For a certain age group, an honest answer to the question “Who were the most influential authors of your childhood?” would have to include R.L. Stine. Incidentally, their honest answer to the question, “How do you feel about the Goosebumps movie coming out in 2016, which is starring Jack Black because YOLO?” would be: nostalgic, apprehensive, a little excited, and, as always, frightened. Or at least that’s my reaction, but this is coming from someone who can’t watch episodes of the Goosebumps TV series with Slappy, the demonic ventriloquist’s dummy, by herself. Oh, the mean-spirited japes!
While the stories are freaky on their own merits, the most memorable things about Stine’s kiddie horror book series were always the covers. From title to art to blurb, they were creepy, pulpy perfection. So whenever I visit my Helga Pataki-esque closet shrine to admire my complete Goosebumps set, one question always comes to mind: What if R.L. Stine had written the classics? After all, the likes of Miss Havisham already belong among the menagerie of ghouls sprung from Stine’s mind. So, behold. Boldly going where you never thought you’d want to go before, I present some astounding works of Goosebumps-ified literature.
Reader beware—you’re in for a scare!
Stay Out of the Attic (Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte)
Nothing good ever happens to Jane. With a family who hates her and a school that might as well be a prison, Jane’s never had much reason to celebrate. But when she meets a mysterious new guy, everything starts to change.
It’s not all good, though. Weird things keep happening. Strange laughs. A sudden fire. A spooky visitor in the night. Mr. Rochester’s hiding something. And that something is in the attic. But does Jane really want to know what secrets lurk upstairs?
Eat These and Die! (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl)
Charlie lives in a tiny house with his parents and four grandparents. He’s a good kid, but it’s a lot to handle. As an escape, Charlie dreams about getting inside the giant chocolate factory in his hometown, run by a secretive man named Willy Wonka.
When Charlie hears about a contest to win a visit to the factory, he knows he’s just got to find his own Golden Ticket in one of Wonka’s chocolate bars. And he does! But when Charlie arrives in his chocolate wonderland and the kids around him start disappearing, he starts to think his sweet dream may have become a nightmare.
The Curse of Mommy’s Womb (Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin)
Pregnancy can be murder. But Rosemary doesn’t know the half of it. When her new neighbors seem a little too interested in her baby bump, she starts to fit the pieces together. She gets one thing right: her neighbors are in to some wicked stuff. They don’t want her baby as a sacrifice, though—they want it as their leader.
It’s a boy! It’s a girl! It’s the Antichrist!
Everyone in Maycomb knows about Boo Radley, sure, but no one’s seen him. People say he’s done horrible things, that he’s a monster—though he might as well be a ghost for all Jem and Scout know. But would a ghost leave presents? And can a monster save two lives when they really need him?
Why I’m Afraid of Trees (The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
Trees are the most peaceful things on the planet, right? They never hurt anything—until you hurt them, that is. Saruman finds that out the hard way. He thought it would be easy to clear a forest…but then the trees start fighting back. When Ents flood his home, Saruman’s going to learn that it’s not just his production estimates that are underwater.
Treebeard may speak slowly, but he carries a big stick.
The Haunted Bedroom (A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens)
Poor old Ebenezer. He continues to accrue interest, but nobody likes him. On top of that, it’s Christmas, the supposedly happiest time of the year. Ebenezer doesn’t believe in all that nonsense, but when three spooky visitors show up in his bedroom on Christmas Eve, even he has to take notice. It’s still a long shot for these specters to have a ghost of a chance changing the heart of one grumpy old man.
Higher Education Can Be Murder (Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky)
Students loans are the least of Raskolnikov’s worries. He’s having crazy impulses…murderous impulses. His problems grow when he kills two people, and makes himself the No. 1 suspect in the process. As the murder investigation ramps up, it looks like the crime will soon have a third victim: Raskolnikov himself. They didn’t teach him about this in school.
It Came in Through the Window! (Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie)
The Darling children—Wendy, John, and Michael—are just your average aristocratic children, playing in their nursery under the watchful eye of nursedog Nana. But when Wendy starts telling stories about a mysterious boy who visits them at night, Mr. and Mrs. Darling think it’s time for her to grow up and move out.
The boy, Peter Pan, can’t have that. He takes the three Darlings on a trip to a far-off place like they’ve never seen before, full of adventures and DANGER! Growing up might be tough, but first Wendy’s got to survive Neverland.
What classic book would fit right into the Goosebumps world?