October 23, 2021

THE NIGHTMARE ROOM

 
THE NIGHTMARE ROOM
(The WB, August 31, 2001-March 16, 2002)
 
Parachute Entertainment, Tollin/Robbins Productions, Warner Bros. Television
 
 
MAIN CAST:
James Avery – R.L. Stine

 
            With his hit franchise Goosebumps winding down along with the expiration of his contract with Scholastic, author R.L. Stine was looking to the future. Parachute Publishing, a book packager co-founded by his wife Jane Stine, and HarperCollins secured a deal for him to produce two new book series: Goosebumps Gold and The Nightmare Room. Ultimately Gold, which would have been a limited run series of sequels to prior stories, was dead on arrival due to legal disputes between Scholastic and Parachute.

There's something creepy about Dylan's doll.


            The Nightmare Room was similar to the Goosebumps books in that it was an anthology series of kids being terrorized. The key difference was that the books were made for an older audience and featured darker content and unhappy endings as a result. Each book also had an introduction to the characters and story as if Stine were addressing the reader directly. Another unfortunate difference between the series was that this one only lasted for 15 entries. Despite HarperCollins’ aggressive marketing for the books, sales never quite reached that Goosebumps level. Stine posited in interviews that Nightmare Room ended up being overlooked because it was too similar to Goosebumps and came too soon after that series’ end.

A lie brings Sting crashing through the walls!


            Also looking to recapture Goosebumps’ success on television, a new series based on Nightmare Room was put into production by Parachute, Tollin/Robbins Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Like its predecessor, the series was a live-action anthology that took the majority of its stories straight out of the books, with the exception of four episodes that were based on an idea from a particular book rather than the whole thing. Along with subtle changes made to compensate for the shift in medium and to keep the book’s audience guessing, each adapted episode also featured at least one character whose gender was swapped. Appearing on the show were some notable and recognizable names, including Amanda Bynes (The Amanda Show), Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street franchise), Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls), Sam Jones III & Allison Mack (Smallville), Frankie Muniz & Justin Berfield (Malcolm in the Middle), Tippi Hedren (The Birds), Danielle Fishel & Betsy Randle (Boy Meets World), Drake Bell (Drake & Josh), Angus Scrimm (Phantasm series), Brenda Song (Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior), Steve “Sting” Borden, Lindsay Felton (Caitlin’s Way), Shia LaBeaouf & A..J. Trauth (Even Stevens), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory), David Carradine (King Fu), and twins Dylan and Cole Sprouse (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody).



            The Nightmare Room debuted on The WB on August 31, 2002. The first two episodes aired on Friday afternoon as part of the Toonami on Kids’ WB programming block, then aired on the Saturday morning Kids’ WB-proper starting on September 15th for the remainder of its run. It was the first and only live-action show to be aired on both Kids’ WB and Toonami. Stine’s introductions were carried over in the form of a narration during the opening and at the end of each episode, making the show very similar to The Twilight Zone in that respect. Although the narrator credited himself as Stine, it was actually James Avery of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fame. Stine did serve as an executive producer along with his wife. The series was written by Paul Bernbaum, Naomi Janzen, Scott Murphy, Richard Rossner, Lee Goldberg and Bill Rabkin, with Robin Bianchi and Becky Claassen serving as script supervisors. Costumes were designed by Robin Michel Bush, and the music was composed by Josh Kramon and Kristopher Carter.



            Without a book series to support it, The Nightmare Room came to an end with a single season of 13 episodes; but not before being nominated for an Emmy Award for sound editing in 2002. In 2013, Nightmare Room returned to television when it was rerun on the now-defunct horror channel Chiller. To date, only 8 episodes have been released between two DVDs in 2002 from Warner Archive: Camp Nowhere and Scareful What you Wish For. The series hasn’t been made available to stream from official sources, however episodes can be found online in various quality.
 
 
 
EPISODE GUIDE:
“Don’t Forget Me” (8/31/01) – Danielle and Peter’s family’s new house comes with ghosts in the basement seeking to lure in children, causing them to be forgotten by anyone.
 
“Scareful What You Wish For” (8/31/01) – A birthday magician’s spell ends up bringing Dylan’s favorite doll to life.
 
“The Howler” (9/29/01) – Three kids find a device that lets them communicate with ghosts, not knowing the ghosts want to possess their bodies.
 
“Tangled Web” (10/6/01) – When a teacher believes everything habitual liar Josh says, his lies start coming true.
 
“Fear Games” (10/13/01) – Five teenagers end up on a survival reality game show where they must deal with a psychotic witch haunting the island they’re on.
 
“School Spirit” (10/20/01) – A group of students in detention must help keep the memory of a teacher haunting the school alive.
 
“Full Moon Halloween” (10/27/01) – Five friends become suspicious that one of them is a werewolf when they hear one is loose in their town.
 
“Four Eyes” (12/1/01) – Jeremy’s new glasses apparently have given him the ability to see the aliens that have been secretly living among humans to plot their invasion.
 
“Locker 13” (12/8/01) – Luke’s worries about getting an unlucky locker are alleviated when he finds a good luck charm, at least until he learns he must pay for his good luck with his life.
 
“Dear Diary, I’m Dead” (2/2/02) – Alex discovers a diary that predicts the future…and his death.
 
“My Name is Evil” (2/23/02) – Getting made a fool of on his birthday begins good-natured Morgan’s slow descent towards evil.
 
“Camp Nowhere (Part 1)” (3/9/02) – Four campers find themselves at a summer camp that has been suspended in time by a Native America spirit.
 
“Camp Nowhere (Part 2)” (3/16/02) – The four campers try to figure out a way to deal with the spirit and free the camp and its inhabitants.

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