The Camera, also known as the Cursed Camera, the Evil Camera and the Haunted Camera, is a villainous object seen in Say Cheese And Die!, one of the books in the Goosebumps series. It was built buy an unknown inventor. It also appeared in Say Cheese and Die - Again! and Say Cheese - And Die Screaming.
This camera was never always evil. When an inventor (to his day unnamed) put the finishing touches on the camera, it was the latest in photo technology. But before he could unveil his invention, his lab partner, Dr. Fritz Fredericks (who nicknamed himself "Spidey"), stole the camera to take credit for the invention-and to enjoy the fame and riches that would come his way. The inventor stopped Dr. Fredericks' plan by cursing the camera for all eternity.
4 friends, Greg Banks, Shari Walker, Doug Arthur, and Michael Warner, have snuck into the strange old building known as the Coffman House which is said to be haunted, whilst unbeknownst to them it was also home to Spidey. While exploring the basement, Greg discovers a camera hidden inside a compartment in the wall. Since Greg himself is interested in photography, so he picks up and takes the camera.
Greg asks Michael to pose for a picture with the Camera. Michael stands against a staircase railing. After Greg took the picture, the camera makes a whirring sound and a photo comes out of the front of the Camera. Michael asks to see it and leans against the railing. The railing breaks, and Michael falls to the ground, hurting his ankle. Spidey enters the basement through the house. Scared, the teenage children leave through the back exit.
Greg takes Michael's photograph and the camera with him. When the group stops running, they inspect Michael's photograph. To everyone's surprise, Michael's picture shows him falling instead of leaning on the railing. Later that day, Greg takes multiple photographs with the camera. First, he takes a photo of his father's new car, but the picture shows the vehicle wrecked. Then, he takes a photo of his older brother, Terry, but the picture shows him on a baseball field in a worried state.
On Tuesday, Greg, Shari, and Michael go to Doug's baseball game. Before it began, Greg takes a photo. The picture shows his friend lying on the ground with his neck at an unnatural angle. Doug refuses to believe that anything bad could happen to him. He assumes the camera is broken. However, during the game, a baseball hits him, causing him to fall to the ground. His neck bends to an unnatural angle, as the picture predicted. Greg is completely sure that the Camera is responsible for these weird events, but his friends refuse to believe him. It's at this moment that the pictures of Terry and the new car come true; Terry appears on the baseball field in a worried state. Terry tells Greg that their father has just suffered an accident and that the car is completely totaled.
That night, Greg has a nightmare where he takes a photo of his family during a barbecue, but the picture shows them as living skeletons. Shari continues to be skeptical of the alleged camera's "powers" and asks Greg to take it to her birthday. Initially, he refuses, but he eventually takes the camera to the party. During the party, Greg takes a photo of Shari, but the pictures does not show her. Soon after, Shari disappears mysteriously without a trace.
After a few days, Greg and Bird begin fighting over the camera. Bird accidentally take's Greg's photograph. The picture shows Greg with Shari being chased by a black shadow. Although he is scared, Greg also feels hopeful because the picture shows Shari. Greg gets an idea: to tear up Shari's picture. When he does this, she reappears, but she doesn't have any memory of where she had been. While the kids talk, Spidey appears. He begins chasing in a scenario similar to what the camera predicted. However, a neighbor sees the case and threatens to call the police. Spidey runs away.
Later, the youngsters decide that the Camera is a danger and they must find a way to stop it; they resolve to return it to its hiding place in the Coffman House. But, when Greg and Shari they enter the old house, Spidey catches them and reveals the camera's origins. It turns out that Spidey's real name is Dr. Fritz Fredericks, and he is a deranged scientist. His lab partner created the camera, however, Spidey's greed led him to steal the piece of technology and present it as his own invention. What he never knew was that his partner also was a master of the dark arts. His partner placed a curse on the camera. Now, whenever a photo is taken, something bad will happen to the subject of the photo. Spidey mentions that the camera caused the death of all of the people he ever loved. He spent his whole life trying to hide it. Now that the four kids know the truth, Spidey believes that he must keep them prisoners in his house forever.
Greg and Shari try to escape. During the struggle, Shari takes the camera from Spidey and takes Spidey's photo with it. Spidey dies of fright, an event that the photograph seems to depict. Finally, Greg and Shari return the camera to its hiding place and leave the building. They tell the Pitts Landing police that they found Spidey's corpse in the house.
Later, Joey Ferris and Mickey Ward, two local bullies, had followed Greg and his friends to the Coffman House. The bullies retrieve the accursed Camera, and they take their own photo. They ignorantly wait for their picture to develop and later their unfortunate fate.
In the books, the camera is described as looking similar to an old Polaroid brand camera despite the brand never being mentioned.
In the Goosebumps television series, the camera has a bizarre design, looking almost like a toy spaceship.
Powers and Abilities
Whenever a photo of a person or object is taken with the camera, the photo produced will instead depict that person or object in the future after having suffered a fatal, or at least harmful and/or disastrous, event (i.e., a car crash, a heart attack or a fall). The dangerous accident depicted in the photograph will afterwards come true after a varying length of time; the time can be anything between just after the photo was taken, or can be days - weeks later. According to Spidey, the camera has the power to steal souls and is completely indestructible.
The Camera cannot move on its own and cannot force anyone to find it and use it. As long as it is well hidden, its evil powers are useless.
- Due a difference in origin, it is unclear if the camera from Say Cheese — and Die Screaming! is the same camera as the one from the other two books.
- In Say Cheese — and Die Screaming!, the camera's origin is different. It was a one of a kind prop camera that was built for a 1950s horror movie called Say Cheese — and Die Screaming! However, when it was used during production, strange accidents continued to happen on set eventually leading to the film being cancelled. The camera disappeared, eventually finding its way to a garage sale where Julie Martin ended up taking it.