Between R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books and Nickelodeon's "Are You Afraid Of The Dark?" TV show, we're pretty sure every '90s kids still wonders if there's something evil lurking in a dark closet corner. But those classics might not be so chilling if made today.
"It’s actually much harder [to scare today's teens], because the technology has ruined a lot of things that make for good mysteries -- largely because of cell phones," Stine, who just released a new "Fear Street" novel, told Time in a recent interview. "You can’t have a mystery caller anymore. ... You look at your phone, and you know. You have to get rid of the phone when you’re writing the book. Everyone has a phone now and everyone can just call for help."
He's right! How many times have you watched a bad horror movie and thought about all the possible ways it'd be easy to get out of whatever stupidly scary situation the protagonist is in? The solution usually involves a smartphone. True that. This interview ~inspired~ us to go back and peruse some of our fave childhood books from the author. We rounded up the "Goosebumps" novels that definitely would have been wayyy different with today's technology:
"Say Cheese And Die!"
The plot: When a group of bored kids go snooping in an abandoned house, they find a suspicious camera hidden away inside a wall. Anytime they take a photo using the camera, bad things happen and the camera's photo gives a foreboding warning about the events to come. For example, when one of the kids snaps a pic of his dad's new car, the resulting image shows a crashed car -- and then the father gets into a real accident.
How modern technology ruins it: These kids would likely be too busy Instagramming artsy pics of the creepy house and updating their Snapchat story to actually take a photo with some old AF camera they randomly found. Hell, they'd probably Instagram a photo of the deadly camera instead of trying it out. Who needs an old-fashioned camera when there are filters that make it look like you used an antique?
"The Girl Who Cried Monster"
The plot: When Lucy joins a library's summer reading program, she's shocked to discover the program's leader, Mr. Mortman, is a monster. No, not monster as in a mean person. Monster as in he chews up turtles and slurps down eels like spaghetti. When he becomes suspicious that Lucy knows his secret, he locks her inside the library to get his revenge.
How modern technology ruins it:. When Mortman lunges towards Lucy, she purposely spills a drawer of the card catalog in the middle of her escape. Monster Mortman stops chasing her in order to pick up the cards because, ya know, he's still a librarian and all. This would never work today because card catalogs are all but extinct and have been replaced by computer searches.
(Side note: At the end of the book, it's revealed that Lucy and her entire family are actually monsters themselves, too. They literally eat Mr. Mortman for dinner. Casual.)
"Welcome To Camp Nightmare"
The plot: Things get scary at Camp Nightmoon after campers start mysteriously disappearing. The kids can't even call their parents and ask to be picked up pronto. Although the camp's leader requires them to write snail mail letters home daily, he forces them to lie to their parents about how much fun they're having -- when in reality, they're freaked the f--k out. The payphone at the camp turns out to be a plastic decoy, and the camp's leader also cancels visiting day for parents.
How modern technology ruins it: Everyone would have cell phones and could text their parents to get them out of there ASAP.
(At the end of the book, we find out the parents were in on the joke. The whole camp was actually set up by the government as a test. K.)
"Welcome To Dead House"
The plot: The Benson family moves to a new house, which turns out to be haunted by a bunch of ghost children who were previously murdered in the same home. Daughter Amanda is the only one who can see them. Once a year, the ghost children need blood from a freshly killed real person in order to maintain their ghost form. So, naturally, they try to go after Amanda and her brother Josh to fulfill this goal.
How modern technology ruins it: The whole reason the Benson family ends up in this horrible situation is because their real estate agent, who knew about the ghost children, purposely lured them there. At the end of the book, after the Benson family gets the hell out, a new unsuspecting family is moving onto the same property with the help of the same agent. This would never happen nowadays thanks to online reviews. A quick Google search of the agent's name would reveal his passion for letting his customers bleed to death at the hands of ghost children.
"Night Of The Living Dummy"
The plot: When twin sisters Lindy and Kris decide to take up ventriloquism, they quickly realize their dummies aren't as fake as they expected them to be. One of the dummies, Mr. Wood, is truly evil. He forces Kris to act out in mean and rude ways that end up with her getting grounded by her parents and suspended from school. He even tries to strangle the family's pet dog. The sisters keep getting in trouble for things that Mr. Wood does, but their parents won't believe them when they say the dummy is evil.
How modern technology ruins it: If the girls had a video camera around to capture Mr. Wood in action, their parents would've believed them and taken the evil dummy back to the pawnshop he came from. This wouldn't be an issue today since pretty much everyone has a camera on their phone, and our phones are basically attached to our hips. Lindy and Kris would have had definitive proof of their innocence.
"The Ghost Next Door"
The plot: Hannah, feeling lonely because her friends have been ignoring her all summer, befriends her neighbor Danny, whom she apparently goes to school with. Oddly, they don't know any of the same people, and Danny literally disappears a lot. Hannah begins to think he's actually a ghost, but -- "The Sixth Sense" plot twist! -- turns out she's actually the ghost. Her whole family died in a house fire. Danny is as shocked to find out Hannah's a ghost as she is.
How modern technology ruins it: C'mon, Danny, how could you not know Hannah had died? In today's world, both Hannah and Danny would've been Facebook friends -- because kids these days are Facebook friends with everyone they've ever met or made eye contact with -- and Danny would've seen their classmates posting about the fire and Hannah's tragic demise.
"One Day At Horrorland"
The plot: The Morris family is going on a family trip to Zoo Gardens Theme Park, but the father forgets the map at home -- ugh, Dad, get it together -- and they get lost in the middle of the desert. They see a billboard for another theme park, HorrorLand, and decide to head there instead. Their jolly family vacay is then ruined by a series of horrific theme park rides, each one more deadly than the previous. The park's employees, appropriately called Horrorland Horrors, capture the family and force them into a monster game show that tortures humans on TV. The whole point of HorrorLand is that nobody gets out alive.
How modern technology ruins it: Leave the map at home? Good. You don't need one, because between GPS devices and Google Maps on your phone, you'll know exactly how to get to your destination without detouring through a deadly amusement park.
"You Can't Scare Me!"
The plot: Eddie and his friends really want to scare the pants off his classmate Courtney, who never seems to be scared of anything -- bees, snakes, heights, spiders, you name it. None of their scare tactics work, so they decide to lure Courtney into a forest rumored to be haunted by Mud Monsters. Courtney is the only one who actually believes these rumors, so the three kids dress up as Mud Monsters to frighten her. Their plan goes awry when the rumors turn out to be true and dozens of very real Mud Monsters chase them.
How modern technology ruins it: Mud monsters are scary, sure, but "A" from "Pretty Little Liars" is proof that all you need is a phone and some cryptic texts to scare the sh-t out of anyone.