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Goosebumps: Go Eat Worms DVD Review

Goosebumps: Go Eat Worms DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com Goosebumps: Go Eat Worms
Show & DVD Details

Directors: Steve DiMarco, John Bell, William Fruet / Writers: Rick Drew, Charles Lazer; R.L. Stine (books) / Producers: Deborah Forte, Bill Siegler, Martha Atwater, Steve Levitan, Patrick Doyle

Cast: Christiane MacKenzie (Beth), Andre Ottley-Lorant (Daniel), Noah Shebib (Todd), Caroline Yeager (Mother), Kristin Fairlie (Regina) / Mike Carbone (Amaz-O), Tabitha Lupien (Ginny), Harvey Atkin (Mr. Malik), Dov Tiefenbach (Tim Swanson), Colin Mochrie (Heavy), Robert Hamilton (Foz), David Ferry (El Sydney) / Jordan Prentice (Hap), Nora Sheenan (Mrs. Burton), David Hemblen (Major McCall), Peter Keleghan (Jeffrey Burton), Kerry Segal (Mindy Burton), Yvan LaBelle (Chip), Lance Paton (Joe Burton)

Running Time: 65 Minutes (3 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Aspect Ratio) / Dolby Surround (English), Dolby Stereo (Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French; Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: September 7, 2010 / Episodes Originally Aired September - October 1996
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Suggested Retail Price: $14.98 / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

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By Kelvin Cedeno

Perhaps I'm not the right person to be reviewing a "Goosebumps" compilation DVD. After all, despite being the perfect age to appreciate both this television series and the R.L. Stine book series that inspired it, I never really got into the franchise. My literary and TV tastes skewed towards fantasy and comedy then, and they still largely do today. As such, I can't really look at the three episodes of this recently-released disc, titled Go Eat Worms, with any sort of nostalgia. Then again, that allows me a viewing of the show for what it is rather than what rose-colored glasses would have it seem.

There's no real theme to the three episodes included here, though a vague formula is followed. In all three, the main character is a boy who either likes to break the rules or terrorize others, usually a sister who's annoying as nails on a chalkboard. The adults are mostly painted as either insane or idiotic, and some sort of supernatural creature causes mayhem the boy either can or has gotten in trouble for.

Upon discovering the lawn gnomes destroying Major McCall's garden, Joe (Lance Paton) himself is discovered just as the creatures conveniently go plaster once more. Todd (Noah Shebib) gets a pep talk from his mother (Caroline Yeager) about his worm obsession, which decorates the wall behind them.

There's a definite mid-1990s feel to the program that differs it from what today's generation of kids are used to. This alone has its pluses and minuses.

Among the positives, the show feels a lot less claustrophobic than modern programming. Actors move in and out of fully-realized sets with a single camera. These worlds are more believable than the three-walled, three-camera sets that make a lot of newer shows feel more like theatre.
Also a plus is the use of film rather than cheap digital photography.

As for the negatives, there's the inevitably dated nature of the visuals in aspects like hair and wardrobe, though this actually poses more of a problem for the adult actors than the children. There's also an inherently campy feel to everything. Admittedly, most children's programming nowadays is dripping in cheese, but kids are more forgiving of that in comedies. In something like this that's meant to be creepy, the jaded modern youth desensitized to violence and horror would probably find it lame.

That campy nature does lend itself to entertainment value, though. Perhaps it's because I'm more used to '90s cheese than new millennium cheese, but I found myself more amused by the three episodes here than I am by most current Disney Channel and Nickelodeon programming. Then again, a lot of my enjoyment stemmed from unintentionally hilarious moments of terrible acting or B-movie visual effects.

Daniel (Andre Ottley-Lorant) is about to have some added protein to his diet in the form of spaghetti with worms, a dish he believes is the work of his best friend Todd. A horrified Tim watches as magic shop owner Mr. Malik (Harvey Atkin) has an accident with an unfortunately-placed guillotine.

So who is this DVD really for? I'd guess it's more for adults with a fondness of the show than for modern newcomers, even if the cover artwork does its best to make this look like something new and edgy. Adults like myself who are still in touch with their inner '90s child will find some harmless fun here, but only established "Goosebumps" fans are going to want to pick this up and watch regularly.

1. Go Eat Worms! (21:55) (Originally aired September 28, 1996)
Todd is obsessed with worms to the point of keeping a worm farm in his basement for experimental purposes. Now they're starting to take over his life in unexpected ways and maybe even exact revenge.

2. Bad Hare Day (22:20) (Originally aired September 14, 1996)
Magic fanatic Tim attends a performance by the renowned Amaz-O with his little sister. Unfortunately, he's left unimpressed and what's worse, his sister Ginny goes missing. Now, only Amaz-O's wisecracking rabbit assistant can help him get her back.

3. Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes (21:54) (Originally aired October 12, 1996)
When Joe's father buys two lawn gnomes to adorn the garden, havoc breaks loose. Cranky next door neighbor Major McCall continuously finds his own garden wrecked, leaving Joe the blame. Determined to clear his name, Joe discovers who the real culprits are.

Major McCall (David Hemblen) enjoys spending his summer days taunting meek neighbor Jeffrey (Peter Keleghan) and the rest of the Burton family over their kitschy garden. After all the hype, evil magician El Sydney (David Ferry) turns out to be the most terrifying type of being in existence: a flamenco dancer.


The three episodes are presented in their original 1.33:1 fullscreen aspect ratio and look expectedly mediocre. Colors are drab and too dark in certain night shots.
Clarity is soft, which isn't helped by the frequent interlacing issues that result in what looks like constant motion blur. It's not an eye sore, but a remaster would've done these episodes a lot of good.

The Dolby 2.0 Surround track is likewise bland and exactly what you'd expect from mid-'90s television. Sound is relegated to the front, and while dialogue is intelligible, it sounds a little hollow. Music and sound effects are similarly muted, which is a shame since those two elements are vital to a genre like this. Still, one can definitely find much worse out there.


There's not a single bonus feature to be found here, though a trailer for the Goosebumps Horrorland video game plays at the start of the disc.

The main menu replicates the spaghetti-with-worms platter artwork of the cover (even though such a scenario doesn't actually occur in the titular episode). Both it and the submenus (featuring more invertebrate-filled pasta) are static and joined by the show's theme music.

In an odd move, a cardboard card that replicates the cover art is attached to the shrink wrap of the disc's standard black Eco-Box keepcase. When something like this is done, it's usually because the card is some sort of lenticular collectible. That's not the case here. It's a simple card that replicates the front cover, nothing more or less, which makes it even more useless than the standard slipcovers of late.

What's a magic show without a magician like Amaz-O (Mike Carbone) humiliating a defenseless rabbit? Unfortunately for our protagonists, neither of these creepy gnomes is named David nor works for Travelocity.


While I've never been a "Goosebumps" fan in any sense, I can sort of appreciate the series thanks to being a child of the '90s. Nostalgia will help those with fond memories of the show continue to enjoy it, but it's not really for anyone else. Modern kids are too jaded to find any thrills here, and the production values and acting are only good for unintended laughs. The DVD presents the bland video and audio that are expected, and there are no extras to encourage a purchase. Unless you're a "Goosebumps" fan, your Halloween viewing is better spent with programs you actually grew up with that hold up well enough to be shown to the children in your life.

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Reviewed October 3, 2010.

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