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The premiere of Goosebumps unleashed R.L. Stine’s iconic childhood thriller series onto the big screen at Westwood’s Regency Village Theatre on Sunday. The havoc starts when new kid in town, Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette), discovers his reclusive neighbor is Stine (Jack Black). The journey that follows is filled with monsters and mayhem, making the film a feat of imagination for both cast and crew.
Said Minnette: “When I was a kid, I read almost all the books. Huge part of my childhood. I read them more than any other book.”
Several actors mentioned their love for the Goosebumps series and for its myriad spooky creations, several of which were present at the premiere, including Slappy the Dummy, a demonic self-animated puppet and a favorite villain.
“He’s just so iconic. I think when you think of Goosebumps, you immediately picture Slappy,” added Minnette.
Rob Letterman, the film’s director, even had Slappy in his office during postproduction, inspiring co-workers with some creepy antics.
“I’ve lived with him for so long,” said Letterman, “I stare at him every day from my desk as I’m writing. And every morning when I come in, either my assistant or one of the digital effects guys comes in before me and moves him from chair to couch to my desk.”
Ryan Lee, who plays Zach’s friend Champ, preferred the giant preying mantis over Slappy but brought up how the actors, who performed their own stunts, had to use their imaginations to resurrect the oversized monsters.
“The preying mantis was a tennis ball that we were acting against, and that’s obviously not what it was going to look like at the end,” said Lee. “But we just had to scream at the top of our lungs and hope it looked good.”
Cast and crew alike maintained the importance of staying true to the spirit of the books to bring Stine’s fantastical world to life. Black even stayed in character at the Goosebumps premiere, both in costume and speech, to discuss his meeting with Stine — or, perhaps more fitting, his meeting of Jack Black: “I met Jack Black in New York when I was considering whether or not to let him have this film,” said Black, in character. “I was on the fence, but then when I met him in person, I looked in his eyes and I saw a glint. I saw something special. And sure enough, he’s the best actor of all time. Have you read my books?”
Goosebumps, in theaters Oct.16, and its premiere evoked the spirit of Halloween as actors reminisced on the leaf-strewn, burlap-brown carpet. Lee recalls his sister dressing as Pooh Bear and himself dressing as Tigger for four years in a row, while Jillian Bell, who plays Zach’s quirky aunt, once dressed up as Courtney Love with “the white silk dress and the tiara hanging off the side.” But for Halston Sage, who plays Champ’s high school heartthrob, the holiday is “all about the candy.”
“I just remember growing up and trick-or-treating in my neighborhood and it feeling really late and feeling like you’re doing something kind of bad and exciting,” said Sage.
Goosebumps, presented by Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation, strives for a balance of scary and funny, and makes actors and fans alike feel the haunting sensation that Halloween is right around the corner.
Deborah Forte, Goosebumps producer, said, “This is a really proud moment in Goosebumps history.”
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