Exclusive: With the spooks and scares coming all around today, there are a lot of scary shows and movies for many horror aficionados. For Disney+ and Hulu, there have been a range of projects like No One Will Save You, Infinity Pool, Haunted Mansion, and more. Luckily, fans can add Goosebumps to that list as the show fits right in with its sinister smiles, haunted totems, and one dastardly puppet.
Just in time for Halloween, we had the chance to talk with Goosebumps executive producers Rob Letterman, Nicholas Stoller, and Hilary Winston about developing the Disney+ and Hulu-featured thriller series and hear their undertakings at this year’s New York Comic Con.
How ‘Goosebumps’ Differentiates From Sony’s Films
CoveredGeekly: There have been many iterations of bring R. L. Stine’s books into motion picture, like Sony’s films prior to this series. What was the process behind taking a more modernized approach to this show?
LETTERMAN: We wanted to do something different, this is a full reboot. The movies were great and the original series was great and we wanted to do something unique for this. We wanted to age it up and the books are an anthology series. The idea here is to do something serialized where you could follow characters, live with them and dig deeper into that story, make it soapy over the course of 10 episodes.
The big idea that cracked it open for us was taking the stories and the totems from the books and mapping them to characters who all live in the same town and cross paths. But by the end of the fifth episode, we’ve gotten origin stories with each of our teen characters and then the next five would be following them and uncovering what’s behind them.
Adding And Adapting From R. L. Stine’s Books
Reporter: What were some things that you felt needed to be changed from previous iterations or the books for older fans and readers?
WINSTON: One of the things that we added was the parent story because that’s not really a part of the Goosebumps series as much. You’re really for the point of view of the kids and so, in this series, the parents are really an important part of the storyline and mystery the kids are investigating.
What’s really nice is, if you read these books as a kid and now you have kids, you probably are going to relate maybe even to the parent characters more than the kids. It kind of allows anybody watching to have somebody that they feel like they get in the show. So, that was something really that was new that we kind of modernized.
STOLLER: A lot of the characters in the books are in middle school and we made them high school age and because [R. L. Stine’s] stories are so spare and the horror is so visceral, we kind of fill it in a little bit because it’s a serialized story.
How Gory Can ‘Goosebumps’ Get?
Reporter: How far do you think you could have gotten with the gore factor and fear knowing that you’re getting an audience that’s a good mix of the old and new generations?
STOLLER: It was a lot of the visual effects in the conversations that happened where stuff can be dialed up and down in terms of gore. Honestly, for me, it’s always the thing when you see the monster and it’s obvious, that’s when it’s not scary, right? It’s all the stuff leading up to the scare.
There’s nothing scarier than The Conjuring and you see nothing in that. It’s all just noises and things popping and then when you finally see the witch, you’re like, “Okay.” Like one of my favorite horror movies is Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive and that’s not scary at all: it’s just gross, but it’s awesome.
Also, as a parent, I want my daughter to watch it without coming into my bedroom and waking me up so for me, it’s very selfish!
LETTERMAN: There was a point where Disney told us, “Just go for it. We’ll tell you guys when it goes too far.” So we were just like, “Okay!”
WINSTON: We also went with fun, there’s kind of an element of that story where it was like, “It could’ve been gory or could’ve been kind of fun.” We definitely went in the direction of ‘fun’ scary, ‘fun’ gory instead of the ultimate gross-out or scare factor.
Creating the Haunted Horrors Behind ‘Goosebumps’
Reporter: What was the decision behind using specific R. L. Stine stories between the cuckoo clock, the mask, and the other stories in a way that felt somewhat familiar for diehard fans but also felt like a fresh take?
LETTERMAN: We knew we wanted to have a world where we following five teens and we wanted to map these books to them. Once we had those characters figured out in the trajectory of the story, we started looking at the earlier Goosebumps books.
The “Say Cheese and Die!”, “Go Eat Worms!”, that all sort of fit and we’re really into the subgenres of horror so we’re looking for books that had different genres to them like body horror or ghostly stories or psychological thrillers.
What Terrors Lurk Ahead for ‘Goosebumps’ Future
CoveredGeekly: With all the supernatural elements like the mask and the cuckoo clock, were there any other entities from the books you wanted to incorporate, but couldn’t find space due to the story or pacing?
LETTERMAN: We designed it so, if we’re lucky enough to be able to do more seasons, everything can be incorporated. Like, there’s a lot of hooks over the 10 episodes that allows us to borrow from any of the other books.
WINSTON: We have to do another season, it’s not even a choice! There’s so many other books that you have to put them on the table.
STOLLER: There are so many that came in and out and then it just became which to fit into the story we’re telling. There’s just so many books and [Stine] just has so many good stories.
Goosebumps is now streaming on Disney+ and Hulu. Make sure to read our review for Goosebumps here!