The Appeal of Children’s Horror Stories

Posted: July 27, 2014 in Reflections, Scary Stuff
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When I was a kid, I read the Goosebumps books, as did a good number of other kids in my generation. Some of us even watched the TV series based on the books. Back then, they were, although not traumatic, pretty scary. When you look back at them now though, you realize that not only do they seem somewhat tame, but the stories have plot holes that only a kid would miss (like why haven’t the authorities figured out there’s a theme park that is being run by homicidal goblins and called in the National Guard?). Still, one tends to have fond memories of those books.

Which is why when I heard recently that there is a movie being made based on those books with Jack Black set to play author R.L. Stine (who happens to be from Columbus, by the way), I got a little excited. In fact, here’s an interview with Jack Black from San Diego Comic-Con on the movie, about a week or so after filming ended.

I’m certainly going to look forward to this movie. I’ll probably laugh at most of it rather than being scared, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something in the movie made me jump out of my seat. And when you add in the news that CBS Films had bought the rights to the Tales You Tell in the Dark books with the hope of producing a movie based on them and that MGM is developing an animated Addams Family movie, it gets me excited.

But these are kids stories. Why should any of us care? Most of my readers (I assume) are past Goosebumps age, and if any of them do like a good horror novel or movie or TV series, they’re more likely to read a Stephen King novel or see As Above, So Below when it hits theaters or try and guess what’ll happen in the new season of American Horror Story (I have a feeling most of that speculation will be wrong).

Expect this freaky mask, plus Slappy the dummy and a few others to make it into the new movie.

Remember in the video above, how Jack Black was talking about how his kids like being scared but they don’t like blood or any of that other stuff? We were all like that once. We wanted to be scared, but we didn’t want to have our heads messed up too badly (though mine was plenty messed up to begin with). Goosebumps, Tales You Tell in the Dark, or even Are You Afraid of the Dark?* were all like gateways into the world of horror for youngsters, allowing them to be scared while also allowing them to have fun. And getting a love of horror through kids horror is way better than a first exposure through a King novel or through watching Scream. Even when you’re an adult, those stories can turn you off from the genre if they’re too intense.

Heck, those books even helped me out a little. I remember once in third grade our teacher reading to us a story from Tales You Tell in the Dark that had me terrified and excited all at the same time. And later on when I got really into Goosebumps, they may have been getting me ready for when I would sit down and read Interview with the Vampire and later It, which were key to me deciding to become a horror writer.

So when Goosebumps (and Tales You Tell in the Dark and Addams Family, if they ever get past the development stage) reaches theaters, adults with or without kids will go to see their old favorite stories come to life on the silver screen. And if any of them have kids, they’l come along to, maybe leading to another generation of horror lovers. And maybe even the next generation of horror writers and filmmakers.

Well, that’s all for now. Join me tomorrow though, because then I plan to reveal what my next big project–which also doubles as my thesis for my senior year–will be. Should be exciting. Have a good night, my Followers of Fear.

*That last one I’ve watched a few episodes of recently. It’s actually got some pretty solid stories in that show. A few even resemble Stephen King short stories in the way they’re told.

  1. Mati Serrano says:

    I barely remember the Goosebumps stories I read.
    Addams Family has a better recall with me.
    But I am excited about this.

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