The monsters were out in full force on Thursday afternoon at Comic-Con as the film version of the beloved Goosebumps series made its case in front of a packed ballroom.
Author RL Stine provided a video message for the panel, which was hosted by Hitfix's Drew McWeeny, in which he described the search to get someone to play him in the meta-movie. "My wife said I was too old to play myself," he mused at one point before saying that Jack Black was the right pick.
At that point Black came bounding onstage, followed shortly thereafter by director Rob Letterman, but it was Black's infectious energy that kept the proceedings entertaining. Letterman introduced a long reel of footage -- much of it with unfinished special effects -- that captured the movie's tone of light scares and fun family entertainment, with a healthy collection of monsters from the books.
The movie is not based directly on one of Stine's more than 50 books ("I should have read all of them by now," said Black at one point when asked by a fan if he had read them. "You can blast through one in, like, 45 minutes"), but instead positions Stine himself as one of the leads in a story about what might happen if the monsters in his books broke out of the pages.
And something like that happened right at the end of the panel: First, Black brought out Slappy the ventriliquist dummy for some banter (with Black pretending to manipulate the clearly controlled-from-below doll) before Slappy turned the tables and called out a dozen creatures -- including the popular Haunted Mask, the Mummy, the Graveyard Ghouls and many more -- to drag Black offstage to an uncertain fate (his waiting limo, most likely).
I was too old to read the Goosebumps series when they first became popular, but not too old to want to check out this movie, which looks like a treat.
Goosebumps is out August 7, 2015.