Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and InterviewsStreamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

'Goosebumps' and more family-friendly movies and television shows for Halloween

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It's October and Halloween is approaching fast, which means it's also the season for scary programming. But not everything has to be scary and for adult audiences like "Saw X" and "The Exorcist: Believer," both of which are currently in theaters.

"Goosebumps," a new series based on the R. L. Stine series of books, debuts on Disney+ and Hulu on Friday, Oct. 13. Executive producers Pavun Shetty and Conor Welch spoke with co-host Bruce Miller recently to discuss the program and the love for books.

Miller and co-host Terry Lipshetz also discuss some great family-friendly options to watch this fall, including "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," "Ghostbusters,"  "Beetlejuice," "The Addams Family," "Casper" and more.

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About the show

Streamed & Screened is a podcast about movies and TV hosted by Bruce Miller, a longtime entertainment reporter who is now the editor of the Sioux City Journal in Iowa and Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer for Lee Enterprises based in Madison, Wisconsin.


Episode transcript

Note: The following transcript was created by Adobe Premiere and may contain misspellings and other inaccuracies as it was generated automatically:

Welcome everyone to another episode of Streamed and Screened, an entertainment podcast about movies and TV from Lee Enterprises. I'm Terry Lipshetz, a senior producer at Lee and co-host of the program with the ghoulishly mischievous Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal and a long time entertainment reporter. It's Halloween is in the air. I love it. I love doing Halloween or whatever that song is from Nightmare Before Christmas.

That's right. Yeah. Danny Elfman, this this Halloween, that kind of stuff. Yeah. You know, are you a fan of Halloween movies? Do you really like all those scary kind of movies? Not scary. Scary. We don't. So the key with movies is they can't scare me where I can't fall asleep for a week. So what would be one that would scare you?

What would be a bad one? Anything gory? Like I'm not going to watch a saw movie. Like, saw whatever. They're on the 35th installment of that. I've never seen any of them, and I never will. And I like the Halloween movies. The Freddy Krueger ones, the Jason, the Slash. I just won't watch any. So those are just not for.

They're not for me. Yeah, well, I get it. I get it. I think when they get violent, it's not really fun, right? But it's a mystery. And you hear things, but you don't necessarily see anything. Yeah, that it's fun to watch those kind. But if it's the kind like I'm sitting in the house and it could happen to me in a minute if somebody jumped out and had a night or something.

No, not right. Yeah, I don't need any. And some of them are just. What was that movie? The Human Centipede. You know, the concept is somebody sewing people together internally. This is just ridiculous. Now, I don't mind a movie that's going to make me jump in my seat a little bit. You know, that's where I get like. Like movies, you know, like Jurassic Park where a dinosaur jumps out at you from the jungle.

That's cool. I'm into that. I'll watch that kind of thing. Ghostbusters. And we'll talk about some of these movies soon. But like a movie. Like a Ghostbusters, where goes, it's a little bit scary. There's some make up involved and some things that'll, you know, maybe give you a little trouble falling asleep. But it's not it's not gory, it's not gross.

And those are the ones that I just don't want to watch at all. I have no interest. They're not grabbing you in a bear trap in your own house. Right, right, exactly. I love psycho. I can watch Psycho all the time. It's real. It's like, okay. And especially after, you know, the secrets to Psycho. Then you go, Oh, it's even more interesting.

And then you start, you know, the bathtub for the 44th time that you're looking at this thing. You see that? Wait a minute. That's. That's somebody in the background that I recognize from a TV show, you know, So there are different things you see each time. And I think that the editing on that is impeccable. It's just incredible how they were able to make you think that it was scary when actually it probably wasn't.

Yeah, and even a film like Silence of the Lambs, which has moments that are pretty disturbing. Yeah, a little a little bit gross. But but that it's a psychological thriller about a serial killer. And that's the type of film that I can watch. But they're more realistic. It is realistic, right? Exactly. What about all those scary things like vampires and Frankenstein monsters and werewolves?

Do those get you like would Twilight be something you'd say yes to Twilight? I've seen bits of it. It's not really my cup of tea in terms of just, you know, it's like more of a team thing. So it's it's not really, but that is the type of film I would watch, like Interview with a Vampire with Tom Cruise.

I love that movie. I thought that was that was good. And those those types of films I'll watch. I like I like the Alien franchise, you know, with Sigourney Weaver and those are scary. Those are scary, but it's it's sci fi. It's a little bit more on the sci fi things. So what's the rule at your house with the kids?

Do Are they are they hot to see some of these films? Do they say, Oh, we've got to see this, we've got to see this, we got to see this, And then you say no, or what do you do? Some of them now I've got twin daughters. One of them is a little bit more adventurous, the one that I've spoken about who loves Star Wars.

She's a little bit more adventurous. My other daughter, who they're twins, but they're not identical. So one of them looks a little bit actually more like my wife, and that's the one that loves Star Wars. And then there's another daughter that has more of my characteristics and features. Is it bigger? What's that? She has to be here. Yes.

She has a very long beard. No, she has a lot of she has long hair. But it's on her head, not on her face, but she's very similar to me where she will get petrified by anything remotely like we watched Jurassic Park as a family and she will not watch the other ones. Like she tapped out after Jurassic Park one and she's 12.

Though I would think that The Exorcist is off the table. Off the table? That's not happened. Yeah. And they have a sequel out now. You could see that. Yeah. I'm trying to think if I would see The Exorcist. I mean, I've seen bits and pieces of like, I watched a bit of Poltergeist. I mean, I kind of watch that one.

I find if you go in the daytime, it's better when you come out. It's light though, at like seven or 8:00 at night and you come out and it's dark. They are everywhere. All the monsters that you can think of are out there. They're waiting. Yeah, yeah. I'll go during the daytime. You'll be able to enjoy those Doors was a horror film.

Sure. But that's. That's different. Like, that's the kind I would watch. That's kind of. I love Jaws. I think that's. It's a great movie. I don't the sequels, not so much but that's that's other reasons altogether. So if we limit it to the the kind of crazed, killer slash eternal scary films. Yeah, they're off the table. Yes. Those I won't watch at all.

Did you ever see the ones with Vincent Price and Peter Laurie and Boris Karloff back in the day in the sixties? They did a lot of American international pictures that were creepy, maybe scary, probably, and black and white. And we went to them like they were like soup. You know, We were just we were slurping them up. But many of you watch them now because they'll show them on Turner Classic Movies or TCM.

They're not that scary. No. And I think there is a bit of a difference also, because I think the movies of the last 25, 30 years or so as technology has improved and computer graphics and special effects and all that stuff, you can fall back into that level of filmmaking, I think, and increase the Gore level. Whereas some of those earlier movies from the fifties, sixties, even into the seventies, those movies were a little bit more reliant on psychological thrillers and is sometimes the unknown is scarier than the known, right?

You know, what you don't see can be scarier, like what's happening just off to the side of the screen that I can't see. You know, that Halloween is one of the biggest holidays of the year. Right. And as a result, they're trying to be as family friendly as they possibly can because there's money. There's money on the table that needs to be made.

And so they're kind of, if you will, softening the the horror films, but they're still out there like your Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters is a good example of one that they've tried to reboot. Now, how many times? Well, there's another one due out March eight, as long as it's still on target with with the Strikes Go, the sequel. We don't have a name for it yet, but it's it's Ghostbusters, Afterlife Sequel.

It's set to be released March 29 for 2024 or later or later. Right. But those are those work like hocus pocus, which is another one. And they've been hugely successful now in in rerun you know, on streaming services and they are making new ones they're it's it's a franchise in Disney is making big money off that so I don't think that will end but I do think there is room for new kind of thrilling family films right.

Yeah well and even even if you look at one of the biggest shows on streaming in the last year, Wednesday and Sunday. Right. And that's that's a spinoff of The Addams Family. Right. And my kids love it. Both my daughters love that show. Yeah. Why? Because it's clever. And I think if you go for just the stupidity of some of these things that are just, how can I shock you?

That's not that good. Right? And I think the I would talk a kid out of seeing some of those because I don't think that it would be really worth your time. Yeah, I can. I can scare you. Just give me a minute. But am I scaring you and then maybe teaching you something in the process? That's where it gets a little more interesting.

Yeah. So what are some of your favorites? What are your favorite acceptable films for family or family? So I think the first one that is my go to and as a fan of music, one I love and it's it's is a staple of television for years and years and years. It's a great pumpkin. Charlie Brown with the soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.

And I think yeah. And you know, for somebody, I'll tell you this, I'm not a huge, huge jazz fan. Like I have some jazz albums in my collection. But if you're looking for a gateway into jazz, sure, there's like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, all those. But if you if you dig the Peanuts TV shows and you can get into the Vince Guaraldi Trio, that's a good entry point to jazz music.

But I digress. You know, I love Very Pumpkin. Charlie Brown is just one of my favorite. You got that one and you've got the Christmas one. They've just have a handful of these programs, you know, themed at holidays, which I think you know, are just staples every year. You got to watch them. You mentioned the music in that I am sure if you were around back in the day, you would not have said, Oh, let's put some jazz with this.

It it doesn't fit with peanuts. It doesn't seem like something that you would have with it. And yet we can't think of it now without that kind of music. Right, Exactly. Yeah. And you know the song Linus and Lucy, which is pretty much in every Peanuts television show I've heard the Dave Matthews Band cover it. It's a such a key piece of music there that we all listen to.

Absolutely. Yeah. So if we ever go ice skating, we'll know that we have to have the music with us exactly as it just wouldn't be the same. Okay, what else can we watch? So I love and this one that I would like to show to my kids because I think they're old enough and I don't think it's that scary.

But I always loved it as a kid was Beetlejuice, and that one is another one that has a sequel, a sequel that's due out later next year with most of the original cast. I love that movie. And again, you're dealing with Tim Burton here, so there's a little bit of a weird genius in play. And then, of course, the music by Danny Elfman is tremendous as well.

You mention Tim Burton. He's kind of the king of the family friendly Halloween ask, you know, Yes, you look at all these ones that he has had. Corpse Bride? No. Edward Scissorhands. Yep. A number of those ones fit that that niche where you would go. Yeah. Okay. And he knows how to do it where it's not so scary that you won't sleep for a night or two.

But they are creepy and ParaNorman is another one like that. You just throw them all on the heap and it's like. And then Nightmare before Christmas. Come on. Yeah, yeah, yeah. He's made a career. I mean, he's. He's a, he's a bit of a weird dude, but a weird dude in a good way. Yeah. And technically doesn't even do all of these films, but his name is on them.

Other people are the directors, so you have to be very careful when you look at them to make sure that you're you're, you know, checking the right one. But yeah, it's is and print is on them very significantly and it's fun to watch, I think. Yes, absolutely It would is a classic but not necessarily scary but it does talk about those people who made those kind of films back when.

Yeah. You know, it's movie kind of going back and it scared me a bit as a kid, but I still enjoyed it and love it to this date is Gremlins, and I think that's one of the values that didn't that one kind of lead that and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom among the early films that were they weren't rated R because they definitely weren't R rated level films but they listed them as PG and you kind of needed something in between.

And I feel like, wasn't it Gremlins and Indiana Jones that kind of leads that PG 13 rating? There's a little there's a little more risk involved, if you will. And then it became everybody wanted a PG 13 rating. And so then they had to kind of parse it so that how many words are PG 13 ask? And they arrived at the theory that one certain four letter word we come up with it in your own mind once in a film was still PG 13.

Yeah. And there was a little bit of like you can allow, you know, some backsides, bare backside would be okay for PG 13, but not right. Not anything about that. Yeah, but then get into the R and then by then you're on the slippery slope to an X, so that's who knows what happens. Yeah. And it became a thing that kids didn't want to go to PG They wouldn't go to G movies because G movies were for babies.

That right. The way they'd look at that. Yeah, but a PG movie was one that parents would send you and you didn't have to have the parents sitting with you. PG 13 They might take a dimmer view about, Well, let me see here. Let's see what this is all about. Yeah. And now, you know, I think the kids want to see R-rated all the time.

I always look at when you get into movies with sequels, the ones that start out as rated R movies in the first movie, but then get knocked down to PG 13, like National Lampoon's Vacation. I think that was an R-rated film when it came out. But by the time they got to, I think European Vacation was even maybe PG 13.

Bigger audience, You're going to get more money. And that's exactly bottom line is the bottom line. Yeah, yeah. The gremlins is no good. No hire. I like a good R-rated movie when it's just for language because it's like, What the heck, I hear this at work, so I don't have to worry about what we're getting on the screen.

But sometimes they end up, you know, overdoing it just because they want to shock you with that end of things. But for the most part, PG 13, you're going to get enough thrills there. You're going to get enough of something, and mom and dad aren't going to be mad. Yeah, I agree. Another one that I really loved as a kid, but it did scare me a bit as a kid, but I kind of outgrew that a little bit.

Was Ghostbusters I love. I went to see Ghostbusters when it came out. I had a little trouble sleeping that night because you've got that early scene, really, you know? Yeah, well, you know, you go down into the into that basement at the New York Public Library and the ghost that was, you know, sifting through the card catalog. But yeah, you had a kind of scared scared me to death.

And I was I'm trying to think how old I was when at that time, you know, I was under ten years old. Eight, nine years old. So it was still a little bit scary to me. But to me, that that is a classic film, that one Ghostbusters two is just okay, I didn't mind the reboot, the Melissa McCarthy reboot from a few years ago.

I thought that was fine, but I really actually loved the Ghostbusters afterlife that came out a couple of years ago. I thought it was a nice tribute, some good callbacks to the original film, and I thought there was some some nice tributes to it. I thought they did a nice job with, like, let's say, Harold Ramis bringing him back into the film even though he had passed away.

I thought that was nice. It was a good tribute. So I am looking forward to the sequel that's due out next year. Or not? Or not? Maybe not. We allegedly Hey, I'm ready. I'm ready for it because I do like when they make you laugh. In fact, that's kind of the real surprise is that you can see a scary movie, but you still have a reason to laugh.

And I think too many of them get very, very serious where you're like, Oh, man, this could happen to me right here in this theater. This is not good. Yeah, exactly. When I was a child, we had movies where you could you were interactive, if you will. They even add some movies where they would wire the seats and they'd have what was called The Tingler.

And then it would shock you during the course of the film and you get a jolt from all of that. But one of the things I remember most, because it was my scariest movie ever, was one where you got to vote before you got into the theater. Should the guy, you know, thumbs up or thumbs down and you had to vote.

And then at the end of the film, they would show the real door that you had voted for. Now, did anybody ever vote? You know, I don't even know if they made a second real because everybody wants to see a certain ending. Man, you know, they can tell you, oh, you're voting and this is going to count. But this sounds like, you know, politics today.

You got a chance to do thumbs up and then you'd put it into this. I remember this vividly in a light and the light would show what you had voted thumbs up or thumbs down. Did the movie scare was called Mr. Sardonic Tests? Mr. Sardo I've heard about that. I never saw it, though. And it was just this man with this frozen face where he had this.

It was like, You look like the Phantom of the Opera if you want to have a point of reference. Mr. Sardonic would give you that e scary ride, and that creeped me out as a kid so much that every night I had to go and check to make sure that the basement door was locked so that Mr. Iconoclast wouldn't come up and get me in the middle of the night.

Oh, wow. Wow. That's crazy. My parents were letting me go to all his crap. Now I turned out this is great back that it was probably rated G, So yeah, I that it was and you know, I probably was with people that you don't even hear about. You don't even know their names anymore because they were done very cheaply and they were sent all around the country at different times.

So you weren't necessarily going to all see the same movie on the same weekend. It was like a special thing. But the idea that it was interactive was, you know, as fun as a little thing. But we were always scared. We were scared, you know. Did you like Young Frankenstein? Mel Brooks, his movie. I try to think if I've ever even seen it, it's black and white.

Right? The story of Frankenstein's grandson, I believe it is. Or a and so he inherits the place in in Germany. And he goes over there or Bavaria or wherever it is. It's, you know, some place over in Europe that's Transylvania, like. And the people are all like, you know, well, you're his his grandson, right? And no, no, no, I pronounce it Frankenstein.

And there are all the you know, Marty Feldman's in there with the as Igor or Igor, whichever is in it, and Madeline Kahn was in it. And Cloris Leachman, I mean, it was a clever, clever film and a good way of kind of approaching all this. And it did have scary moments. But, you know, is it is is it one you show your kids?

I think without the point of reference. Yeah. Having seen Frankenstein, I don't know that you'd get the humor now. I don't know if this would be appropriate for the kids. They still might be a little young for it, but it's along the lines of Frankenstein. But would you consider this to almost be a Halloween ish type of movie?

Weird science, the John Hughes film? Yeah, that's clever. Yeah, it's kind of it is like a it is sort of like a Frankenstein. It's just writing teenage boys with the hormones raging. They don't create a monster. They create a hot woman. Right? Right. Well, what about Teen Wolf? Oh, yeah, that's a great fox. Yeah. I mean, you know, it's it's in that genre, all those universal pictures that were classics and they're still mining them now, but then they give him a little twist.

And here we've got something that maybe works for a younger audience. Yeah, Teen Wolf, too, right? That was the sequel. But it didn't have Michael J. Fox. Probably not. No. Is Teen Big Thing. It was like Teen Wolf, like not the number two, but it was like, oh, yeah, I think by the time he did, that was one of those ones that they kind of kicked off.

And then he got all that success from Family Ties and then he was in the back to the Future trilogy. So he was really. Did he need to do one? No, probably not. No. I think he probably didn't get paid much either. No, no, no. But that was a classic of my youth. I remember that one vividly. And yet it was a cheap movie.

Exactly. You know, another one which I don't know if I would consider this. I saw it on some lists for Halloween films, and I don't necessarily know if it's Halloween, but it took place during Halloween and it's E.T. The extra terrestrial. That's a classic false movie. I don't think that counts. I don't think yeah, I don't know if it's a I see it on the list and I get it.

And, you know, they dressed up E.T. and and it made it look like a costume in all that. But it's more I think the time of the year, Halloween time than necessarily being a Halloween movie. If we're ditching Jaws as a legitimate movie for this time of year, we're ditching E.T.. It can't be it. I'm fine with that.

I'm fine with that. All right. Any more on the list? The girls did watch this one at a pretty young age, and I think it's a good kind of ghost movie. And it appeals both to, I think, parents and Kids is Casper the 1995 film. And that one was kind of fun because it is Casper. Casper, of course, is the Friendly Ghost, but it had fun little callbacks because wasn't Dan Aykroyd as the Ghostbuster made an appearance in it, and you had Father Guido Sarducci from Saturday Night Live.

Amen to exercise the house and all that. And I thought that was always a fun film to watch and it's one that's appropriate to the kids. It's not going to scare them. You're you're alright with that and they're not going to go, Wait a minute Dad. What did you do to us? The one that's a spoof of horror films, Scary movie.

Would that be one you'd consider? I don't know. I, I think I hate the genre so much. I mean, I've seen Scary Movie. I've seen all know. It's almost like I just don't even I hate I hate that aspect of the genre so much that the the spoof of it just doesn't appeal to me. I never I mean, I know it's not scary scary, but I just like, I can't I don't enjoy the references to begin with, so I'm not going to watch it.

How about arachnophobia? Oh, boy, that's been a long time since I saw that one. There was this kind of creepy spiders. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And then what about this is one maybe you did see with your kids the house with the clock in its walls. Have you seen that one? I don't think so. But it on the list.

Put it out. It's. I think it's pretty good and creepy. Okay. And it has people that you you you know, I'm not going to tell you all this because I think you want to go in blind, but it has actors that you recognize in their playing, kind of heightened versions of maybe what we know them for. Okay. But yeah yeah it's Ruby House now.

The Haunted Mansions. I have never really liked anything that they've done with Haunted Mansion. The current one that's out in theaters are heading to DVD. I don't like it. I think it is too much plot for what it's trying to unpack. And there, you know, it's like we got to try and tie in with the theme park somehow.

We got to make sure that we have these things that we're imagining and we're going to add the music. And then we got to have the hot hatbox ghost because that's going to be at the parks at some point. I hate that. And the Eddie Murphy one that came before was no good either. But I did like when the Muppets did a Haunted Mansion.

Oh, yeah. You can't go wrong with the Muppets. Yeah, the Muppets. They. You know, the Muppets were everywhere. The Muppets had done everything. Even though you think where they been, they don't really do too much, do they? Did they did a lot, but they had their own Haunted Mansion movie. And of the three, I think that's probably the best one as a second one out.

I don't I don't know if I ever saw that one. That would be fun. Yeah. It's it's cute to see Coco. Oh, yeah. What maybe be classified in this is in this genre because he goes to the dead you know where he's and it scare. I thought it was scary in parts. Yeah but I'm yeah I then it's an animated film and I think it's it's a beauty full film it was visual It's really because that was a Pixar movie.

Right. Right, right. Yeah. I'm trying to think of that. And then maybe my favorite recent Pixar film, I'm not sure if there's been a whole lot after that, but I really loved it. It was a really well done. Yeah, very well done. I saw that on some lists for Halloween movies and I was on the fence as to whether or not I would consider it, but they knew the characters out and I wish I could think of the name of the guy.

He was the singer who sings Remember Me? Yeah. Yeah, he looks like a skeleton. And they have that character at the theme parks now, singing and talking and interacting with the audience. And I think, Well, that's kind of interesting, but it's not so scary that you would, like, run away from it. You know, you get yeah, it's this could be good.

And then the original Addams Family films, those were good. Oh, sure. Yeah. Did you like the you're talking about the ones with like Raul, Julia and Anjelica Huston, right? Yeah, those were fine. I enjoyed them. The reboots that they did, CGI, not so much. Not on your list? No. Now the kids don't mind a may I? They've watched them a number of times.

And I think they're they're at least family friendly enough. I don't mind them. I got I think I got dragged to the movie theater to see one of them and it was okay. Yeah. You know who we do? Well, Scooby Doo is awesome. Well, now the live action Scooby Doo. No, I'm not going to watch A lot of Freddie Prinze Jr was in it commercial.

No, and I watched that. Yeah. What about monsters Inc? That's a fun one I love. But, I mean, that gets back to the early Pixar movies that I think almost everyone hit it out of the park. Yeah, my one daughter who doesn't like scary things. I think we tried showing that to them when they were little, like four or five years old and she's like, Come back to it since.

Yeah, Coraline, that's not so bad. I'm trying to think when I've seen it, but it's been a really. Yeah, well, that's the one with the button eyes and all that. Yeah. Mm. Yeah. So there we are. Cruella. I'm throwing that one at you. That's scary. The live action one for a couple years. Yeah. No, that was fun. I never know if I would.

I consider that to be Halloween ish. I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. But he dresses up. That's a really good soundtrack. Yeah. Costumes, I think. Was it? It was nominated for best costume? I think so. Yeah. I didn't even want it. My. No, I remember because one of my daughters went as cruel a few years ago for Halloween.

And so she absolutely wants to see that in the theater. And I, I enjoyed it. And I thought the music kind of kept me going on it. It was well-done from that end. Yeah. No, it's a you know, again, Disney knows how to lean into these things because they know there's money on the back end with that. So if they can find a way to monetize some kind of property, they've got somewhere Maleficent, you know, in there, they'll do it, they'll do it.

But I think they're your safest bet when you're looking for something that you can show the kids without corrupting the kids, right? Absolutely. Yeah. One of the things that I have in my back pocket that actually is premiering this week is Goosebumps. Oh, Amber Goosebumps. Did you read any of the books they were before? Well, after my time, I should say.

Right. I was not a Goosebumps person. Yeah, I didn't read the books. That kind of I'm not sure when the books came out, but I just either either I'm a little too old for them or it's just not something that I ever got into. The kids loved them and I met R.L. Stine, and R.L. Stine does not seem like the type of guy who would write those kinds of books, but there were more than 60 of them.

And then there were spin offs and all these kinds of things. And there were TV series, there was a TV series that would take each book and then, you know, make an individual show about that. But now they've come up with a new series that kind of mash them all up. It's also called Goosebumps. It's it'll be on Hulu and Disney Plus.

And what it is, is they've taken five books. The premise of five books, and then created this kind of overlay where it's a high school and the kids are realizing that something is amiss in their school and a ghost possesses one of their favorite teachers and they're worried about this. They don't know what's going on. They're trying to get to the bottom of it.

But what they've taken is those five individual stories of these five kids and turned them into they're kind of subplots. So they become social issue ones. Maybe I have a diety when I'm at school. Maybe there is something about the kids don't like me. I mean, those kinds of subplots that play into this. And I was able to talk with the producers of the film or the series or whatever you want to call it.

And they were able to explain, you know, how did why do they do this? How do they do this? What's going on there? Connor Welch and Pavan Shetty and they are both former executives at networks. One was at ABC, one was at NBC. And so they kind of knew from the background what would work, what they could do.

And they realized that, you know, wait a minute, what you need is a great idea, and then you figure out what to do with that great idea. And so we do have an interview, if you'd like to hear it. Absolutely. Producers, are you two were you big Goosebumps fans as kids? Is that what this is all about? Is this why it happens?

That's where it all began. Yes. Voracious Goosebumps reader. The first book series that made reading feel fun as opposed to a task or ad sure that my parents or teachers made me do so. Yeah, I said little seminal series. And now my my oldest daughter is reading them as well, which is really fun. Same with you. Yeah. Yeah.

Garner and I are the same age, so we kind of grew up on these books and, and, and, you know, we're looking back on them with a sense of nostalgia. Now. But like kids, like Connor's kids getting scared for the first time. So it's a lot of different perspectives on the same material. And so it was really important to us that we sort of put those things together and made a show that felt appealing to both kids and adults at the same time.

It does seem a little more adult than past series. Was that intentional? You you plan that? Yeah, absolutely. We wanted to just sort of, you know, elevated a bit. And also, you know, the book series when I was reading them and now when my daughter reading them was always a little scarier and a little funnier than you expected.

And so that was certainly the intention with this series that we would surprise an audience with with more scares and more humor, hopefully, than they thought we would bring. And, you know, in in the landscape with premium television, it was important to us that it that it felt really sophisticated and cinematic and and yeah, it would play well for audiences of all ages.

So where do you get the idea to mash things up? Well, you know, we were lucky enough to have access to all of the Goosebumps books because R.L. Stine gave us access and our partners at Scholastic did too. And you know, there's a lot to choose from. So our creators, Rob Letterman and Nick Stoller, had a great idea where they came up with the structure, where for each of the first five, we're following a different character who's dealing with one of the issues from the books.

And mid-season they come together and realize what's going on and decided to take matters into their own hands. So we harnessed five of the books for the first five, and then we're pulling from a lot of them throughout the entire series. There's Easter eggs for a Goosebumps fans throughout the entire first season of the show. So if you go a second season and then will these same characters travel with that or does it become a whole new thing?

Yeah, the intention would be that these characters would would continue. And yeah, we were just so excited by these new actors, a lot of who will be brand new faces for for, for the audience. And they really just sort of hit their stride and found a really fun chemistry pretty early on in the season. So we'd love to see those dynamics play out for many more episodes to come.

Where do you find somebody to be Harold Biddle, for God's sakes, And how do you advertise for that? Well, we were lucky that that, you know, Justin Long, who ends up being possessed by Harold Biddle, comes along. And obviously Justin is so good at both comedy and horror, you know, from even Jeepers Creepers. And he just did Barbarian before we cast him.

And some of us were lucky enough to work with him before this. And, and I think Justin is someone that's perfect to do. Both those really comedic physical comedy set pieces, but also is able to be super scary and most importantly, be scared on camera in a really good way. And I think you know, our our he plays Mr. Brad is possessed by Harold Biddle but I think it was important that all of our cast be really good both comedically and dramatically because I think we switch back and forth between comedy and and thrilling stuff pretty seamlessly in the show.

Did you worry about him getting hurt because he does bring himself up Quite. I mean, what is this? You know? No, he is just an incredible physical comedian. And to watch him struggle with being possessed by a teenage boy and, you know, not all of it that entails was really, really hysterical. And Justin is just someone who is surprising at every turn.

Like every single take is a little bit different. And so we got some really, really fun, compelling performance out of him. And you said, we can't match anything. So doing all over again, right? That's good. Did you talk with R.L. Stine during the course of all of this? And what does he say? We did, yeah. Which was of the most thrilling parts of the entire process.

You having his name, you know, in bright green across most of the books in my library, in my child childhood bedroom. But yeah, he was involved in reading scripts and watching cuts. And yeah, one of the most exciting parts was when he first watched the pilot and reported back that that he loved it. And yeah, that was just a thrilling cherry on top.

I think, you know, for us we, we didn't take lightly how beloved the books are. I mean, they are massive, massive book series, over 400 million copies, 32 languages, I mean, and we genuinely love them. So we wouldn't have done this without his sort of blessing and support to go forward with this version. Well, your concept of, you know, the mash up does seem like something that, you know, is original.

It's not just we're taking another book and we're doing the same thing. It is a different a different take on it. What is it about horror, though, that people love? I think it's the surprise. I think I think actually there's something very similar about horror and comedy in the cadence and the rhythms of it. It's a lot of set up in surprise.

The surprise for a horror being a scare or a jump, the surprise or a a joke being the punchline. So Rob Letterman and Nick Stoller, the creators, and Hilary Winston, our showrunner, I think did a really great job of sort of harmonizing between those two genres throughout. So sometimes when you would expect a scare, you would get a laugh.

Another other times when when you were thinking, you know, there was a laugh coming, hopefully we we jump scared yet and this is you know there's lot of stuff like that. But we also talked a lot about how just being a high school kid today is super scary. Also, you know, we're dealing with a lot of personal issues these kids are dealing with.

So their teacher, he might be possessed by a ghost, but that's not even anywhere near as scary as being rejected by someone you like when you ask them out on a date. And so we're really sort of taking that. And those are universal issues, right? So that's pretty scary growing up right now. Those old media is scary. That's the the real threat that I never had to deal with.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Two were both executives at networks. What did that inform you about what people want? I'm just surprised that this is the direction you're going. You know what I mean? Where you you could control what we put on the air, but now you're creating the content for that. Yeah, well, I mean, you know.

Go ahead, go, go for it. Okay. I would say that being on the network side was helpful in perhaps selling and convincing to the powers that be, how to get your original idea through. And so with this, we were lucky enough to have a giant piece of intellectual property, as Bob and said, this is a book series that has sold over 400 million copies around the world.

Many different languages. So that is, is that from a network point of view is a great selling point. Okay, you check the big box that handles a lot of marketing, a lot of awareness, and then I think it was helpful in being able to articulate to the the buyers why this was going to be thrilling in different This was going to be something that's funny and scary great.

This is going to be something for adults and their kids. Grade This is also going to be something for adults who don't have kids, who grew up watching the book, or maybe adults who don't have kids who aren't a fan of the series. So, yeah, I think having been on the other side just sort of helps speak the language a little bit to get our very original idea through.

And I think, you know, we were both I was at NBC, Connor was at Fox, and then we both started producing and we've gone back and forth between comedy and drama. But I think when you're at a network and you're trying to program to a broad audience, you do try to chuck a lot of boxes. You have a medical show, you have a workplace comedy.

And I think at the end of the day, what we both learned is that you just have to have a good show. If you have a really good show that's authentic and takes risks and is just, you know, is fun to watch, then people are going to find it. You know, the audience will find the show. And I think at the end of the day, that's what was important to us here, is that we really just make a good show and and then the rest will happen.

Now, how is it this time, though, breaking through? Because there are so many shows out there and you do have the built in name recognition, but how do you make sure that you get see? Yeah, well, I think it just has to feel real and relatable. So, you know, as pub and said, all of these issues, all of these hauntings start from a hopefully very relatable place of insecurity, of the burden of finances, of does the boy I like, like me back and vice versa.

And then we get to elevate it with these big scary set pieces and monsters and and hauntings. So I think as long as it starts with a relatable nugget, you can kind of explode it to be a big spectacle. And and hopefully some combination of those things will break through the noise. And it's fortuitous that the show revolves around a Halloween party, and that's where the kids find all these items.

And we're premiering on October the 13th, Friday the 13th, right before Halloween. So the timing kind of works out to where we're doing a really scary show that comes out in the scariest month of the year, obviously. So what scares you guys? Everything. I think it strikes tomorrow. Yeah, right. That leaves this possibility of never being able to make movies and television again.

Yeah. You got everything done though. You have all ten in in. Yes. Very good. Like this. This was all pretty before before the strikes went down and we've been able to. Yeah. Unfortunately our our talent and creators and actors can't do the press. So that's why you see Puppet and I go to outside of that we're very grateful to have gotten it all in the can before this all turned upside down on us and have an are you related to the dean of a certain college or university?

Oh, that's funny. Yeah. I also produce the boys and the spin off Gen V and that's coming out this month. And they did name one of the characters after me. So I guess that's that's quite a bit. Yeah. But I think you know that hopefully my character is in, in real life isn't represented by the character in that show.

But, but it's that's another fun one that'll be coming out soon too. When you do have those kinds of series that are all on, how do you know which child gets what you know like with this for example, how do I know I should have this in that show and not in that show? You know, I do, Yeah.

Luckily, there's not a lot of crossover between the boys universe and Goosebumps. They're they're pretty different audiences. And I think if we did have some of the same tonal touchpoints, we'd have a little bit of a problem. I think it all comes from the creators, Rob and him in here with a really specific point of view and worked with this material and and that in the very beginning they knew exactly what this show was going to be.

And with Sony and Scholastic and Disney plus really shape this. And so it sort of took on a life of its own once these guys started and and they just really embraced, you know, their comedy background and the horror here. That's very different than other shows that I work on. And it's it's super exciting. Hey, you guys, thank you so much.

I'm dying to see the whole thing. I've only seen a couple of episodes, so don't spoil it. I don't want to know what happens, but I'm glad it's back. I'm really glad it's back. And the idea that it's a lot of stories where you can go, Aha, I get that. Oh, that's from that one. This is a really cool concept.

So thanks so much. Hey, if you need to teach at the university, just call me. Oh, this is very appreciated, man. All right, Bruce, thank you for those interviews. Did you catch in there? That one is also a producer of the boys and Gen V, which is a spinoff of that, and they've named a character after him, Dean Shetty.

And they said, you said they just did that. But, you know, it's like, hmm, what do we do with our producers here? Let's give them let's give them some kind of a profile. And maybe it's related to reality. Yeah, Yeah, I thought that was pretty funny. It's a good way to to, you know, kind of brown nose a little bit, I guess.

Right. We all take after people, too. Let's. Let's make the producers happy. Right? Right. Can't go wrong there. So this show, it debuts on Friday night. It's yeah. Scary. And then it runs for ten weeks and they're looking for a second season. So let's see if it happens. Well, on that note, we will wrap things up. Go get candy.

I think we should. That's always a good thing. After a Halloween film, Eat more candy. That's the trick. And visit your dentist and yeah, there you go. All right. Thanks again. And join us again next week for another episode of Streamed and Screened.

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Streamed & Screened: Movie and TV Reviews and Interviews

A podcast about movies and TV, hosted by Bruce Miller, editor of the Sioux City Journal, and longtim 
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