By Stacey Harrison
Having survived the big-budget blockbuster horrors presented in last summer’s Super 8, Riley Griffiths is facing sinister forces yet again in his follow-up effort, an episode of R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour that pits him against a malevolent mascot willing to resort to any means necessary to keep its station.
That’s right. Not all those furry folks who tread the sidelines at football and basketball games are so friendly. In “Mascot,” Griffiths’ character Willie is repulsed by Big Yellow, his high school’s mangy dancing … whatever it is, and is convinced that installing a new mascot will drastically help the basketball team and the school at large. But the more he and his friend dig into the background of Big Yellow, the more mysteries surface. And the more they try to displace him, the stranger — and scarier — things get.
Griffiths says he had a blast working on the episode, and found the change of pace from Super 8 to be exciting. “Super 8 was my first movie or anything [professional], so I had no idea what to expect when I went on that set. That was just crazy with the huge set and filming for three and a half months. Going to The Haunting Hour, it was very different. It’s very fast-paced, but really I don’t focus on that kind of stuff. I just focus on the acting that I’m doing and having a good time and enjoying it.”
Part of the enjoyment came from having been a longtime fan of R.L. Stine’s work. “Basically every October before Halloween, they always had a Goosebumps marathon on TV, so we would watch those all the time,” he says. “When I found out I was cast in The Haunting Hour episode, I was so excited.”
For those who haven’t seen Griffiths since Super 8, he’s a little thinner — since at the time of filming he just was beginning to lose the 30 pounds he had put on to play the role of Charles — and a little taller. But Super 8 was never far from his mind, as Griffiths keeps in touch with his costars from that film, including Joel Courtney, who starred in his own Haunting Hour episode earlier this year.
“We talked about the crew and everybody, because it was a lot of the same crew we worked with,” he says. “We both had a blast filming it.”
After completing The Haunting Hour, Griffiths took some time off from acting to focus on another passion of his, playing left guard and nose guard for his high school’s freshman football team near Seattle. The Spartans’ mascot is presumably friendlier than what Griffiths comes up against in The Haunting Hour, but the actor says the experience has made him forever suspicious.
“I think I’ve got to watch my back when I’m at football and basketball games.”
R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour airs 5pm Saturdays on The Hub.
Photo: © 2011 Ed Araquel