I previously mentioned in another post that my first chapter book was Goosebumps: The Haunted School. I got it in a package from my aunt who was getting rid of her sons’ old kid stuff and she thought I would like to have their Goosebumps books. My mom handed me the box after dinner one night and I was overjoyed at the opportunity. I crawled onto my dad’s lap and I spent the next four hours bingeing the first book I pulled out of the box. This was a couple beginnings for me. This was the beginning of my real love to read and of my love for the horror genre. This series holds a lot of value for me personally.
After that day, I continued to receive boxes of books every few months from my aunt (I don’t think she realized I finished each box in a week). Until they eventually stopped and I didn’t have the whole collection. So I scoured the Borders every once in a while in hopes of finding the copies I didn’t have yet. I also started to collect the tv series. It was like a personal vendetta, I had to have ’em all. I used to think both the books and the show were horrifying! I had a system in place for when I finished a book and how to deal with the fear that would overtake me. They were that scary to me.
There was a time when I was at a campground with my family and my cousins. The adults were having a fire so they sent inside to watch movies. I was surprised to find a VHS tape of a Goosebumps episode (it was Stay Out of the Basement). I was really excited to see it and I pushed my cousin and my sister to watch it. We got through about half of it when a loud CRACK echoed across the area. I’m man enough to admit that we all screamed. But shortly after, I realized I couldn’t hear my aunt asleep down the hall anymore. I pointed it out to the others and my cousin was worried so he pushed us to go check on her. I went for the light switch, but he grabbed my arm. He said he didn’t want to wake her up just in case because she gets really angry when you wake her up. So we continued into the dark until we reached her bed, but we couldn’t tell if she was there. My sister suggested reaching out and trying to lightly test if she was there. I was unanimously “volunteered” for this mission. I slowly reached out my hand and felt around. I came back with empty sheets. We hadn’t seen or heard her leave so we had no idea where she had gone? Needless to say, we were terrified and we bolted back to the light of the tv that was now displaying the end of the show. I was too scared so it was time to get my mom, so I practically threw myself out of the dark camper into an empty circle of chairs. We were awestruck. Everyone was gone out here too! I decided to make a break for it. Whatever was taking people wasn’t going to get me. I ran as fast as I could toward the playground (the unlit playground) and straight into a person. Horrified, I looked up to find out what it was. I was confused to find my dad. He explained that an erratic driver had blown through the playground in his truck and smashed the gate at the exit and the adults had gone to see what had happened. My aunt had been woken up by the noise and left through the back exit in the camper which I didn’t know about. I was a little kid at the time and I had a pretty good imagination (I think I still have a quality imagination for an adult) after watching a Goosebumps episode, our minds had made up an entire horror scenario to explain what had happened. It wasn’t anything particularly scary and we never would have assumed there was anything nefarious involved, but it was all fueled by a scary show.
I can look back at that moment and laugh because it was the goofy inner working of a child’s imagination, but at the time it felt like the only logical conclusion. I can also look back to that show and the books and recognize how cheesy they are. The acting, the stories, the scenarios, the jumpscares. It all seems so silly now. I’ve stated a couple times before that I’m a horror fan and my taste in film and literature has shaped my delight in the macabre. I consider myself skilled in recognizing effective horror even if I don’t get scared anymore. These books are of a higher quality for sure than their tv counterparts. They’re a cultural phenomenon. Horror stories for kids. It’s awesome. I have a strong respect for what the series has accomplished, especially with the number of copies sold (about 350 million sold in 2014!). R.L. Stine even put my name into a book as a lead character’s friend because I emailed him on my birthday and asked him to do it as a birthday present. This series has woven itself into the very fabric of my life. I literally cannot bring up this book when talking about the origin of some of my strongest interests. So today I dedicated a post entirely to this amazing series. Thank you, R.L. Stine.
A little bit sure that truck driver was mad drunk,
haunted school – http://goosebumps.wikia.com/wiki/The_Haunted_School
haunted mask – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Haunted_Mask
basement – http://goosebumps.wikia.com/wiki/Stay_Out_of_the_Basement
horrorland – http://goosebumps.wikia.com/wiki/One_Day_at_HorrorLand
living dummy – http://goosebumps.wikia.com/wiki/Night_of_the_Living_Dummy