DVD Review: Goosebumps: The Complete Collection. Seasons 1 - 4 (1995 - 1998)

Posted by Retrokaiser On Friday, September 11, 2015 1 comments

Goosebumps Complete Collection is a box-set that contains all four seasons of the old 1990's television show, Goosebumps. Goosebumps is a family horror show that tells tales in an episodic format much like the shows The Twilight Zone (1959 - 1964) and Tales From the Crypt (1989 - 1996). The episodes themselves are all based on the Goosebumps books and some episodes are even hosted by the author of the books, R.L. Stine. Some of the tales of terror you can expect in this show includes: A girls unfortunate experience with a haunted Halloween mask.  An evil dummy trying to get people in trouble.  A story of an evil comic book villain coming to life.  A young boy's adventure in the jungle with a shrunken head.  Several episodes about werewolves.  A bunch of ghost tales.  Plus way too many more to even mention as it's the complete collection, man. Readers beware, you are in for a scare... I mean that you're in for a review (well, you might be in for a scare if you're not prepared to hear what my views are). (Click on "Read More" to read the full review).

The first season has not aged very well, the writing and acting is way too campy to the point where it becomes very painful to watch and will make you not want to continue on with the series.  Season one also feels like that the people directing the show had no idea how far to push the boundary for a kids horror show, so it feels like that they were holding themselves back and so the show comes off as either too patronizing or too messed-up.  Season one was also full of incredibly dumb plot twists that were incredibly painful to witness.  Those plot twists also felt like a slap to the face as those episodes that the plots appeared in have such a big build up, then the bad plot twist happens and ruins the episode (much like watching the movie, Signs (2002) all over again).  That's not to say that there wasn't any episodes worth watching as there were some episodes that still hold up today.  Sadly, season one is mostly full of junk and there was a reason why only the best episodes of season one got released on VHS back in the day.

The writing improves greatly in season two onwards and it becomes a much more entertaining show with stories that you can really get into.  The characters become more interesting, the acting becomes much better, and the show becomes more scary.  There will still be a bad plot twist here and there and they are just as painful to watch.  Season three is a season that I have some weird feelings towards as it likes to use references to prior episodes.  Some references I have no problem with but there are a lot that feel grossly out of place to where it feels very weird and awkward.  Having being a reader of some of the books, I found that the stories weren't fully adapted.  I noticed that some things that happened in the books didn't happen in this series and I was a little upset to see that but it is also understandable to see why they did that.

Season four is the smallest of all of the seasons as it only ran for eight episodes but that doesn't mean that it is lacking everywhere else.  The last season is made up of four two-part episodes and the writing was really good as the two-part format really helped to make the stories more fleshed out and more in-depth.  The season four episodes are also much tighter and also push the boundaries a bit more to where it looked like that they were aiming it towards teenagers.  Season four was very entertaining and you will be drawn into it.  Season four was so well done, it became my favorite season out of the lot and is really worth checking out.

There is one episode of Goosebumps that actually scared me and still does every time I watch it.  The episode is, "Welcome to Dead House", it is about a family that moves into a house in a town that is ran by ghouls.  This episode is much more scary than what I make it out to be, the reason why was because the atmosphere is brilliant and the way the story progresses will leave you on the edge of your seat.  There are two other episodes that still spook me out but not as spooky as the episode that I mentioned before.  Those two episodes are, "The Werewolf of Fever Swamp" and "Ghost Beach" and I am very surprised that all the episodes I mentioned above got away with what they did as those episodes certainly push the boundaries to what kids shows can get away with.  Those episodes are probably the reason why this show is now released with an M15+ rating, opposed to the G and PG rating it got back in the day.

While all the cows are sleeping...  Out comes the Scarecrow and this is what he said.
Some of the episodes in this set are movie length and go on for about an hour to ninety minutes rather than twenty to thirty minutes long.  Those episodes are also hosted by R. L. Stine himself and this helps add a late night movie feel to those episodes.  The edit that the movie length episodes used are from the old VHS editions as the TV edits were different.  The TV edit played those episodes as a two part set instead of one long episode.  Do not worry, just because this is the VHS edit does not mean that is in VHS quality as they got a real good quality version that looks great on DVD.  It was also nice that they kept in the host segments as they are very fun to see and are also very funny. 

The standard episodes and movie length episodes do have a difference in looks to them.  The standard episodes look like that they were made on the cheap, while the movie length episodes were made on a much higher budget and have a better look to them.  Actually, that's not fully true as all of the season four episodes look much nicer in budget than seasons one - three, but not as good quality as the movie length episodes.  This show doesn't simply cover horror as there are some episodes that cover other genres like: Science-fiction ("Say Cheese and Die", "Say Cheese and Die... Again"), adventure ("How I Got My Shrunken Head"), drama ("The Ghost Next Door"), and even comic book styled action ("Attack of the Mutant").  I must admit that it is weird seeing other genres other than horror in this show but it was all done well and adds variety and freshness to the show.

Carlsville is #1.
The green screen and computer effects have aged poorly to where you can't take them seriously and will laugh every time you see them.  Some of them are too painful to even witness but most of them are just so bad that it is fun to watch.  The prop effects look so much better and those are things you will mostly take seriously.  The props are mostly very spooky looking and will send chills down your spine but there is also a good chunk where the props aren't very frightening at all and just end up looking stupid, not as stupid as the green screen and computer effects though.  The music in this series has a lot of tracks that sounded terrible and goofy but they all go with the show very well and help build up an atmosphere.  The most classic tune of them all just has to be the Goosebumps theme as it puts you in the mood and is also very memorable.

I am a bit bothered by the DVD covers for a couple reasons and it all starts with how the covers are used.  What I mean by that is that the images they used have nothing to do with any of the episodes that happen in that season, instead they use an image referring to episodes that happen in other seasons instead (I know that sounds confusing but just keep on reading).  Season one uses a generic haunted house that looks like nothing like any house that appears in that season.  The season one cover was the least of my problems compared to the covers for season three and four.  The covers for both the third and fourth season uses images that refer to episodes from the second season.  Season three uses a reference to the season two episode, "Go Eat Worms", while season four uses an image that's referring to the season two episode, "The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight".  This problem is bound to cause confusion, especially for those who bought each season separately.

The covers for season one, three, and four are also very ugly looking and look like bad re-makes of the classic book covers.  The cover for season two was the cover that I had the least amount of problems with, in fact, the season two cover got it all right as it wasn't just an image referring to an episode found in that season, it also uses an image that makes it look like a classic Goosebumps book cover and that's how all of the season cover should've looked like.  All of the discs come holstered in a big box that has a lid that can slide right off.  Sliding off the lid doesn't just give you access to the discs but it also hides some neat images underneath.  The box also has a lot of mystique to it, where it feels like that you are buying something special and it also looks great sitting in a cabinet next to your collectibles.

Overall, this show has aged (as you'd expect) but it is still full of some really good stuff that is worth watching all these years later.  Just make sure to avoid most of the first season as it has aged terribly, other than that, good stuff.  Classic show.

Title: Goosebumps: The Complete Collection. Seasons 1 - 4.
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre: Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Comedy, Drama
Running Time: 2050 minutes
Distributor: Via Vision Entertainment
Rating: M15+ (Supernatural themes)
Price: $99.95
Recommended: Yes


Death Adder said...

I'm not sure if I've ever seen Goosebumps the TV show, but I use to love Are You Afraid of the Dark, and use to read the shit out of Goosebumps book series, I've considered buying an old book off Amazon just to see how it would hold up reading it as an adult all of these years later. It looks like the episode Welcome to Dead House is on YouTube, I'll toss it in to my watch later queue.

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