The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It
|R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It|
|Directed by||Alex Zamm|
|Produced by||Bill Siegler|
|Music by||Chris Hajian|
Todd C. Ramsay
Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Productions
|Distributed by||Universal Studios Home Entertainment|
R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It is a 2007 American children's horror film based on the children's book of the same name by R. L. Stine. The film was directed by Alex Zamm, written by Dan Angel and Billy Brown, and stars Emily Osment, Cody Linley, Brittany Curran, and Tobin Bell. It was released direct-to-DVD. The plot follows a goth girl named Cassie (Emily Osment) moving into a new town and fascinated by the occult. At a mysterious Halloween store, the store owner (Tobin Bell) insists on selling her an old book. Stuck with her brother Max (Alex Winzenread) on Halloween night, she reads the book to him, despite the book's warnings not to read it out aloud or think about its monster. The monster comes to life and captures Max. Cassie, with help from her friends, must save Max and defeat the monster before their parents return from a Halloween party.
The film was a joint production with Universal Studios Home Entertainment Family Productions, The Hatchery, and Steeltown Entertainment. The film was released on DVD by Universal Studios Home Entertainment on September 4, 2007, and aired on Cartoon Network on September 7, 2007. The film received mostly positive reviews from media critics upon release.
Cassie Keller (Emily Osment) is a goth girl who just moved with her family to a new neighborhood and school. She loves to play scary pranks on the popular kids at school, as well as her younger brother Max (Alex Winzenread).
On the way to a library, Cassie finds a mysterious Halloween store in an alley and goes inside. The store owner (Tobin Bell) insists on selling her an old book titled The Evil Thing, which contains a warning not to read it aloud or think about its monster called "The Evil Thing", a two-headed creature that sucks blood while the other head eats meat. That night, Cassie ignores the warning in the book and reads it to Max as revenge for him unplugging her computer in the middle of a report she was writing. Priscilla Wright (Brittany Curran), a school bully who stole The Evil Thing from Cassie's bag in school, films her jumping in fear, after using a CD player to play monster sounds outside in order to make the monster appear to have come to life.
After Cassie's parents leave for a Halloween party and later that night, The Evil Thing is brought to life by Max's thoughts, and captures him, Priscilla and a Papa John's Pizza delivery man. It is up to Cassie and Sean (Cody Linley), a popular boy who Cassie likes, to save them. At first, they try to defeat The Evil Thing on their own, but fail. Cassie then asks the owner of the shop, where she bought the book, for help. Cassie discovers that the store owner travels around the world each Halloween, searching for a person who loves to scare people the most and tricks them into reading the book aloud, releasing The Evil Thing, possibly in order to teach them a lesson. He leaves them with the riddle "two heads are better than one; that's the way to get the bloody job done" before his shop disappears. After he disappears, Sean solves the riddle. Together, they formulate that if they get blood from a roast that Cassie's mother made and throw it onto The Evil Thing, it will be forced to suck up the blood. In doing so, it will devour itself. While they plan their attack, The Evil Thing's babies hatch and tries to eat the victims. Luckily, Sean and Cassie make it in time. By using Sean's CD of monster sound effects, they are able to lure the monster to the CD player; however, when the monster nudges it, the music turns into hip hop, thus ruining their plan. While fumbling, Sean and Cassie accidentally drop the blood near Max, who must conquer his fears. When Cassie encourages him, Max tosses the blood onto The Evil Thing, causing its heads to begin attacking each other. The monster eats itself, eventually exploding in a shower of yellow blood, killing itself and its offspring.
With The Evil Thing destroyed, Max, Sean and Cassie save Priscilla. She angrily yells at Cassie and calls her a witch, and Sean rejects Priscilla in favor of Cassie. After Priscilla leaves, they save the pizza delivery man, who offers them free pizza in return for releasing him, then follows Priscilla to hit on her, to her disgust. Cassie and Sean burn the book and set aside all their thoughts about The Evil Thing. Sean leaves shortly afterward. Cassie and Max's parents then come home and find the book in the fireplace. The father mockingly reads it out loud, reviving The Evil Thing. The film concludes with Cassie realizing that The Evil Thing has been brought back to life and that it is not over yet.
- Emily Osment as Cassie Keller, a goth girl who likes to read and enjoys pulling pranks on students and her brother. While walking to the library, Cassie visits a Halloween shop, which she did not think was there before. After ignoring the warning within the book to not read it aloud, a monster known as the Evil Thing escapes into the city after her brother thinks about it.
- Cody Linley as Sean Redford, a popular boy in middle school who likes Priscilla Wright. After feeling regret for helping Priscilla to bully Cassie, he leaves her, befriending Cassie and helping her defeat the monster.
- Brittany Curran as Priscilla Wright, a popular girl in middle school, who bullies Cassie for her goth appearance and takes pride in holding the festive title of "Pumpkin Queen".
- Alex Winzenread as Maximilian "Max" Keller, Cassie's little brother, who is easily frightened. Cassie thinks that her brother is annoying and a nuisance, so she frequently scares him. After Cassie, Max, and Sean work together to defeat the Evil Thing, she gains respect for her brother.
- Tobin Bell as the Stranger, who owns the Halloween shop. His shop is not always in the same location, as he moves from place to place to find people who like to terrify others.
Margaret Loesch, who founded Fox Kids and the Hallmark Channel, served as the executive producer. The film's music score was composed by Chris Hajian. Dan Angel, who wrote the script, said "The key is to do no gore, no violence, no [bad] language, no sex, no one dies, but you can take the audience to a scary place and bring them back".
R. L. Stine was consulted for how the script should be written. There was supposed to be a series based on the short stories in R. L. Stine's book, but the executive producers decided to film their own original story, and Stine contributed what he thought should be added to it. Stine said that the film is no different from his short stories, saying, "It's a really good, creepy adventure for kids, but it never really goes too far, sort of like my stories."
Filming took place in the borough of Carnegie, Pennsylvania as well as Cranberry Township in October and November 2006. Filmed in Pittsburgh, the local Steeltown Entertainment Project has a credit in the film's beginning for investing in the film's production. Other people in Pittsburgh have credits at the end of the film. Over 100 local citizens had a part in the film's production. Loesch stated the filming could not have happened in Pittsburgh without the help of Steeltown. A problem during the production was how many hours children can work each day, due to child labor laws.
Product placement for the film includes a cookie from the restaurant chain Eat'n Park and Papa John's Pizza. The use of pizza delivery by Papa John's Pizza in the film was regarded by Common Sense Media, a media website for parents, reviewer Heather Boerner, as "overly integrated product placement". She criticized the product placement, writing, "Not only is the pizza delivery guy included in more than half of the DVD, but the logo is present and the kids are shown munching ecstatically on the pizza at the end of the movie. They even say that the pizza is great, and how the delivery guy was nice. It's enough to make a commercial-conscious parent gag".
Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger designed the animatronic monster, The Evil Thing. The Evil Thing was created by Nicotero's company KNB FX, the same company that did the special effects for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The monster's two heads were controlled by two people. Cody Linley described the monster as "nasty", while the director Alex Zamm said, "That's lunch".
In the United States, the film was rated as "PG" by the Motion Picture Association of America for "scary content and thematic elements". It was rated "12" by the British Board of Film Classification in the United Kingdom.
The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It was released on DVD with seven special features, including Emily Osment singing "I Don't Think About It", a behind the scenes video of the production, a personality test that compares the viewer to the characters, an interview with R. L. Stine and the film's cast, and three trailers for other films. The DVD is in widescreen format with English Dolby Digital 5.0 sound. Subtitles on the DVD are available in English, French, and Spanish. The DVD was released on September 4, 2007 in the United States and on October 22, 2007 in the United Kingdom.
The film spawned a spin-off television series called R. L. Stine's The Haunting Hour premiered October 29, 2010 on the Hub Network. The series was similar to R.L. Stine's previous anthology television series, Goosebumps, and had a different story in each episode. It was cancelled on December 6, 2014.
The film received mostly positive reviews. William Lee, a reviewer writing for the Movie Metropolis, said "Don't Think About It is a very simplistic and straightforward tale. The characters all fit into the standard roles of popular boy, outsider and mean girl, and they never advance beyond those descriptions".
Nick Lyons of DVD Talk wrote: "As the children's horror movie/television field is sparse, this film is a perfect opportunity for youngins to experience the genre before eventually moving on to classic horror movies. Hopefully we shall see more Haunting Hour films in the future". In her review for About.com, Carey Bryson said: "The movie is a great Halloween flick for kids in the target age group (about ages 8-14, depending on their ability to handle scary content), and stars some of the big names in current kid culture". Melanie Dee of Yahoo! Voices called The Haunting Hour: Don't Think About It "a fast-paced movie". She noted the scenes "jump quickly and get the point across, making it an easy to follow upbeat flick that kids and parents alike will enjoy."
In 2008, film writers Dan Angel and Billy Brown were nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for the Children's Script - Long Form or Special category. At the 29th Young Artist Awards, Cody Linley and Emily Osment were nominated for Best Performance in a TV Movie, Miniseries, or Special - Leading Young Actor and Actress categories, respectively.
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