Note: Several volumes of Goosebumps DVDs are being reviewed; basic information on the series may be repeated in the reviews.
R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" series of books has provided some kid-level scares and thrills for years and Scholastic and FoxKids brought the franchise to American television audiences in a series of generally well-produced shockers that offer above-average special effects and kid-centric storylines that are often quite scary, if never over the line for the average 7-12 year old. This DVD includes:
A Night in Terror Tower. This wonderful episode is a great little riff on time travel and some historical events, namely the imprisonment in the Tower of London of the two young heirs to the British throne by Richard III. That basic historical fact is twisted slightly, with two 20th century kids, Ed and Sue, finding themselves stranded on a tour of the Tower, whereupon they are chased by a shadowy bad guy. I don't want to spoil any of the surprises in store for viewers, but Ed and Sue are not exactly who they appear to be, or even think they are, and the resulting mayhem has some great spooky moments, augmented immensely by some impressive recreations of a dark and dank London, as well as some clever underscoring use of the "Dies Irae." This episode also is helped by some cute bookending segments by Stine himself.
Stay Out of the Basement may remind some older viewers of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers with its riff on "pod people." This wonderful two-part episode features two kids who discover their botanist/geneticist father has been doing some unusual experiments with plants in the basement. As is typical in many of these episodes, Dad warns the kids to stay out of the basement, which of course they ignore, leading to an unsettling discovery or two. The upshot is that their father may not exactly be who they think he is, with some scary results. Like many "Goosebumps" stories, this has some neat little twists that will probably keep most of the younger set guessing, and bring at least a little smile to the lips of parents.
This late 1990s television series boasts a pretty average full frame image, with decent if unexceptional color and acceptable (barely, if you're a real videophile) sharpness. There are no instances of damage or degradation. A completely average television presentation all around.
Similarly, the DD 2.0 soundtrack is typical television fare, though there is some attention paid to good use of sound effects, especially in some of the shock sequences. Fidelity is excellent, separation is adequate. Nothing fantastic, but nothing to complain about. No subtitles are offered.
None are offered.
If you're new to the Goosebumps world, this is a great place to start, with two exceptional episodes which perfectly balance thrills with an at times black humor. Recommended.
"G-d made stars galore" & "Hey, what kind of a crappy fortune is this?" ZMK, modern prophet