The Haunted Mask
Carly Beth is feed up. She's feed up with being such a little scaredy cat. She's feed up with all the other kids playing pranks on her because she's such an easy target. She's feed up with being the timid little goodie two-shoes that always follows the rules. But that's all going to change, because this Halloween, Carly Beth is done playing games, and she vows to turn the tables all who have dared to scare her. Carly Beth only sees one solution to exacting revenge on those who have taken advantage of her gullibility, and that is to find the most horrific Halloween costume she can and do a little scaring of her own. There is one major problem, though, and that would her mother has already made one for her, and seeing as it's a duck costume, it is far from frightening. In fact, unless Carly Beth plans on playing The New York Ripper with her classmates, a cute and cuddly duck costume certainly isn't going to do the trick.
Carly Beth isn't sure how to deal with this whole duck costume fiasco, but things take a drastic turn when a few boys in her class decide it would be funny to put a worm in her sandwich during school lunch. Besides being incredibly unsanitary, it embarrasses the hell out of Carly Beth in front of the entire school, which sends her into full on RAGE MODE!! The first victim to fall to the wrath of Carly Beth is actually the duck costume her mother made for her, as Carly Beth tears it to shreds, leaving behind little more than a pile of yellow feathers and the faint sounds of muffled quaking.
This path of duck destruction that Carly Beth has gone on leaves her without a Halloween costume, so she goes to the local costume shop to buy herself the scariest mask she can find. Carly Beth is a little underwhelmed by what she sees in the costume shop, that is until she makes her way into a secret hidden room (aren't all hidden rooms secret?) that contains a handful of truly terrifying masks that Carly Beth knows will scare the doo doo out of her classmates. Unfortunately, the shopkeeper warns her that the masks aren't for sale, but Carly Beth cannot be stopped, so she throws down some money and runs out with the scariest mask in the store.
Needless to say, Carly Beth is extremely excited to go out and frighten her classmates with her new mask, and she begins putting it to use almost immediately. However, things begin to take a strange turn when her behavior becomes erratic and almost dangerous, as she goes all out, scaring little kids half to death, smashing pumpkins and telling pissed off parents to basically eat a fat one. It's pretty awesome. One question remains, though: is this behavior due to Carly Beth's sudden rebellious ways, or is she being influenced by the mask itself (the title should be an indication, of course), which seems to fit her just a little too well?
Originally airing on October 27th, 1995, The Haunted Mask made its television debut as a two-part TV special that also doubles as the pilot for the Goosebumps TV series. What immediately stands out about The Haunted Mask is the fact that there is no actual opening theme, which is a staple of every other episode of Goosebumps made afterwards. Instead, the two-part episode is bookended with an introduction and some closing thoughts by Goosebumps creator, author R.L. Stine, from the very costume shop Carly Beth finds her "haunted" mask.
As for the actual episode itself, The Haunted Mask might be one of the best episodes I have seen in my infantile time spent with the Goosebumps series. Of course it's the first episode, so they certainly went all out, but to be honest, a lot of familiar Goosebumps notes are hit with this one: pranks, bullies, revenge, and some sort of fun little plot twist are featured prominently. These are certainly attributes often found in 80% of Goosebumps episodes, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, as these are traits that make the series as fun as it is. I will say, though, that it was nice to see my first two-part episode, as there was much more to take from the story and the character of Carly Beth. With the average episode running at 22 min, the stories are generally pared down quite a bit, and it was refreshing to have a little more meat on the bone.
Anyway, as I've stated, The Haunted Mask is a great episode of Goosebumps and an even better way to end Goosebumps at 33 for this Chucktober. So long for this season, and remember, if the mask fits, wear it!