VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Something's waiting in the dark ... Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we're counting down our picks for the best easter eggs and references in the first half of this spooky Disney+ series. Our countdown of hidden details in the first five "Goosebumps" episodes includes A Familiar Fate For the First “Say Cheese” Victim, Echoes of A Harry Potter Plot, A Subtle Haunted Mask Callback, and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the best easter eggs and references in the first half of this spooky Disney+ series. Beware of spoilers ahead.
#10: A Familiar Fate For the First “Say Cheese” Victim
After Isaiah finds a camera in a creepy place, he makes the ill-advised decision to snap pictures of his friends with it. Unfortunately for his classmates, the device predicts bad things will happen before they come true. Isaiah’s girlfriend learns this firsthand when she ends up falling in the woods after the camera predicted she would. This incident is identical to an occurrence in the 1990s adaptation of “Say Cheese and Die”. During that episode, the very first picture that a young Ryan Gosling takes causes his friend to fall off stairs. Despite being decades apart, both versions of the camera like to demonstrate their powers by making someone take a nasty tumble.
#9: What’s In a Town Name?
The Disney+ series is primarily set in the town of Port Lawrence. Behind the scenes, a lot of filming took place in Vancouver. The shooting location feels like a cheeky nod to the fact that the original 90s series mostly called Ontario home. We also have a sneaking suspicion of where the creators got the idea for the town name. While most people know that R.L. Stine wrote the “Goosebumps” books, not everyone knows what those initials stand for. The famous author’s full name is Robert Lawrence Stine. We’re pretty positive that he got goosebumps after hearing that his adventures would come to life in a town that shared part of his name.
#8: The Premiere Mirrors the Very First Book
If you’re a newcomer to the “Goosebumps” franchise, you might have thought Nathan Bratt’s move into a spooky house was just a horror story cliche. But longtime fans knew this scary trope was a deep cut reference to the series. The Goosebumps franchise began with the book “Welcome to Dead House”. As you might suspect, the plot revolves around a family who discovers their new home is not the welcoming place they were expecting. While the classic story focuses on villains that are essentially zombies, the show leans on a very malicious ghost. But the one shared element between the creepy house in the original narrative and Disney+ series is that these places do a great job bringing us into a world of scares.
#7: Echoes of A Harry Potter Plot
While Nathan is still possessed, he gives Margot Harold Biddle’s former journal. This book allowed her to relive past events. Additionally, the tome gave Harold the ability to threaten the lives of Margot and others without going through a living person. The mechanics of the book and its purpose in the plot instantly reminded us of Tom Riddle’s diary in the Chamber of Secrets. This journal is initially given away by the vicious Lucius Malfoy. And not only was Harry able to visit the young Voldemort’s memories, but the villain’s soul nearly got the hero killed. The moral of the story is this: if someone hands you a book that looks cursed, politely decline and run away.
#6: The Giant Worm Twist
Both the 1996 and 2023 “Go Eat Worms” episodes build up to a moment where a protagonist faces off against a giant invertebrate. However, these attacks happen for very different reasons between adaptations. In the 90s, Todd faces off against a slimy beast because he constantly mistreated worms. We expected that 2023’s Lucas would be attacked for the same reason. But in a twist, the worms wanted the modern character to eat them in this adaptation. They even give him some pretty incredible powers. When Lucas rejects the invertebrates, a giant one tries to get the kid back. We think both worms would’ve had more success attacking a city than trying to take down one person that upset them.
#5: An Evil James Makes a Halloween Homage
Thanks to timey wimey shenanigans, James ends up at the mercy of several copies of himself he left scattered around time. After they try to take over his life, his friend Isabella realizes that the town may be full of evil temporal clones. This plot is a two for one homage to the Goosebumps stories “I Am Your Evil Twin” and “Cuckoo Clock of Doom”. The new narrative also pays tribute to a horror classic. After Isabella starts catching on to the time clones, one of the villains menacingly hangs outside her window before disappearing. The same exact thing happened to Laurie Strode in “Halloween”. It’s nice to see that the horror classic continues to influence modern stories.
#4: A Subtle Haunted Mask Callback
Desperate to be more noticed, Isabella puts a chilling costume item on her face. While the mask does draw some looks, it also makes her more evil and becomes hard to take off. Isabella’s twisted tale is nearly a beat for beat recreation of the first televised version of the Haunted Mask. However, the young girl in the older story is told that only a symbol of love can save her from possession. While Isabella is never explicitly given that advice, she’s only able to take the mask off after she remembers how much she cares for her brother. This small detail allowed the love plot point to subtly sneak its way into a modern context without coming across as a deus ex machina.
#3: Lucas Likes His Scary Movies
Port Lawrence’s resident daredevil clearly likes to get his heart pumping. Within his room, he has a prominent poster for Night of the Living Dead. This movie graphic was a cheeky way to foreshadow the episode’s plot. While “Night of the Living Dead” focuses on humans who transform into zombies after being munched on, Lucas transforms his body after eating worms. And speaking of, the scene where the first invertebrates gets inside of his nose is a direct callback to a similar incident in “Drag Me to Hell”. Coincidentally, that horror film happens to star none other than Justin Long as a guy named Clay. Maybe that character changed his name and moved to Port Lawrence after seeing his girlfriend get dragged to hell.
#2: The Biddle House Hides Future Threats
At this point, we’re fully convinced that Harold’s basement is full of terrifying objects. Fortunately, the heroes haven’t touched a small yet dangerous item. The first episode shows Harold near a container of glowing green goo. We have a haunting suspicion that the glass jar contains monster blood. Throughout the “Goosebumps” franchise, this dangerous liquid has made many appearances. While its effects may vary, monster blood most commonly makes unwitting living organisms grow to abnormally large sizes. It would be fun to see a hero embiggen themselves to save the day. However, it’s probably for the best that they keep the lid on monster blood.
#1: “Goosebumps” Meets Elm Street
A show full of horror homages wouldn’t be complete without paying its respects to Freddy Krueger. But the show goes above and beyond by filling its overall plot with Nightmare on Elm Street parallels. In both the Disney series and the film franchise, the main villain originally perished in a fire set by locals that disliked him. Freddy and Harold eventually return as malevolent spirits. Both antagonists just so happen to target the kids of the people who originally burned them. Honestly, if Harold threw on a sharp glove, striped sweater and a fedora, Freddy Kruger might accept the evil kid as his new apprentice.
What classic Goosebumps story deserves a shout out in the 2023 series? Let us know in the comments below.