We’ve already seen author R.L. Stine’s work adapted for the screen in great detail with the Goosebumps series, but when co-writer/director Leigh Janiak’s Fear Street trilogy was announced, no one knew what to expect. Now, with a campaign of marketing slowly revealing the three films, as well as their intent, these 2021 Netflix original films will differ from the books in one key way. Brace yourselves, as Fear Street is about to get a little more grown up, as noted by the author who started it all.
In a recent announcement from Netflix, the Fear Street trilogy was revealed to have made some changes. Not only was the “Summer of Fear” strategy that would release one film a month jettisoned, but the approach to R.L Stine’s classic teen horror books is a little more frightening than most would suspect. Stine himself confirmed this tactic with the following statement:
Fear Street fans are in for a treat--and some major surprises. Readers know that the book series is rated PG. But the movies are rated R. That means a lot more thrills-- and a lot more terror! I have seen Leigh Janiak's epic trilogy releasing on Netflix in July and I can tell you the scares and the SCREAMS are more than I ever expected. What fun to see the horrors of Shadyside come to life!
While the Fear Street novels never shied away from the scares, the material was definitely dialed down enough that Goosebumps graduates could still use them to move onto the hard stuff. There was always this nature of dancing around the line between Stine’s 'safe for kids' scares and the echoes of stories that folks like Stephen King would tell. It made for some memorable volumes of horror literature, with witchcraft, the supernatural and teen heartbreak all intermingling in stories like The Cataluna Chronicles and The Fear Street Saga Trilogy.
But hearing that Fear Street’s three cinematic installments, 1994, 1978 and 1666, will be an R-rated take on the legacy of fear in the suburban haven known as Sunnyside is pretty exciting. That tactic is especially breathtaking when you think back to how Fear Street’s trilogy originated as a 20th Century Fox project. If Leigh Janiak’s movies had remained under that banner after the Disney merger, you can assume that the more gruesome and shocking approach, shown in the trailer below, would have been vetoed for a PG-13 rating.
Fans of books like the Fear Street series are always an opinionated bunch, always ready to suggest which volumes should be adapted and how these stories should be told. From the look at the R-rated changes that R.L. Stine has excitedly highlighted, it seems that even die hard fans of the originally PG-rated series are ready to believe in the most fearsome version being committed to the screen. Fear Street is set to unfold across three weeks in July, only on Netflix. 1994 debuts on July 2, with 1978 pressing start on July 9 and 1666 finishing the frights on July 16.