Published on June 12th, 2013 | by Clint Davis
It Came from Beneath the Kitchen Sink [Goosebumps Review]
Original Air Date: February 2, 1996 (Season 1 – Episode 14)
Since Netflix brilliantly decided to make (most of) the first season of Goosebumps available for streaming last week, I felt it would be an extreme disservice to the readers of Overdue Review if we didn’t go back and revisit this young adult-aimed horror serial series. In the mid-’90s, kids had two choices for their weekly dose of television scares–Goosebumps on Fox or Are You Afraid of the Dark? on Nickelodeon. Both were favorites of mine, especially the latter because it was more terrifying and aired during S’Nick, which made you feel cool if you stayed up for it. However, Nick’s series didn’t have the all-powerful brand recognition of R.L. Stine’s mega-popular Goosebumps book series. We’ll debate those shows another time–now let’s break down these campy horror tales!
You’ll notice our special “Goosebumps Scale” for grading episodes of the series. I thought it not fair to compare 22-minute episodes of a kids’ TV series with feature-length Martin Scorsese films so they will only be compared with other Goosebumps episodes. Our five criteria for judging an entry are: Scares, Cheese Factor (high score = little cheese), Acting, Antagonist, and Moral. Like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt, episodes of Goosebumps are totally independent from other episodes of the series–each exist in their own world and most contain some type of life lesson for the viewer to think about.
The first episode we’ll look at is It Came from Beneath the Kitchen Sink, because let’s face it, that title is awesome. This edition is based on the book on the book of the same name–which I have no memory of reading. Our story follows a young tomboy named Kat (Katharine Isabelle) as she and her family move to a new house, where she discovers a kitchen sponge that’s complete with razor-sharp fangs and creepy red eyes. Of course, when Kat warns her parents and little brother about this creepy cleaning device, they laugh it off–until the deadly truth is revealed about the evil sponge (yes, I feel ridiculous typing that).
This was a pretty boring episode, ranking very high in the Cheese Factor department. As soon as you make the decision to have your antagonist be a kitchen sponge, you’ve thrown any shot at actual scares down the drain (pun intended). This episode relies heavily on voiceovers to advance the story, with young Kat sounding like your typical angsty teen girl. Her parents don’t give her any credit, her little brother is annoying, and she’s being dogged by Spongebob Scarypants…it’s enough to fill any diary twice-over. It should also be mentioned that the actress who starred in this episode, Katharine Isabelle, went on to deliver a decent performance in Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.
I realize this is an episode of Goosebumps, but I still have to ask how in the hell a sponge can tamper with bike brakes? Also, why did they pack up everything and move to a house in the exact same neighborhood? Forget about it.
Eventually, Kat must find a way to destroy the “grool” (as it’s dubbed)–settling on burying it alive, ala Casino. However, this sponge pulls a Jesus Christ and rises from its grave days later! There are a couple of choice quotes from this episode, such as when Kat’s token black friend says upon seeing the possessed Scotch-Brite, “This is better than the X-Files!”…not quite, kid. I’m pretty sure if Fox Mulder came across a fanged sponge he would hand it over to the Flukeman and tell him to wash his car.
Another quote from the same character seems to sum up It Came from Beneath the Kitchen Sink, though. “Just make something up, and make it corny.”
Not the best of the first season, but thankfully there’s much more Goosebumps to come!
Summary: Most Awkward Quote: "It loves bad, so it must hate good!"