Halloween 2019: Goosebumps #4: Say Cheese and Die!

It's time for another Goosebumps book on Halloween!

I've been revisiting the Goosebumps series recently and I'm really enjoying it. I love Goosebumps. I think it is a 1990s classic for Children's chapter books and a staple of the horror genre at this point. Particularly when you consider that the series has sold over 400 million copies internationally, being a series that sells second only to Harry Potter.

Today we will be revisiting the fourth book in the original series. Reviews for the previous three books, as well as for the sequels to Monster Blood (#3), can be found at Kids Corner or via the Bookshelf.

Goosebumps #4: Say Cheese and Die!

Author: R. L. Stine
Genre: Children's Horror
Year: 1992


Every picture tells a story. 

Greg thinks there is something wrong with the old camera he and his friends found. The photographs keep turning out wrong. Very wrong. Like the snapshot Greg took of his father's new car that shows it totalled. And then Greg's father is in a nasty wreck. 

But Greg's friends don't believe him. Shari even makes Greg bring the camera to her birthday party and take her picture. 
Only Shari's not in the photograph when it develops. 

Is Shari about to be taken out of the picture permanently?

Who is going to take the next fall for...the evil camera? 


Honestly, the cover of this book used to freak me out when I was a kid. I remember that I'd come across it in the school library and just the cover would give me the creeps. I don't think I ever read this one, although I did read several others. While I may not have read it, I do recall having seen the episode of the old TV show at least a couple times. I remember how the camera looked and reading the book, I honestly didn't expect it to look like it did in the show. 

To clarify, the show camera is a freakishly shaped, almost Batman-like device. It is huge and makes no sense as a camera, practically speaking. When I was reading the book, it seems fairly obvious to the kids that it is a camera, and no one questions its appearance, so I feel like the show took some liberties into making it look bizarre to have some kicks and make it look more strange and memorable to viewers, but I digress. 

The book is pretty straightforward. Greg and his friends Michael, Bird, and Shari are bored, so they decide to go into a creepy, old, abandoned house. In the Coffman house, they do a little bit of exploring and find a camera. When they take pictures with it, the pictures are not exactly like they took them. They are disturbing and bizarre, showing things that haven't happened a while ahead of time or a split second before they happen. What the kids can't seem to figure out is whether the camera tells the future or if it is the direct cause of all the bad things that are happening. The synopsis gives away most of the big plot points and I have to say this isn't the scariest or creepiest Goosebumps book in the series up to this point. The chapters don't cliffhanger as well as other Goosebumps books, and the ending feels really rushed for how much information gets packed in. While the plot moves pretty steadily along, I just didn't find myself gripped as much throughout this one. If this happened in real life, it would be really scary, but the way it is written here, kind of feels like a glaze instead of a creepfest. 

Generally speaking, I feel like this is probably one of the more well known books in the Goosebumps series, and I think the cover is pretty neat now and I clearly think it is successful in creeping out kids, but the story itself isn't as creepy as it could be. There isn't enough time spent with the really creepy scenarios and a lot happens that lessens some of the scare. Out of a total of seven photographs taken, I think we only needed about four to get the point across and really unnerve the reader. I'm no horror expert, but I just think that there were too many things to move through and not enough scare linger in some spots. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book and I love this series. I think it is an excellent introduction to horror, but I wouldn't pick this as the first Goosebumps book I give someone to try. It doesn't exemplify R. L. Stine's writing style yet, which may be because it came so early on in the series. It really feels like an early version of what the series would eventually become. 

Say Cheese and Die gets a LoneStar rating of: ✯✯✯

Comment Section Time!

Have you read Say Cheese and Die, or any other Goosebumps books? Which ones and what did you think of them? What other horror books have you enjoyed? 

I'll see you next post and I hope you all have a very