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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Goosebumps at 33: Phantom of the Auditorium

goosebumps Phantom of the auditorium cover

Phantom of the Auditorium opens with a tripped-out barrage of Phantom of the Opera inspired imagery, all of which turns out to be no more than a strange dream being had by a young girl named Brooke (Jessica Moyes). Brooke - who was cast to play the lead in the school’s production of ‘The Phantom’ - learns that the play is cursed by a missing boy who was set to play the titular role way back in 1923. According to one of the students, every time the play goes into production the Phantom shows up to haunt the cast and crew.   

News of this curse doesn’t frighten Brooke in the least, as she is far too excited to be playing such a big role to be concerned about an urban legend. Soon enough, however, someone dressed up as the Phantom shows up and begins causing trouble for the production. The Phantom specifically targets Brooke, who he constantly refers to as Esmeralda, which is the name of her character in the play.

goosebumps Phantom of the auditorium 1

The trouble caused by The Phantom is all pinned on Brooke’s best bud and the school class clown, Zeke (Shawn Potter), who has actually been cast as the Phantom. Looking to clear Zeke’s name and get to the bottom of this mystery, Brooke and Zeke decide to investigate, only to learn that the Phantom may very well be living in the basement of the school auditorium. Is the urban legend about the missing young boy true, or is there someone else looking to sabotage the play for some reason yet to be known?

Appearing during the series’ first season, Phantom of the Auditorium is, in my experience, a true anomaly in the Goosebumps cannon. What’s instantly noticeable about this episode is that it has a slightly Gothic feel about it, which fits in well with The Phantom of the Opera inspired storyline, while also giving the episode a very distinct feel from any other I‘ve seen. Furthermore, it’s certainly one of the more serious episodes that I’ve seen, as there is very little humor on display. Phantom of the Auditorium also marks the first episode I’ve watched that doesn’t feature a twist ending. And if anything’s a staple of Goosebumps, it’s that twist ending.

goosebumps Phantom of the auditorium 3

After doing this segment for four years, and feeling as if I had my finger on the pulse of Goosebumps, I’ve found myself quite surprised by the three episodes I’ve covered this Chucktober. There have been no bullies, obnoxious practical jokers, or even much to poke fun at, which has been an incredibly fun part of reviewing some of the episodes I have. With that said, all three episodes have also been really good, if not some of the best that I have watched so far. I suppose this shows the variety that can be found in R.L. Stine’s writing and, in turn, the show. It also further proves how perfect Goosebumps is as starter horror for young kids. There’s really a little something for everyone with this show.

goosebumps Phantom of the auditorium 2

That does it for this year’s Goosebumps at 33. I hope you’ve enjoyed this fourth season as much as I have, and I look forward to bumping into you again next Chucktober!

Until next time, kiddies, keep your night light on and your head under the covers…

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