What I'm Watching: Fear Street

So, I'd heard enough chatter about Fear Street to wtach it. New slasher flicks are rare enough. What I didn't realize is these are based on R.L.Stine books, which I have never read (obviously). So for the first two movies, 1994 and 1978, I was baffled. Are these comedy horror? There's almost no jokes; only in the end of the third film does it get funny. But there's barely anything more than a few jump scares and bad fake blood in dark sets. While there's some borderline teenage sex and drugs, it's PG-13 even if it says "R".

The first one's not bad at 1994 period, but I assure you Nine Inch Nails was not played on mall PAs, and the black girl dating a very generic-brand white cheerleader would not have passed without comment in the time, nor would Nurse Betty (who I'll note is a straight man playing a gay crossdresser/transwoman like Klinger, because there were apparently no gay/trans actors to take the role? This ought to be as taboo as putting honkies in blackface). If you're gonna do period, you might at least milk the period's tail-end racism and homophobia for some drama.

The unstoppable killers each have some unique character, but we never really find out much about several of them, and I'd much rather hear that. Long flashbacks to why they were chosen and what they did; instead we get a few quick-cut repeats of the same crimes. Everyone's dumb in this. There's one gross-out kill that actually startled me, telegraphed for like a minute and I still didn't think they'd do it. But otherwise it's the dullest, dumbest thing I've seen, there's a half-assed explanation for the killers, a story about a witch which is driven into the ground so hard that it's obviously bait.

After credits and at the start of each segment, there's a tediously long spoiler and recap, as if they weren't meant to come out at the same time. According to wiki, they started development in 2015, wrapped shooting in 2019(!), and then it took until this month to release them.

The summer camp story in 1978 is much better, focusing on "Ziggy" the tomboy redhead, her square sister, a punk rock girl, stoner dude, and about 30 absolutely indistinguishable honkie automaton clones blundering about. The problem is one of those is the killer, and another is… another problem… and I couldn't pick them out of a lineup. But Ziggy and punk rock girl are pretty tough, the party sticks together until they stupidly split up and then terrible things happen, but we get another different bullshit explanation for the killers.

Third film is two films. 1666 fills in the Pilgrim Times theme park setting, but does the American Horror Story hack trick of reusing actors from the present as their ancestors, except Deena inexplicably plays someone who won't have any descendants, least of all her. This is not The VVitch. This is tedious RenFaire play-acting with pig shit, co-ed dances in the woods, and an old wise woman with a copy of the Necronomicon. OH NO don't read from the scary magic book, not-Deena, we don't know what the consequences are. Then it's back to reenacting Salem but with actual black magic so someone really did need to be hung & burned.

The final half, the comedy writers finally got their turn, and it becomes goofing off in a mall lit with blacklights, shooting super-soakers at killers, a lot of Scooby Doo hijinks, and an ending that doesn't really make sense, permanently stop the killers, or provide any closure. But everyone who lives gets a cameo so that's nice.

There's a couple moments where R.L.Stine's books are used as props in the show, and not respectfully. Stephen King is mentioned much more seriously.

These aren't even as good as the worst Friday the 13th movies, let alone any actual horror movie, but I was amused enough to stay awake thru three movies. If you're normally scared of horror movies, these are like tiny baby stories which won't upset you much.

★★½☆☆

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