Ken Marino was cast today in Sony's Goosebumps movie, which will star Jack Black as author R.L. Stine and, from the bare-bones plot description, will see his most famous creation Slappy the living dummy unleash a bunch of monsters on a school. Fine, I'm sure that'll be a perfectly solid homage, perhaps enough to pique the interest of a hoard of Millennials.
But what the world has really needed for years is a slew of theatrical Goosebumps adaptations, working from the best, most demented works in Stine's vast library (don't talk to me about that low-budget TV show). Like anyone else born in the mid to late '80s, I basically learned to read with Goosebumps—and I certainly learned the art of the ridiculous last-chapter plot twist (in that way, they really were the Twilight Zone for a new generation). Here's five pitches ready-made for great working directors:
Welcome to Dead House
The first-ever Goosebumps book is just straight-up terrifying if you're an upper middle class family looking to move anywhere quaint. The premise is devastatingly simple: a family moves to a new home, and the brother and sister realize everyone else who lives there is dead, and once a year, they feast on the energy of the living fools who move into the empty property. That's it. They're chased by zombies for the rest of the book. Small town America overrun with death, luring in victims with a demonic real estate agent? The key is keeping everything realistic and low-key. I'd love to see that in the hands of mumblecore legend Joe Swanberg.
One Day at HorrorLand
A family gets lost driving and happens upon a strange theme park which traps them into a bunch of rides that keep very nearly killing them. It's an insane phantasmagoria of jokey thrills, mixed in with a forward-thinking satire on reality television (turns out the whole ordeal is being broadcast to amused monsters around the world). The world has missed Gaspar Noé since 2009's Enter the Void. It's time for him to top that.
The Cuckoo Clock of Doom
A masterpiece of "careful what you wish for" literature, this is apparently R.L. Stine's favorite work in the series. It is undoubtedly his masterpiece, a time-skipping adventure that sees a young lad discover an antique clock's secret function as a time machine, and that leads to him playing God and trying to erase the world of his sister. It all goes horribly wrong. At one point he wakes up and he's a baby? It's been two decades since I read this thing. Time travel or no, this is an intense, family-centered psychodrama. American indie darling Lynn Shelton would knock this out of the park.
It Came From Beneath the Sink!
A brother and sister find a sponge under the sink and it starts driving everyone mad, feeding on hate and desire and causing bad luck and injury seemingly through magic. That's right, an evil fearmonger of a sponge. But the sponge is really just a MacGuffin that exposes the evil inside our own hearts. Who better to essay such an escalating nightmare than Darren Aronofsky, who needs to return to the horror genre after his biblical adventures anyway.
The Beast From the East
This masterpiece was inexplicably robbed of a Pulitzer Prize in 1996 (I’m only half-kidding). Twins on vacation get lost in a forest and somehow stumble into an insane alien world filled with umbrella plants and exploding rocks. They're drafted into a deadly game of tag by eight-foot tall beaver/bear hybrids with bright blue fur. The worst thing about The Beast From the East is that it's only 118 pages long. James Cameron needs to take this thing and run with it. A trilogy should be his starting point.