Sure Halloween isn’t until next week, but who cares about that? Not The Hub, that’s who doesn’t. The increasingly popular kids TV network held a spooky, “Haunted Hub” themed party in New York City, featuring R.L. Stine and free candy… So naturally, we were the first one’s to RSVP.
Held at one of the largest treat shops in the country, Dylan’s Candy Bar, the afternoon event started off with Face Painting, cookie decorating, and a ton of munchies. That included tiny little cupcakes that – when put together – made a jack-o-lantern, and may have been the moistest, richest cupcakes we’ve ever eaten, even given their diminutive size.
Lest you think The Hub missed the chance to brand the snacks though, you’d be wrong: there were three themed drinks, including Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Favorite Fiz; Ratchet’s Razmataz, and Applejack’s Sweet Apple Acres Cider. Though the strawberry drink came with a generous helping of nerds on top, our favorite was easily the delicious, refreshing apple cider, with was also made with ginger syrup and cinnamon.
Needless to say, about five minutes into this thing we had a serious sugar headache.
Properly hepped up, we checked out the other activities available. You could take your picture with an enormous Care Bear with a witches hat on, and when we referred to the Bear as “he” were helpfully reprimanded that it was actually a her. Besides the chance to take your own photos, an on-hand photographer also made sure you got surprisingly high quality, quickly made photos with the lady-bear to take home, which was a nice touch.
Oh, and in case you didn’t have enough to carry, there was also a candy corn bag toss kids could play as many times as they want. And each time? Toys from My Little Pony or the upcoming Littlest Pet Shop; or videos from pretty much any of the Hub’s shows. Did kids walk out with an armful of toys? Yes they did. Did we? Yup.
The main event, though, was the master of kid scares himself, R.L. Stine. Seeing him just wandering around a bit before we the official presentation, we introduced ourselves and chatted with the man for a few minutes about the enduring appeal of horror, and naturally, what he’s still scared of:
MTV Geek: You’ve been doing this for such a long time, how’d you end up with ‘Haunting Hour’ on The HUB?
R.L. Stine: I’ve been very lucky with TV. The Goosebumps show, back in the ‘90s was I thought, a wonderful show. I can’t write the scripts because I’m still writing books. So other people write the scripts. But Goosebumps was the number one kids show for three years in a row.
We were approached to do The Haunting Hour by the same two guys who did Goosebumps! We worked with them for so long, and we trusted them… Because you never know with television, what you’re gonna get, whether you’re gonna get lucky or not. But I knew they were involved, and said, let’s do it. These shows are based on two short books I wrote, The Haunting Hour, and The Nightmare Hour. We started out with those stories, and now we’re in our third season.
Geek: Having experience in both, what works differently with horror on TV, versus the written word?
Stine: I don’t know, I always thought the Goosebumps TV shows were scarier than the book, because you could see the monster. Maybe it’s the opposite? If you can imagine something in your head, because you’re reading, that’s pretty scary. It just depends on how well you can picture it.
The Haunting Hour is scarier than Goosebumps… It’s a little older, it’s about teenagers – not kids. It’s just trying to be a little bit darker.
Geek: Is anything really scary for you anymore? Or do you just shrug off terror on a daily basis?
Stine: This is a very weird thing: I think horror is funny. Horror always makes me laugh. If I go to a scary movie, I’m the one laughing… If the shark jumps up and chews the girl? I’m the one laughing. I don’t get scared… I read a Stephen King book, and I really appreciate it. But I don’t know what that feeling is, but I don’t know why, it always makes me laugh.
Geek: So how do kids react to you, knowing you’re the horror guy?
Stine: Look at me! I’m not too scary. I’m not a scary guy, you know? I put on black so I can look scary… But I look like every waiter in New York. I go to schools, I do events, I walk out on stage… They’re horribly disappointed! They expect somebody with fangs maybe, or a black cape. And then I walk out, I look like somebody’s Dad! So what can you do.
Our chat with Stine done, it was time for him to take the stage and address the crowd. First, he made up a “scary” story about a haunted car, with participation from the kids in the audience. Though Stine may have played himself down, the guy knows how to work a crowd, and had them in stitches – the laughter kind, not the Frankenstein variety.
Next up, the Hub brass introduced a clip from this week’s episode of The Haunting Hour, featuring Modern Family’s Rico Rodriguez. As opposed to his stage presence? Stine was true to his word about the laughing thing. As soon as the clip started, every kid in the crowd quieted down… And when a loud, scary sting hit, every single kid started crying and screaming for their parents, while Stine tried to stifle his laughter. Watching a crowd full of screaming children, while R.L. Stine laughed at them? Highlight of the year so far.
Once everyone had calmed down, they snagged some sweet swag bags, and headed downstairs to fill up containers with as much candy as they could carry. Look, we like to consider ourselves journalistic… But when the chips are down, free food and candy buy our loyalty for life.
And with that, we headed home to what was to be a week of candy headaches. Happily, we also have plenty of Hub programming to watch during their Haunted Hub event, which runs through Halloween.