Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Viewer Beware, You're In For A Scare

One of the biggest things that us horror fans remember from the 90s, especially those who grew up in the decade, was Eerie Indiana, Are You Afraid of the Dark, and Goosebumps. Personally, I wasn’t a big fan of Eerie Indiana and though I enjoyed Are You Afraid of the Dark… it didn’t hit home for me like with Goosebumps. Goosebumps debuted in 1995 and it adapted R.L. Stine’s books into a 30 minute long TV show. Fans of the books were thrilled and it was one of the things that we looked forward to every Saturday and Sunday mornings on Fox Kids. The show took off until its airtime was run out on 1998. However, the memory of a great TV show for kids will always stick with us and it’s one of those cornerstones in many of our lives.

I’ve talked about the show many times before and how it has a lot of adult situations despite its aim towards children. No, I’m not talking about those situations but rather situations like seeing a man scientist slit his wrists open to poor out green blood or seeing your naked Aunt and Uncle drape werewolf skin over their bodies. It’s a point that I love bringing up because Are You Afraid of the Dark was geared towards an older crowd of kids but Goosebumps was on right after a whole bunch of little kid shows like Space Goofs, Toonsylvania and Animaniacs. As a kid, some of the frightening imagery from the show has stuck with me. I’ll never forget how creeped out I was when I saw that horrid monster eating insects from The Girl Who Cried Monster, or that frightening tractor scene in The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight. Even to this day I can’t safely say that these episodes are kid friendly.

The one thing that I always loved about the Goosebumps series was the way they were filmed. Not necessarily the special effects or the editing but rather the lighting the cinematography of each episode. There were certain scenes that I remember that had weird filters and weird angles that enhanced each story. Close-ups were of people made them look more bloated and more surreal, swooping shots of the monsters eating bugs and sometimes the camera would get right into the way of the monster and made kids jump in fear. It was almost as if each episode was sort of experimental or directed by Terry Gilliam and David Lynch, they just has this campy dream-like presents about them.

If you want to know the magnitude of which Goosebumps had on me, my favorite color has been green since the mid 90s because in all of the Goosebumps episodes green was somehow incorporated. Whether the eerie light was green, or the bushes in the background were greener or the monster was green; green was the color of Goosebumps. Also, when I was 7-9 years old, I strategically place suits and clothes in a pile on the ground to make it look like whomever was wearing it just disappeared but left their clothes instead. I thought this was because I loved The Langoliers as a kid but it turned out that it was Goosebumps all along. I took the idea from Welcome to Dead House. The series had probably the biggest impact on me then any other TV show out there.

And now, a little blast from the past:


Fear Street said...

I don't remember Eerie Indiana, but I was totally obsessed with the other two, particularly with anything that had Stine's name attached...

Sadako said...

Loved Eerie Indiana!

You're right about the adult situations. I was watching Werewolf Skin for the first time last year and was struck by the naked aunt/uncle thing. And a lot of the close ups could get pretty oogy.

In some ways I think of Goosebumps as our generation's cheesy horror movies. No, they weren't great art but they had some awesome moments and they inspire a lot of cult love from a lot of us.

I actually just posted a Girl Who Cried Monster post on my blog, and I was thinking about that episode. The monster moments aren't really all that high tech but they are pretty creepy. And for some reason, I'll never stop loving it!

Mr. Johnny Sandman said...

Sadako: you really nailed the comparison between Goosebumps and cheesy horror movies.

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