The war between originals, remakes and reboots has raged since the early 2000’s. A handful of remakes were successful, including Rob Zombie’s Halloween and Breck Eisner’s The Crazies, while others should have stayed untouched on the shelf of time. Reboots are seeing the same push and pull, with Halloween ’18 being one of the best selling movies of that year and The Grudge ’20 being completely unnecessary. Sure, I mentioned a ton of classic films in my opening statement, but I’m about to argue in favor of a true underdog – R.L. Stine’s Welcome to Camp Nightmare. Out of all my early childhood experiences with horror, it’s always stuck out as one of my favorites; and it’s a title that is deserving of a continuation, whether it be a remake or a reboot. Everyone recognizes the name R.L. Stine, especially if you’re a fiction reader who binged on Scholastic Publishing novels. And if you’re not a big reader, than you must remember the 2015 and 2018 comedies Goosebumps and Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween which brought some of Stine’s most love-able characters to life on the big screen. If we saw Slappy the Dummy again, why not Camp Nightmare?
R.L. Stine’s most beloved Goosebumps book series ran from 1992 until 1997. While a spin-off book series is still in publication, I’m going to set your brains on the television series which ran on Fox Kids from 1995 to 1998. Although Welcome to Camp Nightmare the book debuted in libraries in July 1993, the two part movie adaption did not hit television screens until 1995. Welcome to Camp Nightmare sees an elementary school aged boy named Billy Harlan attending a summer camp program at Camp Nightmoon. From the jump, he notices the counselors and staff at Camp Nightmoon are weird and slightly insidious; and none of the adults seem to give much care when a camper is injured or goes missing. When Billy begins poking around the camp and its thriving forest, he discovers a werewolf like beast lurking nearby, just waiting to snatch up another camper. In the bunks or in a boat out on the lake, no one is safe from the evil beast that calls Camp Nightmoon home. Welcome to Camp Nightmare was directed by Ron Oliver, and this is perhaps one of the reasons why it needs a remake or reboot. Mr. Oliver still directs about four mainstream titles a year and maybe he’d be excited to lace up his sneakers and hike Camp Nightmoon once again.
Jeff Cohen adapted R.L. Stine’s book to script, but I don’t know if he’d be the best man to tackle the story in a modern environment. However, if Welcome to Camp Nightmare ever saw a remake in spite of a reboot, I would rather it stay in the 90’s decade with Cohen’s touches. I don’t have a particular screenwriter in mind, but I will say that Gary Dauberman and Jeff Buhler did great things involving children in peril with It Chapter One/Two and The Prodigy. Should a darker remake or reboot ever come to pass, there’s a treasure chest of ideas that could push the envelope on screen that certainly were avoided in the 90’s. Now, in terms of returning cast members, I’m sorry to say that Uncle Al, played by the wonderful Chris Benson, passed away in May 2019. He would need to be recast, ignored or at least mentioned considering he was such a pivotal part in the Camp Nightmare story. And Kaj-Erik Eriksen, who played Billy Harlan, well, he’s still acting! I don’t know if I’d want to see him return as an older Billy, as Uncle Al or as a new character for nostalgia’s sake, but I do know I’d like to see him in the new feature film. Considering he’s 40 now, he could play any of the before-mentioned roles and help keep it canon.
Finally, I think R.L. Stine himself would need to executive producer the movie to ensure that his vision and the magic of his work was captured wholeheartedly in a new era of film. He invented the camp, the monster and the characters, and he should have a large hand in continuing that story or cleaning up its past installment. This is all up to budget, of course, and luckily a camp in the middle of the woods isn’t that expensive. I don’t want to have a CGI monster and I don’t think the special effects of the 90’s would appeal to the current generation, so a good deal of money would need to be spent on creature creation and gore. All things considered, though, I think a Welcome to Camp Nightmare remake or reboot could be accomplished with a $5,000,000 budget. Blumhouse and other noteworthy production companies have done a lot more with a lot less. Maybe Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures would be interested since they already have a stake in this fan-base and cinema-verse. Nostalgia sells when it’s done correctly, and Welcome to Camp Nightmare could be the creature feature of the year if pulled off perfectly. I think this story and setting still has a lot to give nearly 30 years later.
So, who wants to front the budget?