Disney+/Hulu’s ‘Goosebumps,’ a coming-of-age show, chronicles the adventures of a group of teenagers as they encounter one horror after another. The show follows Isaiah, James, Isabella, Margot, and Lucas, five teenagers with distinct lives and problems. However, a Halloween party compels their paths to cross, leading them to investigate Harold Biddle’s tragic death. Along the way, the group, with friends and rivals in their midst, unearth some dangerous supernatural forces and learn the truth about their parents’ pasts.
Wrapped up in intrigue and bizarre fantastical horror, ‘Goosebumps’ brings a riveting tale to the screen, with each episode exploring a different facet of its genre. Despite the show’s modern approach within the contemporary world, it possesses a timeless feel, with fears of old infused within its narrative. As such, if ‘Goosebumps’ has you wondering about its origins, we’ve got you covered!
R.L. Stine and the Original Goosebumps
‘Goosebumps’ has been a pop-culture staple for quite some time now. As a result, the story has amassed a big fan base brought into the fold by various mediums like the 90s TV show, comic books, video games, or the 2015 movie adaptation with Jack Black and its subsequent sequel. Yet, R.L. Stine’s ongoing eponymous horror novels remain at the center of it all as the base source material.
Stine had a passion for writing from a young age and dreamed of becoming a writer at nine years old. “I found this typewriter, dragged it into my room, and I started writing little funny joke magazines and science fiction stories. I was a weird kid. I’d just be in my room typing all afternoon,” recounted the writer in a conversation with Time.
Nevertheless, Stine wasn’t originally very eager to write horror targeted at kids since he had made his name as a horror writer by writing teen horror stories. The author recalled the same and said, “No one had ever done a scary series for [ages] seven to 11 before, and I just wasn’t sure it would work. That’s the kind of businessman I am: I didn’t want to do ‘Goosebumps.’ I said, all right, if I can think of a good name, maybe we’ll do two or three. And now it’s 30 years later.”
With more than 200 books under his belt and counting, Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ has come a long way since its first release in 1992 and is reportedly the runner-up in children’s best-selling book series. In terms of inspiration, Stine looks for ideas everywhere and takes them wherever he can find them. One of the more popular instances of the same happened with his eleventh ‘Goosebumps’ book ‘The Haunted Mask,’ for which Stine’s then-10-year-old son, Matt.
“Matt was like a little guy, and he was down on the floor trying on a green, rubber Frankenstein mask. And he pulled a mask over his head, and he couldn’t get it off. And I’m watching him. I’m watching him, and he’s tugging and tugging. And I thought, what a great — well, I should have helped him, right?” joked the writer. “I should have helped him with the mask. Instead, I said, oh, great. I started taking notes.”
While such instances certainly lend an authentic charm to Stine’s works, they really find their sense of realism from the writer’s understanding of his subject matter. In that regard, although ‘Goosebumps’ has never been based on true stories, it certainly holds an element of authenticity to them. As such, Rob Letterman and Nicholas Stoller’s decision to bring that authenticity into their own take on the story informs a significant aspect of their ‘Goosebumps’ appeal.
The show creators discussed the same with Forbes, with Stoller stating, “[And] it’s very important to go to the source when you’re adapting something. It’s easy to be like, whatever, person who created this, I’m gonna do my own thing. But you can’t because the creator understands it better than anyone. It was [key] that we access what was important to [R.L. Stine] and what made his book series so popular.”
As such, even though Letterman and Stoller’s show strays from Stine’s structure a bit since, unlike the books, which are an anthology series, their show follows a serialized storyline, their adaptation remains true to its inspiration in more crucial aspects. Furthermore, it sets itself apart from previous works by aging up the material and bringing Stine’s timeless classic story to a broader audience. Ultimately, ‘Goosebumps’ retains authenticity to its roots, which remain fictional.