As you know, we’re taking The Host off this week because Ariel’s in England visiting Boy and sometimes we want to put our personal lives before the blog. But that’s fine, because I have something super awesome I want to share with you guys instead today! Some of you may remember that last October, Ariel and I each read a Goosebumps book – R.L. Stine’s 90s children’s horror-lite series – to celebrate Halloween or something. We had a lot of fun with this; Ariel braved Night of the Living Dummy because it terrified her as a child and this was her chance to face her fears, and I braved Say Cheese and Die! because I already had it.
Fun fact about the 90s: there was a tv show adaptation of this book series. Fun fact about 2013: guess what I just discovered is on Instant Netflix?
So let’s watch the TV adaptation of Say Cheese and Die! I’m just gonna jot down my thoughts as I watch this, and I encourage you to watch along! I’ll put in time stamps so you can follow where I am, throw in links to the blog posts from when we read the book so we can compare the two, and we’re all just gonna have a great time. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be scarier than- oh, who are we kidding. Let’s watch this!
(Note: Time stamps are counting down, because Netflix is dumb like that)
21:52 – Okay, I forgot how eerie this theme tune was. It kind of holds up.
21:42 – Nevermind.
21:30 – There is a G-shaped shadow flying across town. How did this frighten me. Oh my God. The dog’s eyes are like Geocities-era gifs. How did this frighten me.
20:55 – Viewer beware! You’re in for a scare! (The scare is how this all looked awesome in the 90s.)
(At this point, we’re on the first post. Obviously)
20:42 – Okay, there’s definitely a bunch of kids looking at the town’s spooky old haunted house! Every town has one of those, yeah?
20:30 – SPIDAYYYY
20:20 – “I heard he sleeps in there.” Well, no shit, he sleeps in there. It’s a house and he just locked the front door with his keys. (pause) Oh, okay, it’s… it’s not a house in the tv show version. Fine. I see how it is.
19:19 – The kids have snuck into the house and Greg has accidentally found the secret compartment! So far so g- What. That thing is not a camera. How the hell did you figure this out, Greg? Your powers of deduction make even less sense here than they do in the book, and that version of Greg tested a camera that he knew caused injuries on his friends and family to make sure it didn’t cause injuries.
18:55 – Greg takes the picture of Bird with a camera that has flickering LEDs instead of a shutter for some reason, and AHAHAHAHAHA oh my god, Bird falling off the staircase was nowhere near this funny in the book. Probably because people falling off staircases isn’t supposed to be.
(Amazingly enough, we’re already on the second post – which covers chapters 8 through 15)
18:33 – They decide to leave, but Spidey suddenly comes back into the house! Also, this is the first time I noticed that there’s only three kids in the show. Guess they already killed off Michael.
18:17 – Deus Ex Machina #1: Spidey shrieks and falls off the staircase sideways halfway through chasing them down the steps? Okay?
17:39 – They run away (not even off the property before they stop – whatever, guys) and look at the picture of Bird falling off the stairs, but Greg could have SWORN he took it before Bird fell. Guys, the plot is thickening.
16:55 – Greg goes home, and we meet Greg’s older brother, as well as the height of 90s fashion.
15:50 – Greg takes a picture of his brother with the car and the car. So far, basically the same.
15:15 – Greg tries to tell his parents to take the car back. He had really lame excuses in the book, but here he’s like, “Think how bad you’d feel if you got a scratch on it.” Holy shit, TV Greg, you’re a lot worse at being Greg than Book Greg.
14:20 – In the car they almost get run over by a truck, just like in the book. However, in the TV show, there’s INTENSE SPOOKY ROCK GUITARS AND DRUMS, so clearly this is the superior medium for this story.
13:05 – Okay, there’s actually a pretty cool dream sequence where a very saccharine and blandly happy version of the family is out in the yard grilling dinner. Greg enthusiastically takes their picture, and his family – hyperrealism stretched out ironically to emotional flatness – says “cheese”, when Greg looks at the picture and sees everybody is a SKELETON. It’s actually weirdly well done for what I was expecting from, you know, Goosebumps.
11:40 – Bird doesn’t believe Greg’s story about the camera. Also, apparently Bird’s character trait in the TV adaptation is that he’s the guy who juggles all the time. Alright? The high school bullies show up and try to steal the camera. There’s a chase sequence. It’s all quite thrilling.
10:30 – Shari (or is her name Sharon? They keep calling her “Shar”, because kids are dumb) peer pressures Greg into taking her picture with the camera. But she’s not in the picture! Then Greg’s older brother Not Kurt Cobain shows up and, with amazing acting abilities, calmly informs Greg that their dad has been in a car accident. Greg also reacts realistically to the news.
9:15 – After visiting Greg’s dad in the hospital and seeing that he just broke his leg, the rest of the family goes back home where apparently the youngest child in the house is responsible for answering an unexpected knock on the door at night. Also, man policeman in this scene is my favorite: “She’s missing. Disappeared. *extreme close up on sunglasses”
8:00 – Book Greg tried to explain the camera to the police and they just assumed he was in shock and made sure he got home okay. These police aren’t taking any shit from TV Greg. They imply that they suspect that he – a child – is responsible for Shari’s disappearance? For… for some reason? It never comes up again, so we don’t have to worry about it; that’s how storytelling works.
7:07 – TV Greg figures out the camera: “It predicts the future. And it makes it bad.” Man, Book Greg couldn’t figure out whether the camera predicted the future or created the future and had all these internal debates about causality and stuff. Not TV Greg. TV Greg cuts right to the chase, man. TV Greg tears up the photograph he took of Shari! TV Greg is a man of action!
6:00 – TV Greg wants to take the camera back. Juggling TV Bird has “a lot of stuff to do for my dad. A whole bunch of stuff.” Well, aren’t you full of shit, Juggling TV Bird?
5:25 – Greg goes back to the building at night and Shari’s there. Greg asks if she’s okay and she says “Yeah, I guess so.” Which sounds really stupid, but I remember that being what she said in the book too. Except here in the TV version they realize that Shari came back when TV Greg tore up the picture, whereas in the book version Book Greg never tears up the picture and then Shari just comes back? So, uh, I guess television is the optimal medium for the nuanced tale of Say Cheese and Die.
2:00 – They return the camera and run into Spidey, who explains that he invented the camera but it didn’t turn out right on account of it causing bodily harm and/or death-type stuff and he’s been hiding it from the world ever since, just like in the book. He attacks Greg and Shari because they know too much, just like in the book. Shari takes a picture of Spidey and he screams as he vanishes into a green light, just like in… wait, what?
1:35 – Spidey gets trapped inside the camera. In the book he fucking died. So… uh… there’s that?
1:30 – The bullies show up in the building and find the camera, because for some reason they went looking for it here? Or, you know, even looked for it at all? They take a picture, laugh at it, and Spidey comes up from behind them, smiling, and, uh, that’s the end. Goosebumps!
0:35 – Wait, fucking Ryan Gosling was Greg?!?!
So, is it scarier than the book? Probably not. More unintentionally hilarious? Probably not. More Ryan Gosling than the book? Apparently!