Film / Goosebumps

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Viewer Beware, You're In For a Scare...

"Every story ever told can be broken down into three distinct parts: the beginning, the middle, and the twist."
R.L. Stine

Goosebumps is a 2015 horror/fantasy comedy directed by Rob Letterman (who has collaborated with Jack Black with his directing Gulliver's Travels) based off of R.L. Stine's famous Goosebumps book series. Starring Dylan Minette and Jack Black as Stine himself, who along with Stine's daughter Hannah, must combat every single one of Stine's creations after Zach and his friend Champ accidentally unleash them from the very books themselves.

View the first trailer here.


This film contains the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Badass:
    • The monsters seem to be capable of causing a lot more damage than their book counterparts. The Lawn Gnomes, for instance, now throw knives and garden tools, and Dr. Brewer's plant monsters are seen demolishing a neighborhood.
    • In the books, Slappy spent his time bullying children into being his slaves. Here, he leads the other monsters in hunting Stine, is clever enough to cut off the whole town, and casually lists off destroying the town as something fun to do.
    • As they are not technically real, all of the monsters are unkillable. If one is physically destroyed, it will just take a second to regenerate. Sealing them in a book is the only way to stop them permanently.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena was benevolent in the book. Not so in the movie.
    • Arguably, it's more a case of the Abominable Snowman not wanting to be sucked into the book and being desperate to stop the kids, who it saw as aggressors.
    • The invisible boy wasn't really mischievous in the book.
    • The aliens also weren't villains in their book.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: The Lawn Gnomes are back... and they're throwing sharp things.
  • Adorkable: Champ, in his own socially awkward, somewhat annoying way.
  • Adults Are Useless:
    • The local cops are utterly inept — one of them is in training, and the one training her isn't much better.
    • Averted with R. L. Stine and some of the teachers at the school.
  • Advertised Extra: The Pumpkinhead who shows up prominently on the poster (even being placed above Slappy)? Has no real relevance on the plot and only appears as a background monster.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: All of Stine's monsters are this, though the Invisible Boy is more of an annoyance. The only real exception to this trope is Hannah.
  • And I Must Scream: If Slappy's words are any indication, the monsters were conscious during their imprisonment in the manuscripts.
  • Antagonistic Off Spring: The monsters recognize Stine as their creator, with Slappy at least sincerely calling him "Papa" in his debut scene. When it's clear he's trying to put them back he starts repeating it with sardonic menace.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: One of the giant praying mantises from A Shocker on Shock Street makes an appearance, in a big way as does The Blob That Ate Everyone.
  • Artifact of Doom: The manuscripts for the Goosebumps books, which contain the monsters. R.L. Stine's typewriter counts as well, as it's implied that its magic brought the monsters to life, in addition to Stine's own imagination.
  • Artistic License Law: There's a running gag about the penalty for filing a false police report being a written warning...but one of the instances is actually impersonating an officer.
  • Author Avatar: A fictionalized R.L. Stine is a major character. The author himself was surprised to see the writers take this route.
  • Batter Up: Zach dual-wields a pair of metal bats when fighting off the monsters at one point.
  • Bear Trap: Stine keeps a number of bear traps scattered across the basement floor.
  • Big Bad: Slappy, who unleashes all the other monsters from their books and then leads them against Stine and the children.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The giant praying mantis
  • Berserk Button:
    • Stine can't stand being compared to Stephen King, especially in an unfavorable way.
    • Slappy does not like being called a dummy.
  • Blatant Lies: While Zach is watching a recording of he and his father, his mother (who has been listening for a bit) asks him if everything is alright. He answers that he was just watching his baby pictures.
  • Blob Monster: The Blob That Ate Everyone
  • Bookends: At the beginning, Zack goes to open a book and Hannah knocks it from his hands, releasing the monster within. At the end, Hannah goes to open a book and Zack knocks it from her hands, trapping all the monsters (including Hannah) inside.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the film, Stine goes on a rant detailing how much he dislikes Stephen King. Later, as part of the climax, he sets up his typewriter to write the new book... in a school play set of The Shining.
    • Also worth noting, a Monster Clown and a haunted car make appearances afterwards. The clown in particular resembles Pennywise...
  • Butt-Monkey: Champ, until he saves the girl of his dreams from being mauled by a werewolf. She had been calling him Chump every time she interacted with him.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Slappy does this to R. L. Stine for imprisoning him and the other monsters inside their manuscripts in an And I Must Scream stasis, while forgetting about them. Which Stine did for good reason, admittedly.
  • Canon Foreigner: Zach Cooper, the protagonist. Given how infamously interchangeable the kids in the books are, this was probably for the best. However, it is interesting to note that the protagonist of "The Blob That Ate Everyone" is similarly named Zachie. Furthermore, both characters save the day using a magic typewriter that makes the stories written with it come to life. Perhaps to highlight this protagonist similarity, the climax of the movie has Slappy unleash The Blob That Ate Everyone when R.L. Stine hands the magic typewriter over to Zach.
  • Car Fu: Used by Zach's aunt to smash the werewolf into a dumpster.
  • Cool Car: The car from The Haunted Car is the one of the first monsters Slappy releases, and he spends most of the movie sitting in it. It even has a Vanity License Plate that reads "HAUNTED".
  • Cowardly Lion: Champ, as aside from Stine himself, he is the resident Goosebumps expert and knows how to take out most of the creatures, even if they scare the hell out of him.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The bear traps in the basement.
    • The burning of the manuscripts counts as well.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The film's credits serve as a tribute to Tim Jacobus, the original artist of many Goosebumps covers, animating several of them over the ending.
  • Creator Cameo: Stine himself has a cameo at the end of the film, playing "Mr. Black" (doubles as a Casting Gag, with Jack Black playing "Stine"), the new drama teacher at Zach's school. He's listed as "Hallway Player" in the closing credits.
  • Creepy Basement: R. L. Stine's basement.
  • Creepy Child: The film gives Stine a fictional backstory as one, explaining that he imagined the monsters from the books in order to scare the kids who made fun of him... and then the monsters became real.
  • Continuity Nod: Just one example: the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena's love of trail mix.
  • Continuity Porn: Every Goosebumps monster ever appearing on screen? The kids teaming up to use their knowledge of the books against them? Oh yeah.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: Hannah, whose true nature is revealed when moonlight shines on her.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Stine dresses in black and generally presents himself as a creepy, hostile man even before it's revealed that he's the creator of the monsters, but this ultimately proves to be an act to keep people from discovering the manuscripts. He actively puts himself in danger to protect the kids and turns out to be more awkward and ridiculously short tempered than genuinely sinister.
    • Stine's daughter, Hannah, a ghost and one of the heroes (and arguably the most sympathetic protagonist in any of the Goosebumps books) who is nonetheless considered a monster due to the fact that she came from a story like the rest of the creatures.
  • Dead All Along: Hannah turns out to be this, being the titular protagonist of The Ghost Next Door.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Stine, Zack and Hannah.
  • Demonic Dummy: Slappy is the Big Bad. The Annihilators 3000 from Toy Terror: Batteries Included also make an appearance.
  • Denser and Wackier: While the books and TV series were always kid-friendly to begin with, it still had some horrifying moments. The movie seems to focus more on comedy.
  • Description Cut: Zach tells the class that they have to buy Stine time to write, but not to worry because he's a very fast writer. Cut to Stine, punching up the story on a typewriter...
    Stine: The night was cold... ... No, cold was the night...
  • Destruction Equals Off-Switch: Inverted — destroying a book doesn't destroy the escaped monster from said book but destroys the only means of getting rid of the monster. Thus, Slappy destroys all the books.
  • Deus ex Machina: Defied — with the books burned, the only way to defeat the monsters is for Stine to write one new book that includes all of them, which can then be used to suck all of them in. Zach thinks this should be very easy — all Stine has to do is write, "Monsters lose. The End." Unfortunately, Stine explains that the magic doesn't work that way — the story has to be real.
  • Disappeared Dad: Zach's father died a year before the events of the movie and he's still mourning him.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena is presented as this. After Stine manages to put him back in the book, he thinks everything is back to normal and gets ready to move out again with Hannah. Then it turns out Slappy got out too.
  • Disney Death: Hannah.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Slappy has the aliens freeze Aunt Lorraine simply because she called him a dummy.
  • The Dreaded: The first words out of Stine's mouth upon hearing Slappy's voice:
    "Oh no, not him."
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The monsters are all defeated, Champ gets together with the girl he likes, and Stine is able to write a new book allowing Hannah to exist in the real world once again, enabling her to reunite with Zach.
  • Enemy Without: The monsters were originally imaginary creations that Stine poured all his negative emotions over his life into before they became real. Slappy stands out the most, as he regularly taunts him with how much they think alike and Stine refers to confronting him as confronting his personal demons. They're even played by the same actor.
  • Everytown, America: Of course, as usual for the series. This one is called Madison, Delaware.
  • Eye Beams: What the Annihilators 3000 use to breach one of the barricades in the school.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One that only fans of the books would catch, but Hannah shares her name with the protagonist of "The Ghost Next Door" and lives next door to Zach, which foreshadows The Reveal that she herself is a character from one of the books.
    • The fact that Stine initially does't remember the giant praying mantis indicates that he's written so many monsters, even he can't remember all of them. This becomes important at the end when he sees he left the Invisible Boy out of the new manuscript.
    • One of the officers is surprised that the officer he's training hasn't seen The Blob after he quotes it to her. Guess which monster Slappy throws at Stine and the kids in the climax?
  • Face Death with Dignity: Hannah, after Zach realizes he needs to trap her in the manuscript with the other monsters. She gets better, though.
  • For the Evulz: The only real motivation the monsters have, though Slappy also wants revenge on Stine for trapping him in his book.
  • Freeze Ray: The weapon of choice of the Bug-Eyed Aliens, which they use on seemingly everyone in town, particularly the two incompetent cops and Zach's aunt.
  • Genre Savvy: The entire movie's premise hinges on this, as anyone who has read the books a la Champ is aware of what did or didn't do in the monsters in each novel.
  • Girl Next Door: Hannah. She's also the title character of The Ghost Next Door.
  • Glamour Failure: Hannah glows when under the moonlight, revealing that she's really a ghost.
  • Homeschooled Kids: Hannah. When she first sees a school dance, she looks overjoyed.
  • I'm Okay!: After Lorraine hits a werewolf with her car she reassures her audience "I'm okay... [airbag inflates] I'm still okay!"
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: The garish baseball cap that Zach is given by his aunt and his mother insists he wears. He gets rid of it as soon as he can.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Zach deliberately presses Stine's Berserk Button to get him to admit his identity, talking about how horrible his books are.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Deconstructed and parodied. Stine does this to Champ after he is unable to get through a fence. Champ takes it a bit too literally and casually runs off.
    Stine: No...I didn't MEAN IT!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stine.
  • Juxtaposed Halves Shot: Of Stine and Slappy in the Fun House.
  • Large Ham: Jack Black as R.L. Stine ... which is odd because the real R.L. Stine is the least emotive person on Earth.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: Stine tries to suggest this, only for Champ to immediately point out that this is a bad idea.
    Champ: Have you ever read your books?
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: If this shot is any indication, it looks like most, if not all of the villains and monsters from the books make an appearance at some point. And if that isn't enough, some of them will only be mentioned in passing, and the cast have already expressed interest in sequels.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Zach was still mourning his father and keeping a distance from everyone else before he met Hannah, who took him in quite an adventure. She's also a literal dream girl.
  • Missing Mom: Hannah didn't really know her mother. Because she doesn't have one.
  • Monster Clown: Murder the Clown makes a few clear appearances on-screen.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The Abominable Snowman's release is shown in both trailers, but in the first one it charges at Champ because he screams, while in the second he charges because he knocks over a lamp.
    • Some trailers also suggested that the heroes would be hunting each monster down using their weaknesses from the books, which is not the case.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Zach and Champ accidentally opening one of the manuscripts.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: The monsters, being animated ink, simply cannot die. Anything strong to obliterate their physical forms simply forces them to spend a minute or so regenerating. The only way to ensure their defeat is to trap them in a book.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Jack Black uses his best impression of Mark Hamill's Joker while voicing Slappy.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Hannah
  • Noodle Incident: Zach apparently ate cotton candy in the abandoned amusement park.
    Zach: The weird thing is that it didn't taste that bad.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Hannah, being a ghost, has had numerous sixteenth birthdays.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Madison, Delaware, in classic Goosebumps tradition.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • "Did you unlock a book??"
    • Also happens when Stine comes face to face with Slappy the dummy.
      Stine: Oh no...
      Slappy: Oh yes.
    • Also happens with the Werewolf of Fever Swamp and The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena when they both realize the bus is rigged with explosives and they just set it off.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Subverted from Stine's perspective; Stine assumes that Champ is an example of this trope, but he's not.
  • Overprotective Dad: Stine, to Hannah. note 
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Per the books, the undead creatures rising from the cemetery are referred to as ghouls, even though it's obvious they're zombies.
  • Police Are Useless: At least, they are in Madison, Delaware. When things get out of hand and Champ suggests calling the police, Zach retorts, "Have you seen the police in this town?" and Champ admits that he can't argue with that.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Stine's reclusive nature, his loud arguments with Hannah, and threatening Zach more than once, are all because of him trying to keep people away from discovering his secrets and to keep Hannah from hanging around with people that might find about her real nature. Until this all gets cleared it makes him seem like an Abusive Parent, which ironically encourages Zach to uncover his secrets in the name of saving Hannah.
  • Portal Books: An entire shelf full of them.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Stine's 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. The giant mantis destroys it.
    Stine: Oh, no! My Wagoneer! .... I had such low mileage on it!
  • Product Placement: If you see electronics, they're Sony brand. Sony made the movie, so it's expected (practically every movie they've made since the 90s has some sort of Sony product visible—they even put their logo before Columbia's now).
  • Psycho Poodle: Among the monsters is a poodle. It looks innocent at first, but then it starts floating, and then it growls and makes a Nightmare Face.
  • Pulling Themselves Together:
    • The Lawn Gnomes piece themselves together when smashed.
    • All the monsters can regenerate from the ink they're really made of if destroyed.
  • Pumpkin Person: A Pumpkin Person makes an appearance, a reference to the book "Attack of the Jack-O' Lanterns".
  • Reality Ensues: While ultimately proved wrong, Zach at first does right when calling the cops on Stine, as any responsible people with good enough reasons to suspect that a reclusive, hostile man is mistreating his daughter.
  • Refugee from TV Land: All the monsters from Stine's books. Hannah is also one of these.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Champ. Don't judge him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Champ pulls this once in the graveyard when Stine tells him to go ahead and save himself. Later, he grows a pair and saves a pretty girl at school from the Werewolf of Fever Swamp after her boyfriend does the same thing.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: All of Stine's monstrous creations are bound within his original manuscripts.
  • Self-Deprecation: The page quote pokes fun at the Goosebumps books' multiple twist endings. It also acts as Foreshadowing.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Champ and Zach, respectively. Zach is fit, knows how to pick padlocks and rig bombs, handles himself well for a bit using two bats against the bees from Why I'm Afraid of Bees and generally takes the lead. Meanwhile Champ is dorky, takes his outfit very seriously, is a Lovable Coward and Screams Like a Little Girl. At one point Zach is able to keep walking while Champ is putting his whole weight in holding him back. Given the tone of the movie and the things they manage to do, they are as close as a couple of teenagers can get to an Action Duo.
  • Sequel Hook: The movie ends with one. The Invisible Boy reveals he escaped being sealed and starts using the magic typewriter to write The Revenge of the Invisible Boy, to Stine's horror.
  • Shown Their Work: While many are only very briefly seen in crowd shots, Slappy's army is made entirely of individual Goosebumps monsters, ranging from famous (The Haunted Mask) to obscure (Doctor Shock).
  • Spiritual Successor: It's Jumanji...with Goosebumps monsters!
  • Stealth Pun: The lock on the basement door and the bear traps on the floor are hints that you should Stay Out of the Basement.
  • Supporting Protagonist: The movie follows Zach's perspective, but the main character arc is Stine's.
  • Take That!: The film pokes fun at Stephen King, especially when Zach claims that he's a better writer than Stine.
    • Crosses with Self-Deprecation when Zack goads Stine into revealing his identity by insulting his books, saying, "I can't decide which one I hate more" — specifically, Monster Blood (which has one of the most hated protagonists in the series) or Go Eat Worms (one of the least popular books in the series).
  • The End... Or Is It?: Turns out the Invisible Boy is still outside the books...
  • Title Drop: This honor goes to Slappy, who sarcastically says that Stine gives him...
  • Vanity License Plate: Slappy's Cool Car gets one with "HAUNTED" on it.
  • Villain Teleportation: Slappy can teleport in a literal flash, such as that of lightning, as apropos for a Demonic Dummy; he does it in his first scene whenever the lights flicker, showing he's capable of taking whatever he wants with him even if someone is holding it at the time. Later in the film, he's able to disappear using the flash of spotlights.
  • When Trees Attack: Dr. Brewer's Mutant Plants are probably the most destructive of the monsters seen in the film.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: How Slappy and the rest of the monsters were originally created.

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