Given that I did a re-read of R.L. Stine’s original “Fear Street” series, as well as a few “Super Chillers” and a couple special Trilogies within the Universe, when I saw that Netflix was going to make some “Fear Street” movies I knew I was game. And because that re-read series was chronicled on this blog, I figured that I ought to give my thoughts on these new movies as well, as nostalgia bombs and a new way for people to connect with a classic series in YA horror literature! So let’s see what the Netflix “Fear Street” Trilogy does for the series when introducing it to a new generation!
It was once again a night to myself as I sat down to watch “Fear Street Part 2: 1978”, and given that I had really enjoyed the previous installment I thought that there would be big, big shoes to fill this time. But this one did have some things going for it: I figured that the soundtrack at least would be really awesome. I also love me a camp based horror movie, figuring homages to “Friday the 13th” and “Sleepaway Camp” would be plentiful and enjoyable. But guys…. I loved this one even more than I loved “1994”.
And yeah, the camp factor (both in setting and a little bit of tone) was a huge part of that. I really liked how Camp Nightwing was the setting, as that summer camp played a pretty significant role in at least one “Fear Street” book. This movie also really does capture the essence of summer camp cinema, be it horror or sex comedy. The counselors are horny, the kids are afterthoughts, and the summer is hot and picturesque. And once again, this is not the “Fear Street” from my youth, because there were two, count ’em TWO, rather graphic sex scenes, and the gore is very much upped to about eleven (and mind you, it has NO qualms about killing young kid campers as well as counselors). But at the same time, it once again captures the essence of the series, and fleshes out the characters so that you are really and truly rooting for them. This one was almost even more emotional because at the heart of it there isn’t a love between two teens showcased, but the complicated relationship between sisters Cindy and Ziggy. What we know at the beginning is that one of these sisters doesn’t make it out alive, and the other is the key for the 1994 characters on how to stop Sarah Fier once and for all. And while it’s a bit obvious as to who is who, I still found myself wholly invested in the ups and downs of goody goody Cindy’s and bad girl Ziggy’s fraught sisterly bond. As someone who has a younger sister that I get along with in adulthood, but am not really close with, the way that these two butt heads was pretty relatable, and the way that they just can’t quite figure the other out hit me in the feels quite a bit. It’s a testament to the two actresses, Sadie Sink and Emily Rudd, who play off each other very well.
And it’s a joy seeing some of the horror lore build up in this one, specifically the maniac at Camp Nightwing who, looking like Jason Voorhees in “Friday the 13th Part 2” axes his way through camp, at the will of Sara Fier and her curse. “Lights Out”, where we first encounter Camp Nightwing, isn’t one of my favorite books in the series, but I liked that we branched out beyond Shadyside into another part of the Stine Lore. It’s a great homage to these exploitation camp horror films as mentioned above, and it had some great scares and death moments, as well as a bit of poignancy to round it out. Once again the filmmakers aren’t just going to let us see these victims as mere bodies to entertain us as they are run through. At least, not for the most part. Everyone is genuinely likable, and the standout is Sadie Sink as angry and hurting Ziggy who has been a black sheep at camp, and now has to survive a massacre. And we also get to see the connections to “1994” that we didn’t even know were there, and they fit together very, very well. The rivalry between Shadyside and Sunnyvale is expanded upon, we get to see some characters in the first movie as teenagers, and we get a bit more into Sara Fier’s machinations and what it is she does to get people under her thrall.
Finally, yep, more nostalgia goodness, and this time it’s squarely in the late 1970s. So you know what that means! We have another really good soundtrack that finds a bunch of hits from the era, as well as styles and fashions from the time that perfectly reflect the various characters. A bit more denim for the more scruffy Shadyside kids, and more polos for the Sunnyvale ones. I was worried that the soundtrack and styles would seem a little forced, and while sometimes it treads pretty darn close, it never crosses over into ‘oh come on’ territory. There are even nods to popular authors at the time, from my boy Stephen King to Queen of YA realism Judy Blume. There are many easter eggs to find here, and since the books (at least in the original series) didn’t do much in the 1970s it felt novel and creative to have it take place in 1978.
“Fear Street Part Two: 1978” is a really, really fun and somewhat emotional follow up to “Part One”! I cannot wait to see what the final installment brings!
In two weeks I will reveal the third and final film in the series “Fear Street Part Three: 1666”.