TOP 8 FAVORITE
EPISODES FROM SEASON 2
WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!
BAD HARE DAY
I'm going to start out by saying; the majority of the characters, as well as the acting are pretty bland. Our lead Tim, while not boring is pretty bland, along with his acting. Half of the supporting characters are the typical R.L. Stine cliches that aren't fun or interesting, such as the bratty sister, and the lead's best friend who's the only black character we see in the whole episode that's trying to be cool and hip (I'm NOT trying to be racist here, I'm just pointing out that Stine does that very often). Also the fact that the wise cracking Bunny is a racial Mexican stereotype who is evil, is both goofy and insulting. With that said, I still enjoyed the many things that this episode had to offer.
First of all, I love the set-up and I think it's all executed really well. Tim finding out his idol is a full himself jerk is done really well. When he gets revenge by stealing his idols magic kit to have everything backfire, by accidentally making his Sister disappear and discovering that his idol has changed a person into a rabbit for being on his way to becoming a successful magician was pretty shocking, and kept me on the edge of my seat, since I can feel the guilt and disappointment in our main character. It's nothing powerful or emotional, but it is still there. I also love watching all the Magic Tricks that this episode shows, as well as enjoying hearing the characters talk about Magic. While I did know what each trick was going to lead too, I still enjoyed not only how well the illusion was done, but also enjoying the showmanship, especially from whenever Amazo does a trick. He's so fun and inviting as you see him perform on stage that it was pretty hard to think that he's a big jerk, which of course can happen in real-life. I think my favorite trick from Amazo, is when he makes Tim disappear, and surprises the audience into thinking not only has he made him disappear, but shows them a different kid coming out of the box, who he told the audience about earlier during his act. In fact, one of the Magic Tricks in this episode actually got taken out of Television viewings because of how graphic and intense it is, and that's in the episodes false scare, as we see Tim accidentally guillotine's a Magic Shop owner's hand-off, and while being intense, come on, we knew it was only a trick, not just because we keep seeing false scares in the opening of almost every single episode, but because we've seen that trick before.
The main reason why I enjoy this episode is the talking rabbit. When I saw the cover of the Goosebumps book, with that creepy looking rabbit, and knowing that the show manages to get some really good and creative effects every now and then, I expected the rabbit to look something like the rabbit in "The Twilight Zone Movie".
However, I instead got a regular rabbit. While disappointed at first, since it doesn't look scary nor did the producers use a creative puppet or robot; using a real rabbit still fit in within the episode's context fine. The way they trained and shot the rabbit is done extremely well, and while I knew the rabbit is obviously dubbed whenever it talks, I still give them credit for how well they managed to get enough shots of the rabbits lip-movements to synchronize it with the actors voice, as well as knowing when to cut away when the rabbit isn't in sync. Plus, making the rabbit look scary and villainous didn't seem like a good idea since we're supposed to find him as a fun wisecracking ex-magician who's angry about being turned into a rabbit, and yes, the rabbit is a riot throughout the episode. Hell, even if the lip movements weren't done as well as I described it, I would still get a kick out of this fun character. Even when the character does becomes a pointless racial Mexican stereotype, he at least remains as fun as he was in his rabbit form. All they needed to do is give him different clothing; change his name; and turn off the over the top bad Spanish horn music in the background.
As for the dark twist ending, while predictable in a way due to the rabbit's personality, since he can be rude at times, is still a great twist. Amazo is actually a good guy, and the rabbit who we thought was good is actually a evil magician, that turns Amazo and our lead into rabbits, who is now about to cut their heads off with a guillotine, making you wonder if it's a trick or not, while ending on a cheesy, but humorous joke said by Tim. That’s what I call a really dark and fun ending, while having a great twist that still surprises me. In fact, when they were showing the show on Cartoon Network as I was in Middle School, I caught a glimpse of the ending and was pretty shocked that I was seeing a kid and a great magician about to get their heads sliced off. When I saw the episode in its entirety, even knowing how it was going to end, I found myself both hooked and still surprised by the twist, mainly because of how well the episode was executed with its real life disappointments; a few fun characters; and plenty of fun and entertaining Magic Trick.
If you read my review, then you probably know that I really enjoyed this episode. I enjoyed this episode so much when I first saw it, that I was originally going to put it higher on the list, heck, maybe even number 1. So why did I put this episode very low on the list? Well, you know when something doesn't hold up that well and is not as good as you remember it, this episode is sadly the equivalent of that. It's not a bad or mediocre "Goosebumps" episode. hell, I wouldn't even put it on my list if I didn't think it was good enough. It's just that after watching it again, and already knowing what the twists are and what to expect in the episode, which I thought it would wow me the same way as it did when I first saw it, it really didn't do the same job as it did before. The acting, while not as bad, bland, or overly annoying compared too many other bad actors in the show, it gets very hokey half of the time. The effects while decent are not as creative and awesome as I build them up to be.
The twist of the teenage boy of being the Ice Cream ghost, while I already knew there was going to be some kind twist to this character, watching the episode again; it just became way too obvious that he was going to be the Ice Cream ghost. Instead of being like "Dead House" where the episode intentionally made it clear that the people in the town were zombies; this episode tries to cover up the fact that he's really the Ice Cream boy by not showing the Ice Cream boy's face in the flashback, and have us think that he's the headless ghost who took someone's head (And for no reason at all says he has to return it); to fooling us into thinking that he’s the ex-assistant for the museum curator; to actually being the ghost. When I first saw this episode, something inside me was telling me that he was going to be the Ice Cream ghost one way or another, mainly because we never see the boys face at all during the back story; while in the headless ghost's back story, we do see the boy before he loses his head. Speaking of the boy who loses his head, that whole opening to the episode was actually as bad as the opening for the "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?" episode "The Tale Of The Twisted Claw", only worse! The kid's acting is awkward and below average; the Mother is so over the top with her bad accent, that it isn't funny; the amount of jump cuts that the scene has is awful and annoying; the false jump scare hardly had any build-up; the ghost ball (Or whatever the hell I'm looking at) is a poorly looking CGI blob; and the shadow of the ghost tearing the kids head off, looks like some kind of shadow of a Muppet. HOW THE HELL DID I OVERLOOK THIS?! I guess I was so amazed by the creativity in this episode that I just completely forgot all about this horrible opening.
So those are the things that don't hold up. So what are the things that make me like the episode enough to put it on the list? First of all, I actually do really admire the set-up. Being set in an old Haunted Lighthouse haunted by ghosts that's now open to the public for tours, as two kids sneak in to find the ghosts and go into rooms that are not open to the public is a great and interesting set-up; and the ghosts that haunt the house actually do have interesting back stories of how they died, as well as being interesting and fun when we meet the ghosts. The Headless Ghost, as awful as the episode shows his back story of how he died, is still a cool and dark idea that a young kid would get his head ripped off by a ghost. When we do see him as a ghost, the kids acting actually goes from being horrendously awkward, to actually being fun and rude, where his acting actually becomes decent, if not great. The effect for him, and the rest of the ghosts, while nothing scary or that creative, it still does its job well enough of making the actors look like ghosts.
The kid that died by falling into the dumbwaiter because of his addiction to Strawberry Ice Cream is another character and back-story that I really liked. Yeah, how the episode executes the twist of the boy who gives our leads a private tour of being the Ice Cream boy's ghost or some kind of supernatural form was predictable, but at the same time, I still do like the character. The actor playing him is just as average as everyone else in this episode, but he does have some good scenes, even though they're really over the top, instead of scary. The scene when he threatens to take one of the character's head off, while not all that scary (especially with having the out of place rock music playing in the background), he's still fun to watch, especially when he says how snapping the kids head off would be like snapping off a chicken leg. Actually his whole performance in general, is more fun, than it is scary or creepy. However, my favorite scene is when he tells the story about how he died, because he doesn't sound as over the top as he usually does; he actually does a subtle job at telling the story, while also making it sound interesting. Just for a fun piece of trivia, the actor playing him is surprisingly the same actor who couldn't act for crap in the pilot episode for "Are You Afraid The Dark", "The Tale Of The Phantom Cab"; and comparing his performance in this episode, to his performance in "Are You Afraid Of The Dark", his acting has really improved. Again, it's not fantastic, but it's still a really fun and far better performance than his acting when he was a kid.
Before I talk about the third ghost, I'm going to quickly talk about the two leads. While cliched characters and have a handful of scenes where their acting is hokey, especially with their scared reactions, the actors still play the roles decently enough for you to find them likable. Ok, the kid who plays Duane does play the wimpy awkward aspect of the character a little too well, which does get annoying at times, but with that said, I didn't think his performance was annoying to the point where it becomes bland and annoyingly unbearable. However, my real praise goes to the actress who plays Stephanie, as well as the character. Her bratty and childish personality, as she loves to prank people and mess with the unknown, is so fun and over the top, that I just enjoy being around this character.
Getting to the third and final ghost which is a Salty Captain who built the house for a woman he loved, but died of a broken heart after discovering that she left him for another man after voyage, and now kills anyone who dares try to live in his house is another good back story and ghost. Not only does this Ghost tare-off the head of a little boy; but he usually kills his victims by painting pictures of them that turn them into ghosts, as he paints them, which adds to the creativity of this dead Salty Sea Captain. We don't see the ghost of the Captain until the climax, and in a twist, he's the guy that runs the museum, which is actually a twist that I didn't see coming, until the museum curator showed up talking to the kid who we obviously know is going to be a ghost. I guess the reason why it became a surprise to me is because he actually runs a place where he gives tours to the public who respects the dead and is very superstitious about it, while the Ice Cream kid looks and acts strange, the only people we see him interact with (Until the climax) are the two kids. Sure, we hear him tell stories about a Sea Captain, who we'll eventually see later, but looking at the portraits on the walls of the people who tried to live in the house, but got killed by the ghost (Which I found a little bit disappointing that we don't know about the other poor souls that lived in the house, but got killed by the ghost), I always figured that one of the portraits (Mainly the portrait of a Captain across the door by the Captain's study) was the Captain that owned the house, and when I found out that he was the ghost of the Captain I was shocked, and still found it to be a good twist. The actor who plays the Captain is for me the best performance in the episode. When he's in disguise as a museum curator giving tours, he's fun and likable, but very serious about not disturbing the ghosts, and how he tells the stories of the people who died in the house, are just as interesting and grim as when the Ice Cream boy told our leads his back story. When he reveals himself to be the ghost, while not scary, he's still fun to watch, along with his over the top old Salty Sea Captain voice. The only problem I had with the scene was how unexciting the ghost chasing the kids was. The pacing was off; the effect for the ghost flying after them was really cheap and doesn't look as ghostly as the other ghost effects (Not counting the opening); and his wailing cry is looped, over and over again. However, the episode makes up for it, when we finally see the ghost as a salesmen selling the house to a married couple that he's planning on killing, and while not the scariest or the most unsettling scary ending in the show, it's still a good ending.
While the episode really doesn't hold up as well as when I first saw it, I still enjoy it enough to find it to be one of the better episode from this Season. The set-up is creative and done well; the ghosts are interesting and a lot of fun; and the leads are likable enough for you to get past most of the scenes where their acting becomes hokey. I also give this episode credit for inspiring R.L. Stine to write the 4-D film "The Haunted Lighthouse", which actually holds up better, than this episode. It's not official that the 4-D film was based on this story, but being about two kids who are taken on a private tour of an old haunted lighthouse by a kid who's actually one of the ghosts that haunts the house, who also takes his head off; it seems pretty clear that Stine used some of the ideas and elements from his original story to write this film. So overall, while the episode isn't bad, it does fail on a handful of areas, while also succeeding in a handful of areas as well, which makes this episode a hit and miss.
So I'm re-rating this episode a 3/5.
I know that I rated the last episode on my list a 4/5, when I rated this episode a 3/5, but I can't help but put this episode higher on the list for the amount of creativity that was put into this one, compared to the last one.
The first time I ever saw this episode, I caught it on TV when Cartoon Network ran the show and despite only seeing the second half of the episode, when the kids are Trick-Or-Treating in the magical neighborhood (Where the episode starts getting good) I really enjoyed it. When I saw the episode in its entirety as I was reviewing it, I still really enjoyed it, despite it being a mixed bag of an episode, that people seem to love or hate.
First off, I give this episode a lot of credit for giving us our first African American lead in the series, when in episodes before this one, the black kid was just a best friend for the lead. While nothing special about the character herself stands out, the actress playing her does a really good job at bringing the fun and innocence to her character; in fact, she's actually the best actor in the whole episode. The other actors really aren't good. The actors playing her Alien friends as humans are very wooden when they don't do over the top voice overs; the actors playing the stereotypical bullies, are boring and lifeless; and the kid who plays Drew's best friend, is bland, annoying, and gets the worst joke in the episode, which is him dressing up as a dark and stormy night, as he just dresses up in black leather and carries a squirt gun. I know the costume was supposed to be bad, but the design, delivery, and joke is so bad that it's nowhere near funny. Even the Father thinking that he looks like a member of the Beatles from 1962 wasn't funny.
One of the many things that I do love about this episode are the visuals, Yeah, the effects for the most part are cheesy and cartoony, but in all honesty, I think the cheesy effects are pretty creative, and add to the episodes Halloween atmosphere and charm. I love the costume design for the Jack-O'-Lanterns; I like the puppetry and design for the Aliens, which makes them look like deranged Sock Alien Muppets; the effects for when the Alien friends change their form, while a simple and over used effect on the show, is still pretty cool to look at, that fits with the characters fine; the optical effects for the Jack-O'-Lanterns beam, while obvious, is still pretty decent in the standards of the show; and the effects for the Jack-O'-Lanterns firing out flames from their heads is pretty cool. Again, they're not outstanding effects, but are still fun and creative to look at. As for the atmosphere and look; much like "The Haunted Mask", this episode really does bring the look and feel of Halloween. The decorations; the costumes; the kids Trick-Or-Treating; and having Jack-O'-Lanterns as your monsters really hits the same note as that episode did. I especially love the set for the magical Halloween Neighborhood where the kids are forced to Trick-Or Treat, the amount of lights and decorations that was put into the set, really makes you wish that you were a kid Trick-Or-Treating in that magical land.
Getting to the episodes monsters, I really love how over the top the Jack-O'-Lanterns are. They're voices and mannerisms are so over the top, that it's actually both fun and freaky. I know, I've criticized a lot of villains in this show for being too over the top, but the reason why I don't mind the Jack-O'-Lanterns being over the top is because the over the topness does fit their personalities, because when I see a regular Jack-O'-Lantern, I usually think of them as scary and fun loving monsters, despite the fact that the Jack-O'-Lanterns here are more funny, than they are scary. As for their motivations of making the kids Trick-Or-Treat forever, while I heard people complain of how boring and silly it sounds, I actually think it was a good idea that the episode did a decent job executing it. The idea of Trick-Or-Treating forever in this magical land, sounds like a child's dream come true at first, but after awhile, it not only becomes boring, but after figuring out that there's no going back to the real world and the fact that you have to Trick-Or-Treat without free will with no rest and not even getting opportunity to eat all that candy you're given, or else you will be killed, is pretty twisted and clever. The concept is like the equivalent of celebrating Christmas every day, only instead of Christmas, it's Halloween; and instead of being forced too do it because of time or a wish, it's monsters, which is fitting since it's Halloween. The only thing that could of made the concept better, is if a huge amount of time has went by and that it made the viewer feel just as insane and tired out as our characters are, but given the episode its half an hour run time, it was still done well.
Finally, the main reason why I enjoy this episode is because of how it plays with your expectations. At first you find out that Shane and Shana are planing to help Drew and her friend get even with the bullies. When you see the Jack-O'-Lanterns at first you think (Along with the characters) its Shane and Shana, but then you begin to believe that these monsters are real due to their powers; knowing a neighborhood that no kid has ever been too; and for being taller than Shane and Shana. You're even lead to believe that these Jack-O'-Lanterns are the ones who were responsible for the disappearances, and have probably killed Shane and Shana off-screen, thus making that over the top and unsettling dream sequence of the kids being captured a sign. However, in a twist we find out that Shane and Shana were not only the Jack-O'-Lanterns all along, but much like the twist ending to "Welcome To Camp Nightmare", they're really Aliens; however, the biggest difference to that similar twist is that kids show their Alien powers, while in "Camp Nightmare" they don't. They're also the ones responsible for the disappearances of the missing people, because they eat humans, and before leaving, they warn Drew and Walker not to eat too much candy, because they might consider eating them next Halloween if they're fat enough. That was a really cool and dark ending. The only problem I have with it is, if they're aliens all along, how did Drew not figure out that they were the Jack-O'-Lanterns since they have powers; and on top of it, why did these Aliens decide to live on Earth as ordinary children? With that said, its still a really cool ending, I just wish the aliens living on Earth was explored more, as opposed to being briefly mentioned.
While being a really clunky episode, I still really enjoy it. The lead is likable and well acted; the Jack-O'-Lanterns are a lot of fun; the effects are really good in the standards of the show; the Halloween atmosphere makes me feel like a kid again; and the story, along with its twists and turns are creative, dark, and clever. Not for everyone, but it's definitely good enough for me to put as one of my favorite Goosebumps episodes from Season 2.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
As cliched as the story and most of the characters are, I still really enjoy this episode. It's not scary, but I don't think it was supposed to be scary, it just seems like a fun episode that involves a few twists and turns that are for the most part played out for comedy, even when it tries to be dark. Our lead character Samantha Byrd, while being the typical loser, the actress playing her really does a good job making this character so likable. While I still think the scene when she's afraid of the result of her second wish was over the top acting, for the majority of her performance, you not only find her likable and feel bad about how she’s been treated by the other students, but you do feel her torment and annoyance from her wishes. She even does at times deliver a good scared reaction.
The writing for when our character makes her three wishes, while you probably know what the result of her wish is going to be, the execution is done really well. When she wishes to be the best basketball player on her team, instead of having a sudden growth-spurt that she's unhappy about, or having the best team player on the team she's up against getting severely injured; everybody on the team suddenly gets sick, which I found to be very humorous, and below my expectations. When she wishes for everybody to leave her alone and "Buzz off"; at first I thought everybody was going to disappear, but instead, everybody turns into flies since she said "Buzz off", which I thought was really well played. The sequence of everybody turning into flies, while not scary due to the over the top acting; slow-mo that actually looks silly, then scary; and obvious fast moving CGI flies, was still creative and done decently, and on one or two short occasions, I did feel a bit of suspense, which is really the scenes when she tries not to step on the flies, who are really people.
For me though, my favorite wish she makes is her third one, when she wishes for her bully Judith to think that she is the greatest. For a bully who's bland, underdeveloped, and cliched as hell, the actress and character really shine once she obsesses over Samantha. I mean this episode takes every advantage on a typical bully becoming a complete stalker. She follows her everywhere; dresses up like her; does what ever she does; calls her constantly on the phone; sneaks into her house; and the humor, the pacing, the over top acting from the girl who plays Judith, and the annoyed reactions from the girl who plays Samantha, is what makes the sequence so funny and entertaining.
Much like how I enjoyed the episode "Bad Hare Day" for the wise cracking bunny, the main reason why I enjoy the episode so much is the character Clarissa, who grants Samantha her wishes. Much like the bunny in "Bad Hare Day", she's fun and over the top, while at times being unsettling, making you wonder if she's really a good woman who just keeps making mistakes whenever she grants Samantha a wish. Even when the episodes over, you're still not 100% sure if she's just idiotic, or if she's making the wishes bad on purpose. She even nearly kills Samantha parents as flies before Samantha stops her, which looks like she was going to crush them on purpose. When the episode ends, and she starts granting wishes for Judith, when she wishes to be admired by everyone where she goes, she winks at Samantha and turns Judith into a statue (that's obviously photo-shopped), which still begs the question if her intentions are good, bad, or idiotic. Just a quick little fun fact about me and this episode, much like how I just saw the ending of "Bad Hare Day" when cartoon network aired it when I was in Middle School; the same thing happened to me when I just saw the ending of this episode as my Brother Jack was watching the show, which pretty much left the same impression on me when I first saw the ending to "Bad Hare Day". Getting back to Clarissa, not only do I like how mysterious she is, but I also love how intentionally over the top she is. Her voice, appearance, mannerisms, out of nowhere entrances, and strange and idiotic approach (Which is still up for debate if she really is stupid) is what makes her such a fun character, and the actress herself looks like she's having fun hamming it up.
Despite being a cliched story and its hokey effects, the episode and story has fun with it, by giving us a well acted main character who's very likable; wishes with consequences that lead up too something funny, as well as being played out for some great dark comedy; a sorceresses or witch (I'm not sure which) who's both fun and mysterious; and being the first episode of the second Season that started it off on the right foot. It may not be a scary episode from the show, but it is really smart, fun, and entertaining.
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY 3
This was the episode that introduced me to Slappy. I remember seeing his image on the cover of the books; I remember seeing him in the short VHS trailer for "Goosebumps Live On Stage", but I never saw a Goosebumps episode with him in it. Since "Goosebumps" was hardly ever on TV when I was a kid (Or it could just be the fact that I didn't watch the channel that showed the show, which was "Fox"), my Uncle and his daughter gave me their tape for keeps when I was a kid, and after finally being introduced to the villain Slappy, I actually got a kick out of him, as well as enjoying the episode itself when I was a kid. As I got older and more critical, I still enjoyed the episode, despite the issues that I had with it and the issues that I have with the episode haven't changed. I hated the fact that the rest of the Dummies don't come to life (even as a kid); the continuity from the last episode with Slappy, doesn't add up; Slappy is played out more for laughs, than he is for scares and suspense; and while I liked the twist that Zane was the one who was pulling those pranks with the dummies, instead of the dummies pulling the pranks as we were lead to believe, the scene when Zane finds a dummy in his room still makes no sense. I also just noticed a crack on the camera lens in a few scenes, which at first I thought that it was a problem with the disc or my TV set. Still with those flaws aside, and with my nostalgia aside, I still think it's a good episode.
First off, I think the first thing I should talk about is the episode's Prologue and Epilogue with R.L. Stine. We've seen Stine make appearances in the Prologue and Epilogue of some of the "Goosebumps" episode's before, and some were good, while others were so bad and goofy that they were funny for the wrong reasons, and this opening is definitely that. Instead of R.L. Stine introducing the episode, he has an R.L. Stine dummy with him by his side, which as a kid I thought was really cool, and even now, I still like the idea and design for the dummy. However, what makes this interesting idea go downhill is R.L Stine's comedic delivery, with corny puns and one-liners. I mean, his comedy and timing, along with the bad jokes that he's given is really dull. It's like he's not even trying, and the fact that he has a dummy of himself that's just as dull as he is with comedy, makes this concept so bad that it's actually hilarious for how bad it is. It's like his I don't give a crap acting, at the Epilogue of Terror Tower, it's just so bad that it's hysterical. Also the fact that R.L. Stine was a puppet at the Epilogue, as his dummy laughs, is so stupid, out of nowhere, and makes no sense that it's funny for how stupid it is, instead of being a scary twist. This is sadly the last episode that he hosted, which is a pity because I would have loved to see him host more episodes, just to see if he's going to take his hosting seriously (like in "The Haunted Mask" and "Fever Swamp") or if he's going to play on some kind of gimmick to get the audiences attention, which would usually backfire (like in this episode, or at the Epilogue of "A Night In Terror Tower").
While R.L. Stine maybe wooden (pun intended), the rest of the actors are good, as well as their characters being extremely fun and likable. I really do enjoy spending time with this Family, they don't feel as stereotypical as most of the characters we see on this show, their actually is a subtlety to them, while still managing to be fun characters without going over the top. I'm especially impressed with Hayden Christensen as the cousin who stays with them. He actually isn't as annoying and bland as he was as Anakin before he joined the Dark Side in "The Star Wars Prequels", he's very likable, as this nervous kid who's afraid of dummies, who in the end turns out to be a smart prankster. I liked him so much, that I actually did feel sorry for him when Slappy turned him into a dummy; and after when we think everything is alright, but find out that Zane is still part dummy, hinting that Slappy has some kind of control over him, I was a bit unsettled by the scene, as well as feeling bad for him. This character was my favorite human character in the episode when I was a kid, and the fact that he still remains as my favorite human character in the episode who's played by the same guy who bored and annoyed me in "The Star Wars Prequels" just really amazes me, as well as proving that he's not that bad of an actor, he's just been poorly directed by Lucas, along with the rest of the cast.
While Slappy isn't as scary as he was in the previous episode, I still enjoy watching him. Every time I see him on screen, he always steals the episode. He's just so fun and evil, that he never once has a moment that gets boring or annoying. He even does have a few scary moments, such as the scene when he's lying around in a dark room as he moves his eyes; the suspenseful scene when Zane asks him to kick him to see if he's really alive; that moment when he comes out of nowhere in Trina's bedroom; and of course, whenever he uses his green breath that can turn people into dummies, that was a great improvement to the character. Even though there are a good amount of scenes when he's easily being pushed around by our leads, and even by his own henchman, I still have a lot of fun watching those scenes. As for his Dummy henchmen Rockhead, he too is just as fun as Slappy, as well as getting some really good creepy moments. I especially love the concept and personality to his character. He's a gangster, whose personality is a mix between an old cartoon tough guy with a bit of Stallone, it's just great. I even love the last shot of this character, as he sits in an arm chair and as the camera zooms in on him, we hear music that sounds like "The Godfather", and when I first heard the music from "The Godfather", I immediately thought of this scene.
As for the effects for the dummies, I still think they're good despite the fact that we can clearly tell who the dummy is, and who the small person in a dummy like costume is. I admire the puppetry for the scenes when they're using a dummy; and I like that they give Slappy more movement when he's being played by an actor in a costume with a mouth that moves for whenever he speaks. The CGI for his magic green breath is also a cool effect as well. The differences in effects maybe obvious, but I still enjoy the amount of effort that was put into them, as well as enjoying the updated effects that were given to this character. Much like CGI (As well Special Effects in general), the effect maybe obvious, but as long as it manages to look good, creative, and enchant you to the point where you don't care that you're seeing an effect that you're familiar with and appreciating the effort and creativity that was put into it, then the effect has worked; and that's how I feel about the effects in this episode. However, if you want to see a blink and miss bad effect, that's worth looking for, in the scene when Zane is revealed to be a dummy; be sure to keep an eye on Zane throughout the scene, because you'll see a lifeless dummy, magically turned into a human with marker lines around his mouth to make you think that he's a dummy.
While I do think this is Slappy's weakest episode out of the three episodes he's been in, I still think it's one of the best of the season. R.L. Stine's hosting is so bad that it's funny; the characters are all likable; Slappy is tons of fun to watch; and the effects are good, despite how obvious they are.
On the "Goosebumps" website when I was a kid, I found out that there was actually a two part episode made for the show, and looking at the very little footage that was given, I was hyped, despite the fact that none of those clips showed the Mutant. When I found out that Cartoon Network was showing that episode during their "Goosebumps" marathon, you can bet that I cleared my whole schedule, just to see it. I even recorded the episode with my VCR. As I watched it, while being very faithful to the book; I was disappointed that the adaptation didn't do something new and creative with it like the game. I was even turned off by the Mutant because of his design being different to the book cover and the game, while also missing Jim Belushi's evil voice. However, after seeing it a few times, the episode has actually really grown on me.
Since the majority of episodes really differ in comparison to the books (From what I read and heard from fans and friends), I really do admire that this episode for the most part stayed close to the book. Do I care if it followed the book or not, no not really, because after all this is a different media, unless if it's something really iconic (Like Mario, Mickey Mouse, or Bugs Bunny); but with that said, I still respect that this episode was very accurate to the source material. Yeah, I do wish it did something a little bit more creative and different like the game, but it's still good, and even if I didn't read the book and didn't compare it to the game, it still works really well as a stand alone episode.
Our main character is a likable character, as well as being a character that we can relate to when it comes to obsessing over a hobby or a past time. The kid playing him is a decent actor. At times his acting can be hokey, but for the majority of his performance, you do see and feel the obsession, the stress, and the shock from this character. I also love how the character develops as the episode moves forward, by finally making some use out of his hobby to save himself and stop an evil villain in the process by tricking the Mutant into disposing himself with his knowledge from the comics that he's read about him; and coming up with something creative with the inspiration from the amount of comic's that he's read, which in the end, turns him into a comic-book Superhero. While none of the stuff in the episode can actually happen in real-life, the themes of having an obsession that consumes you so much to the point where it's unhealthy, to later on finding a use for it that can benefit you, is there and works within the worlds horror/fantasy world that the episode creates; much like how "Cinderella" executes it's moral of how your hard-work and kindness can be rewarded, despite being told in a Fairy Tale world. It's one of those lessons that we can learn from, despite taking place in a fictional world being told in a very fictionalized way, where we the viewer can figure out how the moral and themes that we've learned can help us in the real world.
Aside from the ending, Skipper is pretty much the only ordinary character in the episode. Everyone else is pretty much over the top, which I don't really mind in this episode since the characters and the actors portraying them are fun to watch. Skipper's nerdy friend that likes to collect rocks is fun and is not over the top to the point where he becomes obnoxious; there is a lot of subtlety in his character and performance, despite being a nerd stereotype. The Parents, despite being over the top, are still enjoyable to watch and to be around with. I love how stereo-typically Motherly Skipper's Mom is; and she doesn't reach to the point where she's bland, annoying, or creepy, there is a fun and likability to her. I enjoy how nerdy Skipper Father is, who tries really hard to be intimidating towards Skipper for him to quit his comic-book obsession, but can't get passed his nerdy personality. Skipper's bus friend Libby, while the actress playing her gives phony and poorly acted scared reactions, as well as her line delivery sounding very off most of the time, I still can't help but feel that her poor acting and direction, is part of the twist of the Mutant actually being her the whole time; hence, why her reactions seem phony. Yeah, I agree that they should have made her reactions more convincing, but I guess that's part of the over the top fun in this episode that does at least go with the twist.
Who I really enjoy watching in the episode is Adam West. Every time I see him, I always get a laugh at how campy and over the top he is as this aging Superhero as well as enjoying the references to his career as Batman. The costume he wears, reminds me of the colorful costumes that were shown in the 60's show of "Batman"; and when we first see him in person, he's in a Death-Trap, much like the Death-Traps in the 60's show. I even love his final scene where he gives up fighting crime after being easily stopped by the Mutant because of his old age, which I can't help but picture West in his Bat-Suit actually doing such a thing in his crime fighting career, which for me, makes the scene even more hilarious. He's in the episode for a very short time, like say for a good five minutes, but man does he leave one hell of an impression, that still cracks me up as I write up my thoughts of this episode.
The villain is awesome. Granted, Jim Belushi will always be the best at portraying the character, but the actor playing him is still great as well, even if I erased Belushi's portrayal. The actor does have an excellent voice for the character, that's creepy and sinister, but also very fun and over the top, which blends together extremely well. He's just an overall fun and sinister villain, who makes-up for West's lack of screen-time. In fact, the guy who played him went on to two other episodes on the show, which, I'll point out as we move along. Aside from the performance and personality, there are also many other qualities that I enjoy about this villain along with the way that the episode executes it. His ability to change forms to blend into his environment; trick Skipper; and use them to fight his opponents, while I feel like that the producers should have done more with it, the ideas and the effects are still creative enough for it to become plausible. His secret headquarters that he hides behind in an invisible curtain is cool. In fact, I'm still amazed by the episodes Comic-Book look, with the colorful sets, costumes (Which by the way, his costume design, has grown on me as well), cinematography, and effects. It's really stunning and beautiful to look at. Speaking of visuals, if you look at the poster on the bus that Skipper rides you in, you’ll see the “Goosebumps” title with Two Thumbs Up. Finally, I also like what the villain does. He uses his comic-books under a false identity, and uses them as bate to find new victims, so he can turn them into comic-book heroes, and fight them until he kills them, or are too old to fight back where they can no longer pose as a threat. Much like how Michael Myers' victims of choice are babysitters, or Jigsaw's victims of choice are people who don't appreciate life; Mutant's victim of choice are comic-book nerds, and I like that he's more of a serial killer who looks for people worthy enough to fight against him, instead of being just some villain that our hero stumbles across that wants world domination, it's an interesting twist and idea. Hell, for all we know, the Superhero that West plays could be one his victims who he has a history with; and the league that he's from could be the victims that the Mutant has chosen to turn them into comic-book heroes for him to fight against. Like how I talked about the plot hole in my review of the episode; I could be reading way too much into the idea, but that's what I get out of it. The only issue I have with the villain really is his idea of killing Skipper with a hook (That looks like plastic, though I guess was a stylistic choice to blend in with that cool comic-book look), should have been a little more creative. However, that's really a serious nitpick, and in all honesty, the way the Mutant tells him how he's going to tear him apart is both fun and dark.
For an episode that didn't do much for me at first, it really has grown on me big time with the characters; look; the villain; the casting and performance from Adam West; and it's themes of obsessing over a hobby.
WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE
As I mentioned earlier, I talked about my Aunt giving me a VHS copy of a "Goosebumps" episode, and that episode was this episode, making it the second episode of "Goosebumps" that I saw when I was a kid. While my first episode was "Stay Out Of The Basement"; since I was really young when I first saw it, I didn't watch it from beginning to end, until I rented it years later which was after when I first saw this episode. So this episode is actually the first episode that I watched from beginning to end, and I loved it and seeing it as an adult without the nostalgia, I still love it. Don't get me wrong, the issues that I stated in my review that I had even when I was a kid do still hold up. The wreath that's cursed, but actually brings them luck is never explored of why the Zombies are afraid of it, aside from being a good luck charm. It just makes me wonder what the wreath does that draws these Zombies back. I just wished it was developed a bit more. Also the twist of the people being the zombies is really obvious and predictable. Even the twist of the friendly neighbors being zombies as well, was just as predictable. Look at how they act; look at how deadly pale their skin is compared to our leading characters; it's just too obvious. However, and as I said earlier in the list when I talked about it in "The Headless Ghost", I guess it wasn't supposed to be a twist, since the episode makes itself clear that these people are zombies, kind of like how "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" made it clear that Judge Doom was the villain. It's not a surprise ending or twist, but it’s still done well enough for you to overlook how predictable it is. With those problems aside, I still really admire this episode.
The main reason why I love this episode so much is how dark it is, and plays very little on the camp aspect of the show. Its manages to bring the same uncomfortable dark and grim tone as “The Werewolf Of Fever Swamp", as well as being very creative with its set-up. This whole entire episode just brings a dark and unsettling feel, almost as if you are being watched. Hearing the noises in the night and seeing very little of the zombies inside the house as they go through the walls to scare Amanda to convince her to destroy the wreath to make her think it's cursed (Why not the others, I really don't know.) as we hear heavy breathing; see the dark and shadowy shots of this dark house and town; the dog always barking at the residents; the creepy and dark music; the people in the town looking and acting strange, it just all really creepy and unsettling.
What makes this episode in my opinion better than "The Werewolf Of Fever Swamp" is that it has better characters. Seriously, these characters are better acted and way more likable and interesting, than the characters in "Fever Swamp". I actually do think the acting and characters are some of the shows best, compared to most of the leading characters that we get on the show. The girl who plays Amanda brings the same amount of innocence, curiosity, and look of fright as Beki Lanto's performance as Margret from "Stay Out Of The Basement". I never get the feeling that Amanda's reactions are fake I really do feel the fear that she's feeling. Oh and on a personal note just for laughs, the actress playing Amanda was one of my childhood crushes, and after seeing a recent picture of her as an adult, she still looks pretty. Also, while she was filming this episode, she was also in a horror remake of Stephen King's "Maximum Overdrive" called "Trucks". I haven't seen it yet, but I am interested in seeing if it’s better or worse than the original film. Getting back to the characters, the kid who plays Amanda's Brother Josh is so good at the playing this bratty Brother who doesn't want to live in this old town is so perfect for the role, that I still can't over that this is the same kid from that horrendous episode "Piano Lesson's Can Be Murder". He just totally owns this role, and while being a brat, he's still very likable, because he's not a brat just to be a brat; he's a brat because he has to live in an old lifeless town, away from his friends, and when he tries to make friends, they turn him down. That's really understandable, and is a lot more developed compared to the other bratty characters on this show. The parents aren't over the top or bland cliches, they actually feel like real parents. The Mother is not as overly motherly as most of the Mothers on the show, she's one of the few that actually brings a comforting Motherly charm. That scene when she stays by Amanda side when she can't sleep because of how scared she is, as short as that moment is, I do feel a very strong and sweet Motherly vibe that doesn't go to the point where its silly or corny. The Father, who's great at carpentry, while also wanting to be a creative writer, feels like a real person. The way he talks to Amanda to comfort her; the way he cracks a few jokes; and how he talks about fixing stuff around the house, doesn't feel forced or over the top, it all sounds natural.
Another thing I truly love about the episode is R.L. Stine's take on zombies. I really like that they're not mindless walking corpses that feed on the living just to eat them and turn them into one of them, they're still actually civilized people that feed on the living not out of evil, but in desperation to survive, and will stop at nothing to live longer, which is pretty sad and tragic. In fact, when I saw half of the zombies die from the sunlight, as the others retreat, I actually did feel bad for the ones that were axed off, because they're really just people who are forced to live and act like monsters. Speaking of feeling bad for axed off zombies, this episode does have a handful of great supporting characters, who are of course the zombies. The kid Ray, is a cool and creepy character; Amanda's best friend Karen acts strange, but is likable just the same; her Mother is a very happy and upbeat character that later on goes into full insanity, which is both fun and unsettling; and The Salesman Mr.Dawes is a really nice and happy fellow. My two favorite supporting characters in the zombie cast have to go to the hardhat worker and that creepy girl. The hardhat worker is played by the same guy who played the Masked Mutant, and his performance is just as insane as he was when he played the Mutant. He's slowly decaying to the point where he'll become dust if he doesn't feed on human blood soon, and the actor puts so much energy into his performance that he really shows the insanity and desperation of his character to keep on living. The dead girl is easily the scariest thing in the episode. The scene when she enters Amanda's bedroom telling her to leave, is one of the most frightening scenes in the show. I know in my review I criticized it for the girl telling Amanda to leave despite wanting her blood, but my god, that scene still gives me the shivers. The darkness, POV shot, music, sound effects, the make-up, holy crap do I not want to wake up in the middle of the night to find a very tall woman, with a dead looking face and a voice that echoes in front of my bed! Also looking at the scene, her telling Amanda to leave might be part of the plan for her to destroy the wreath so she can feed. As for the make-up for the zombies, I still do admire that they can look scary without blood and gore. The decaying pale faces are pretty freaky, and I like that when we first meet them, they look like normal people that just act strange.
For me, the episode starts getting really good once our characters start looking for their dog. This whole sequence starts out as something quietly uncomfortable and unsettling, to a full out on the edge of your seat chase as our characters go from being in the dark woods where their dog acts strange; to a cemetery where the people who look completely dead hang out; to their old house where zombies come charging at them through the walls, windows, and under the floors; and throughout the sequence we keep getting one false success at stopping the zombies after another. They destroy the wreath thinking that it's cursed, the zombies finally get in; they kill half of the zombies by using sunlight, Mr.Dawes who's a zombie too, starts coming after them looking just as freaky as the others; and just as our characters are relaxed, have fled from the town, and found their dog, the dog has turned into a zombie, and the characters fates are left ambiguous. This is seriously one of the best climaxes that the show has ever created, and gets better and better every time I watch it. For me, it's the highlight of the episode. I actually remember bringing my VHS copy to school while I was in 1st or 2nd grade as a film for the class to watch during movie period. When they turned it on, the chase sequence was already playing, and after a few minutes they turned it off, and can you blame them? Before I wrap up why I enjoy this episode so much, I should mention that R.L. Stine hosts this episode, and this is actually one of those times where he does a decent job. Even in the Epilogue as he sits down with the dog that changes into his zombie form was actually pretty funny even though I wouldn't call it laugh out loud funny. Oh, and just for the record, he's not in the attic of "Dead House"; he's actually in the attic where Trina and Daniel live in the shows Season finale "Night Of The Living Dummy 3".
Despite a few things that don't make too much sense, I still think it's a fantastic episode that's creative, dark, and atmospheric, while also having very likable characters; a different take on zombies that's new and interesting; and one hell of a climax. It's an episode that I'm proud to say is the first episode that I watched from beginning to end, and I'm really glad that it still holds up just as well.
AND MY NUMBER 1 FAVORITE "GOOSEBUMPS" EPISODE FROM SEASON 2 IS...
THE HAUNTED MASK 2
As you may already know, I actually saw this episode before the first episode when I was a kid, and looking at both episodes back to back, it's a solid sequel. Ok, I'm not going to say that I don't have a few issues with it, because I do. Like I would have liked to know what the mask maker's ugly face actually looked like, and I would like to know why that statue head of our lead comes to life on a few occasions in both the original and this episode. However, those two things don't really bother me that much because I don't mind the mask makers real face being a mystery; and while the head coming to life puzzles me, I'm actually up for it being a mystery left for our interpretation. The only huge piece of continuity that I noticed is when Steve breaks the statue head of Carly Beth. He simply throws it on the ground, when in the original, Carly Beth drops the head at least twice and one those two times when she dropped the fragile head was in the street. While in many respects that the head should have already broke in the original, I just think the method of destroying the head in the sequel just didn't seem the right way to go, since the head in the original somehow managed to survive the amount of times that it fell on the ground. However, for me that's really just a nitpick, but I do think it's something worth mentioning.
My real issue with the sequel that really does annoy me is the ending. After Steve is saved and the mask that attacked Carly Beth is lifeless, they decide to burn the masks on the fireplace, and just when I thought that was a great and solid conclusion to the Saga; the Haunted Mask somehow survives, while the other mask is toast and Steve's Pet Dog buries it, which results with a cliffhanger. Ok, that was pure B.S.! I mean seriously, the mask survives being burned while the other masks don't stand a chance at being burned, what sort of sense does that make? I know it’s a horror tradition where the killer or monster manages to survive every abuse they take, and when you think they're dead at the end, they come back to life leaving the film on a cliffhanger; but I'm sorry, for some reason it just doesn't work here. I guess that's mainly because I really wanted this Saga to end despite a few things that I wish were explored more. Really where the Saga's heart and center was at, were with the characters instead of the monster. There was no need to end it on a cliffhanger setting up for a sequel that will never happen, because the character's development of growing up, feels like a solid story arc that doesn't need to be expanded on. So that's really the only thing I can actually fault the episode for, for giving us a cliffhanger, when the story arc for our characters in both episodes felt complete.
So with nitpicks aside, and the ending being a major tease, I still really think this is a solid sequel. What I found very interesting about the episode was, instead of our lead being Carly Beth, it's instead the character Steve who I found to be the least memorable character in the original. In many respects, the episode could have been about Chuck since he was the real prankster in the first episode, while Steve was his sidekick. However, since Chuck looks at least a year older than Steve, it seems fitting that Steve would be the focus of the episode, since he's still young and still wants to pull pranks on people before he grows old, and I really love how the episode executes its theme about growing up and being too old for something that you enjoyed as a kid. The idea of Steve putting on a cursed old man mask that makes him weak, not only fits in with the theme perfectly as the original's episode theme which was love; but it makes the stakes of Steve being trapped within the mask a lot higher than Carly Beth being trapped inside the mask in the original. While, I would have loved to see the original actor who played Steve in the first episode come back to reprise his role, the kid who plays Steve does just as good of a job as the kid in the original; and I think casting the actor was a great choice because he not only gives a really good performance, but I really like that the actor they got starred in the second episode of "Goosebumps" "The Cuckoo Clock Of Doom", who did just as of good job in that episode as he does here.
The rest of cast who appeared in the original still manage to bring the same exact charm. The fun and likability to these characters still remains just as strong, and seeing them grow-up just makes the characters even more interesting and likable. I love that Carly Beth isn't as scare-able as she used to be and is a lot more calm and collected (And yes, when I was a kid, I also did have a crush on her as well, especially here.); I love that Chuck is deciding to put the childish pranks to a rest, and when he sees Steve causing mischief, he's actually against it. This is really some major character development that doesn't feel forced or half-assed; the strength of both the character and the performance is still there. What I also love about the episode are the little nods to the original episode that involves these characters. Chuck still hates mints, as he briefly said in the original; Steve was originally going to be dressed up as a pirate with a fake parrot on his shoulder, much like Chuck's costume in the original; an old man mistakes Sabrina's costume for a cat instead of tiger, like when Sabrina dressed up as a cat in the original, but a kid thought that she was a hamster; and Carly Beth is wearing the duck costume that she refused to wear in the original. I also get a huge laugh out of Chuck's Godfather reference. He's dressed as a gangster with cotton in his cheeks like what Brando did when he played Vito; and he miss pronounces the name of The Tattaglia which is something that I used to miss pronounce when I was a kid, and so did the famous "SNL" skit "Godfather In Therapy". The episode even brought back R.L. Stine to host it as he did in the original episode, and he does an exceptional job as he sits in the abandon basement of the mask shop and munches on candy. However, the continuity is wrong since we see that R.L. Stine's presence is taking place after the events of the story. He sits by the masks which in the story were all burned by the shop keeper; says the masks were made in the basement, when they were actually made in the back room; and eats Trick-Or-Treat goodies that were given to him by Steve, who didn't Trick-Or-Treat at all in the course of the story. Flaws aside, it was still nice bringing him back to the host the episode.
The return of the Haunted Masks in this episode is just as scary as it was in the original episode, but I think it's actually way scarier than it was in the original. Don't get me wrong, the original is scary as well. The Make-Up looks disgusting and horrifying; the effects of the Mask's chasing after Carly Beth as simple as the effect is, is still pretty scary and done well in the standards of TV; the effect of the statue head moving its lips and having the actress's face as obviously digitized as the effect looks, it still works well; and that insane and creature like voice that Carly Beth puts on has really grown on me. However, the updates here really out do themselves. The effect for the mask floating around looks a lot cooler, than the effects in the original (Though when it attacks Steve, that's when the effect starts to look really fake); the effect for the statue head talking looks way freakier, than it did in the original; the voice for the old man mask that consumes Steve’s body sounds both cool and creepy; the Make-Up for the old man Mask looks just as disgusting and scary as Carly Beth's mask in the original; and the CGI for when the masks are melting looks really cool and brutal. The original Haunted Mask that appears in the episode as it takes over the mask maker’s body is just flat out scary in every single scene it appears. The minute I saw that mask pop out of the ground, already I can feel the awesomeness and amount of scares that it's going to bring. The way it floats around as it talks in soft spoken voice that echoes; the way it growls with its sharp teeth as we look into its lifeless eyes as it takes over the mask makers body (Which I still don't care if we don't see the mask makers eyes through the mask, when in the original we do the eyes of the person wearing the mask. It's still really that damn scary to look at!); the POV shots as it stalks the characters; its sudden appearances; and that really scary, dark, and intimidating voice (Voiced by the actor who played the Mutant in "Attack Of The Mutant" and the zombie hardhat worker in "Welcome To Dead House") is what makes this mask scarier than it was in the original. I know it’s kind of odd that the mask wants to take over Carly Beth's body again, instead of keeping the body it took over, and trying to find another way of getting revenge on her; but it works just fine.
This episode really is a great and solid sequel to the first one. Yeah, I know it has its flaws, but no show or film is perfect, and again it's really the ending that I found to be the real major flaw, while the rest of the flaws that I pointed out are really just nitpicks that don't bother me that much, or hardly at all. The characters and actors that appeared from the original episode are still just as likable and well acted; the actor playing Steve fits the role perfectly; the effects have really up-dated; the Haunted Masks are really scary; the theme of growing up and being too old is executed just as great as the theme in the original; and the look and atmosphere matches the first episode really well. This episode is such a great follow up to the first episode that I would actually tie it with the first one as being my second all time favorite "Goosebumps" episode.
And those are my "Top 8 Favorite Goosebumps Episodes From Season 2"; be sure to tune in, in October for a "Goosebumps" related review.