Ahh Goosebumps, you were a part of my childhood. I watched you on Saturday mornings on Fox Kids and read and collected a few of your books! As someone who has been learning horror and rewatching the genre directed towards a younger audience, it’s interesting to watch your episodes with more fresher yet mature eyes.
Last week, I did a random episode of Tales from the Darkside, “Beetles”, and today we are going to briefly discuss an episode of Goosebumps. Now, I have 3 vhs tapes of Goosebumps so the picking was very slim but I have seen the majority of all episodes overall. It was a tossup between The Haunted Mask, A Night in Terror Tower and One Day at Horrorland. The fates picked option number 2.
Let’s talk about A Night in Terror Tower, the 16th and 17th episode of season one’s Goosebumps.
Where do we start with this episode? The positives? First off, I’ll say that I liked the performance of Kathryn Short who plays Sue or Susanna. It took me a minute to realize that it was the same actress who played Sabrina in “The Haunted Mask” and its second parter “Haunted Mask II”. And even though her performance in this episode wasn’t on the same level as the first episode of Goosebumps, she basically made this episode okay.
Another highlight is whenever the executioner was on screen, I felt the intensity rise but once he wasn’t on screen, it deflated.
And that brings us to more negatives. I just, this episode is very middle of the road. I wasn’t excited but I also wasn’t bored. Like I said, there are a couple of redeeming qualities about the episode. I think a huge part of it not working is it’s a two parter. Why is it a two parter? There was a lot of scenes that felt unnecessary.
The tour of the terror tower could have been cut down, there is a scene where the children make it to the hotel and are in a restaurant and I say keep the scene where they are at the table trying to remember but cut when they are in the back kitchen, don’t need that. Scenes need to be shortened to be more effective and tie everything up into a cliffhanger ending.
I also wrote down: “Eddie” was not great, the deliveries of some of the lines were very “meh.” I think he paled in comparison to Short. Perhaps its the script, or the interpretation of the novel to the screen but a lot of things really didn’t work out for me. Each book isn’t meant to be turned into an episode, I made my peace with the fact “Deep Trouble” wouldn’t get made even though the cover of it is very cool. Perhaps it’s the budget as well, parts of the episode really looked and felt cheap (let me talk about Attack of the Mutant next) and I didn’t feel immersed in this world unlike The Haunted Mask, Stay out of the Basement, Night of the Living Mummy II, The Girl Who Cried Monster, or even Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes. Another highlight is Scarecrow Walks at Midnight, as well. These episodes listed, there’s something magical in them that makes them work over Terror Tower. Hell, One Day at Horrorland as a two part episode works, immediately immerses you into this otherworldly experience that I don’t get with Terror Tower.
Overall, Goosebumps tv series has a lot of hits and misses. This is one you can miss and skip over. If I were to rate it, I’d give it a 3 out of 5. It’s average, nothing special or memorable except the cover of the book and vhs tape.