Goosebumps: Attack of the Jack-o-Lanterns

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
Goosebumps: Attack of the Jack-o-Lanterns Movie Poster Image
Spooky book-based horror stories may be too scary for kids.
  • PG
  • 1996
  • 65 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Seeing scary things can be more frightening than reading about them. A world of unexplainable events, magic, and, in some cases, evil, exists among us, and no one seems surprised by this. The world might be full of evil beings with magical powers. Parents aren't always who they seem to be. Never trust a vampire.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Teens play tricks on each other and are sometimes mean. One teen wants to tell his parents about a magical device he's found but his younger sibling wants to keep it secret.


Two teens are chased by a thirsty vampire. Brothers discover a magic mirror that makes them disappear into a mirror world filled with their doubles. Two teenage boys fight over abusing the mirror. A vampire threatens to drain two teens dry as soon as he can locate his fangs. A person is turned into a bug. A young girl jumps on a man's back during a fight. Teens plot to scare each other. Fire-breathing, evil pumpkin-headed creatures turn trick-or-treating into a forced march. "You cannot leave! You must trick-or-treat forever!" they demand.


Goosebumps is part of a series of books and a 1990s television program.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Goosebumps: Attack of the Jack-o-Lanterns is a collection of three 20-minute episodes from the 1990s television series based on stories by R.L Stine. While those stories have been popular with readers in the 8-to-10-year-old range, TV naturally emphasizes visuals, and these may be much scarier than the words on paper of their original form, making this possibly too scary for the younger end of the books' audience. The stories dwell on supernatural, black magic, and inexplicable events, featuring vampires, aliens, and ghouls from other worlds. Evil pumpkin-headed creatures turn trick-or-treating into a forced march. A thirsty vampire chases young teens through a field of coffins. Evil mirror-image people try to replace real people in their lives. Teens play tricks on each other and are sometimes mean. Unlike The Wizards of Waverly Place, a show about witches that went for the comedy, be warned that Goosebumps goes for the horror/fright.  

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What's the story?

GOOSEBUMPS: ATTACK OF THE JACK-O-LANTERNS is divided into three short vignettes. In one, Halloween is overshadowed by the knowledge that in the next town, four adults have recently mysteriously disappeared. Parents warn their kids to be careful as they trick-or-treat. High schoolers Drew and Walker enlist the help of friends Shane and Shana, two resourceful friends, to scare Tabitha and Lee, a pair of neighbor kids no one likes. Pumpkin-headed creatures show up and drag the foursome away from the rest of the town's trick-or-treaters. Are they Shane and Shana in costume, or scary otherworldly monsters? They refuse to let the trick-or-treaters go home, making the evening more and more bizarre and scary. After Tabitha and Lee run off terrified, the creatures morph magically into Shana and Shane and then morph again into odd-looking snake-headed creatures who, it turns out, are what Shane and Shana -- in their true alien form -- really look like. Drew explains her alien friends matter-of-factly to the fairly blasé Walker. After the extraterrestrial pair admit they've eaten the four mysteriously missing people, they fly off in their spaceship. The next episode features two teens who accidentally awaken a vampire sleeping, then run for their lives into a field filled with countless empty coffins. The last piece feels like an old Twilight Zone episode -- complete with a front door spinning aimlessly in space. Two brothers discover a hidden room in their old house containing a magical mirror that can make them disappear into a mirror world, where their evil doubles are waiting to replace them in life outside of the mirror.   

Is it any good?

Goosebumps fans are probably better off reading the books. Goosebumps: Attack of the Jack-o-Lanterns presents some interesting mental riddles -- do space aliens exist, are vampires real, do other people inhabit an alternate universe? -- but the special effects are rickety and the acting amateur, making it an unlikely pick for tech-savvy tweens who know they can create better-looking videos on their phones. Compared to adult-targeted horror films, these scenarios are mild, and for younger kids this could be just the right dose of scariness, but there's plenty of nightmare material here for more sensitive kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why people like scary movies. Do you think some people like to pretend they're scared? Do you think people like to imagine awful events and creatures in order to make them feel safer in their actual lives?

  • The teens in Goosebumps: Attack of the Jack-o-Lanterns seem to take it for granted that evil and magic exist. Is it fun to think about imaginary worlds that exist beyond the world we normally see? Why?

  • How does this television version compare to the books? Which do you think is more frightening? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Halloween

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