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!
Film: “Fear Street Part 2: 1978”
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”.
2 thoughts on “A Revisit to Fear Street: “Fear Street Part 2: 1978””
Alright, a promise is a promise and here I return, to rain a bit of this (in my opinion) lame trillogy’s parade. Being a non-american ’96 kid, I don’t understand much about cultural references, but here are the facts that made me think the plot made no sense:
-Alright, starting with Ziggy. Why the heck doesn’t she just leave Shadyside?! She obviously hates the place, and has no family anyway, so her being there is kind of helpful to warn any future victims, but it’s not like she was planning to do so until she was called by Denna. I recall her mention in certain point a curse preventing anyone from leaving Shadyside. I might have bought that an accident may befall anyone who does so (like in Once Upon a Time) but with the first movie starting with a whole bus visiting the neighbour city… well, it’s kinda like “why mention it anyway?”
-The killer. Showing themselves as a masked fiend in 1994, it made me think: great, an “indentity reveal” sort of plot twist! But no, the killer here shows themselves being posessed to the audience, then covers their face. What WAS the point of that to begin with? Who wears a mask if the others already know who you are? Also, his posession is instant and ever-lasting, unlike Sam’s in 1994.
-Officer Nick. He’s by far the worst written character in a Stine production. It’s like they’re figuring his character out along the way, instead of writing it from the start. Because I mean, if he saw the curse take place and knew about it, why wouldn’t he believe Deena and her friends in the first movie? (More contradictions about him to come in 1666).
-Also, can we please notice how a character literally disappeared in the middle of the movie? I’m talking about that bully we all wanted dead. She gets locked in the toilets, then is rescued by Ziggy, and a boy appears and tell them both to leave. In the next scene, the boy gets murdered, but the bully is nowhere to be seen! A later scene shows a bus filled with kids leaving to safety, but is the girl among them? We don’t know. Where is she?!
I just realized how writing this comments turns my initial rage to amusement. Anyway, a good entry like always. Fear Street needs more readers (and less netflix adaptations). I’ll be back to read 1666. Take care!
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Welcome back! Happy to see that you returned, and I have counterarguments again!
– To the first point, I figured that since Shadyside and Sunnyvale used to be the same town, modern city limits don’t define the inability to leave. Since the kids in the first movie were visiting Sunnyvale, that would be within the mythos of the ‘curse’ or whatever’s boundary. That and I didn’t take it as a physical inability to leave, but that somehow fate or circumstance will always bring someone back or make sure that they aren’t able to up and move somewhere else. Also, Ziggy was deeply traumatized by what happened at Nightwing, and since no one believed her to begin with (and her only perceived ally being Nick saying he didn’t believe her to those in authority) I don’t think it too nuts that she wouldn’t try to warn people. What’s the point if no one will listen? Same for Nurse Lane. She’s alive and well and keeping to herself now after her daughter falling victim AND being pegged as crazy after attacking Tommy. They have no reason to reach out and try to help.
– Definitely true that masked killers a lot of the time have an identity reveal later on in a movie, but there are also slasher movies where we know well and good who the killer is even if they have a mask. While for Jason in the majority of the “Friday the 13th” movies it’s because of his deformities, I would counter that in the “Halloween” movies we know who Michael Myers is the whole time and he still wears a mask without any real reason to do so. So in cases like this, the mask is pure aesthetic, perhaps, as it is for Michael Myers. And Sam’s possession ended when the curse ended. If they hadn’t ended the curse, perhaps Sam would have come back down the line like Ruby and Tommy and all the others. No doubt the magical systems are definitely sloppy here and there in these movies, but to me that one made sense.
– I don’t want to get too spoilery with the Nick stuff here, but who’s to say that he didn’t believe them in 1994? Maybe he had motivation to write it off as nonsense even if he knows something he isn’t saying to them.
– Sheila (was that her name?) definitely just kinda disappeared after getting knocked out when Ziggy came to fetch her. But given that she was Sunnyvale, I figured that she was found later after getting knocked out and taken home. We know she doesn’t die because she’s Sunnyvale, and the curse doesn’t target Sunnyvale kids. They probably could have shown her being walked out or something to wrap up that arc, so once again, a bit sloppy, as these movies definitely are in some ways.
1666 will be up in a couple weeks! Definitely come on back to debate! I like any reason to talk about horror movies! -k