Sony had a quieter presence at this year's Comic-Con (last year they had Spider-Man and RoboCop stopping by) with a showcase for Pixels and Goosebumps.
It was the latter that dominated the panel. Pixels, which is currently in the middle of shooting in Toronto, had a video message from director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone) promising a new level of ‘ground-breaking’ special effects, to bring 8-bit, pixelated classic arcade characters into the real-world, including Pac-Man, Galaga, Space Invaders and more...
Unfortunately, the special effects were still being worked on, so instead the crowd were treated to the sight of Josh Gad being chased around a parking lot by a tennis ball on a stick (standing in for Centipede) “He got me. Centipede, you son of a bitch! After what you did to my mom...’ The comedy sci-fi actioner - in which aliens misinterpret feeds of old arcade games as a declaration of war - also stars Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage and Michelle Monaghan.
Goosebumps, however, had more to offer. Jack Black and director Rob Letterman (Monsters Vs. Aliens, Gulliver’s Travels) were on hand to present a sizzle reel of footage from the family-friendly spooker, which completed principal photography mere days ago.
Despite the short turnaround time, the clips were impressive, even with rough pre-vis animatics standing in for what will one day be fully rendered digital beasties. In a sort of adaptation of the best-selling book series, a moustachioed Black plays Stine (or at least a fictionalised, slightly creepier version of the author). The actor admitted that he wouldn’t be doing a straight up impersonation, explaining, “I need him to be a little more sinister. I need him to be creepy and crawly.”
The stage is set for a sleepy-town chiller in the vein of The Burbs or Monster House as teen Zach (Dylan Minnette, Prisoners) and his mum (Amy Ryan), move to a new house opposite a creepy next door neighbour (that'll be Stine).
Zach spies Stine's niece, and is only marginally put off by her creepy home life. Snooping around, they discover a library of Stine's original, padlocked texts. Turns out that his ghouls are trapped in the pages, and if opened they'll escape and run riot. Cue the town being overturned by a giant, sneezing grasshopper, the abominable snowman, a bunch of zombie-esque Graveyard Ghouls, and creepy ventroloquist's dummy Slappy (who you'll probably remember from The Night Of The Living Dummy novel)
The tone of the footage definitely tended to laughs over scares, with Black on top form, and the lead teens pleasingly snarky. Plus, the laugh quotient was greatly aided by the presence of two of the most memorable comedic scene-stealers from recent years: Jillian Bell from 22 Jump Street and Ryan Lee from Super 8.
So rather than adapting one Stine tome, Goosebumps will celebrate his literary legacy by cramming a ton of monsters into one movie. “It’s a great excuse for all our favorite creatures from the various books to get on the big screen,” said Letterman
Although, Slappy will be front and centre of the bad guy contingent, described as the kingpin corralling the evildoing. He also supposedly represents a facet of the author. "He's R.L. Stine's dark side…” grinned Black.
Pixels opens in the UK on 27 May 2015, with Goosebumps following on 14 August 2015.
Did R.L. Stine’s stories give you goosebumps as a kid? Drop a comment below…