BOOK 4: SAY CHEESE AND DIE
This was one of the more iconic book covers in the Goosebumps series. I feel like all kids from the 90’s remember this title and cover which is weird because the story itself isn’t very interesting.
One boring summer day Greg and his three friends Sharon, Michael and Bird all decide to break into a nearby house (where the strange man Spidey lives) and steal a camera. Whenever Greg takes a picture with the camera it immediately develops a picture that shows a horrible future.
Michael falls down a flight of stairs, Bird gets hit with a baseball, Greg’s dad’s car gets totaled and Sheri disappears all together. While Michael and Bird are skeptical Sheri believes Greg that the camera is pure evil. This could be due to the fact that she disappeared for two days after she failed to develop in a picture; or because R.L. Stine believes all of his books need a male and female hero.
While attempting to return the camera to Spidey they find out that he is an evil scientist (duh) and his former partner created the camera. While attempting to kill Sheri and Greg because they “know too much” (the only reason villains try to kill the hero in the world of Goosebumps) Sheri managed to take a picture of him causing him to ‘die of fright’.
This is the first story that I recall someone genuinely dying and R.L. Stine describing the corpse. Sheri and Greg seem pretty unshattered by the fact that they’ve just (a) seen a dead body and (b) basically killed him.
I’ve started to notice many reoccuring themes in these stories. Beyond that “boy and girl hero” aspect Stine seems to always include 2 male bullies in his books. I’ll see if this continues in the rest of the series and keep you updated.
THE GOOD: Honestly, I really disliked this one. The only good I have is the cover. All the goosebump covers are great but this one is particularly well done and always stuck in my mind.
THE BAD: The dialogue in this book is unbearable. Greg is taking pictures that develop COMPLETELY differently (a new car develops as a totaled car) and explains it off as ‘the camera is just broken’. Their friend Bird is ‘comedic relief’ who is beyond annoying. I don’t think I found his jokes funny even when I was a kid, but they were excruciating now. But the kid of bad dialogue comes from Spidey. This is how he explains himself and how he got the camera “I stole the plans and the camera. I was evil, you see.” Allow me to repeat, he says the words “I was evil, you see”. Come on R.L. Evil People never think they’re evil! Even if they did... they wouldn’t put it in the past tense and follow it with ‘you see’. Yeah, this one was rough. It also ends with a ‘potential sequel’ cliff-hanger (which they did get in book #44; however unlike yesterday’s Monster Blood... I don’t see how this book was popular enough to neccesitate a sequel except for the popularity of the cover”
THE TV SHOW EPISODE: This was a pretty boring episode. They were smart in limiting the characters to three main characters. I don’t know why they made the camera look so ridiculous because I don’t remember the book describing it as looking like an Alien Spaceship.
The only reason to watch this episode is that it stars a young Ryan Gosling who’s done better... but he’s also done worse. Although he shines compared to Caley Wilson who has zero emotion in every line she delivers.