Revisit R.L. Stine’s legendary horror series with this seriously in-depth rundown of the series’ best entries
If you’re of a certain generation, and if you had a penchant for the perverse at a young age, you probably remember R. L. Stine’s Goosebumps books. You’ll likely remember those varicoloured covers adorned with grotesqueries culled from the wunderkammer imagination of a writer who seemed acutely aware of childhood anxieties, and who took great joy in scaring children witless. My mom taught me how to read, and engendered a lifetime fascination with the macabre, by reading me Edgar Allan Poe when I was a kid; I subsequently turned to Stine’s series when I could read competently on my own, and for that I’ll always have a deep appreciation for the Goosebumps books (the original 62, none of those ersatz things he later wrote). At their best, Stine’s books channel the kind of banal-turned-horrific you find in Stephen King’s work, albeit for kids (more mischief and less mutilation). With the Jack Black-starring film adaptation of Goosebumps currently doing good business at the box office, we decided to look at the original series with our decidedly adult eyes and see what holds up and what doesn’t. Reader beware, you’re in for a list.
62. MONSTER BLOOD IV (62)
In general, you can tell how good a Goosebumps book will be based on its cover art. The best books, for whatever reason, have the best covers, as if artist Tim Jacobus directly channeled the quality of Stine’s stories for his illustrations. The cover for the final book in the original series, Monster Blood IV, depicts some ugly, slimy slug things with weirdly voluptuous lips leaving their viscous entrails all over the bathroom. That's pretty much the book, which has very little to do with the previous Monster Blood entries save for the presence of recurring protagonist Evan. Instead of making stuff really big or really bad, as in previous entries, Monster Blood now transmogrifies you into a blue slug that goes all Gremlins when it gets wet. A disappointing end to the original series.
61. THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF PASADENA (38)
As a kid, I always thought of chocolate pastries when I saw this book. The brown cover and the icing-like snow glazing the borders... I dunno, maybe I was just a hungry kid, but frosted cupcakes are way better than this forgettable entry. Some kids go to Alaska, where they meet the titular creature, who is hungry and eats their trailer mix. The snowman doesn’t actually go to California until the end of the book, when things get abruptly supernatural (as in more supernatural than abominable snowmen). It’s like Jason Goes to Manhattan, but with a snowman in California.
60. CALLING ALL CREEPS (50)
Look at that cover. Look how bad it is. That’s how bad this story is. In what was by then a trope of the series, one kid tries to pull a prank on another kid, which backfires and brings about monsters. The prosaic description of “creeps” reflects the bland feeling of this story. I can’t read the title without wanting to listen to The Crystal Method’s “Name of the Game.” Calling all freaks, motherfucker.
59. CHICKEN, CHICKEN (53)
Again, look at the cover. Kids turn into chickens. Not the most exciting stuff. Turning into a literal chicken could actually be pretty scary – that beak! Those feathers! All the clucking! – but this is a weak effort.
58. WEREWOLF SKIN (60)
Stine has done some good werewolf stories; this is not one of them. There are only so many ways you can twist the lycanthrope tale into interesting new shapes. Our protag, Hunter, wants to be a photographer, and everyone knows photographers will eschew all notions of common sense if it means getting a cool photo, including being assaulted by wolves. At least he doesn’t take a were-selfie.
57. HOW I LEARNED TO FLY (52)
I am Jack's raging envy. I get angry when Jack gets showed-up by a jerk; I cajole Jack into learning how to fly; I lead to Jack's demise. Jack pouts a lot.
56. WHY I'M AFRAID OF BEES (17)
Though this comes fairly early in the series, it has the kind of silliness that marks the latter entries. A kid who gets picked on a lot goes to a local body-swap doctor (?) and asks to be put into a bigger, better body. Instead he gets put into the body of a bee, and oh hey by the way he happens to have a severe fear of bees. This could have been a Vincent Price-esque monster story, but it instead turns into a lesson on why bees aren’t such awful creatures, which is a weird thing for a Goosebumps book to be.
55. LET'S GET INVISIBLE (6)
The worst thing a scary book can be is boring. This book is boring. It's not scary, it’s not memorable, the twist is less a twist than an inevitability that masquerades as a twist. A lot of Stine's books have pretty literal titles, especially the latter ones (How I Learned to Fly), and the better ones expound on the premise, like the Mummy books. Let's Get Invisible is about some kids who find a mirror/light switch that turns them invisible. They take advantage of this precarious situation, until the situation begins to take advantage of them. It’s a story ostensibly about peer pressure, which could have been a great Goosebumps book, but, like its disappearing characters, it’s completely forgettable. Easily the worst of the otherwise great first dozen or so books in the series.
54. MY HAIRIEST ADVENTURE (26)
Anyone (particularly boys) who sprouted body hair at a young age knows how mean kids can be. Blame it on education not properly informing kids on what puberty does to one’s body; blame it on body image in American culture; blame it on how awful kids inherently are. It doesn’t matter why, but being a hairy kid is rough. Stine had some perfect horror-story material here, but the book is uninspired. The story, for what it’s worth, concerns a hairy kid named Larry (cause ‘Larry’ kinda rhymes with ‘hairy’), whose rock band of Eric Clapton acolytes are prepping for a battle of the bands sorta gig. Larry tries some instant tanning lotion and becomes a dog. Which isn’t so bad. Dogs are the best.
53. HOW I GOT MY SHRUNKEN HEAD (39)
Green covers tend to indicate good Goosebumps books (see: Monster Blood, Stay Out of the Basement, etc). Sadly, this “Jungle Magic” story is, like the worst books of the series, silly and forgettable, yet rife with unrealised potential. Mark goes on a jaunt into the jungle to find his missing aunt; why his parents think this is even remotely a good idea remains ambiguous, because 12-year-olds really shouldn’t go into the jungle unsupervised. The bad guys turn out to be mad scientists fighting over who gets to control the aforementioned jungle magic. While it’s a less inane portrait of a “jungle” than, say, Eli Roth's abysmal Green Inferno, this is a pretty lame attempt to branch out from Stine’s usual suburban kids in peril.
52. DEEP TROUBLE II (58)
The tagline, “Something’s fishy… again!” reflects the sense of, “Ugh, again?” that permeates this book. It’s like Jaws 2, which you probably don’t even remember.
51. GHOST CAMP (45)
It’s really hard to describe the lesser Goosebumps books as they all feel like daguerreotypes of the better books, all diminished returns of familiar stories. Ghost Camp is like the other camp-centric entries combined with the ghost stories of the series. You get what you expect, and knowing what you’re getting is the antithesis of a good ghost story.
50. MY BEST FRIEND IS INVISIBLE (57)
There’s a ghost and some pizza and it’s all pretty boring.
49. DON'T GO TO SLEEP! (54)
There’s a horror movie of the same name from 1982 that’s a lot more fun than this book, which depicts another 12-year-old who gets bullied. Even the kid’s pet dog hates him. It’s like a lesser The Cuckoo Clock of Doom, which isn’t one of the better books.
48. BEWARE, THE SNOWMAN (51)
The title’s egregious grammar aside (is it addressing the snowman? Is it a warning sent from the snowman?), snowmen just aren’t very scary.
47. THE CUCKOO CLOCK OF DOOM (28)
Michael’s sister, Tara, is a compulsive liar (actually she’s a child, but same thing) and constantly gets Michael in trouble by making stuff up. She ruins his 12th birthday, and Michael subsequently uses their father’s new antique clock, crafted by a sorcerer (typical), to go back in time and… well, basically ruin his own life. Once the plot is laid out, the book falls into place too neatly. It’s like Benjamin Button and Stephen King’s Thinner conflated. But man, the forced perspective of that cover is wicked cool.
46. VAMPIRE BREATH (49)
Stine penned surprisingly few vampire books for Goosebumps, instead focusing on ghosts and icky things living in basements. Actually, Vampire Breath takes place in a basement, too, as two kids playing air hockey accidentally knock over a jar labeled “Vampire Breath,” which contains a benevolent vampire named Count Nightwing. This is a really weird book, with a lot of pseudo-surprises that aren’t twisty enough to be twists, and an ending that feels like a parody of other Goosebumps endings.
45. SAY CHEESE AND DIE – AGAIN! (44)
44. EGG MONSTERS FROM MARS (42)
Another 50s-style B-movie plot, this time about… well, egg monsters. Stine seems to be going through the motions here.
43. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY III (40)
More dummies! Less fun!
42. THE BARKING GHOST (32)
More kids trying to scare each other, only this time some of the kids turn into ghost dogs. Again, being a dog doesn’t seem so bad.
41. THE GHOST NEXT DOOR (10)
The first book in which Stine basically rips himself off. It resembles Welcome to Dead House to a jarring degree, but with a lot less at stake and a far less unsettling atmosphere. Not bad, but not different enough.
40. HORROR AT CAMP JELLYJAM (33)
Some kids go to a weird camp where a foul stench suffuses the air and the counselors wear high-waisted trousers (look at that guy on the cover! Look at the face! That’s petrifying!). It’s not as scary or funny as the preceding camp stories. But that cover!
39. ATTACK OF THE JACK-O’-LANTERNS (48)
Some kids are bullied by some mask-wearing bigger kids to eat a lot of chocolate. Hmmm… It’s like the Halloween movies combined with Pumpkinhead and that one episode of Pete and Pete, but with a Twilight Zone twist.
38. THE HEADLESS GHOST (37)
More kids who love scaring kids, this time with a ghost who, as the title insinuates, lacks a head. There’s also a sea captain, a long-lost love named Annabel (get it?), and a secret room.
37. THE HAUNTED MASK II (36)
It’s almost a step-by-step retread of the first book, which really didn’t need a sequel. Carly Beth, maybe Stine’s most compelling protagonist, is a supporting character to the much-less interesting Steve (even his name is generic). There’s no sense of danger here at all, and the “twist” is the same exact one from the first book, suggesting a Sisyphean desperation in Stine’s inability to come up with new ideas as he neared 40 books into the series.
36. LEGEND OF THE LOST LEGEND (47)
The book opens with a long story-within-a-story about a pair of siblings who get stranded in the arctic, then, in real life, one of the siblings accidentally burns down the tent in which they are camping. The siblings’ father is a grumpy writer who apparently hates being a father, but drags his kids along on a poor-conceived sojourn to find a long-lost manuscript. The story twists and turns and veers as the siblings encounter a variety of odd characters and fantastical things. It’s a decent story and is one of the less predictable books in the series, even if it lacks the incisive focus of Stine’s best.
35. HOW TO KILL A MONSTER (46)
At this point, almost everything that happens in this book has happened in a previous book, from the dog scaring the kids to the monster with the glowing eyes to the siblings trying to survive to the possibly insidious grandparents. If you haven’t read the previous 45 books, this one will do the trick competently, but it offers few surprises.
34. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR (12)
This kind of tale – about a witch/gypsy/sorcerer with an irksome fondness for semantics who interprets your wishes in the most literal, least plausible way possible – has been done many times. Stine gives it a twist and makes the witch a kind of amateur who’s yet to get the hang of things, rather than being a malevolent stickler for word usage. (Or… is she?) Samantha is a very tall young, very awkward girl who has yet to “grow into her body.” The kids at school make fun of her for being tall, so Samantha makes a series of wishes that backfire pretty hard. It’s not bad, but it’s not as outlandish as it could’ve/should’ve been.
33. THE BEAST FROM THE EAST (43)
One of the better, later entries, with a pair of children coaxed into a deadly game of tag with some scary furry monsters in a strange alien forest. Stine manages to pull out some surprises in one of the few books that doesn’t harken back to classic horror tropes.
32. PIANO LESSONS CAN BE MURDER (13)
I never played piano, but I’ve ascertained, based on pretty much every fictitious depiction I’ve seen, that piano lessons are awful. There’s a ghost here, and disembodied hands, and a “robotician.” It’s pretty fun.
31. MONSTER BLOOD III (29)
Evan eats Monster Blood. Evan gets huge.
30. THE BLOB THAT ATE EVERYTHING (60)
Aspiring writer Zackie is given a special typewriter on which he can finish his story about a blog monster, but of course the typewriter transcribes whatever Zackie writes into real life. Like a send-up of the entire series, something adults will probably appreciate more than kids.
29. THE HAUNTED SCHOOL (59)
Moving to a new school can be scary. Moving to a new school that has a sideways-flying elevator that transports you to a world rendered in grayscale is even scarier.
28. A SHOCKER ON SHOCK STREET (35)
Despite the Alice Cooper-y title, the 35th Goosebumps book takes place in a theme park designed after a horror movie series, replete with giant bugs, werewolves, robots and ray guns. The fixation with repurposed movie monsters is a fun turn for the series, and offers some witty observations on long-running horror franchises. But the kids will probably only care about the monsters and robots. And that twist… perfect.
27. RETURN OF THE MUMMY (23)
It’s basically a retread of The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, but that book is awesome, so this is still quite good.
26. YOU CAN'T SCARE ME! (15)
Another group of kids who love scaring each other, another angry young boy who vows revenge on someone for embarrassing him. But these kids never stop trying to scare each other. It’s like the only thing they do. One kid drops a tarantula in another kid’s hair (other books have kids pretending to do such things, but here the bastard actually does it). It’s pretty entertaining reading about these kids being jerks to each other and waiting for the mud monsters on the cover to finally manifest, which don’t show up until the end of the book. Some people hate this book for its lack of horror and the general lack of monsters, but that makes it a refreshing entry in the series. The kids turn out to be the monsters here.
25. GHOST BEACH (22)
Jerry and Terri Sadler are sent by their parents to spend a month on a beach front (poor things), where they meet a trio of children who are also named Sadler, and who have the same freckles as Jerry and Terri. There’s also a gangly old man, a deadly ghost, and a dog. This is actually a pretty sad book, with dead kids longing for friendship.
24. DEEP TROUBLE (19)
Jaws was my favorite movie as a kid (and kinda still is), so a book about sharks felt like Stine penned it just for me. It’s not really about sharks, though: it’s about mermaids, and greedy pirate businessmen. That’s cool, too, but hammerhead sharks… Those things are like something Lovecraft dreamed up.
23. A NIGHT IN TERROR TOWER (27)
A pair of kids visit the legendary Tower of Terror (no, not the Disney ride) in London and their tour guide, jerk that he is, ends up luring them back in time, where all sorts of back-in-time terrors occur. It’s a fun premise that’s – *puts on sunglasses* – executed well.
22. THE CURSE OF CAMP COLD LAKE (56)
The last really good Goosebumps book. Stine revisited camps and ghosts and scary lakes, all classic horror stuff, for a story about a girl who pretends to drown to make everyone who treated her poorly feel bad. Unfortunately, she did a bad job of faking her death, because she actually did drown. Dark stuff.
21. PHANTOM OF THE AUDITORIUM (24)
It more or less follows the plot of The Phantom of the Opera, but in a high school. It works really well.
20. THE WEREWOLF OF FEVER SWAMP (14)
The best werewolf Goosebumps story has all the trappings of a good lycanthropy tale: Some woods, some wolves, a creepy old hermit, disconcerting howling in the dead of night, and a boy who really wants a pet dog. If you can’t sympathize with a kid who wants a dog, you’re not human.
19. I LIVE IN YOUR BASEMENT! (61)
Marco’s mother is overprotective and imbues him with paranoia. So when Marco gets cracked in the head with a baseball (his mother having warned him that baseball is dangerous) and becomes home-ridden, he begins to receive strange calls from someone named Keith who wants to help Marco recuperate. Marco’s sense of reality warps, and things get weird. The cover belies the actual story, which is more of a paranoid delusion than a monster mash. The penultimate of the original series is an underrated entry, and displays a kind of earnest imagination the preceding few entries (and the following one) lacked.
18. REVENGE OF THE LAWN GNOMES (34)
A fun twist on the living toy trope, this middle entry in the series has a kind of Eerie, Indiana or Twilight Zone feeling, wherein the story isn’t overly concerned with horror as much as it is with surrealism and paranoia. A family and their overly-competitive neighbour get into a spat over a garden rivalry, and some nefarious lawn gnomes start to cause trouble because lawn gnomes are jerks. Stine, like Stephen King, excels at telling stories about parents not believing a child who’s witnessed some crazy shit.
17. ATTACK OF THE MUTANT (25)
This is admittedly not one of the more popular books in the series, but the images of being pulled into a comic book have stuck with me over the years. A geeky guy named Skipper (who names their kid Skipper?) gets off at the wrong bus stop, a pervasive fear of anyone who relies on public transportation, and ends up discovering the headquarters of the Mutant, arch nemesis of the Galloping Gazelle. The Mutant can rearrange his molecules to resemble anyone, so of course trust is a fleeting thing in this story. Not only does a young girl Skipper meets turn out to be evil, but so does his beloved Gazelle! I get inexcusably excited over this story, sorry.
16. WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE (1)
The first book in the series is also the most classically gothic, and features some of the most violent imagery of any Goosebumps book. A family moves into a haunted house, as families tend to do in these kinds of stories, and spooky stuff happens. Towards the end, when our childhood heroes fear that the end may be coming (Stine maintains suspense really well here, and never veers into silliness), they cast sunlight upon the coalition of living dead, which is the universal way of thwarting evil, and the flesh melts from the ghosts' faces. This book is intended for fourth graders.
15. THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (5)
As a kid, I was fascinated by Egypt and mummies, so this was catnip (Greg-nip?). Mummies aren’t particularly scary, since you aren’t likely to just randomly encounter one on the subway or in your backyard, but Stine makes this story (which borrows a title from a 1960s cult classic film) tense by slowly forcing us into the claustrophobic confines of an old Egyptian tomb and lacing minute details (the main character’s shoes coming untied repeatedly) into the action. Also, a pit of scorpions.
14. THE SCARECROW WALKS AT MIDNIGHT (20)
Yo, scarecrows are terrifying. Look at that cover! As with Stine's best, the book slowly unveils its horrors, which, while not entirely surprising (you can’t really misinterpret “the scarecrow walks at midnight”), do take an interesting turn halfway through. Stine even manages to incorporate more scary living toys into this one, just to hit all the bases.
13. MONSTER BLOOD (3)
Often thought of as the first real Goosebumps book, this engendered scaremonger is one of Stine’s most memorable, if inconsistent creations: a viscous fluid that does... well, whatever Stine wants it to. The cover is one of the more genuinely creepy ones, too (compare it to the increasingly histrionic sequels). Evan, the series longest-running protagonist, finds in a toy store an old canister containing a mysterious green goo. Evan’s dog eats some, but the effects of the goo don’t become apparent until later on. (Stine doesn’t seem to love dogs.) He paces the story well (a staple of all of the better, earlier books), and pleats unexpected reveals (there’s a witch, and a curse, and the Monster Blood is actually maybe sentient) into the story.
12. IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SINK (30)
Another one of those stories that channels the ridiculous grotesqueries of 50s B-movies. The monster is a “breathing sponge,” which is, of course, actually a monster. If you hate doing dishes, try telling your roommates that the sponge is a monster?
11. GO EAT WORMS! (21)
One of the weirdest books in the series, this particularly paranoid story concerns a kid who plays pranks involving worms on his sister, because he’s a dick. His sister tricks him into thinking the worms are going to get revenge on him, and soon enough a giant worm, displeased with the kid’s treatment of her/its spawn, sets its sights (do worms have sight?) on him. While it goes more for the icky factor than outright scares, Go Eat Worms has the same gross charm and dilapidated view of high school life you’d find in, once again, a 50s B-movie, or something Stephen King might have dreamed-up between Christine and Cujo.
10. BAD HARE DAY (41)
Mostly of interest to those who are fascinated by magic, and those who’ve ever had childhood fantasies of turning your sibling into a small furry animal. Tim, an aspiring magician steals his favourite magician’s box of tricks (“Amaz-O's box of tricks”) and subsequently turns his sister into a rabbit. Tim is admittedly kinda bland, but Amaz-O is wonderfully wicked, and who hasn’t worried that the people you idolise might turn out to be pretty bad people? Plus, the cover is awesome.
9. WELCOME TO CAMP NIGHTMARE (9)
I was a Boy Scout, and grew up in a small town enveloped by woods. The idea that something might be skulking in the woods waiting to devour or mutilate me was terrifying. (The Evil Dead probably best encapsulated that fear by also showing how ridiculous that fear is.) Welcome to Camp Nightmare begins by introducing us to a cast of colourful characters, who are then abandoned on the side of the road by their bus driver. It’s a surreal, wholly unexpected introduction, and establishes a feeling of dismay and paranoia immediately. There are monsters, of course, but the entire camp is suffused with a sense of dream logic dread from chapter one, and the Twilight Zone-inspired ending is a doozy. It also has a really unnerving scene involving children using guns, which will probably not sit well with people in 2015, so be warned.
8. STAY OUT OF THE BASEMENT (2)
One of the recurring fears of Stine’s books is the conception that your parent has turned against you. Few ideas are scarier to a child, and none of the Goosebumps books implemented and executed this nightmarish notion better than Stay Out of the Basement, the second book in the series. There are shades of Invasion of the Body Snatchers here, but the book doesn’t acquire a horrific atmosphere as much as it opens with one: A pair of children (Stine has a thing for terrorizing siblings) try to play Frisbee with their father, but he gruffly declines to pay attention to them. Something’s wrong with dad… There’s genuine suspense here, and the title doesn’t give anything away (unlike, say, How I Learned to Fly). By the end, the kids stab their “father” (who bleeds) and then hack apart the plant-monster-hybrid who has been pretending to be their “father.” It ends on a wickedly clever homage to The Fly (the Vincent Price one), almost like a reward for discerning parents.
7. MONSTER BLOOD II (18)
A giant hamster! What’s not to love about a giant hamster? Actually, the hamster is only the size of a rabbit for most of the book, but the promise of a giant hamster, especially if it looks anything like it does on the gloriously gaudy cover, is what makes this book so compulsively readable. This is one of the ones people still remember well into their 20s because, again, a giant hamster monster, which is named Cuddles (Cuddles!), but also because the book deals prominently with bullying, and the feeling that teachers either can’t help you, or won’t help you. Oh, also, it climaxes with Evan drinking Monster Blood so that he can become 10 feet tall and wrestle the giant hamster. Don’t you wish you’d thought of that?
6. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY (7)
Probably the most iconic of Stine’s myriad creations, Slappy the doll is the stuff from whence nightmares are made.
5. SAY CHEESE AND DIE! (4)
Yes, the title is ridiculous (though innately less ridiculous than its misbegotten sequel), but it obscures the severe derangement of the story. There’s a creepy old house, a creepy old man named Spidey, and a piece of archaic technology (film cameras are just so much scarier than digital ones) that causes bad things to happen. Like, really bad things. Like death. Add in some clever pop-culture references, some more violence, and another 500 pages and this could be a Stephen King book.
4. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DUMMY II (31)
Replacing the family of the original book with a coterie of hippies, the sequel to Night of the Living Dummy is basically a retread of the original book, but with more flair. It may not be as scary, but it does an admirable job of sending-up the tropes of the killer doll genre. Amy, an aspiring ventriloquist, has an old dummy named Dennis who has become almost unusable with age. So Lucy’s dad buys her a new dummy, Slappy, who for some reason has a moldy sandwich stuffed inside his head. Slappy soon causes all kinds of mischief. I prefer this one to the original if only because it ends with a weird dummy jealously spat in which Dennis smashes Slappy’s head.
3. THE GIRL WHO CRIED MONSTER (8)
Stine finds inspiration for one of his most unnerving books in a local library, which should resonate with any kid who spent his/her childhood perusing book shelves, or had to deal with a creepy curmudgeon of a librarian. (I was a library kid, but luckily I had a phenomenal librarian named Mr. Carol. He even helped me send a hand-drawn manuscript for a Spider-Man comic to Marvel; they sent me a very nice rejection letter.) Lucy loves monster books, despite the attempts of her librarian to make her read “the classics.” Of course, the librarian turns out to be a monster who munches on bugs and turtles after hours. Lucy tries to prove to her friends and family that the librarian is a monster, but she is thwarted by poor luck and the disbelief of adults every step of the way. The ending is one of the balls-out craziest of the series.
2. ONE DAY AT HORRORLAND (16)
One of the most oft-used clichés of movie blurbs is likening a movie to a roller coaster. That cliché wouldn’t be totally inapt here, as the story literally concerns an amusement park, but also because One Day at HorrorLand is Stine's most relentlessly-paced Goosebumps book. Instead of a single child or pair of siblings, an entire family is terrorized here, as Stine channels Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse in his depiction of theme park terror. The book wastes no time, throwing the family into peril almost immediately with constant threats of death. It’s persistently fun, and the ending is one of the funniest, and most absurd (in the Camus sense), of the series.
1. THE HAUNTED MASK (11)
The best Goosebumps book, which harkens back to Halloween III: Season of the Witch as much as it does any 19th century gothic tale, is a terrifying account of a young girl (an adolescent Scream Queen, if you will) named Carly Beth who is tricked into eating a worm sandwich and, like so many ill-fated Stine characters, vows revenge. In an attempt to put together the scariest Halloween costume, she acquires a repulsive mask, one that turns out to be a living succubus entity, which slowly transforms Cary Beth into a Hyde-like monster. This is a classic kind of scary story in which the heroine becomes the villain, and, as the cover suggests, this one is entirely devoid of silliness. Not to harp too much on the Stephen King similarities in the series, but the mysterious new costume shop, the enigmatic shop owner, the revenge theme, the idea of trying to scare someone and having it backfire on you – this is quintessential horror fiction stuff.