Goosebumps fans don’t have to worry about the upcoming TV adaptation not living up to expectations — because author R.L. Stine has already given his stamp of approval.
During an exclusive interview with Us Weekly, executive producers Conor Welch and Pavun Shetty revealed Stine’s reaction after watching season 1.
“Getting an email from R.L. Stine after he watched the pilot saying he was thrilled with what we had done with his property was a true career highlight,” Welch said. “He was just always in the back of our mind. The bar was so high. So even though he wasn’t in the writers room with us, his presence was certainly looming.”
Goosebumps readers were also on everyone’s mind when discussing how to bring the iconic book series to life.
“We just knew that we had to elevate the material. We had to make fans of the book thrilled that we were doing what we’re doing when we’re doing it and not retreading stuff that had already been done,” Welch continued.”I think just [R.L. Stine’s] looming presence was enough motivation to make sure that we were reaching the heights that we hoped to.”
Goosebumps, which will premiere on Disney+ and Hulu later this month, incorporates several titles from Stine’s popular kids horror novels. After a group of teens accidentally release supernatural forces from a haunted house, they must work together to recapture them while learning how their parents’ past is connected.
The writers room wasn’t limited when it came to which titles they chose.
“We had access to all the books, which is great. It was a combination of picking some of the most popular titles, but more importantly picking stories that really dealt with the issues that the kids were feeling at the time because these were super emotional stories for our kids,” Shetty noted to Us. “All of the stories are tied into what our characters are going through personally.”
He continued: “That makes them even more scary for our characters in the show and hopefully for the audience. I think one of the reasons that the book series is timeless is that R.L. Stine always started from a place of very relatable, tangible, evergreen sort of issues.”
Some of the books that inspired season 1 include Say Cheese and Die!, The Haunted Mask, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, Go Eat Worms, Night of the Living Dummy and Welcome to Horrorland. It was important for the TV adaptation to tell a spooky — and emotional — story with each episode.
“Adolescents are going through alienation, heartbreak and identity. Those are just timeless things [and] it doesn’t matter if you went to high school in the ’90s or if you’re going to high school today,” Welch explained. “When you add on top of that hauntings, horrors and scares that relate directly to those feelings and those issues, it just becomes a really fun [and] relatable experience.”
Eagle-eyed fans will notice that the horror starts to unfold after the main group of friends find items in the mysterious Biddle residence on Halloween.
“We wanted [the story to] revolve around this Halloween party. We wanted the kids to find all of these items — the totems — at the actual party. So the first episodes deal with different things that were there,” Welch added. “We wanted to have books that you could actually have a camera, a haunted mask and find worms there.”
Shetty also broke down for Us how Goosebumps appeals to a wider audience.
“The brilliance of the Goosebumps books is that when you’re reading them at that age, you feel like you’re reading something that is a little bit too old for you. [You feel like] you shouldn’t be looking at that. That was important to us when we developed the show,” he detailed. “We wanted to take those iconic stories that are R.L. Stine created and do a TV version that was a little bit elevated, with a little bit more intense scares and the humor was more sophisticated.”
According to Shetty, viewers shouldn’t expect for the story to wrap up completely in just 10 episodes. The intent was always to leave the door open for more stories to be told.
“We hope we get the opportunity because there’s so many more books to pull from. We used five of the most popular — and then they’re little Easter eggs from other books. But there’s so much material to pull from [and] so many scary stories to pull from,” Shetty hinted to Us. “We left the season open in a way that the character drama and the dynamic between our kids and our parents is still open. They started at one place and they ended at a totally different place. That brings up a whole new set of issues that we feel like we can follow with our core group going into subsequent seasons.”
The first five episodes of Goosebumps start streaming on Disney+ and Hulu on Friday, October 13. New episodes are released weekly every Friday.