Two Cents: GOOSEBUMPS! (Bumps Gonna Goose Ya)

Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

Ermahgerd! — Twers Cernts!

Viewer beware, you’re in for a pair… of cents! See, it’s a Two Cents pun, get it?

Well, as a writer I’m no R.L. Stine, whose insanely popular Goosebumps series of children’s horror anthology books has sold hundreds of millions of copies. Hundreds of millions. The series was adapted into a popular live action TV show in the mid-90s but, rather amazingly, it took another 20 years to finally make the leap to film. Perhaps the reason is the difficulty of translating the anthology format of dozens of unconnected short stories into a coherent film. You could take a lot of approaches — Creepshow-style anthologies, one-shot adaptations of the meatier or more popular stories, or tying things together in a shared Goosebumps crossover universe.

When Goosebumps finally made its leap to the screen, it mostly sidestepped those options by breaking the 4th wall and having Stine’s creations step out of the pages of his manuscripts and into the real world to menace the author and a group of kids who get caught up in the mix.

How does it fare? Let’s go to the Two Cents team to see what they thought!

P.S. Good or bad, Goosebumps yielded…this…

Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Want to recommend a great (or not so great) film for the whole gang to cover? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!

Next Week’s Pick:

With the highly anticipated sci-fi follow-up Independence Day: Resurgence ready to storm the box office, you know that the summer blockbuster season is in full swing. If there’s anyone who knows how to reinvent the blockbuster, it’s James Cameron, who has done it on multiple occasions. Back on July 3, 1991, his own smash hit sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day opened to widespread critical and popular acclaim, and we’re celebrating its 25th Anniversary by revisiting it for Two Cents! The franchise has slipped since, but T2 is a highwater mark that many consider the equal of — or even better than — the original.

This one’s not on Netflix so you’ll need to track down a copy (not hard) or rent it from a VOD provider like Amazon.

Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)!

Our Guests

Trey Lawson:

Kids love horror movies. Or, at the very least, kids love the idea of horror movies even if they aren’t necessarily fond of being scared. Goosebumps situates itself in a grand tradition of horror-comedies made to hit that hybrid genre sweet spot of mixing horror with just enough comedy to offset any actual terror kids might experience. When I think of the best horror-comedies for kids, I tend to think of the ones from my own youth — Gremlins, Monster Squad, etc. While it is separated from those films by almost three decades, Goosebumps definitely has a place among those illustrious predecessors. I would say it is maybe not quite as scary as those earlier examples (although it is admittedly difficult to say, since It also doesn’t have the same nostalgia factor), but Goosebumps is entertaining from start to finish. The film takes a fairly meta approach to the source material — not merely adapting the kids books but creating a world in which author R.L. Stine himself must contend with his very real creations. Jack Black is… well, not restrained as Stine, but he is definitely fun. His version of the author is somehow simultaneously manic and gothic, and at times reminded me more than a little of Matthew Holness as Garth Marenghi. But Black manages to dial down the zaniness when it matters, and he has very good chemistry with the refreshingly not-annoying teens who are the primary focus of the story. In addition, the various monsters feature some great creature designs (although I do wish there had been more practical effects work — especially with the werewolf). Often when a new film reminds me of older movies, especially those I loved as a kid, the comparison does not work in the new film’s favor. With Goosebumps, however, any such comparisons are purely complimentary. It’s a lot of fun, and I think it will likely be a perennial favorite for many Halloween seasons to come. (@T_Lawson)

Jaime Burchardt

Goosebumps is trippy in a lot of ways. It’s a modern-day kids horror film that doesn’t quite carry that vibe, mainly because it doesn’t seem to want it. Yes it’s got a sweet side but when it comes to attempting actual shock value, it does so with the kind of tenacity you won’t see coming. It’s proud to scare, but also while being charming. It’s finely directed, aptly performed, and a true blast all around. (@jaimeburchardt)

Jesse Crump

I was born in 1990 and the original series of Goosebumps books were published from 1992 to 1997. It’s easy to say that they were a part of my childhood. This book series was one of the things that helped get me interested in horror and helped make me who I am.

When they announced a Goosebumps movie, I was hesitant. There were so many books that it seemed near impossible to choose the right one to adapt. The movie didn’t choose just one, however. The movie chose to adapt all of the Goosebumps books. Sure, a few stories got bigger notice (Slappy, Abominable Snowman, Gnomes), but it’s an original story that ties the series together as a whole, bringing each and every monster to life.

Goosebumps felt like a family horror movie straight out of the 1980s. The mom and son with no father. The best friend and girl next door. The only thing that kept it from being full on 80s is the humour, which feels more modern. Movies like this don’t happen too often anymore. It’s nice to see this one successfully tackle that style. Goosebumps is a frighteningly good time. (@JurassicGriffin)

The Team


I watch a lot of family movies and TV. I mean A LOT. Such is the life of a parent. There are some great ones and some awful ones.

Goosebumps is somewhere in between, but is far closer to great than awful. In the tradition of films like The Monster Squad, this can be the gateway into horror and fantasy for a whole new generation of kids. Solid performances, CG that doesn’t completely suck, and a fun story… can’t ask for a ton more.

Bonus for the 20- and 30-somethings that were diehard fans of the Goosebumps books, there are tons of great references and the film employs tons of the great R.L. Stine monsters. (@thepaintedman)


I was always curious, yet skeptical about how Hollywood would be able to turn Goosebumps into a feature film. As a lover of the book series, I certainly wasn’t opposed to it, but I had my doubts about whether or not any studio would be able to capture the sense of wonder and imagination which came with every story R.L. Stine conjured up. I needn’t have worried. Goosebumps was a definite treat from start to finish. The central performance by Jack Black was one of the actor’s most deliriously fun outings in quite some time, allowing him to truly go to town in hilariously over-the top-ways. The idea of having Black play a fictional version of the famous author was a welcome postmodern touch in a script which keeps the story in check. Meanwhile, the whole of Goosebumps is a pure special effects extravaganza with the majority of the creatures the author created being revisited in one technically impressive sequence after another.

It’s the way in which one character was brought to life (so to speak) that really took Goosebumps to a surprising level of emotion and pathos. It was this unexpected move which gave the film real heart and in a way signified the spirit of what made kids respond to the original series; the opportunity to push away feelings of loneliness and insecurity by escaping into one dark adventure after another.

Note: Frank previously reviewed Goosebumps for its theatrical run. You can read that review here. (@frankfilmgeek)


I feel there are precious few scary movies for kids to grow up on these days, most being the same ones that my generation grew up on, as many here have already mentioned. Occasionally one like Monster House slips through, but nothing these days seems to hit the same sweet spots that Spielberg, Dante, and Dekker did in the 80s. Goosebumps tries to fill that void, and while I can’t tell if it’s something kids will find scary, it mostly succeeds.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m not a fan of the cartoony CG. Perhaps that was an aesthetic choice — this is, after all, a movie for kids, and the obvious “fakeness” probably takes the edge off — but it’s just too tame and some practical effects would’ve made a huge difference to me.

CGI aside though, I’m impressed that the writers were able to take a voluminous anthology series and distill it into a concoction that manages to bring the stories together in a way that makes narrative sense while remaining reverent to the original stories (well, I assume so — I’ve never read them).

The movie’s last act in which Stine’s creations are unleashed en masse is basically Cabin In The Woods for kids, and if that sound like high praise, well, I guess it is. (@VforVashaw)


It’s really good! I had quite the roller coaster when this movie was first announced, as on the one hand the Goosebumps were a staple of my childhood bedroom and library visits, and on the other: this is the creative team behind fucking Gulliver’s Travels. But the finished movie is an energetic and stylish adventure, that plays just rough enough to earn the horror-comedy bonafides while remaining firmly in “safe for families” territory.

The only element that feels out of place, unfortunately, is Black. I have a ton of affection for Jack Black, but he plays this material as pure comedy, complete with a bizarre faux-posh accent. It’s not that he’s not funny (I laughed consistently at him, especially his unrelenting contempt for Coward Child) but it dilutes what was otherwise a pitch perfect translation of the gleeful grue that made the Goosebumps books so fun. Even with that speed bump, Goosebumps is a delight and will assuredly be a staple of monster kids for years to come, right alongside Paranorman and The Monster Squad. (@TheTrueBrendanF)

Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

Get it at Amazon:
Goosebumps – [3D Blu-ray] |[Blu-ray] | [DVD] | [Instant]

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