Recurring / Notable Guest Cast
Brooke Nevin (The Comebacks)
Chris Britton (Riverdale)
Martin Roach (Cube Zero)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Tabitha Lupien (Hairspray)
Patricia Gage (Highlander: The Raven)
Kyle Downes (Proxy Kill)
Jonathan Whittaker (Deep Six)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: Afterlife)
Malcolm Stewart (Jumanji)
Victor A. Young (Nemesis Game)
Ron Lea (Saw IV)
Terra Vnesa (Wrong Turn 4)
Mpho Koaho (Saw III)
Wayne Robson (Cube)
Janet-Laine Green (Seeing Things)
Daniel Kash (Aliens)
Caterina Scorsone (Alice)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)
SHOCKER ON SHOCK STREET
Erin and her best friend Marty sneak inside their favorite horror movie studio to check out the special effects department that her Father creates for their horror films. After being caught by Erin’s Father, instead of punishing her, he joyfully gives the two the opportunity to be the first kids to experience a theme park ride based on the “Shock Street” horror films. Everything starts out promising for the two, until the ride suddenly breaks down as the kids find themselves being attacked by animatronics that are modeled after the many monsters that the studio has created.The premise is awesome! I love the whole idea of two kids experiencing a ride that’s based off of horror movies where they find themselves being attacked by the monsters. It’d be like going on a Universal Studio tour where monsters like the Shark from “JAWS” or King Kong would actually come alive and kill you, rather than it being staged. It’s a very amusing concept. I also love that we’re not just seeing the kids explore the ride; we see them explore many other places such as the special effects room where costumes and animatronics start to move, and walking on the set for “Shock Street” itself where some of the monsters lurk. And the sets and designs for some of the monsters are colorful and creative.
MY BEST FRIEND IS INVISIBLE
Sam lives with his scientist parents who are conducting a top secret experiment in the basement (never seen that before), and is constantly being dragged along by his adventurous friend Roxanne to sneak inside a haunted house that he lives right next door too, so that they can capture footage of the ghost that haunts the place. After having an encounter with the ghost inside the house, the ghost goes to Sam’s house to be his invisible ghost friend. But all the ghost does is accidentally makes Sam’s life miserable.The acting from our stars, while not good, it’s definitely not the worst, or feels as staged as the previous episode. It’s serviceable at best, and I do buy the majority of the kid’s reactions when he’s interacting with the ghost, even if it is a little too over exaggerated. But as passable as the acting is, the characters are pretty much the generic stereotypes that we keep seeing on the show. You have the protagonist who’s always petrified, the female best friend who’s rebellious and snarky, the scientist parents, the snobby teacher, and the bully who bullies our lead for no reason at all. The only character who comes across as interesting is the ghost, since we have no idea of how he died, or what he looks like since he’s invisible. And watching him accidentally humiliate Sam, while nowhere near as funny as seeing a comical character like Clarissa mess up a wish every time a character makes one in “Be Careful What You Wish For”, is still fun to watch. The reveal of the ghost does lead to a very intense ending, and when the episode ends, you still find yourself wanting to learn more after discovering this shocking piece of information that the ending throws at you.
THE HOUSE OF NO RETURN
Three kids, who have formed their own club called “Danger Incorporated” for brave kids only, wish to have a new member join their club for how boring it is. So they try to get kids in the neighborhood to join their club if they will stay inside a local haunted house for an hour, but none of them pass the initiation test. Things seem hopeless for their chances of gaining a new member until a new kid named Chris moves into the town trying to make new friends. But he refuses to be part of the club since he gets spooked easily. So the kids desperately trap him inside the house so he can pass the test and have a new member, where Chris witnesses’ some strange paranormal activities going on.Unlike most Goosebumps episodes where we get characters who are so black and white, and cliched to the point where they mostly all feel the same, these characters aren’t generic. You have the new kid in town (though I don’t see that too often in the series itself), and the kids who act like jerks that will eventually get what’s coming to them, but they aren’t as boring as you think they would be. The trio of kids, despite that they do crazy things, they aren’t as goofy as the other characters in the series who share a similar trait like the kids in “You Can’t Scare Me” or Todd in “Go Eat Worms”, they do feel like actual kids, who just do crazy things, and are acted pretty well (given the show’s standards that is). The kid Chris, I will admit does fall close in being a standard character of the series with his socially awkward behavior that’s resembles previous characters like Walker in “Attack Of The Jack-O’-Lanterns” and Duane in “The Headless Ghost”. But what separates him from the two is his action in the ending (which I won’t spoil) that makes him a character that you shouldn’t underestimate, despite that he seems like an easy push-over.
DON’T GO TO SLEEP
Matt is sick of being a kid as he envy’s all the privileges that his older siblings get to have. But rather than wishing to be an adult, he just lays on a bed in the attic complaining about how much reality sucks. The next morning, Matt wakes up and not only finds out that he now has more privileges then his siblings do, but he’s also a famous Hockey player. Not knowing what’s going on, Matt naturally sucks at playing Hockey as he finds himself being stalked by two agents. Things only get worse for Matt where he keeps transporting into different realities of not being able to do things that adults are successful at doing, despite that everyone around him says that he’s professional at it.The idea of a kid going through one alternate reality to another learning that adults have things harder than kids do is not a bad way of telling the moral of enjoying your youth and the things that you do have while you still can, but the execution is far from good. The reason why I say that is because the episode isn’t anywhere near scary. And I know that shouldn’t be a surprise considering that there are tons of episodes in the show that aren’t scary, but this one has to be by far the goofiest episode that I’ve ever had to sit through. Everything about it is so goofy and exaggerated that it hardly takes its time to come off as creepy or atmospheric. Right after the rushed exposition of the kid getting nearly the same kind of cruelty as Kevin McCalister in the “Home Alone” films gets, where he’s up in the attic talking to a mannequin and planning to live up there (because any kid would love to live in a dark and scary looking attic) I knew the episode was in trouble for how crazy and questionable the first few minutes were. Now to be fair, the episode does intentionally play on the goofy camp, like having the kid getting married to an ugly woman as everyone around him thinks she’s beautiful, or the number of adults that the kid meets who act all childish, but since those scenes are trying to come off as a tad bit creepy and suspenseful, they miserable fall apart for being way too silly for their own good.
Seth receives a remote control that he ordered through the mail, and quickly discovers that it doesn’t only control all the household appliances, but also time itself. Despite getting numerous phone calls, E-mails, and TV messages from the salesman who sold him the remote to warn him about the consequences if he abuses the power of it, he obviously abuses the power of it for his own selfish needs, until the remote breaks where his family are standing frozen in time.The episodes’ story is as simple and basic as a story of messing with the space time condominium can get. But what makes it plausible aside from the unique concept of using a remote control (you know before Sandler could make it famous, or by many infamous) is unlike the last episode I reviewed where the show’s camp and humor went way too over board to the point where the final result was goofy and far from scary, this episode finds the right balance between humor and tension like the episodes “The Cuckoo Clock Of Doom” and “Be Careful What You Wish For”. There are plenty of enjoyable scenes of the kid screwing around with the remote, with some decent effects and plenty of fun gags in both the visuals and the writing revolving around the remote’s power and ability. But there is still a feeling of risk as you see this kid become obsessed with the remote’s powers for his own personal gain that only gets him into nothing but trouble as he may risk losing his loved ones forever. The salesman who warns the kid is another example of the episode having a good balance between humor and terror. How he pops out of nowhere trying to warn the kid is always surprising as you are constantly wondering and even at times hoping when he’ll try to contact the kid again. But his personality while a tad bit creepy at times, is mostly a riot for how he tries to warn the kid about the dangers of misusing the item as if he was doing a commercial by fast-talking through the rules of how the item should be handled, and what the item isn’t suitable for. The kid they got to play our lead is the same kid who played Skipper in the two part “Goosebumps” episode “Attack Of The Mutant”, who I think is a fitting casting choice considering that he played the role of a kid obsessed with comics so well. And here he does just as good of a job, only this time he’s addicted to a time controlling device that turns him into a spoiled selfish brat, instead of being a geeky kid who becomes a hero for his knowledge of reading and collecting comics.
AN OLD STORY
Tom and Jon are home alone as their parents are out on vacation, but find themselves surprised when they discover that their weird Aunt Dahlia has come unannounced to babysit them. Aunt Dahlia for some odd reason has an obsession of feeding the kids prunes, but they don’t mind since they love eating them. The next morning when they awake, they find themselves feeling tired and worn-out and noticed that their hair is turning grey and falling off. They eventually turn into seniors and must now find a way to be young again, while avoiding their suspicious aunt and her two flirty friends.Just like the last episode I reviewed, this is another one of those episodes where the humor and thrills are balanced just as well. The jokes and reactions of the kids getting old are funny, but still keep to the intensity of what they are experiencing. The Aunt’s presence is threatening, but she still maintains a fun villainous personality that’s as entertaining as watching someone like Tim Curry play it up as a villain. Even her motivation of turning the kids old, is funny but yet disturbing. The finale to this episode also goes a bit bio-polar by on us with its comedy and horror for having a climax that’s silly but pretty graphic for a “Goosebumps” episode, to having an ending that leaves you in suspense (like the majority of episode’s on the show) but also has you giggling a bit.
THE BARKING GHOST
Cooper moves into a new house and hears some strange barking noises coming from the woods. The barking is of course coming from dogs in the woods, but they appear to be ghosts that are after Cooper and his new friend Fergie. Oh and for some odd reason there are pirates in the beginning of the episode who are being hunted by the same dog’s millenniums ago, and I’m just going to take a wild guess that they have some kind hand with the dogs that are attacking Cooper and Fergie.I’ve read somewhere that this story and “Go Eat Worms” are R.L. Stine’s least favorite story’s that he wrote. And while I can agree with “Go Eat Worms” being his worst story (and worst episode of the show by far), I actually don’t think that this one was that bad. It’s not one of his greatest, because the build-up to the reveal of the dogs was predictable, and the suspense regarding the build-up while not horrible and does in many respects almost feel like the build-up you get in a legit horror, still felt lacking. I’ll also admit that having the story involve pirates felt kind of weird. It leads to some fun comedy during the climax. But really the concept of having pirates as the victims felt pointless and unnecessary. Having two kids being attacked by the dogs would have been a better choice than this. But with those aside, I was still invested in what’s going on, and I do like how the first half is built on mystery, as the second half is built on both thrills and comedy that’s done as well as the last two episodes.
ONE DAY AT HORRORLAND
The Morris Family is lost in the middle of nowhere as they try to find a theme park that they’re planning to go to on their vacation. And after seeing fire balls being thrown at them, and a ghostly face of a monster vanishing, they see a sign for a horror themed amusement park called “Horrorland” and decide to go there instead, despite that they were almost killed by what they think was some kind of gimmick to advertise for the park. Upon arriving to this middle of the desert park, the place looks deserted, everything there is for free, and yet they still don’t find any of it a tad suspicious, at least not until they split-up as the kids go on rides operated by the creatures of Horrorland that go past the boundaries of being frightening, but rather hazardous where it may be their last. This episode in many ways amazes me. It amazes me how a two part episode like this can have such a strong and creative first act that’s at times legitimately scary, to having a second act that is absolutely terrible, with the exception of the climax.The first half of the episode is as perfect as a “Goosebumps” episode can get. The characters as cliche as they are, are not only better actors than most of the actors we get on the show, but they’re also very likable for how they interact with each other. You totally buy that they are a family, and that they’re legitimately creeped out by this park. It’s stupid that they don’t catch on to the park not being safe till later on, but then we wouldn’t have an episode. The creatures in the park who are called Horrors, like Slappy or the Mutant, are fun to watch for how colorful their personalities are, but still come off as creepy for how strange they act, and glare at the characters. The make-up designs for them are also one of the best imaginative designs that the show has to offer. And I love how each horror has their own distinctive personality and design to make them stand out. The rides we see them go on, are inventive but also thrilling at the same time, especially when the kids go on the “Coffin Cruise” that feels claustrophobic. Just by looking at the colorful and goth-like sets and props that give this desert horror theme park plenty of personality, you can tell that the people making this episode had a bigger budget compared to most episodes of the show. Sure some of the effects at times look cheesy like the fireball effect, and the talking head that a horror carries around, but they are in some ways still fun to look at.Then we get to the second half of the episode, where the story decides to change from being a story about a horror theme park, to having our characters competing on a game show in front of a live monster audience, where it turns out that the monsters have their own cable network as well. This whole lay-out feels like that it could’ve easily been its own story. I mean how do you go from a family being trapped in a theme park with monsters, to a family being forced to play on a game show hosted by monsters in the same story? It’s pretty ridiculous if you ask me. I don’t want to watch a game show, I want to see the family go on more deadly rides, and visit different parts of the park as they try to find a way out.
THE HAUNTED HOUSE GAME
Nadine and Johnathan enter an old abandon house to find a little girl’s missing cat, but instead find a board game with an illustration of the house that they’re in on the cover of it. They open up the box under curiosity only to find themselves teleported into the board game where they must play to get out of the game and survive. Along the way they come across two kids who have been trapped inside the game for years, and are seeking a way out too.As “Jumanji” like as this premise is, there’s not only tons of original elements for it to stand on its own, but they’re also very ingenious. I like how they’re literally on a board game as living pieces where the lay-out for the game acts very much like a regular board game, and that they simply can’t move from their space since there’s a force field in the way and can only move depending on what the dice tells them to move after they roll it. I also love that each space they stand on teleports them to a different world where they have to figure what the giant card tells them to do, as they are being chased by ghosts which makes each scenario they get into after landing on each space unpredictable. But as clever as the game functions are, a part of me dislikes that the episode completely ignores the board game element during the last 10 minutes, and decides to have them trapped in a fun house type of location that’s filled with puzzles that (just like the second half in “One Day At Horrorland”) could’ve been an idea for a stand-alone episode. But with that said, I don’t think it really killed the episode by any means since the concept is executed well since the kids getting to a model of the abandon house was being built up, and that half of the things that they get on their journey does pay-off when they enter as they try to solve the puzzles that the house throws at them. So I can’t say the idea was that unnecessary.
THE PERFECT SCHOOL
For pranking his little brother so many times, Brian is sent to a summer school (that’s literally called “The Perfect School”) that’s guaranteed to make him a better person. After making a friend on the bus named CJ, he discovers that the school is treated more as a prison than it is as a typical boarding school. But to make things worse, he suspects something sinister about the staff, and wonders what makes the kids appear to be so perfect when they leave.When this two part episode began I didn’t think it was going to be good after getting an opening tease scare that was so predictable that I didn’t feel the need for it to build-on it, even if it is relevant to the story. And when I saw the obvious nerd and the rebellious cool kid on the bus I was rolling my eyes thinking “oh great, here are more of the bland stereotypes on the show that are just getting old”. But once they get to the school, I was hooked. All the way from when we first enter the school, to the end I felt just as curious as Brian is to know what was happening for how intense the build-up is. The actors playing the people who work at the school (especially the actor playing the head master) are genuine jerks who barely come off as comical, or over dramatic. The kids who act perfect all of sudden give a subtle creepy vibe for how unnaturally nice and pleasant they behave. The school looking like one big prison is eerie. How we discover each and every clue keeps you wanting to know more of what’s going on. And the pay-off to all this mystery, even though it was one of my guesses when the episode was near its end, it was still executed quite effectively. But I will admit that once we get our pay-off and the episode gives one last twist, while it’s a good one, I do hate that it feels like it’s setting itself up for a third part instead of being an ending, like the endings to “A Night In Terror Tower” and “The Haunted Mask 2” for example. And it also didn’t help as much that it left me with a few questions that will never be answered.
An aspiring photographer named Alex is staying with his Aunt and Uncle out in the country for vacation (and yet for some reason is going to school there, that’s never explained why) at a town called “Werewolf Creek” (that sounds nothing like “Fever Swamp” at all). While staying with them, his relatives only give him two important rules to follow which is to never go to the creepy looking house across the street where their crazy neighbors (who we never see) live. And to NEVER go into the woods after dark since there are werewolves lurking around in there, which Alex refuses to believe. During his stay he makes friends with a girl named Hannah (where they first meet in the woods, like how Cooper and Fergie met in “The Barking Ghost”) but notices that the people are acting strange when werewolves are brought up, including his new friend. Eventually Alex does come across some werewolves to find a shocking discovery.After watching a successful two part “Goosebumps” episode that had nice thrills, a great mystery, and acting that’s good enough to keep to the intensity of it; here we get another two part episode that lacks all of it. As I was watching this episode, I was so uninterested in its story feeling not scared by any of it, that I found myself pin-pointing every plot thread and gimmick that the episode does that’s already been done before! The relatives hiding something from our lead; the wolves located in a Swamp; the stupid and unneeded bullies; the fast-moving POV shots that feels like watching a less scary version of “Fever Swamp” and “Camp Nightmare” for how overused the effect is; and oooh man, it feels like that almost everything in terms of story and visuals are just being half-assed. They even make the twist of the best friend being a werewolf the whole time crystal clear before it even happens, since the clues and how she reacts to werewolves are far from subtle by any stretch of the imagination! The werewolves costume design and how the skin moves by itself are decent effects, but is lacking of thrills. The only thing I enjoyed when it came to story and visuals was what the werewolf skin is used for; and the reveal of who’s wearing the skin before we get the “twist” with Hannah (though I’m sure you can guess who the first few werewolves were before her).
Dave meets an eccentric exterminator during an infestation of ants at the Ice cream parlor, and decides to study ants for a school project after witnessing the event. He orders an ant farm to help him with his studies, but he gets one the size of a cage that can trap any man or animal, as he’s given a large manual for him to read before using the ant farm. The kid ignores reading the book, and over-feeds the ants that causes them to get stronger and eventually grow gigantic.In my review of the Season 2 episode “Go Eat Worms”, I talked about how using ants and spiders would be a much scarier premise then worms just crawling around doing practically nothing. And the story to this episode is exactly what that episode should have been like. The kid wants to study ants for a project that’s sparked by his curiosity from an event involving them, rather than the kid just being a total creep who obsesses over them for the wrong reasons. The reason for the ants attacking him feels more clear and fleshed out. And I love that there’s a reason for them to grow, instead of just having one large bug of its kind.
BRIDE OF THE LIVING DUMMY
Low-life bum Jimmie O’James finds Slappy the dummy inside his case (who’s perfectly intact, despite that he was struck by lightning, and possessed Hayden Christiane to make sure he helps ruin the Star Wars film franchise, in the end of the last episode he appeared in) and foolishly reads the card that makes him come to life. Jimmie starts doing stage shows with Slappy, until Slappy sees a doll in the audience that he’s attracted too. He forces Jimmie to send him to the doll by giving him to the owner’s older sister Jillian who he has met earlier as a gift. Slappy begins to terrorize Jillian and her little sister Katie, but Katie for some reason is behaving strange towards the doll that Slappy wants to marry.This is the third and final appearance of Slappy in the show and despite the ignored continuity from the previous episode (though I’m willing to bet that this trilogy doesn’t even want to follow continuity at all), and the odd motivation, he still carries all the qualities that we love about him. He has his creepy moments from when he’s coming after the characters, or frightening them when he’s pretending to be a lifeless dummy. But he has his comical moments as well thanks to his wisecracking personality that’s always fun to watch. The costume effect that was used for Slappy in the last episode he appeared in for the scenes when he’s walking around and fighting another dummy is completely gone where the effects team is using a regular dummy for all of his screen-time. I did find it a tad bit disappointing that they didn’t keep the costume effect since it made him look more animated despite how obvious it was when they switch between effects, but they do just a solid job with using a regular dummy as they did in his debut episode. I will admit however that when we get to the climax, you get a sense on a couple of small occasions that someone off-screen is moving the dummy around. And when he fights against somebody since they don’t have a guy in a costume to make the attack seem real, they use the slow-motion effect, which granted does work to the scenes advantage since it would look like that somebody is moving him around, but it still feels out of nowhere, and inconsistent since we see the other characters move in regular speed.
Nicholas’ parents bring home his new baby sister Grace, but during his attempts to bond with her, he notices the baby to be acting strange. She can walk around, she’s intelligent enough to spell out words through her blocks, and she can talk. Nicholas suspects that Grace wants him out so that she can be the only one to get all the love and attention, and tries to tell his parents about her, but of course they don’t believe him.We all know about the bratty siblings on the show and how some of them can be worse than the actual monsters themselves (like Tara from “The Cuckoo Clock Of Doom” for example), and since Stine loves giving us that stereotype so much, it seems fitting that he would do one about a baby. This is obviously not a new concept, but it should be at least scary or entertaining to see R.L. Stine have a baby be both the brat and the monster. And while I’m sure that Stine did a better job with the story when he wrote the book, this episode is hardly any of that.
SAY CHEESE AND DIE…AGAIN
In this sequel to a mediocre “Goosebumps” episode at best, Greg writes a paper on his experience with the cursed camera, but his teacher fails him unless he can prove to him that the camera is real. Greg goes back to the building where he found the camera, but it turns out that it’s been demolished, and Spidey the creator of the camera is nowhere to be found. He eventually manages to find it, and just when he has the evidence, all the chaos that the camera has brought to his life is starting all over again.For a sequel to an episode that’s deliberately trying to follow continuity this time (unlike the Slappy sequels) as if it was the second half of the episode just like “The Haunted Mask 2” for example, it does an inexcusable poor job at doing so. When the last episode that involved the camera ended, Spidey who was after Greg and Shari for finding the camera and threatening to silence them from ever telling anybody about it, only to be trapped inside it by our heroes, to eventually being set free when a duo of one-dimensional bullies steal the camera. I was expecting this second half to have Spidey chase after the kids again, as the kids would wonder what happened to the bullies that used to harass them. But nope, that entire cliffhanger ending is completely ignored here! For the love of god, could they at least have Spidey show-up in at least one scene and do something, as opposed to seeing him in the flashbacks. All throughout the episode Greg is paranoid wondering where Spidey is and if he’s going to come after him, and as you’re eagerly waiting for him to appear, it never happens, nor do we ever find out what happened him. They couldn’t even make up some excuse about him dying, or being arrested or something? It would at least make some kind of sense for his absence in a sequel that’s begging to have him back.
Becca and her friend Benjy are on an overnight class-field to learn about how the food chain works at a nature center. But Becca suspects something strange going on in the woods when she sees a rabbit with a lizard’s face. Eventually she and Benjy discover an old abandon cabin in the woods, where someone appears to be experimenting animals by turning them into monstrous creatures. The episode’s story from what I read to my understanding doesn’t follow the book, but as always I’m reviewing it on its own merits, just like how I reviewed all the others.It’s important to know that the episode is dedicated to the actress who played Becca, Michelle Risi, who sadly died of meningitis following its production at the age of 16, which is very sad and unfortunate. And truth be told, even if she didn’t die I’d still say she’s not bad of an actress. But while her acting isn’t bad, the character she portrays and the material she’s given to work with isn’t much. I know you expect that from the leading characters of the show, but there’s nothing really about her performance or her character’s personality that stands-out. And to be fair, it’s not just her alone, so is pretty much all the other characters. The best friend, the snobby bullies, her teacher, they’re all just so forgettable for how boring and cliched they are. The only character and performance that stands-out from the rest is the actor playing the instructor of the nature center, for how weird he acts which is way too obvious that he’s the one doing all the experiments. Surprisingly the actor they got to play him, is the same actor who played Spidey in the episode “Say Cheese And Die”, and rather than giving a loud and over dramatic performance like he did as Spidey where he loses all sense of scares and creep, here he comes off as a little more creepier for how quiet and monotone he is. It is a little too mellow-dramatic, but it still fits the character just fine.The Season does have more good episodes that are imaginative, entertaining, and at times scary that I would actually find myself re-watching compared to half of the episodes from the Second Season, but it still has its share of strong weaknesses. It’s not just the same old problems that the previous seasons had, by having some cheesy effects, bad acting, and being too silly instead of scary, it’s mainly because the cliches are now getting old at this point. In pretty much half of the episodes, I knew where a story was going for how predictable the lay-out and formula was. Most of the characters I know I’ve seen before in the other two Seasons, just with a different name and monster to face. And the effects and camera work that looked impressive and scary in the first two Seasons are starting to look boring since we’re seeing the same old tricks used too many times. The episodes that I praised are still good and some of the show’s finest, and I especially admired when the show pulled off a 3 part mini-series that was completely original. But if you’re expecting plenty of changes to the shows formula, you’re not going to get much of that here and may find them to be tiring after sitting through two whole Seasons of it.