Alright, I’ve wanted to cover a certain episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark for awhile, but I felt it was too similar to a Goosebumps book. Then I found that Goosebumps book was made into an episode of the TV show. They’re both inspired by the Twilight Zone episode “A Most Unusual Camera.” So, we’ll do Goosebumps today, and Are You Afraid of the Dark tomorrow.
Here are your links:
Yes, Say Cheese and Die, a classic Goosebumps tale. And look at that, it just so happens to star a young Ryan Gosling! My, how incredibly coincidental and not at all planned out in order to get more site views. Gosling plays Greg, and he and his friends are snooping around an abandoned factory. Some sort of crazy hermit they’ve nicknamed Spider lives there, and after he leaves, they decide to have a look around.
They find what appears to be some sort of laboratory in the basement. Apparently Spider is a scientist of sorts. Greg accidentally hits a switch and a compartment opens up. Inside he finds a camera…a camera that looks like the lovechild of a toaster and a spaceship.
Greg’s friend Bird insists he take a picture of him, and Greg obliges. Immediately after he takes the picture, a railing Bird is leaning on snaps and he falls to the floor. The incident puts them on edge and they decide to leave, but run smack dab into Spider on their way out. Luckily for them, Spider falls where the railing is broken, and they’re able to escape. It’s pretty ridiculous, Bird probably shouldn’t have even fallen, and Spider definitely shouldn’t have, he wasn’t even going that direction. Greg “accidentally” steals the camera, claiming that he didn’t even know he had it with him. It’s the size of a microwave, you knew you had it. Greg takes a look at the picture he took of Bird and notices something strange.
Greg insists he took the picture before Bird fell, but they quickly dismiss it and head off. When Greg arrives home, his brother insists on him taking his picture in front of their father’s new car. Greg agrees, but when the picture develops, things once again are strange.
That night at dinner, Greg tries to get his father to return the new car. It’s entirely ineffective, but that’s mostly because Greg’s reasons are “You’ll feel bad if you get a scratch on it” and “It’s too shiny, it hurts my eyes.” The car looks like a shitty Corolla, it’s definitely not too shiny Greg. Instead, Greg’s father insists the entire family goes for a ride in the new car. The car almost crashes head on into a semi, but Greg warns his father in advance and they all escape unharmed.
The next day, Greg and Bird are discussing the camera, and Bird remains skeptical. They’re soon harassed by two bullies, who steal the camera. One of the bullies tries to take a picture of the other, but Greg swipes the camera and runs away. Fun Fact: Not only is the red haired bully is the same guy who was the main character in The Tale of Laughing in the Dark, he also plays a bully in The Tale of the Curious Camera.
Greg and Bird escape to their friend Sherri’s house, where Sherri immediately insists Greg take her picture. Why the hell is everyone in this town obsessed with getting their picture taken? Greg, against his better judgment, agrees to take the picture. Unsurprisingly, the photo doesn’t come out quite as planned.
Sherri insists Greg takes her picture again, but before he can, Greg’s brother shows up to inform him that their dad has been in an accident and the new car is totaled. After a quick visit to the hospital, Greg is visited by the police, who inform him that Sherri has gone missing. For some reason, we keep cutting to a shot of one of the police officer’s sunglasses, which he’s wearing despite it being nighttime.
The next day, Greg tries again to convince Bird that the camera is somehow predicting the future. Bird is somewhat reluctant to agree, but eventually comes around. I think Greg’s ridiculous temper tantrum, where he rips up the pictures and throws the camera to the ground, really helped.
Greg decides they should take the camera back to Spider, and Bird promptly wusses out, citing chores he has to do for his dad. So Greg head’s off to Spider’s secret lab on his own, but soon runs into Sherri, who magically reappeared a few hours ago. Sherri doesn’t remember where she went when she was missing, and Greg concludes that she reappeared right around the time he tore up the photos. Bird told Sherri that Greg was going to return the camera, and she decided to follow him, because she’s more of a man than Bird is.
Of course, they run into Spider, who explains that he created the camera, intending for it to predict the future, but its predictions were always disastrous. Spider refuses to let Greg and Sherri leave, since they know too much about the camera. While Greg and Spider shuffle, Sherri takes a picture of Spider, and he promptly disappears. After Greg and Sherri leave, we zoom in on the camera lens where Spider is now trapped, screaming for someone to release him.
Later, the bullies from earlier sneak into the lab and are thrilled to find the camera. Seriously, what the hell is going on here? Is this the only camera in town or something? I do not understand the obsession. Of course one of the bullies takes a picture of the other. We never get to see the photo, instead we just get Spider creepily popping up behind them and smiling maniacally.
I like this little project, because it will show that Are You Afraid of the Dark was just superior to the Goosebumps TV show. We’ll have the exact same story, told by each series in its own way. Goosebumps never really establishes a sense of dread or suspense, and instead just comes off as kind of goofy. The book, just like the last Goosebumps episode we covered, was far better and the episode suffers from leaving too much out. I much prefer the Are You Afraid of the Dark treatment of this story and after tomorrow, I think you’ll agree. Fun fact #2: The guy who plays Spider plays essentially the same role in The Tale of the Curious Camera, just less crazy. What are the odds?