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Literature / Say Cheese and Die!

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Primitive tribes fear the camera. They say it can steal a person's soul. This camera is far worse. Far worse.
— Spidey

The Goosebumps book with the cursed camera.

While exploring a local abandoned house with his friends, Greg finds an instant-film camera in a hidden compartment. OK, this doesn't sound too impressive to someone with a smartphone, but in the 90s this was amazing technology. He tries it out on his friend Michael, who promptly falls through the floor — and that is what the photo shows. Indeed, every picture the camera takes shows the subject dead or horribly injured, which inevitably comes true. When his friend Shari vanishes after he takes a photo of her, he must find a way to undo the effects of the camera and save his friends.

It has one direct sequel, Say Cheese and Die — Again!, in which Greg faced danger after using the camera — again. The camera also appears in the Goosebumps HorrorLand book Say Cheese — And Die Screaming, but with a completely different Backstory.


This book was adapted into episode 15 of the first season of the TV series.

It was later reissued in the Classic Goosebumps line in 2009 as a companion to Say Cheese — And Die Screaming!.

The book provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Fritz Fredericks.
  • Anxiety Dreams: Greg has one about the camera and its negative effects, in which he was going to take a picture of his family and saw them all as skeletons. It's the basis for the book's cover.
  • Artifact of Doom: The killer camera, which destroys or causes harm to persons or objects that it takes pictures of.
  • Funny Photo Phrase: The very first time the evil camera is used, Greg calls to his friend Michael to "Say cheese". Michael, being something of a jokester (whose jokes always fall flat), responds by grinning and saying, "Cheddar".
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The person who invented the camera ended up being killed for his trouble, and Spidey ended up homeless after he tried to exploit it.
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  • Greater-Scope Villain: The original inventor of the camera and Spidey's partner was apparently even more evil than Spidey and knew all sorts of evil arcane secrets.
  • Here We Go Again!: The book ends with the bullies from earlier retrieving the camera from where it was hidden.
  • Magical Camera: The camera causes tragedy to befall any person photographed with it.
  • Missing Child: Shari's disappearance greatly worried her family and friends. In the TV episode, Bird believes Spidey may have kidnapped her.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Spidey spends much of the book trying to reclaim the cursed camera and prevent any more carnage. He's accidentally killed by Shari, and the camera lives on to cause more trouble.
  • Shout-Out: This story is very much inspired by ''A Most Unusual Camera'' though a little more kid friendly.
  • Spooky Photographs: The photos taken with the camera always show somebody suffering.

The episode provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Context Change: In the book, Shari disappeared soon after her photo was taken. Here, Greg only learns of her disappearance later that night.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Greg Banks and Shari Walker come off a bit more likeable and heroic than their book counterparts, Greg particularly. For example, in the book he takes the camera back to the abandoned house he found it, all but dragging his friend Shari with him, whereas in the television version he initially goes by himself, believing wrongly that Spidey is holding Shari prisoner there in exchange for the camera, and gets joined by Shari who voluntarily accompanies him. Also, Greg gets to fight back more enthusiastically in the tv version than his counterpart, while Shari snaps Spidey's picture on purpose instead of by accident.
  • Adapted Out: Michael does not appear in the show, which gives his part to Bird instead.
  • And I Must Scream: Spidey gets trapped inside his own camera, until two bullies accidentally set him free.
  • Composite Character: Because Micheal was cut from the story, Bird takes does all the things Micheal did in the book.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Spidey gets killed by the camera in the book. In the TV episode, he becomes trapped in the camera and eventually released by the two bullies who picked on Greg and Bird, but strangely doesn't appear in the TV episode of "Say Cheese and Die — Again!" (except in flashback).
  • Uncertain Doom: We don't know what the bullies' picture was, nor if Spidey has anything to do with it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After Spidey's released from the camera, we're never told what happens to him. Even in "Say Cheese and Die — Again!", he's only seen in a flashback.