For many horror fans of a certain age, their introduction to the world of spooky media was the Goosebumps series. Based on the books by R.L. Stine, Goosebumps was an anthology series featuring spooky tales for a younger audience. Today, the series is fondly remembered and is a staple of the Halloween season for many. Even the most grizzled horror hound find themselves returning for a nostalgic fright. This Halloween season, we will be looking at 10 of the best Goosebumps episodes. Some of which are still somewhat creepy to this day. Readers beware-you’re in for a scare!
10. The Cuckoo Clock of Doom
A common thread throughout many of the best Goosebumps episodes is sibling rivalry. In many of the stories, the main character has some issues with their older or younger sibling that oftentimes sets the plot in motion. Such is the case with The Cuckoo Clock of Doom. In this episode, Michael has had it with his little sister and her constant annoyances. When his father brings home an old cuckoo clock, he sees his chance for revenge. He plans on messing with it and blaming her, but things don’t go according to plan. Soon, Michael sees that he is stuck in an endless time loop and is rapidly regressing in age. What makes this episode so fun and creepy, is the morals are backward. The innocent sibling is the one being punished because of his lust for revenge against his sister.
9. Say Cheese and Die
Greg finds an old camera in a spooky abandoned factory. Things seem to be fun at first until the pictures developed aren’t what was taken. The final pictures show the subject being hurt in some way. Things get even worse when the subject actually gets hurt in the way depicted in the picture. Now, Greg and his friends must find the camera’s rightful owner to find out how to break the curse. This is all while they are being stalked by a creepy man named Spider. The idea of a camera predicting a morbid future is something found all throughout horror. Everything from The Omen to Twilight Zone has similar plots. This is because having a picture predict the future is a scary concept, and Say Cheese and Die is no exception. Also, Greg is played by a young Ryan Gosling before he made it big.
8. Welcome to Camp Nightmare
Many of the Goosebumps stories were split into two parts for their television adaptations, and this is the first example on our list. A common trope in horror is the summer camp setting. Many people went to summer camps as children, so having those memories tarnished with terrible incidents is what horror is all about. Welcome to Camp Nightmare continues this tradition, although obviously not as intense as Friday the 13th or Sleepaway Camp. In this story, Billy’s experience at camp is as bad as it gets. The food is inedible, the counselors are terrible, and a mysterious creature seems to be taking out campers one by one. A fun summertime memory is telling scary stories around the fire. Welcome to Camp Nightmare is one of the best Goosebumps episodes because it is a campfire story come to life.
7. Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns
Halloween is often a time for tricks as much as it is treats. For Drew and her friend Walker, there are far more tricks. Each year, Lee and Tabby play cruel tricks on them. This year, however, things are different. Drew and Walker’s friends Shane and Shana are in town, and the four of them have some tricks of their own planned. Things quickly go south when two creatures with Jack-O’-Lanterns for heads show up and begin taking the townspeople. Now, the kids must team up to figure out the secret of these creatures before it is too late. Jack-O’-Lanterns are one of the oldest Halloween traditions. Seeing creatures use them as their disguise will make anyone look twice at these classic decorations. This episode is oozing with Halloween goodness and it is perfect viewing for the season.
6. One Day at HorrorLand
As kids, a common memory is going on a road trip with family. Along the way, you may have seen an old amusement park that the parents refused to stop at. After watching this episode, you should be thanking your parents for not stopping. One Day at HorrorLand follows the Morris family on a road trip when they stop at an amusement park. The admission is free, so they figure, “why not?” They soon learn that this park is anything but amusing. The park is run by monsters and they aren’t keen on letting the Morris family go. That is unless they can survive a grueling game show devised by the monsters. This is one of the most classic Goosebumps tales, and it is fitting that it is one of the best episodes of the series. HorrorLand was also the basis for the spin-off book series created by R.L. Stine.
5. The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight
When asking fans which episode still haunts them, The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight is often near the top. The episode follows Jodie and Mark, two siblings who go and visit their grandparents. It has been a while since they visited, and things have changed. The creepy scarecrow in the town has appeared to have multiplied and plans on taking over the town. It is common to make a double take when passing by a field with a scarecrow, as they can be kinda creepy. The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight shows just how creepy they can be, and fans of the show will never forget it. What makes this one of the best Goosebumps episodes is it is genuinely creepy.
4. Stay Out of the Basement
A common theme throughout the best Goosebumps episodes is taking childhood fears and making them real. One fear could have been parents having a secret room. While it was likely just an innocent place for the parent to work, a child’s mind could interpret something sinister. In the case of Stay Out of the Basement, this fear is warranted. Margaret’s father has stashed himself in the basement ever since losing his job. When her mother goes on a trip, her father begins acting progressively stranger.
Margaret soon discovers the truth about her father’s strange behavior. He is doing experiments using plants, and the plants are coming to life. As if this isn’t bad enough, they have learned to clone humans, and it is hard to tell who the real human is. In a sort of kid-friendly version of The Thing, Margaret must figure out which version of her father is real and which is the clone.
3. Welcome to Dead House
Josh and Amanda are forced by their parents to move to a new town. They want nothing more than to stay where they are, but their parents insist on moving to Dark Falls. Once there, they begin to notice strange things happening. The residents seem to be in a constant trance of some sort, and the town has a dark past that nobody seems to want to remember. Josh and Amanda must figure out the secret of Dark Falls, or be stuck there forever. The town’s secrets seem to lie within a factory, and time is running out. This episode has creepy written all over it. Moving to a new town, especially as a child, is scary. The town being supposedly haunted and the residents having a tendency to attack just add to it.
2. Night of the Living Dummy III
If there is one character that could be considered the mascot of the Goosebumps series, it is Slappy the Dummy. Slappy is the main threat in the various Night of the Living Dummy stories, and this episode is the best of the bunch. Trina and Dan’s father is an ex-ventriloquist, and he keeps his old dummies in the attic. After their cousin Zane comes to visit, they notice a new dummy. This dummy appears to be alive and is none other than Slappy. Slappy plans on bringing all the dummies to life and taking over. This is one of the best Goosebumps episodes because it is spooky and fun all at the same time. Also, a young Hayden Christensen plays Zane, five years before his debut as Anakin Skywalker.
1. The Haunted Mask
It is telling when the first episode of a series is arguably the best. Other than Night of the Living Dummy, the most iconic story to come from Goosebumps is The Haunted Mask series. This first story follows Carly Beth, a young girl being ruthlessly scared by bullies around Halloween. In retaliation, she purchased a strange mask. She is able to scare the other kids, but the learns the more she wears the mask, the harder it is to take off. When her mood begins to change, she realizes that the mask is causing her to become a real monster. When thinking of the best Goosebump episodes, or the best stories period, it is no surprise as to why this is top of the list.