Goosebumps Movie (2015) – movie review

goosebumps 2015 - werewolf 2

Goosebumps Movie (2015)

Directed by Rob Letterman
Based on stories by R.L. Stinegoosebumps- night of the living dummy
Music by Danny Elfman

Jack Black
Dylan Minnette
Odeya Rush
Amy Ryan
Halston Sage
Ryan Lee
Jillian Bell

In the mid-1990s Goosebumps was a television show for youngsters that liked horror, but were not necessarily able to handle adult horror flicks. My daughter loved the series and soon found interest in the book series of the same name. The plots were simple and the storylines predictable, but that didn’t hinder the enjoyment of the show for my daughter or her parents, myself and my wife. We engaged in the tales becoming familiar with Carlie-Beth and the Mask, Slappy the ventriloquist dummy, the Snowman of Pasadena, and many more wonderful stories and characters of the show.goosebumps-movie-2015

We finally watched the Goosebumps Movie with equal parts excitement and trepidation. We’ve read some bad reviews of the film, but wanted to watch it for nostalgic entertainment. The film took a full 26 minutes before anything remotely Goosebumps related happened. The characters were cardboard cut outs with little depth, the kind that we’ve seen so many times in many other films. The plot was simple but decent enough. I think the problem with the film was they were trying to reach both the parents and the children at the same time. This is something Disney has perfected but many other filmmakers struggle with. The kids that grew up watching the show or reading the books weren’t engaged by the characters and the mature jokes and aspects were too watered down to create impact with adults.

That being said, the monsters were fantastic and portrayed in usual Goosebumps fashion, somewhere between comical and monstrous. The action was fast-paced and at a higher level than the TV Show. The giant praying mantis was intense and being a giant monster fan, my favorite part of the film. The abominable snow man, the werewolf, and fan favorite, Slappy, all added nostalgic value to the film. The scary garden gnomes added comedic aspects. The film moved along at a fast pace, helped by a wonderfully exciting score by Danny Elfman. Sure the film was predictable, simplistic and delivered mild horror entertainment, but the TV show fits that same description. I think the film was at the same level as the show, but perhaps some viewers were expecting more. All said, it delivered light horror entertainment and that’s all I expected so I wasn’t disappointed.

I give it 3.2 fictional frights on the maniacal monster mash-up movie scale.

goosebumps 2015 pic 20

fun facts:

Dylan Minnette and Ryan Lee had both appeared on the TV series, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour (2010).
In the film Stine complains he has sold more books than Stephen King which is true. King sold 350+ million books and R.L. Stine sold over 400 million books.
The real R.L. Stine makes a cameo in the film near the end when Jack Black introduces him as a new teacher, Mr. Black. (so RL Stine played Mr. Black, and Jack Black played Mr. Stine)
The high school auditorium has a set where the theater class had been rehearsing a stage production of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” How cool is that!

Model Kits – AMT Gigantics (1975 – 1979)

Gigantics attack 3

Model Kits – AMT Gigantics (1975 – 1979)

These are my AMT Gigantics kits, giant insects attacking cities in some really nice dioramas:

Colossal Mantis — Rampaging Scorpion — Huge Tarantula

There was a 4th in the series, a Wasp in a scene at an amusement park, but it is impossible to find. I had bought these in the early 90’s, long after they were discontinued, at a close-out warehouse. I held on to them until now.

In June, 2013, I built and painted them. I set them up together to make one huge scene.

Back in the late 1970’s I had won 3rd place in a model building contest at a local hobby shop using the Scorpion and the Tarantula. It was fun to rebuild these kits after all these years.

They were originally released by Fundimensions in 1975 but by 1978 they were taken over by AMT/Ertl.




Naturally, I liked these because they compared to the giant insect films of the 1950’s. Film Reviews here: Creature Features – Giant Bugs

Watch the video:

Creature Features revisited – Giant Bugs

Creature Features revisited – Giant Bugs

A look back at the golden age of sci-fi, the 1950‘s. Our subject today…

Giant Bugs:

Them! (1954)
The film starts out with a catatonic little girl walking alone through the desert in New Mexico. The State Police pick her up and this leads to a discovery of her parents decimated camper-trailer a few miles away. Further investigation leads to a colony of giant ants. James Whitmore (Bonanza, Gunsmoke) and James Arness (Gunsmoke) play the State police and Edmund Gwenn (yeah, Santa Claus from Miracle on 34th  Street) plays the scientist. He explains the ants gigantism as a fallout from nuclear radiation. The giant ants were filmed nicely for that time – mechanical creatures with giant mandibles that crushed their prey. They also emitted a strange whining noise when they were near which ramped up the tension. The troopers manage to destroy the colony but they discover that two queen ants have escaped and must be re-colonizing somewhere. That somewhere is in the Los Angeles storm-drain canal system, where the Terminators would battle with motorcycle and truck many years later. This is the epitome of 50’s sci-fi films, playing off the concerns and dangers of nuclear testing in the 1950’s mid-west and man’s inability to control what he has accidentally created. The film created a lot of suspense, action, and giant creature terror for its time. One of the best of the era.

The Deadly Mantis (1957)
A volcanic eruption causes the polar ice-packs to shift and releases a giant praying mantis. The ‘prehistoric’ insect has a hunger for humans, killing several men in a military outpost then attacking some unsuspecting Eskimos. From there it takes flight, stops briefly atop the Washington Monument in DC, then finds refuge from the military attacks in the Manhattan Midtown Tunnel. The special-FX in this classic sci-fi giant bug flick are fantastic. The mantis looks mostly realistic (if you don’t look too closely) and the artic scenes are chilling (chilling, get it?). There is some minor destruction at the military outpost and some fine work within the tunnel for the movie’s finale. Despite plot similarities to The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, this is one of my top picks in the giant bug film category. There is something intriguing about a real praying mantis itself, and the films giant replica is nicely portrayed. Naturally, we have the love-story sub-plot in the face of this catastrophic event, a common staple in many 50’s sci-fi films.
 The Black Scorpion (1957)
Believe me, the cover of the dvd, poster, blu-ray and vhs box, does the film no justice. I had been looking for this film by memory, not knowing the name and kept dismissing this dvd because of the cover art. But, low and behold, I discover this is Willis O’Brien’s giant scorpion movie! (w/Peter Peterson). A volcano and resulting earthquake in Mexico releases a nest of giant scorpions who proceed to feed on Mexican farmer’s livestock. When the Mexican army, with the help of an entomologist tries to seal the cavern containing the scorpions, the beasts escape and attack the nearby village and a commuter train. Eventually, the big daddy of scorpions is released from the cave and first attacks and eats the smaller scorpions, then sets its hungry claws on Mexico City. There is no need to tell you that the stop-motion, special effects in this film are outstanding. The train attack sequence is a plethora of destructive action. The big scene at the end that really impressed me was when the Giant Black Scorpion fights the military helicopters in Mexico City. It manages to grab one and throw it to the ground in a heap of twisted metal, then stings it several times to make sure the helicopter is dead – a fantastic sequence. Starring, Mara Corday and Richard Denning.

The special features of the dvd feature an interview w/Ray Harryhausen about his friendship with O’Bie and clips from test footage of never made films, The Las Vegas Monster and The Beetlemen, amongst other fine tidbits. A must have for any 50’s sci-fi fans and O’Brien/Harryhausen fans!