Alright, time for the Halloween Spectacular to move into bold new territory, with this often requested item. In the mid-90’s, Fox wanted to respond to the popularity of Are You Afraid of the Dark, but were too unoriginal to write their own series, so they just adapted the mega popular children’s horror books, Goosebumps. That’s history as I choose to remember it anyways. I was a massive Goosebumps fan, but as so often is the case with such things, the show never lived up to the books. R.L. Stine’s writing and my imagination were a formidable pair, and a half hour television show could never compete. But I understand the popularity of the show, and while I still prefer Are You Afraid of the Dark, I’m obviously not above reviewing an episode…or several. After all, tis the season.
I figured the best place to start would be with an episode based on the first Goosebumps book I ever read, so here are your links:
*Note: This episode lacks the show’s awesome intro, which can be heard here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ixf-tZ_aOvI&feature=related
The first Goosebumps book I ever read was….
We start off in foggy, murky swamp, with an old man trying to catch up to his young granddaughter Leah. Why Grandpa decided to take her to play in a swamp, I’m not sure, but it might be time to stop leaving her with him. Leah loses her ball in the swamp and Grandpa goes to fetch it, when suddenly an arm reaches up from the muck and pulls the old man in.
Leah of course screams and the old man seemingly instantly disappears. Pretty sure that part was unintentional, they just didn’t want the old man ruining the big creature reveal. The big creature reveal of course being this lovely mud…thing.
Turns out this whole scene is just a story being told by Courtney, a young overachiever, as part of a class project. It’s a story that was passed down to Courtney by her grandfather, and she used it as part of a report on the fact that all towns have scary stories and legends. Not true Courtney, my town doesn’t, for my town is lame. FUN FACT: Courtney is played by Charolette Sullivan, who later went on to star in an Are You Afraid of the Dark episode that I won’t be reviewing.
Not everyone is thrilled with Courtney’s thorough research, most notably, two back of the class ne’er-do-wells, Eddie and Hat, who comment that Courtney “Talks like a book.” Yes, I said Hat. See if you can guess which is which.
Hat and Eddie aren’t fans of Courtney, and seem to delight in attempting to torture her. Today’s attempt involves Hat placing a live snake into her lunch bag. Ah the 90’s. The plan backfires as Courtney shares her lunch with a teacher, who finds the snake and screams like a girl. It backfires further when Courtney isn’t even remotely phased by the snake, and proceeds to nerd out and quickly identify which species it is.
Undaunted and spurned on by Courtney’s constant accidental jabs at his computer savvy, Eddie and Hat devise another plan to scare her. This time it involves everyone’s favorite arachnid, a tarantula, which for some reason their school appears to keep as a pet. When debating about who will actually take the tarantula out of it’s tank, Eddie and Hat engage in wonderful 90’s banter including “I know you are, but what am I?” and “That’s so funny, I forgot to laugh.” So did I.
Ultimately, Hat gets Eddie to fish out the tarantula by challenging his manhood. Veteran move by the chapeau’d one. They quickly hide in a closet as Courtney enters the room and begins badgering her science teacher to invent a grade higher than an A+. Unfortunately for Eddie, he forgot to put a lid on the tarantula’s container, and quickly realizes that it’s not Hat who is touching his leg.
Things go from bad to worse for Eddie, as the tarantula continues his ascent and Eddie is forced to yell for help. He’s then quickly emasculated by Courtney, who plucks the tarantula off him like its no big deal. She then proceeds to lecture them about how the tarantula is a misunderstood creature. Chalk another one up in the loss column for Eddie and Hat.
It’s only downhill from there, as the next day, we find out that Courtney’s report on the Mud Monsters of Muddy Creek made the front page of the town’s newspaper. Must’ve been a slow news day…and a large portion of the actual newspaper reporters must’ve been fired. We learn that Courtney used to be afraid of the mud monsters, but writing the report caused her to confront her fears, and now she’s not afraid of anything. This, of course, has given Hat yet another idea.
Eddie and Hat accost Courtney and dare her to meet them at Muddy Creek after school. She’s goaded into it by Hat claiming she’s scared, and her insatiable desire to prove him wrong. She accepts their dare and walks off as Hat follows her and does the Carlton Dance.
Hat’s genius plan is to have Eddie pretend to be a mud monster. This is accomplished by covering Eddie in mud. That’s it, that’s the entire plan. If that sounds like it will come out terribly, you’re right and here’s a picture to prove it.
In a completely unsurprising development, this plan falls apart as well. Hat can’t find Courtney and spends far too much time looking for her; seriously this is only a 20 minute show he’s out there for like 5 minutes. Instead of Courtney, he runs into a much more convincing mud monster than Eddie could ever hope to be.
Hat runs screaming back to Eddie, who refuses to believe there’s an actual mud monster out there. Of course, to make matters worse, this is the time Courtney decides to show up, and chastise them for once again trying to scare her and once again failing miserably. Hat and Eddie think they’ve finally got her when the real mud monster shows up, but Courtney stares it down and then lectures it on how wrong its aggressive behavior is. The monster seems strangely receptive to this, and stands there listening for what appear to be several hours, until it finally hardens and is unable to move.
Cut to awhile later and Courtney is being interviewed by several members of the press about the discovery of the mud monster. She’s also apparently received a congratulatory phone call from the President. Of course, she uses this time to once again embarrass Hat and Eddie by introducing them to the press as the scared little boys she rescued.
As a final insult, once rain begins to fall and everyone leaves, the mud monster comes back to life and scares Hat and Eddie once more. Or maybe they just all sit around and cry about how they’ve all been thoroughly humiliated by Courtney.
Like I said before, the problem with the Goosebumps TV series was that the books were better. That’s certainly the case here, as so much of the story is thrown out of the window. In the book, there was a larger group of kids who were out to scare Courtney, and there was more than just one mud monster. Of course, that’s just what I remember, but I read the book like 18 years ago. I tried finding a better synopsis on Amazon, but only came away with this lovely review:
“If You don’t monsters you won’t like the book I just finished reading. It is the best book ever. The characters are fantasy characters. Monsters pop out everywhere. Muddy monsters attack. The book is Goosbumps # 15 you can’t scare me by R. L. STAIN. I liked this book because monsters are stinky, slimy, and muddy. My favorite part is when Eddie gets scared of a snake. It’s just like Eddies Million dollars Cook-off, Because a girl makes fun of Eddie. That’s why I read this book”
Stellar. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to tweet R.L. Stien about what Hat’s real name is.