It’s tough to talk about the popularity of Animorphs without also mentioning Goosebumps.
Before Harry Potter started waving his dick in our faces, these were the two hottest book series for kids in the ’90s. They both relied on the same “let’s pump out 19 books per month” business model, and both gave birth to TV adaptations.
Goosebumps was always more popular than Animorphs (for evidence: Goosebumps relaunched a few years ago and is still going strong, while the recent Animorphs revival crashed and burned after 7 books), but comparing the two TV shows is totally laughable: Goosebumps ran for five seasons, is incredibly memorable for our generation (start humming the theme song–you won’t be able to stop), and was such a hit that they produced a series of book adaptations of the TV show adaptation.
That all being said, let’s jump into a spooky tale featuring probably the most popular Goosebumps character ever conceived.
First of all: the opening sequence is dope as fuck.
Open on a nice house in a nice neighborhood with some nice music playing, then cut to the happy family of five inside. They’re doing some kind of family night show-and-tell weekly funfest.
Preteen daughter Sarah has painted a painting of the nice house, which she is entering in “the city art show.”
Her parents are totally stoked. Her little sister, Amy, is not. Also, she’s a bitch. Also, she has a ventriloquist dummy. Bet you didn’t see that coming.
Next up is Sarah’s little brother. He’s got a video to show. It includes the mom dancing poorly, the dad putting on his toupee, and Sarah trying on her mom’s makeup. Also, the background music is a remix of the theme song, so that is incredible. Uh-oh–Little Brother has also filmed Amy trying on Sarah’s sweater!
As you can imagine, this causes a whole debacle. The sisters start squabbling and the parents are all “I don’t even give a fuck.” Also, Dad is played by Richard Fitzpatrick, and even if you don’t realize it, you’ve probably seen him in something.
In spooky news, it’s Amy’s turn and she’s got a ventriloquism act to perform with her dummy, Dennis.
“Dennis, how was your picnic? Were there any ants?” “No, worse–termites! You’ve heard of the Terminator–we had to call the EXterminator! Hoo hoo hoo!”
The joke is so bad that Dennis’s head falls off.
Boy, I’m lucky that logic doesn’t apply to me and my blogs. Hoo hoo hoo!
Amy throws a fucking fit and tosses Dennis’s body halfway across the room while pouting. She wants a new dummy (same as the old dummy). Well, luckily, her dad already bought one and it’s behind the couch. Amy opens the trunk containing her new friend. His name is Slappy and he’s a real asshole.
Hey, Slappy’s got some kind of card tucked inside his jacket. It’s filled with Latin.
Amy reads the Latin.
Amy starts hugging the dummy and her parents consider sending her to a psychologist. Oh and Slappy winks at the camera but that is probably not important.
Later that night, Amy’s practicing her new act with Slappy. Dennis sits slumped in a chair, forlorn.
Sarah shows up to yell at her sister for wearing her sweater. Is this really such a fucking issue for young women? I have never once seen two girls argue over one wearing the other’s clothes except in every television show ever made. Whatever, Slappy tells Sarah to fuck off and Amy is like “oh shit, I didn’t DO ANY PUPPETRY AT ALL!”
She tries to force the two dummies to socialize while she sleeps, but everyone knows you can’t just put two dummies in the same habitat; the stronger one will always eat the weaker. Accordingly, Slappy throws Dennis to the floor and Amy is all, “Aw, Dennis, you’re always defying the laws of physics, you little rascal.”
We cut to a first-person view as SOMEONE sneaks around the house and into Sarah’s room. Then cut again to the next morning…and SARAH’S PAINTING HAS BEEN RUINED.
Everyone blames Amy because, let’s be honest, she’s sort of a bitch. She runs off to cry and then finds red paint on Slappy’s hands. Don’t worry, Sarah, it’s probably just the blood of his last victim, Andy.
That night, the real horror starts:
Papa Cowboy yields the floor to Amy and her puppet bullshit. Midway through the act, Slappy begins talking on his own and systematically insulting every member of the family. “You call yourself an artist? Why don’t you give up on the brushes and try using a roller? Oh, and Dad–how about that erectile dysfunction? Hoo hoo hoo!” I may be misquoting.
The family forcibly separates Slappy from Amy and sends them both to bed for being dickheads. Slappy laughs on his way out of the room, which no one seems to realize is a problem.
Amy’s had enough of Slappy’s shit, so she locks him in a box.
Some number of days later, Amy is painting in her room with her friend, Friend, and Little Sister of Friend. While Amy complains about being a middle child, LSoF spots the Locked Slappy Box in the closet. Sarah comes in to yell at Amy for using up her markers. This gives LSoF enough time to pull Slappy out of his box, and he immediately starts screaming obscenities and refusing to let go of LSoF’s finger while laughing like an asshole.
Mom comes home and is like “Jesus, kid, I thought we talked about this.” Amy continues to blame the dummy, which causes her friend to run away and her mom to consider calling Child Psychological Services. Also Slappy won’t stop cackling so that might be something worth noting.
The family assembles in the living room to discuss Amy’s psychotic break.
They don’t make much progress.
That night, as the family sleeps, someone starts running around and wakes Amy up. Uh-oh, Slappy’s missing! Amy goes on the hunt while someone grabs her dad’s guitar.
She walks into the living room, where her parents have fallen asleep, to find Slappy about to beat them to death with the guitar.
She tackles him to the ground, waking them up.
Amy tells her parents that she was just trying to save them from being bludgeoned to death by a living dummy. This doesn’t go ever well. They send her to bed and wonder where they went wrong as parents and whether or not the neighborhood would notice if they started locking their crazy-ass daughter in the attic.
At breakfast the next morning, Amy’s parents are like “Bitch, you’re out of your gourd, but we have to go to work so please don’t murder anyone at school today.”
Then Amy throws Slappy down a stormdrain.
She comes home later that night to find a house full of footprints leading right to her room. She goes to investigate and oh shit it’s Slappy!
Slappy is like, “Guess what, bitch? You read my Latin and now you’re my slave, bitch!” He’s a real misogynist, that guy. He’s pretty pumped that her parents are going to lock her away in the nuthouse, though that kind of makes her useless as a slave, so I don’t know what his plan is. He’s a real DUMMY about that stuff. Amy responds by tackling him to the ground because he is a dummy.
Sarah comes in, probably to yell at Amy for using her toothpaste or some shit, and she watches in horror as Slappy comes to life in front of her. The two girls run for it and lock themselves in the bathroom as Slappy gives chase. They hug it out and have some sisterly bonding before they remember that they also have a brother in the house.
They go off to save him and find Slappy hanging out on this chandelier for some reason.
It’s worth noting that Slappy is playing by an actual puppet throughout the entire episode, which makes things pretty entertaining. Anyway, he manages to knock Amy to the ground and is about to, I don’t know, do something spooky when someone rushes in from offscreen and tackles him to the ground, where Slappy’s wooden head hits the floor and explodes.
A cloud of green CGI gas escapes from Slappy’s head-hole and dissipates.
The girls are like “lol what.” The parents arrive home all “god. dammit.” Amy explains that the dummy tried to enslave and/or murder them, but luckily Little Brother saved them. Then Little Brother wanders into the scene and is like, “lol, no, I didn’t do shit.”
SO WHO KILLED SLAPPY?
The family turns to see a figure standing in the darkness…
Dennis opens his mouth and, with the voice of Goofy, says, “It’s good to be back in the family again! HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK!”
4/5 I guess. It’s a pretty faithful adaptation, though simplified–if you thought this story could’ve used 15 more scenes of someone causing a minor inconvienence and then blaming a dummy, please check out the book.
Let’s just say there’s a Living Dummy episode where Slappy is played by a small man in a suit. We really got off easy on this one.
The Terminator. Ventriloquism. Goosebumps.
The family is enslaved by a never-ending string of living dummies, turning their idylic suburban life into a nightmare maze.
We go back to Animorphs for some stupid alternate-reality episode or whatever.
Happy Halloween, beautiful people!