Saturday, October 29, 2016

Recap: Goosebumps "One Day at Horrorland Part I"

There are certain Goosebumps tales that are simply iconic.

And yes, "One Day at Horrorland."

These books are the ones that permeated pop culture, regardless of whichever one you might say is your favorite. I always liked "How I Learned to Fly" myself, though I know that one certainly isn't representative of the series as a whole, being more of a fantasy short story than anything else.

But Slappy the Dummy is the Goosebumps monster.

The Haunted Mask is the Goosebumps artifact.

And Horrorland is the Goosebumps location.

Naturally, each of these stories were adapted for the show, as I've covered.

But a mask bonding to somebody's face is a trivial makeup job, and making a puppet look like it's actually a living thing was perfected ages ago by the Jim Henson Workshop.

Creating a demented theme park occupied by monsters? Well, we'll see if Canadian TV has the budget for that.

Here's hoping they haven't used up the majority of their budget on this season's "Awesome Ants."
The episode opens with a family sitting in their car at a random beach. This is the Morris family, and they're lost.

Mr. Morris: "No, we're not lost."

That's what my dad always said, too. "I'm not lost because I know how to get back to someplace I recognize."

Mrs. Morris: "Let's find a gas station and ask for directions."
Mr. Morris: "Honey. I don't do that."

Which explains why you're lost, now doesn't it?

Mrs. Morris (Kirsten Bishop) allows her husband, the lovechild of Will Ferrell and David Hasslehoff (Jonathan Whittaker), to screw around with a map while  their kids, Lizzy (Heather Brown) and Luke (Michael Caloz) do what all kids do on trips like this. Complain. They're hungry, tired, hot, and all that other stuff that kids whine about.

Luke: "Are we there yet?"

Yeah, just like that.

Mr. Morris: "Luke."

"I am your father."
Mr. Morris: "Now, you know the rules. Don't keep asking me 'Are we there yet?' because you'll know we're there when we're there."

Which is why I always asked "Are we almost there?" That's how you play the game, kids.

Lizzy: "It's boiling back here."
Mrs. Morris: "Well, if your father would have had the car fixed, we might have air conditioning that worked."

Why do I get the feeling that they only took this trip in an attempt to rekindle their rocky marriage?

Mr. Morris: "I don't understand it. Zoo Gardens should be right here!"

If there isn't even a road, then how do you know you're in the right spot? Did the map say to follow a dirt trail to an abandoned beach?

Lizzie: "It's probably one of those zoos where all they have is sheep anyway."

Sheep are boring. Give me a goat any day.
Mrs. Morris: "Would you please ask for directions?"
Mr. Morris: "It should be right here on the map."

Okay, so let me get this straight. Not only is Zoo Gardens not where it should be on the Earth, it's not where it should be on the map? Are you under the impression that you're some kind of reality warper who can change the topography around you with but a thought? Did you just drive in a random direction, thinking that you could just arrive at a random place, say "Alakazam!" and have a zoo materialize?

Mrs. Morris: "Let's find a gas station."
Mr. Morris: "A gas station? I don't even see a road!"

Then... how did you get here? Did you drive across an empty field? And while we're at it, Mr. Morris, what is your plan? You don't want to turn around, but you admit that you're at a dead end.

"If I wait long enough, maybe they'll end up building a zoo here eventually! Then we'll go to that zoo!"
Lizzy: "You guys, don't start arguing."

Yep, this is one marriage on the rocks. And that's not getting into the all-out verbal abuse going on in the original book.

Luke: "I wanna see Zoo Gardens! You promised."
Mr. Morris: "You're right. You're right. We did promise. And your mother and I are not gonna let you two kids down."

"By God, we're getting out of this car right now and petting the nearest wildlife we see!"
Mr. Morris puts the car in gear and tries to find the main road. But as they ease on down the road, they find a barrage of fireballs about to hit their car instead.

Mario's gone nuts!
And to make matters worse, it appears as though the seventh seal is opening right in front of them.

I didn't think the Antichrist would look so... rubber-faced.
But when the frightful vision disappears, the confused Morrises get distracted by a sign for a nearby attraction called "Horrorland." The kids get interested, and the adults decide that it beats sitting around arguing, so they head off to visit Horrorland, passing a plaster gargoyle that laughs as they go by.

So... I guess we're ignoring that vision of Hell opening up and a minion of Lucifer making himself known to mortals? 'Kay.
The parking lot is nearly empty, and the only cars in it are abandoned and overgrown. As the Morrises exit their vehicle, a sinister hand emerges from the manhole below to secretly place a device on their car.

And if you've actually read the book and are expecting the car to blow up, prepare to be disappointed. Also, prepare to be disappointed anyway, because that's the one thing this two-parter provides in abundance.

When they get to the ticket booth, the first thing Lizzy notices is the redundant sign.

Lizzy: "'The Horrorland Horrors welcome you to Horrorland'? What's a Horror?"

"Well, um, Lizzy, a... um, sometimes women make money by... oh, Horror."
The Horror working the booth pops up.

Ticket Horror: "You're our guests today. Admission is free."

If admission's free, than why are you guys even bothering with a ticket booth?

"Rest in peace! The haunting's free! So hurry back, we would like...."
Shh! One more word, and the Mouse will be here faster than you can say "Viewer beware, you're in for a scare."

But the Morrises aren't about to look a gift Horror in the mouth, so they head into the park to have themselves a time and a half.

Ticket Horror: "Have a scary day!"

Now that's even cuter than when R.L. Stine said it.
The first thing they encounter is another Horror holding on to a dismembered head.

Head: "Stay off the guillotine ride. Sharp turns."
Horror: "No talking. You know the rules."

With those eyes and ears, I keep expecting this guy to jump on a glider and throw bombs at Tobey Maguire.
With their first "scary" encounter over with, they all head off to see the rides as the security camera follows them.

Really? Come on, Goosebumps, spend more than a loony on your prop skulls.
The kids naturally want to head off in different directions, but their parents tell them to stick together as they wander this strange place with no adult supervision. You know, when I read the book, I didn't imagine Horrorland being this... pastoral.

Fear the lush greenery of Horrorland! Run in terror from its freshly mown grass!
As they head down the trail to the Hall of Mirrors, they appear to be stalked by the nearby bushes. But as the kids walks past the verdant foliage of Horrorland, it's revealed that a Horror is merely creeping around in the bushes.

Or maybe the cameraman took a sudden interest in this maple tree.
They continue down the path, peek past what appears to be an attraction of some kind, laugh for no real reason, and find a crying girl and her family coming the other way before...

Run, kids! Stranger danger!
The Horror yells at them to get out while they still can, but the kids ignore his frantic message.

Lizzy: "You scared him, that wasn't very nice."

Did you forget where you were, Lizzy?

Horror: "Get out! Get out!
Lizzy: "Wait! What do you mean?"

Good question. What could "Get out" possibly mean? It's a mystery!

They're a little unnerved by the random Horror, but that quickly goes away as they head over to the House of Mirrors. After some padding where the kids goof off in front of some standard funhouse mirrors, Luke runs off deeper into the maze.

Lizzy: "Luke!"

I am your father.

Lizzy: "Luke!"

I am your father.

Then she does a pirouette for... reasons.
Lizzy: "Luke!"

I am your father.

I can keep it up as long as you can, Liz.

Luke and Lizzy end up in different mirrored rooms, which begin messing with their heads by not only making their reflections disappear, but also by showing another vision of one of Hell's denizens.

Lizzy screams at the top of her lungs, which is briefly heard by Mrs. Morris before her husband tells her not to be surprised that kids are screaming in a place called "Horrorland."

The Morrises are surprised at the lack of adults, so they check the concession stand.

Vending Horror: "Hoy there, folks! Ya look miiiiiiiiiighty thirsty."

This one talks like a pirate with a sore throat. I'm just going to roll with it.

Vending Horror: "How'd you like a nice Monster Punch?"

It's a hot day, so they order two Monster Punches. And here's where I overanalyze the humor.

The obvious punchline (no pun intended, I swear) is for the monster to punch him twice, right? "Two Monster Punches"? Well, the Horror only punches the dad once, making it look like he was giving a playful jab to the ol' boy instead of delivering a corny and predictable punchline.

Seriously, he ordered two punches. If he doesn't get hit twice, then you're doing the shtick wrong..

As the mirrored walls close in on Lizzy, the Vending Horror gets out a couple of generic cardboard cups and commemorative Jurassic Park lids.

I mean, uh, monster-shaped lids. Yeah, that's it.
The Vending Horror giggles to himself as he bends back a claw and pours liquid from his body into the cups before handing it to them.

"What, no ice?"
Mrs. Morris: "Do you happen to know where Zoo Gardens is?"
Vending Horror: "Never heard of it."
Mr. Morris: "Well, can you tell me where the phones are?"
Vending Horror: "Phones? Ain't no phones in Horrorland!"

You're a spooky theme park, not an Amish village. What do you guys do if you have a fire? Pour monster punch on it instead of calling the fire department? Where do you guys get your vending supplies from? Cups and lids and such? Do you drive into town and buy them in bulk from a wholesaler? Do you order them over the phones you don't have?

"Man, you are...."
Putting way too much thought into this, I know.

The only thought going through Mrs. Morris's head is that she wants to find the kids and leave.

Vending Horror: "Kids?! You got kids?!"

Whoa, dude, chill. You're acting like the world's least subtle child predator.

Vending Horror: "Where are they? Huh? Huh?"

Hopefully, at least 500 yards away from you.

Mr. Morris says they went off on the rides, which the Vending Horror says is odd, since most parents don't let their kids out of their sight here. It's not safe, you know.

But before the House of Mirrors can squish Lizzy, she gets dropped into... I don't know, the Doctor's timeline?

"I don't know where I am."
But she and her brother pop out at the end of a slide, where a Horror waits to greet them.

Horror: "Did you enjoy the House of Mirrors? It's one of our most popular rides."

A House of Mirrors doesn't count as a ride. It's an attraction.

Lizzy isn't a fan of that experience, but Luke manages to blackmail her into it by threatening to tell her crush, Alan Markowitz, that she writes "Mrs. Lizzy Markowitz" inside her notebooks over and over.

So she agrees to go on the Coffin Cruise while her parents start worrying over the fact that they all agreed to meet up ten minutes ago.

"Why did we spend an hour in that House of Mirrors, anyway?"
As Mrs. Morris worries harder and harder, she sees an upset family getting taken into a maintenance door with a "No Humans Allowed" sign.

Okay, so... that sign gives me a really weird feeling of nostalgia, like I've actually seen one of those in real life. Can anybody confirm if that sign was based off of anything, or if they made Halloween decorations that looked like that, or something? Something about that red font on a black background with a blue border seems really familiar. Like, no joke.

This is going to bug me forever.

Mr. Morris: "Honey, you're getting paranoid."

"It says 'No Humans Allowed.' So there must not be any humans in there."
I'm going to fast-forward through the coffin ride, since all they do is get locked into coffins and sent floating down the rapids like little baby Moses. And there's a spider that disappears once the ride is over.

I've seen candy factories with scarier water rides.
The kids have officially had enough, and the Horrors know it. So when their parents ambush them from the forest, everybody's on the same page: Dodge the Horrors and get out of Dodge.

So they sneak through the lush forests of Horrorland while the Horrors follow them. When they get to the front gate, they notice a sign.

Lizzy: "'No Exit'? 'No one leaves Horrorland alive'?"

This would be a spooky and atmospheric place to end the episode... but the real ending waits until the Horrors catch up with the angry Morrises.

To be continued! In the oddest way possible.


  1. Did you know that Mrs. Morris' late V.A. also voiced the female Zoycite, Esmeraude, Kaolinite, Tellulu, and Queen Badiyanu in the 90's DiC dub of Sailor Moon?

    1. Yep, that was one of the very few bits of trivia I could dig up for this episode. Kirsten Bishop was quite talented.

  2. You know? When I was a teenager when I saw this show aired in my local tv at my country, I think that girl who portray the severe head was really pretty. But then confused how she is still alive.