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8 Creepiest Classic 'Goosebumps' Episodes

Viewer beware, you're in for a scare!

By Kristy AndersonPublished 8 months ago 6 min read
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A screencap from the episode 'The Haunted Mask'.

From the early 90s to mid-2000s, Goosebumps was a beloved popculture phenomenon, existing in an age where it seemed more acceptable to let kids get a little bit scared. Beginning life as a series of sixty two novels written by R.L Stine between 1992 and 1997, Goosebumps later grew into a larger franchise spanning multiple mediums. These included an anthology style TV series that ran for four seasons from 1995 to 1998, two modestly successful feature films released in 2015 and 2018, and a number of spin-off novel series including the supposedly scarier tales of Goosebumps 2000, the choose-your-own-adventure style Give Yourself Goosebumps, Goosebumps HorrorLand, and SlappyWorld, which concluded in July 2023.

Now, a brand-new Goosebumps series has arrived to stream on Disney Plus, just in time for Halloween. Unlike the anthology style of the 90s series, the 2023 Goosebumps is aimed at a slightly older audience, and tells a serialized story of a group of teens battling a vengeful spirit from their parents' past. Elements of various classic Goosebumps stories, including The Haunted Mask and Night of the Living Dummy, have been woven into the show's plot. The series has been getting mostly positive reviews new attention on the franchise has some 90s babies fondly looking back on the Goosebumps of their childhood.

Let's take a look back at some of the creepiest episodes of the classic Goosebumps TV series.

1. The Haunted Mask (Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2)

The very first episode of the original Goosebumps is considered by many to be it's creepiest. Based on the eleventh book in the series, The Haunted Mask follows the story of Carly Beth. A target of bullies Chuck and Steve who relish frightening her, Carly Beth seeks to turn the tables on Halloween, seeking a creepy mask with which she can frighten her bullies. She finds what she believes to be a suitable option in a hidden back room of the local costume shop, but the owner refuses to sell it, warning Carly Beth that her chosen mask is dangerous. A desperate Carly Beth steals it when his back is turned.

On Halloween night, Carly Beth successfully frightens her bullies while wearing the mask, but is later horrified to realise she cannot take the mask off.

'The Haunted Mask' first aired in late October 1995, to coincide with the Halloween season. Featuring an introduction by Goosebumps author R.L Stine, it initially premiered as a double length Halloween special, with reruns sometimes splitting the episode into two parts. A sequel to the episode, 'The Haunted Mask II', aired in the second season. In the 2023 Goosebumps series, 'The Haunted Mask' serves as inspiration for the second episode, focusing on the character of Isabella.

2. Night of the Living Dummy 2 (Season 1, Episode 10)

Amy Kramer wishes for a ventriloquist dummy, hoping to stand out in her family's weekly talent show. Her wish is seemingly granted by her Father, who gifts her a dummy named Slappy after finding it in a Pawn Shop. At first delighted with her new friend, Amy soon finds herself in trouble when she reads an incantation tucked inside Slappy's coat pocket that brings the dummy to life. Amy is framed for various incidents around the house, and must protect her family from Slappy's increasingly evil acts.

When adapting Goosebumps for television, producers bypassed the first relatively tame Night of the Living Dummy in favor of its spookier sequel, Night of the Living Dummy II, which establishes Slappy as a true villain. The episode made Slappy an instant icon, effectively the face of the Goosebumps franchise in the years that followed.

3. Don't Wake Mummy (Season 2, Episode 22)

An archaeologist has a sarcophagus containing an Egyptian Mummy shipped to his family home, ready to study it when he returns from his latest dig. The family keeps the sarcophagus in the basement. After a few creepy incidents, the Archaeologist's son, Jeff, swears that the Mummy is alive, but unfortunately, due to his reputation as a scaredy cat, neither Jeff's Mother or his older sister, Kim, believe his claims. Kim dresses as a Mummy and hides in the basement to play a prank on Jeff, but finds herself in trouble when she realises her brother was telling the truth, and she has trapped herself with the real Mummy.

Featuring a young AJ Cook, future star of Criminal Minds, as Kim, 'Don't Wake Mummy' is considered by many to be even scarier than the book on which it is based, adding in a TV only twist ending.

4. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp (Season 1, Eps 18 & 19)

Grady Tucker moves to Florida's Fever Swamp with their Scientist parents, who wish to study local Swamp Deer. Grady is upset about the move, but things look up when he befriends local boy Will Blake, and adopts a stray dog, Vandal. Unfortunately, Vandal seems destined for a one-way trip to the pound when he is blamed for the killing of numerous local animals, including a tame Swamp Deer Grady's Father had penned up for study. Grady teams up with Will to prove Vandal's innocence, making the chilling discovery that Fever Swamp may be home to a Werewolf.

'The Werewolf of Fever Swamp' served as a two-part finale to Goosebumps first season. It is fondly remembered as one of the show's spookiest tales, particularly due to the ambiguous nature of the ending, leaving Grady Tucker's fate up for debate.

5. Night of the Living Dummy III (Season 2, Episodes 24 & 25)

Danny O'Dell, a former ventriloquist, keeps a collection of his old dummies in his attic, referring to it as his Dummy Museum. His children, Trina and Dan, inadvertently rescue the broken Slappy following the events of 'Night of the Living Dummy II', and bring him home to join their Father's collection. However, as in all the Slappy-centric stories, the evil dummy soon comes to life, tormenting Trina, Dan, and their visiting cousin, Zane. It looks like things are going to get even worse when Slappy makes plans to bring the entire Dummy Museum to life.

Originally airing as a double-length special to conclude season two, 'Night of the Living Dummy III' is often split for reruns. A young Hayden Christensen, now best known as Anakin Skywalker from the Star Wars prequels, is featured as Zane O'Dell.

6. Bride of the Living Dummy (Season 3, Episode 16)

Jillian Zinman takes her younger sister, Katie, to a ventriloquist show starring the Amazing Jimmy O'James and his Dummy, Slappy. Katie has also brought along her favourite doll, Mary-Ellen. After an odd encounter with Jimmy and Slappy, Jillian is unsettled when Slappy is delivered to her house, with a note from Jimmy declaring her Slappy's new owner. Odd things begin to occur around the house, leading to double trouble when both Slappy and Mary-Ellen are revealed as alive.

While this was the final Goosebumps TV episode to feature Slappy, he continued to appear in further novels, and as the main antagonist of the two Goosebumps films, with Jack Black voicing Slappy.

7. Piano Lessons Can Be Murder (Season 1, Episode 8)

When Jerry Hawkins finds an old Piano in the basement of his new house, his parents seize on the chance to have him take lessons. Jerry agrees in the hope of impressing Kim, the pretty, music loving girl next door. His Piano teacher, Dr. Shreek, is strict, but impressed by Jerry's talent. However, a friendly ghost appears in Jerry's home, warning him that Shreek covets the hands of talented children.

The episode is memorable for including one of the few true examples of a friendly ghost in early Goosebumps, but it is the imagery involving the detatched hands of Shreek's past victims that make it truly creepy.

8. Say Cheese and Die! (Season 1, Episode 15)

While exploring the creepy, abandoned Coffman House, Greg discovers an old Polaroid camera, which he uses to take pictures of his friends and family. However, the pictures that emerge from the camera show their subjects in increasingly serious forms of peril. After the disastrous premonitions in the photos begin to come true, Greg races to return the camera to it's original owner and break the deadly curse.

'Say Cheese and Die!' is notable for starring future superstar Ryan Gosling as it's protagonist, Greg. More recently, the story served as a basis for the opening episode of the 2023 Goosebumps series.

Despite their age, the classic Goosebumps episodes hold up surprisingly well. Anyone who enjoys the new series may find it well worth revisiting them.

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About the Creator

Kristy Anderson

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