We Ranked The Original ‘Goosebumps’ Books From Least To Most Terrifying
When I was a kid, I was pretty much scared of everything: my grandmother, the telephone, bees, cats, cows, the nature of time, infinity… You name it. But nothing terrified me as much of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books.
I got into the books early and although I hated how much they spooked me, I couldn’t stop reading them.
By the time the show came out, I was both totally obsessed and totally terrified. Every Saturday, I’d watch a new episode, and then be unable to sleep for the whole next night.
It was about as healthy as being addicted to punching myself in the face, or drinking two litres of coffee before bedtime, and it explains why in every single photo of me taken at that age I look like a depressed 70-year-old, despite being about eight.
scary stories to tell in the dark reminds me of daycare bc those books and goosebumps were the only things they had that I liked so I just read them over and over again for 3 years
— clown penthouse (@oingoboingy) February 5, 2019
But recently I started thinking. Now that I am a grown, sensible mature person, who definitely knows how to do adult things like change a tyre and pay taxes (yep, I sure do know how to do both of those things), would the Goosebumps books still terrify me like they used to?
To find out, I re-read the 10 first Goosebumps books and ranked them from least to most scary, like a normal person who definitely doesn’t have too much time on their hands would do.
10. Ghost Beach
Sometimes, you’ll be halfway through reading a Goosebumps book, and it’ll be really scary, and strange, and exciting — and then everyone will turn out to be ghosts. This is because R.L. Stine loves making everyone ghosts. If you asked R.L. Stine to write invitations for your birthday party, he would somehow write about everyone being ghosts.
The problem is, everyone being ghosts is not very scary. If everyone is a ghost, then no one’s scared of each other. Ghosts don’t get scared by ghosts, R.L. Stine, and you should know this, given how you’ve spent most of your life writing about ghosts.
For this reason, Ghost Beach, a book about a kid who discovers that his friend is a ghost, and then that some random people he’s only just met are ghosts, and then that he himself is a ghost, is not a very scary book.
9. Be Careful What You Wish For…
Be Careful What You Wish For… is mostly an extremely boring Goosebumps book about a girl who is so sick of getting picked on that when she meets a mysterious old woman who grants her magical powers. She then uses these powers to do horrible things to her bullies.
There’s nothing scary about this book, except for the very end, when the main character turns into a bird and eats a worm for absolutely no reason. You’re reading the whole book, completely unaware that there’s even the possibility that anyone might turn into a bird and then — bam. Bird. It’s weird.
8. Welcome To Dead House
Hey, guess what happens at the end of Welcome To Dead House, a book that starts off really scary, and strange, and exciting?
Someone turns out to be a ghost. Then some kids turn out to be a ghost. Then a dog named Petey turns out to be a ghost. Then another person turns out to be a ghost.
The only reason this book ranks higher on the scarier scale than Ghost Beach is because the main character never turns out to be a ghost, which means he is in a position to be scared by ghosts.
I also have to give a quick shoutout to the tagline on the front of this book, which says: “It will just kill you.” R.L. Stine, I love you, but sometimes you do not try.
7. The Ghost Next Door
I’ll give you one guess what this book is about.
6. Monster Blood
R.L. Stine is the kind of author who likes to ask questions, and in Monster Blood, he asks the question: what if slime could eat you and everybody that you loved?
Monster Blood is actually pretty scary, mostly because none of it makes sense. The green killer slime of the title makes a dog giant; a cat turns into a woman; the inventor of the slime turns out to be a witch who is enslaved by the cat/woman. It’s a lot, basically, and kinda feels like the bad dream you have after eating a wheel of brie for dinner.
5. The Horror at Camp Jellyjam
Like I said, I read all of the Goosebumps books when I was a kid, but I’d forgotten a lot about most of them before I re-read them recently.
What I hadn’t forgotten, however, was the ending of The Horror at Camp Jellyjam. Camp Jellyjam is about a bunch of kids at a summer camp who discover the counsellors are all being brainwashed by a massive, disgusting blob named King Jellyjam, who has to be constantly washed otherwise his own disgusting sweat will melt him. Which is exactly what ends up happening.
The Horror At Camp Jellyjam is really quite scary. It is creepy, and it is disgusting. If you told me I either had to eat two straight jars of mayonnaise or read the paragraph where King Jellyjam melts again, I’d have to think very hard and for a very long time before I answered.
4. Say Cheese And Die!
It is a scientific fact that the scariest thing in the world are skellingtons, which is what makes it so interesting that R.L. Stine has pretty much never written about them.
They don’t actually even appear in Say Cheese And Die!, a book about a camera that shows you how people are going to die. But they are on the cover, making Say Cheese And Die! one of the scariest Goosebumps books simply by association.
3. Why I’m Afraid Of Bees
Bees are, by themselves, pretty scary: they can sting you, they buzz around the place, they are not good at sharing honey and sometimes they try to date human women.
But, on the other hand, the absence of bees is also pretty scary, because if all the bees die, then we all do too. This makes bees a rare example of what scientists for hundreds of years have called the “double scary” animal.
In Why I’m Afraid Of Bees, a young man finds himself trapped in a bee’s body. Worse still, his own body is being hijacked by a bee. In typical Goosebumps style, nothing that follows makes sense, but it is deeply scary and left eight-year-old me so freaked out he didn’t sleep properly for two weeks.
2. The Girl Who Cried Monster
Recently, as part of a get-to-know-you event at my university, we all had to go around in a circle and talk about the person in the world we spend the most time thinking about. When it came to my turn, I said that the person was my mum, because it was easier than admitting that for the last 21 years I have spent almost every day thinking about Mr. Mortman, the librarian in the Goosebumps book The Girl Who Cried Monster.
Mr. Mortman has haunted my dreams for two decades. He is a part-time librarian and a full-time monster who eats flies and has a head that can suddenly swell up to three times its normal size. Also, did I mention that his eyes can turn black?
The Girl Who Cried Monster is also memorable because it features a nice twist on the Goosebumps formula. At the end, rather than it turning out that everybody is ghosts, it turns out that everybody is monsters. I believe this is what people refer to as a creative evolution.
1. Stay Out Of The Basement
Stay Out Of The Basement is the story of an evil plant monster that captures and then clones a young girl’s dad, pretending to be him in order to eventually consume her. For many months after I read it, I was convinced that my own father was a plant monster. I refused to hug him, in case it was a sly attempt to swallow me up into his evil plant body.
And still, to this day, I am not entirely convinced that he is not secretly made of tree roots and green goop.
In short, Stay Out Of The Basement basically ruined my relationship with my dad. It is pretty scary.