George Romero’s Goosebumps – The 90s Film He Nearly Made


For this Phantom Limbs, we’ll be uncovering George A. Romero’s Goosebumps, a function movie adaptation of the favored line of youngsters’s horror novels written by R.L. Stine. Based mostly on that collection’ first ebook, Welcome to Useless Home, Romero’s movie would have expanded upon Stine’s story whereas tweaking its central risk, all whereas holding the scares household pleasant. Whereas the movie sadly went unproduced (and the ebook would go on to be tailored for the Goosebumps tv collection within the late 90s), Romero nonetheless penned a full screenplay for the mission, which greater than illustrates his strategy for an “all ages” horror movie.

In researching this text, your author paid a go to to the George A. Romero Archival Assortment on the College of Pittsburgh Library System, which homes quite a few works from the late horror legend, together with produced and unproduced screenplays, therapies, art work, correspondence, props, posters and extra!

Be taught extra in regards to the assortment at https://romero.library.pitt.edu/


To have been produced by twentieth Century Fox’s Fox Household movie division, George A. Romero’s Goosebumps started with Fox Household’s vp Kevin Bannerman, who thought of Romero for the job of bringing Stine’s common ebook collection to the display screen. From a letter from Romero to Bannerman dated September ninth, 1995 (out there within the aforementioned Archival Assortment), one can glean that Bannerman steered plenty of Stine novels for Romero to learn, which led the filmmaker to zero in on Welcome to Useless Home, the primary of Stine’s Goosebumps collection.

It’s fascinating to this fan to learn Romero’s letter, which reveals that the director wished to make movies for youthful audiences, and that he’d been a fan of Goosebumps, even having learn plenty of them for his then 12 yr previous son earlier than his connection to the movie mission. It’s additionally a bit unhappy, on condition that Romero realizes that “these with checkbooks” solely acknowledge him as a maker of “the onerous stuff”. Romero may very nicely have made an exquisite horror movie for youths, if he’d solely been given the prospect.

Romero Goosebumps 1990s

Letter from George A. Romero to Kevin Bannerman regarding the Goosebumps mission (1995)

Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Nonetheless, regardless that we didn’t get the movie, Romero did pen a “tough define” for his adaptation which reads as a prolonged, full screenplay (clocking in at a hefty 124 pages).

So what story did his screenplay inform?


Opening in a Pittsburgh mall’s video arcade, we’re rapidly launched to JOSH BENSON (14 years previous), who has simply been tricked by his greatest good friend HUEY DILL into getting locked within a movement simulated online game known as “Get Kracken!”. That includes slugs, worms, maggots (and a Kracken, after all), the online game gravely intones that the participant is undead, and should discover their approach by way of their very own grave by digging below the bottom beneath them. This alone would recall Romero’s personal zombies, however the author goes one step additional by having the sport’s voice spout a spooky “They’re coming to get you!” as a enjoyable nod to Night time of the Residing Useless.

A claustrophobe, Josh is terrified by his predicament. His twelve year-old sister AMANDA tries to free her brother, then rips into Huey when she fails. Ultimately, the sport ends and the online game pod releases a relieved Josh.

Josh (Ben Cook dinner) and Amanda (Amy Stewart) in Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home (1997)

Elsewhere, we meet Josh and Amanda’s dad and mom – BECKY and JACK. After glimpsing a stupendous Victorian home within the window of a closed actual property workplace, the 2 are greeted by COMPTON DAWES, whose face is described as “exceedingly pale, it resembles a grinning cranium, hovering like a moon in some darkish night time.” Dawes invitations the couple inside, stunning them with an all-too reasonably priced worth for the home of their goals. Having wished to maneuver to the nation for a while, the couple agree to go to the home within the upstate city of Darkish Falls, whilst Compton warns them that the home has fallen into disrepair for the reason that {photograph} was taken.

Although Josh and Amanda are adamant about not leaving town, their dad and mom purchase the home anyway. Earlier than lengthy, the household packs up their pet terrier PETEY (“Brat canine. He’s been to 3 obedience faculties. Flunked out of each one.”) and units off right into a rainstorm to maneuver into their new dwelling within the small city of Darkish Falls (inhabitants 72). At first look, the home seems greater than slightly creepy and ominous, wanting the more serious for put on. Josh is even sure that he notices the bricks in the home’s chimney shifting round.

Amanda (Amy Stewart) and Compton Dawes (Ian D. Clark) in Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home (1997)

Dawes seems at their doorstep to welcome the household, startling Becky and Jack simply earlier than the chimney collapses and destroys the household’s Ford Explorer. Dawes provides to pay for the repairs, and has the demolished car towed away. The household is left successfully stranded at their new dwelling.

Later, Josh believes he sees the house’s “eyebrow window” wink at him. After Amanda wins a contest that sees her claiming the most important entrance bed room for herself (the one with the eyebrow window), Josh makes use of his “snake mild” to discover the room, revealing a wallpaper bearing a repeat print of human ears. Freaked out by this reveal, Amanda insists on taking one other bed room, sticking her brother with the creepiest room in the home.

As soon as the rainstorm stops, Josh and Amanda discover Darkish Falls, taking place throughout a celebration within the park being thrown for the “sleepy and bored” JUNIOR (10 years previous). Whereas the birthday boy doesn’t care to have these newcomers at his get together, his “closely made up mother” MRS. BLACK (30s) insists that they keep for the unwrapping of Junior’s current, which seems to be a clown named UNCLE SPUNKY. Spunky performs magic methods for the children earlier than shedding his head, which is promptly pushed into the river by Petey (the place it melts). Spunky’s actual head pops again up over his collar, delighting his viewers.

Josh and Amanda transfer to the river, retrieving the top prop. Trying it over, the children discover that it runs on batteries. Petey then races away, together with his house owners chasing after him.

The eponymous home in Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home (1997)

Again at their dwelling, Becky and Jack are inundated by the neighborhood ladies, led by one ENID COSGROVE and her good friend MARTHA. Curiously, the ladies insist on the shifting males inserting a chunk of furnishings into a particular location within the dwelling earlier than providing to arrange a meal for the household as a approach to welcome them to the neighborhood. Becky and Jack are grateful, however can’t assist however notice how “at dwelling” the 2 appear to be of their home.

Petey is finally discovered by Amanda and Josh within the arms of the gorgeous KAREN, a woman of Josh’s age who tells him that she used to stay in his home. As they speak, Petey is nabbed by neighborhood bully RAY THURSTON, who pretends to eat the canine behind a grave, a lot to the horror of his house owners. City Sheriff CLOTE arrives, chasing Ray away. He introduces himself to Amanda and Josh, who then return dwelling.

That night time, Josh feels a breeze come by way of his closed home windows of his bed room, simply earlier than DAWES reappears, telling the boy that the home at all times appears to know what an individual wants simply earlier than he leaves for the night. The get together downstairs breaks up, with the neighborhood ladies cleansing up and leaving (save for Enid, who falls asleep on the sofa).

Later, Josh friends by way of his window, seeing Karen looking at him from behind her personal bed room window throughout the road. He goes to mattress, solely to be disturbed by voices and footsteps within the hallway. He goes to research, solely to find a puddle of blood at his door. He opens the door, solely to search out Uncle Spunky’s melted clown head dangling simply exterior of his room – a prank carried out by Ray and firm, who’re in Josh’s home. Karen is there as nicely, apologizing and swearing that she was solely there to maintain the bullies from seeing out their prank. Unusually, Ray and firm someway handle to flee the home with out going by way of the entrance door. Unable to sleep in his personal room, Josh grabs a sleeping pack and heads out onto the home’s widow’s stroll on the roof. There, he may swear that the home itself was loud night breathing.

The following morning, Josh is unable to awaken his sleeping dad and mom. He goes downstairs and is met by a now bald Enid, whose wig has been stolen by Petey. Josh retrieves her wig, however refuses the breakfast she makes for he and Amanda. He wonders if the dinner that she ready the night time earlier than presumably drugged his dad and mom.

Jack and Becky finally get up, discovering themselves being stared at by way of their bed room window by handyman PICKENS. Jack races exterior to confront the person, however finds him making repairs to the house. Pickens slips and falls from the ladder, shedding his arm within the course of. Thankfully, he is ready to reattach the appendage, because it’s solely a prosthesis. Pickens, because it seems, additionally used to stay within the dwelling when he was as soon as the city mortician. Jack is impressed with the work that Pickens has already carried out, however is curious in regards to the man’s aversion to water when the house’s plumbing erupts within the basement.

At college, Josh and Amanda wind up within the class of English instructor MRS. ELLSWORTH, surrounded by the children they met yesterday. Josh takes the chance to drop the melted clown head onto Ray’s desk. As Ellsworth reads to the children from the biography of Darkish Falls founder FOSTER DEVRIES, Karen reveals to Josh that Dawes is her father, “and even she finds him creepy.” She warns him that he wants to go away city instantly whereas he nonetheless can.

Outdoors, it begins raining once more, main Josh to note how afraid of water the folks on the town look like. Faculty Principal MONTGOMERY takes Josh and Amanda apart, stalling them. Once they go away his workplace, they see that all the different kids have vanished. Seeing an open door, Josh grabs Amanda and heads by way of it, taking the youngsters into the varsity’s basement. There, they discover a collection of tunnels lined with the native townspeople.

Josh and Amanda are cautious to not be observed as they transfer by way of the tunnels, realizing that they’re named after town streets they run parallel with, even boasting names on doorways which lead into the varied townspeople’s houses. Josh surmises that the townsfolk use the tunnels to keep away from the rain.

Josh finds the door to his own residence, the title on its door revealing that the home used to belong to Ray’s household. He strikes inside, into his dwelling’s basement, the place he finds Jack asleep in the course of the flooded basement and wakes him up.

The ghouls of Darkish Falls in Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home (1997)

Josh lays out his concept to his household in regards to the townspeople being afraid of the rain, and the drugged meals. Enid overhears Josh and mocks the boy, earlier than the household chases her from their dwelling. The older neighbor initially cowers on the entrance porch, earlier than strolling into the rain and collapsing.

By the point the ambulance the household known as arrives, Enid is partially melted, abandoning a synthetic eye within the gutter. Sheriff Clote arrives and tries to really feel out simply how a lot Josh is aware of, however the boy is cautious to not say. Later, after his household nods off within the kitchen, Josh breaks into Pickens Mortuary, discovering Enid in a horrible state – however nonetheless alive. Pickens awakens from within a coffin and tries to seize Josh, however each of his arms fall off within the course of.

Josh races dwelling, solely to search out the home has sealed itself up, its doorways and home windows having vanished. Ray and his fellow bullies arrive, main Josh to slug Ray, whose face cracks below the blow. Karen costs up in a classic Cadillac, drives Josh to Sheriff Clote’s workplace on the fringe of city, and tells him to by no means come again.

At Clote’s, the Sheriff pricks Josh’s finger to see if he bleeds, confirming that he’s not “considered one of them – the residing lifeless”. When Clote is himself revealed to be one of many townsfolk, Josh realizes that he and his household are the one residing folks left on the town. He confronts Dawes, who explains that the home has been draining the life pressure from his household for the reason that second they arrived – therefore their always being sleepy, and the home wanting higher and higher. He tells Josh that every year, on Could 14th, the home should take a life to replenish itself, a sacrifice given for Darkish Falls founder Foster Devries, who handed away on that date however continues to stay on inside the very material of his former dwelling. In return for these sacrifices, Devries grants those that give their lives the present of immortality. In actual fact, all the townsfolk who at present populate Darkish Falls had at one time lived in that home. Josh sees that it’s 11:25pm – he has simply over a half hour to save lots of his household earlier than midnight strikes.

They’re coming to get you, Bensons! The ghouls assault in Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home (1997)

Dawes orders his minions to place Josh and Petey in an open grave within the cemetery, which is then coated by a metal grate to forestall their escape. As soon as there, Josh and Petey dig their approach by way of the grave into a close-by tunnel. They race to their dwelling, discovering Pickens inserting their title on the tunnel door that leads into the home. Water from the flooded basement spills out, dissolving the handyman/former mortician the place he stands.

Josh races into the house and wakes up his household. With the earlier exits sealed shut, he ushers his household into the basement, solely to search out the tunnel door now sealed up with mud. The boy begins digging into the filth partitions of the basement, barely escaping. The remainder of his household can not match by way of, discovering themselves attacked by tentacled roots.

Josh quickly uncovers Foster Devries, who begins to get out of his coffin. Josh hears speeding water, realizing that the flooding is being brought on by the close by Copperhead River, which threatens to interrupt by way of the partitions of the tunnel. Josh makes his approach into the tunnel and up right into a ironmongery shop, the place he’s confronted by Dawes and his goons. He lights a torch, triggering the sprinkler system and melting all however Dawes, who escapes.

The boy grabs a pickax, then heads again into the tunnel. There, Dawes arrives. Josh swings his pickaxe into the muddy tunnel wall, loosing a torrent of river water. Devries reaches out from his coffin, grabbing holding of Dawes’ arm simply earlier than the 2 are washed away. Josh and Petey escape the tunnels, heading up into Dawes’ home, the place they’re confronted by the person’s vicious German Shepherd. Petey lifts his leg and pees on the bigger canine’s legs, melting them off. Earlier than he leaves the home, Josh glimpses a tintype photograph of Karen which reveals that she had died in 1915.

The river begins to flood the tunnels, eroding the inspiration of the home, which begins to break down into its basement. Josh and Amanda work collectively to take away bricks from across the basement home windows, releasing their dad and mom simply in time. The home collapses fully, vanishing into the river under.

Afterwards, it seems as if the townsfolk of Darkish Falls have all vanished. The household walks out of city, discovering their approach to a small roadside motel, all of their belongings gone. That night time, as his household sleeps, Josh is woke up by a knock at his motel room door. Outdoors – Karen, Ray and all the kids of Darkish Falls stand simply exterior, there to thank Josh for releasing their spirits earlier than they dissipate.

On a rustic freeway, TWO PATROLMEN discover Devries’ coffin. Inside, the skeletons of each Devries and Dawes are discovered. The officers assume the coffin washed up from the waterfall beneath the city – a falls which gave the city its title.

The Benson Household in Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home (1997)

Because the story concludes, Josh’s household wakes up the following day, not remembering something that occurred after they first visited the home. As Jack wonders what occurred to the household automotive, Josh research Petey, questioning if he’s forgotten as nicely.

“It doesn’t matter,” the script ends. “He’s completely satisfied to be scratched…and to be liked.”


It’s a disgrace style followers younger and previous had been denied this movie, which might have discovered a legendary filmmaker tackling lighter fare for youthful audiences. Worse nonetheless that this movie would have seen Romero tackling the residing lifeless but once more, albeit in a wildly totally different type from the zombies he’s recognized for. In actual fact, Romero’s tackle the Darkish Falls residing lifeless is considerably totally different from these introduced in Stine’s novel, which had been way more conventional than the function script’s prosthetic-limbed, water soluble ghouls. It’s fascinating to contemplate that Romero might have wished to get away from being the “Residing Useless man”, if just for this kids’s movie.

In any case, we’re left with out what might need been a turning level in Romero’s profession. Had he made a profitable children movie for a significant studio within the mid-90s, who is aware of what the remainder of his filmography might need regarded like. However, not less than we have now his screenplay, which may be considered and browse within the College of Pittsburgh Library System, which home this treasure and lots of, many extra. Make that go to when you may, and tell us within the feedback part what you consider Romero’s Goosebumps adaptation.

Very particular due to Horror Research Assortment Coordinator Benjamin Rubin for his help with the analysis crucial for this text.

Romero Goosebumps script

Title web page for George A. Romero’s Goosebumps adaptation (1996)


Works Cited:

Goosebumps, George A. Romero Archival Assortment, 1962-2017, SC.2019.03, Archives & Particular Collections, College of Pittsburgh Library System

Goosebumps correspondence, George A. Romero Archival Assortment, 1962-2017, SC.2019.03, Archives & Particular Collections, College of Pittsburgh Library System

Romero Goosebumps movie

Goosebumps – Welcome to Useless Home by R.L. Stine (1992). Cowl artwork by Tim Jacobus



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