Production: Twentieth Century Fox, 1998
Running Time: 48 minutes
The vacationing Morris family stumbles into Horrorland amusement park, where they get a bigger fright than any of them bargained for. In Part I Carl and Peggy Morris and their children Lindsay and Luke get lost on the way to Zoo Gardens. Initially delighted when they stumble across Horrorland, the parents become concerned when they learn the amusement park has no telephones, and the demonic hosts seem to take their roles a little too seriously. Meanwhile, the children get a good scare on the rides, but the danger doesn't stop when they head for the exit.
In Part II, the hosts reveal that they are real monsters who use humans for their entertainment. Though the parents willingly compete against the children on "Raw Deal" to try to win a new car, the family learns that losers become lunch. Everyone must work together to escape from their day at Horrorland.
Best For Ages:
6-8: While some children will be frightened by the prospect of an amusement park run by monsters, others will chuckle at a world where demons are the norm.
9-12: Readers of the book will be curious to see the video. Older kids will find the horror silly, but the fiendish TV game shows in Part II are quite funny even for adult viewers.
Educational Value: Out to recess. The parental and sibling relationships are very clichéd - Mom criticizes Dad for refusing to ask for directions, older sister grouses at having to follow younger brother. Yet the video pokes fun at itself later on when the group appears on a FAMILY FEUD-type game show.
Entertainment Value: Parodies of vacations and TV shows provide lots of laughs. It's hard to fear impressively costumed demons when they're cracking jokes. The flat cinematography at times resembles a home movie.
Violence: Demons chase the Morris kids through the amusement park and bang on their car windows to stop the family from escaping.
Frightening Situations: Lindsay is trapped in a house of mirrors with a devil. On a coffin flume ride, Luke finds a tarantula inside his casket. The monster game show host traps the entire family in a room with Ripper, a flesh-eating dog.
Questionable Behavior: Lots of instances of the kids talking back to their ineffectual parents.
Though it's typical for adults in the "Goosebumps" books and videos to be clueless when faced with paranormal problems, Carl and Peggy Morris set a new standard for incompetence. Fortunately, their kids are clever and cooperate without too much fuss...first when they can't get to Zoo Gardens, and later when they are faced with being put in a zoo themselves.
Some young viewers may be afraid of the vicious dog and the amusement park horrors; the scariest of which is a house of mirrors with walls that begin to collapse like the garbage chute in STAR WARS. The demons are more funny than scary. We see them playing with human action figures and watching ads for a "Monster Love Songs" CD. What's most frightening is parental passivity in the face of impending death. Peggy Morris seems to think it's okay if they all die as long as they do it as a family.
Luke and Lindsay are likeable and easy to relate to. Moreover, the young actors, though merely so-so, perform with more conviction than any of the unconvincing adults.
Kids who get a kick out of Halloween humor such as the animated IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN and SCOOBY-DOO -THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN OF HALLOWEEN are likely to enjoy the live-action (though cartoonish) ONE DAY AT HORRORLAND. A "Goosebumps" installment like WELCOME TO DEAD HOUSE would be more appropriate for kids who enjoy a good scare.