Goosebumps' R.L. Stine Thinks This Is Stephen King's Scariest Story

The R.L. Stine-to-Stephen King pipeline is real. If you were a kid who grew up reading "Goosebumps" or "Fear Street" under the covers, there's a good chance your adulthood has at some point involved cracking open King classics like "It" and "The Stand." I only got my hands on a few "Goosebumps" books as a kid, but I still wore out my copy of "The Cuckoo Clock of Doom" from rereading it so much. Now, as an adult King fan, I can clearly see the fingerprints of one horror master's work on another, and I'm not alone. In a new interview with Yahoo, Stine himself looked back on 30 years of "Goosebumps" and gave credit to King for the idea that scares him most.

"I think Stephen King's scariest book is 'Pet Sematary,'" Stine told the outlet, before admitting with a laugh: "I've stolen that premise four or five times." With bibliographies as prolific as these two authors, there's bound to be some crossover, but it's very funny to hear that Stine admits some of his plots came straight from King's disturbing 1983 novel.

Like Stine says, "Pet Sematary" is a chilling story: it follows the Creed family, headed up by campus doctor Louis, as they endure tragedies culminating in the loss of toddler son Gage. Only, the family's new home is built near a burial ground that may or may not have the power of resurrection, and Gage's death drives Louis to consider testing the boundaries of what should be possible in order to make his family whole again. While "Pet Sematary" is often remembered for its zombie cat and zombie baby, it's first and foremost about coming to terms with the idea that you can't stop tragedy, even in your own family.

Stine's books are full of killer pets

While there are well over a hundred Goosebumps books, a few of them contain stories that show shades of "Pet Sematary," including "Cry of the Cat," a 1998 book that features a pet cemetery of its own, and an undead cat named Rip. "Cry of the Cat" is a kids' book, though, so instead of culminating in a dark night of the soul like King's book, it features a protagonist who begins displaying cat-like behaviors, a mad scientist, and a deftly deployed toy mouse distraction maneuver. The story also became the basis for one of the freakier episodes of the live-action "Goosebumps" TV show (see also: the nightmare fuel image at the top of this page).

Speaking to Yahoo, Stine also spoke about the time he met King and admitted to cribbing the "Pet Sematary" plot. "'Stephen, a magazine once called me a literary training bra for you,'" he describes himself telling the author, "Which is true! And he said, 'Yes, I know.' I'm Stephen King for kids." Hilariously, it isn't the dead pets plot that King called Stine out for during what Stine calls a "nice talk." "He accused me of taking every amusement park plot and not saving them for anyone else!" Stine told Yahoo with a laugh.

Luckily, there's plenty of room in the horror sphere for the two creatively horrific and endlessly entertaining authors, especially when one is an unofficial stepping stone to the other. King finally got his amusement park-set novel with "Joyland," while Stine has returned to the idea of monstrous, killer pets several times over the decades, including with his upcoming rescue-bird-gone-rogue story "Night of the Squawker."