A collection of things that go bump in the night…
Some years ago, I was at the LA Times Festival of Books, and one author was attracting a massive queue of excited children, with multiple copies of books in their hands, who were swapping stories about which of the author’s tales had scared them the most. The writer was R.L. Stine, the creator of Goosebumps, on whose many books the TV series was based.
It was around the time that the stories on this DVD were being broadcast on the BBC, and I took a look then – and wasn’t overly impressed. Rewatching the complete episodes now on this DVD set, I can see why: the stories were often cut to shreds, made almost nonsensical because of changes made for the 6 p.m. Cult TV slot.
It’s not the world’s greatest children’s television show: in terms of acting and production values, we’re more in the Australian K9 series territory than The Sarah Jane Adventures or Wizards vs Aliens. But the stories themselves hold up pretty well, with their plant monsters and haunted masks, and use horror clichés in sometimes quite inventive ways, particularly given the age of the target audience. Goosebumps was one of the few shows to remind kids that it’s good to be scared from time to time – like 1970s Doctor Who, it didn’t pull its punches, but never went over the top.
Verdict: Something to dip in and out of, with a few unexpected treats. 6/10