for children because they didn't teach kids anything. Also, I used to imagine Mr. Mortman was an old lady. I don't know why but I have a feeling it has to do with all the librarians I encountered when I was younger.
You deserve what you get.
2. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
Plot: A family of scientists move to a secluded swampy town to study things. The scientists' son, Grady, eventually befriends one of the only kids in town, Will. The kids spend most of their time hanging out in the swamp where the swamp hermit lives. Will informs Grady that the swamp hermit is a werewolf and shouldn't be fucked with and that the swamp is called Fever Swamp because anyone who goes into it soon gets a fever that causes them to do crazy things. One night, Grady and the rest of the family are woken by a howl and scratching at the door. Come to find out that it was just a big dog behind the door the whole time... or at least this time it was...
Best part: This Goosebump' had the potential to be the scariest and most graphic. That is, until I saw the episode adaptation and didn't see any deer guts or blood of any kind. What did I expect though? This is Goosebumps we're talking about. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp is still one of my most remembered stories of the series and, though the twist is not as crazy as The Girl Who Cried Monster, it is still twist. Even if you can figure it out right away. Knowing the twist to this story doesn't ruin the whole thing in this case. That's what makes it such a good story.
Memorable bits: I remember reading this in one day and going back to the library the next day to pick up the episode on VHS. I wanna say it was the closest Goosebumps story out there to gave me the creeps. I think it may have something to do with the woods I had out back behind my house and the time I found what looked like someone's shack. I went in and there was the swamp hermit just waiting for me. I tried to run but it was no use... psych. That never happened. Spooky though, right?
Campy parts: More classic skeptical parents that get proven wrong in the end. Also, why does it seem that the parents in these stories are always scientists or doctors? Goosebumps also always a high likelihood that the story revolves around a family of four and the main character usually just flip-flops between brother and sister. The only 'bumps story I can think of that deals with a single parent and their child's bizarre situation would be, 'Don't Go To Sleep!'.
Another else worth noting: The study the parents were working on was if deer can live in Florida or not.
The real twist: The Swamp Hermit was actually Doc from Back to the Future.
1. The Haunted Mask
Plot: In an attempt to have a really cool costume for Halloween, Carly Beth looks to an old and run-down but newly-opened novelty shop. Unfortunately, the shop is closed when she gets there but for some reason she is let in my the shop owner. Inside, Carly stumbles upon a back room filled with freakishly realistic masks - one of which she has to have. The shop owner refuses to sell her the masks, however, so Carly grabs the mask, throws her money at the man, and dashes for the door. That night for trick or treating, Carly has the scariest mask and knows it. Along with the mask, she carries around a plaster head on a stick her mom made for her. Coolest costume in town right? Well, come time to remove the mask, Carly is unsuccessful! The mask is stuck to her face and won't come off! Uh oh. What now...? Dun dun dun..
Best parts: The Haunted Mask is the Goosebumps book I first think of when I think "Goosebumps". It's an essential Goosebumps story that also takes place on Halloween!
Memorable bits: For me, The Haunted Mask is probably the most memorable book cover of the Goosebumps series. It's just a classic must-read/must-see Goosebump'. If you didn't read this book or watch the episode when you were a kid, you are truly missing out, my friend. I would even go as far as saying that you are not a true 90's kid even if you were born in the 90's for not reading or watching The Haunted Mask. Which sucks for you since being a 90's kid is clearly the best kind of kid you can be. I would know. The internet told me so.
Campy parts: Not too many that I can think of other than that creepy plaster head Carly carries around that is supposed to be very fragile.
Another else worth noting: Rumor has it that the actress who played Carly Beth actually ate a real sandwich filled with real worms. Also, I can't help but be reminded of Halloween III when I watch this episode. For all those who haven't had the pleasure of seeing Halloween III: Season of the Witch, it's the one without Michael Myers and all the must-have Halloween masks will magically turn the kids into monsters on Halloween night! Or kill them... I can't remember.
I did a little research before putting this list together (but already had my favorites in mind) and noticed that ThatGuywiththeGlasses.com also has a list of the best Goosebumps books hosted by CR in his 'Familiar Faces' series. Turns out, CR and I have a lot of the same favorites! the video he made's kinda corny, but also very nostalgic. Check it out!
Hope everyone had a good Halloween!