R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps were a huge part of the childhoods of now thirty-somethings across the globe. I’m talking of course about the books. The TV show was, and I’m sure I’ll ruffle a few feathers here, little more than a poor man’s Are You Afraid of the Dark? Seriously. Go back and watch it. As good as you might remember it being, it was really quite awful.
The stories, however, got a generation into reading like few other books have managed. Hours spent reading and re-reading the creepy tales tore us away from Sonic and Mario and remained the staple literary diet for tweens until a certain Mr. Potter came muggling onto the scene.
Of course, one of the defining things in the UK for Goosebumps readers was the awesome collection of covers that we were treated with (until Scholastic got lazy with the release of The Horror of Camp Jellyjam when they just started recycling the American covers). With their monstrous stars busting out of some suspicious-looking multi-coloured goo, the British covers were often better than the stories they held inside.
So, to celebrate the upcoming release of the new Goosebumps movie, today we’ll be counting down some of the best of those iconic covers from the original series.
10. My Hairiest Adventure
An awesome little allegory for the terror that is puberty, My Hairiest Adventure see a young boy dealing with unwanted body hair and an insatiable urge to start marking his own territory. Hands-down beating America’s Teen Wolf parody of a cover, this was a great calling card for an otherwise middling entry to the series.
9. Piano Lessons Can Be Murder
Terrifying robot piano teacher? Oh hell no! This was actually the first Goosebumps book that I read, and its twisted tale of stolen hands was utterly absorbing. The gleefully wicked illustration of the maniacal teacher solidified this as one of my personal favourites.
8. Deep Trouble
This one’s just wonderfully arty. The first of the Deep Trouble books introduces us to Billy Deep and his marine biologist uncle as they search the Caribbean for a mermaid. Yeah, so the cover has next to nothing to do with the actual book, but it’s darn pretty.
7. Ghost Beach
I must admit, I don’t remember the story of Ghost Beach. Indeed, reading the Wikipedia synopsis still doesn’t ring any bells. I remember sitting reading it in a Harvester restaurant though. And I remember the awesome cover, arguably one of the creepiest the series saw.
6. It Came From Beneath the Sink
A monstrous kitchen sponge found under the sink when a kid moves into a new house pretty much epitomises the Goosebumps ethos. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous, and yet somehow it’s creepy. The British cover is as bawdy and daft as the story itself. Just… Goosebumps…
5. The Girl Who Cried Monster
With one of the best twists the series had to offer, The Girl Who Cried Monster is undeniably one of Stine’s finest works. The cover, which sees the protagonist Lucy swimming in a sea of stories, could almost act at the poster for the entire Goosebumps oeuvre.
4. Say Cheese and Die
This one was just inspired. The story of a Polaroid camera that predicts your death in its pictures is so very perfectly captured in the grinning camera and its haunting snapshots of skeletal normality.
3. The Barking Ghost
The final UK-only cover before the lame bubbles of American was this canine creep-fest celebrating the thirty-second entry in the series. I remember first seeing this on the shelves of Waterstones back in 1996 and simply having to read it. One of the most effective (and sadly the last) great Goosebumps covers.
2 A Night in Terror Tower
When it comes to great covers, the prison-like desperation of A Night in Terror Tower is without a doubt one of the best. Despite the naffness of the TV version, this time-travelling tale of terror is also one of Stine’s best as our heroes find themselves locked in the Tower of London, tumbling through time as they attempt to escape the Lord High Executioner.
1. Welcome to Dead House
This is where it all started. The book that paved way for the empire of Stine. While the rest of the world got a rather bland looking haunted house, we Brits were introduced to Goosebumps with this spine-tingling soup of skulls and gravestones. Take THAT America!
Goosebumps is in cinemas nationwide from 5th February.