Capitalizing on youthful nostalgia has proven to be big business for Hollywood – we’ve seen old cartoons, toy lines, and even board games getting the feature film treatment. Considering what a literary juggernaut the Goosebumps book series was (and remains), it’s a little surprising that it’s taken this long to get an adaptation to the big screen.
Producer Neil H. Moritz (Fast Five, Battle: Los Angeles) has owned the rights to the property since 2008 and screenwriting duo Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander (The People vs. Larry Flynt, 1408) were the first to take a shot at the script. At this point in time Carl Ellsworth (Disturbia, The Last House on the Left) has been brought on board to wipe the slate clean and deliver a brand new take on the material.
It’s difficult to imagine where you even begin when dealing with such an expansive canon of work. There were sixty-two novels in the original Goosebumps series, written in the span of only five years. There have also been several spin-off series including Goosebumps Series 2000, Give Yourself Goosebumps, and Goosebumps HorrorLand. It may sound excessive, but young readers can’t get enough – the books have sold over 300 million copies worldwide.
The Goosebumps brand has extended to video games, television, board games, straight-to-video movies, and even boxer shorts (a true sign that you’ve arrived). The Fox Kids TV show was particularly popular and with seventy-four episodes over the course of four seasons, a lot of the best stories have already been mined. Still, while I understand many of you grew up with the show, let’s be honest – there’s a lot of room for improvement.
The previous draft of the script was said to be a brand new story unrelated to any Goosebumps novels in print. While it’s unknown if Ellsworth is taking the same approach, I’m really hoping that idea has been abandoned. I think an anthology-style film in the vein of Amazing Stories or Twilight Zone: The Movie would serve Goosebumps really well.
While Moritz is hoping to turn Goosebumps into a family-friendly franchise, I appreciate that they went after a screenwriter with a background in horror and suspense and not just children’s movies. Obviously you don’t want to turn Goosebumps into Saw, but remember when we were kids and even movies aimed directly at us were legitimately terrifying?
In addition to his feature scripts, Ellsworth wrote one of my favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Halloween” - a story that showcases a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor more than appropriate for a Goosebumps movie. He also co-wrote the currently in limbo Red Dawn remake and is attached to D.J. Caruso’s adaptation of the comic book series Y: The Last Man.
I’m showing my age here, but I remember collecting Goosebumps books when they first went into print (before they even started numbering them) and have fond memories of so many of those stories. I’d already started to grow out of that phase by the time the TV show hit (and I always liked Are You Afraid of the Dark? better anyways), but the kid in me is pretty excited by this news.
What about you? What were some of your favorite Goosebumps stories and which ones would you like to see make it into the film?
Source: Risky Business.