It's no surprise that my love for Halloween, and all things spooky stems from my childhood. Halloween and horror has been the first (often the only thing) that I have loved consistently throughout my entire 41 years of existence. As a kid growing up in the 80's, playing outside during summer vacation was mandatory. In fact, it seems like my generation was the last to do so. But, unless it was cool and cloudy out, I often struggled with playing outside. Which, living in SoCal, it was rare most of the year. I did it because I had to. My Cousins were always out playing and they were good at it. I wasn't. I always lost games. I wasn't into sports, had no endurance for simple races on foot or bike, and often dreaded having to always keep up with my them. It got boring real-quick. I was the little girl who liked playing pretend, dress up, swimming and playing with twigs and leaves. If it had been up to me, I would have spent my summer vacations with a stack of books and writing instead of being out in the sun and playing games.
R.L. Stine was the same way. The thing is, he did stay inside and wrote scary stories and joke books while his mother pleaded with him to go out and play like the rest of the kids. It took some time but, R.L. Stine figured out that kids enjoy being scared. I certainly did. Those same athletic and "good-at-playing" Cousins held the best sleep overs and thats when the ghost stories were shared. Thats when I discovered books like 'Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark' and 'Goosebumps'.
Have you ever noticed how young kids are drawn to scary things? Have you seen the way kids in the Horror Community flock to cosplayers like @the_real_michael_myers at shows? As a parent of four Goblins, I have always incorporated Horror and Halloween into my kids lives. I enjoyed easing them into Horror movies and shows as they grew. I loved watching kid-friendly spooky shows for nostalgia and ideas that I hoped would spark their curiosity for horror and Halloween. I would increase the volume of exposure depending on what they were willing to tolerate. They are all different and watched horror differently. It was funny. I would be caught watching the Goosebumps series with two kids in the morning and movies like Sinister with the older two at night. Thanks to R.L. Stine, I was always able to enjoy films and the show with all four kids at the same time. Despite their varied horror tolerance levels.
One of the best memories I have with my kids is when the movie Goosebumps premiered in 2015. Dylan Minnette appealed to my teenage kids. Jack Black's performance as R.L. Stine had the entire family laughing loudly in the theater. I don't care what critics have said about the film, it was pure, mellow-scary fun. Something we all could enjoy despite our different tastes in horror.
The 2015 movie sparked a R.L. Stine fire that year and I couldn't be more happy about it. The Goosebumps Books were dusted off but, I sadly didn't invest in the Fear Street series. My copies being long gone, I resorted to simply enjoying binge watching shows and movies adaptions with my two younger kids. That led us to watch 'Cabinet of Souls', the made-for-TV film that used to be on Netflix. 'Cabinet of Souls' is Halloween Gold! The intro is spooky enough to make younger kids question their decision but, at the same time, it's colorful and kooky enough to keep their attention. The setting is in a town that embraces Halloween as much as Salem and Sleepy Hollow. It's a feel good Halloween movie complete with a Haunted attraction, supernatural happenings and loose scares.
R.L. Stine's books and their adapted films grow with kids. His 'Fear Street' book series took the horror and scares up a notch starting in 1992 and now only 29 years later, we have the Netflix series - Fear Street: A Film Trilogy Event. Part 1 of the Trilogy: 1994 airs July 2nd but, I got the pleasure of watching it early. (Thank you @horror_flick_chicks)
I was stoked when it was announced that Fear Street Trilogy would premiere during the entire month of July. I got the 'Stranger Things' kind of feeling and whatever it takes to keep me inside and out of the July sun, I will take it! I was even more excited to learn that this trilogy will be unlike any other R.L. Stine adaption. It has an R-rating and promised more blood and gore. Typically, I don't read into much about films and shows before they air in order to preserve the element of surprise that I am always seeking. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, I was at the edge of my chair salivating for the next thrill. This trilogy is set to become one of my favorite series of all time!
I can't give too much away because I don't want to spoil it so, I'll just tell you what I loved.
Fear Street Part 1: 1994 is a witches brew of horror and teenage angst. There is no sugarcoating of each characters home and personal life. I truly appreciate this because many of R.L. Stine's adaptions only lightly touch on life's hardships. The books lay it all out. So, it's always odd to me that these "based-on" films don't. Kids endure so much stress and pressure that needs to be highlighted in the film's they watch because it often gives them hope and the comforting feeling that they aren't alone with their troubles. 1994 introduces us to a group of kids in ShadySide. The assumed red-lined area or sister city of the affluent Town of Sunnyside. Unlike, other R.L. Stine adaptions, this series is full of color and queerness which, I of corpse, appreciate as these are the characters so often killed first in Slasher films. This is so exciting for me because not too long ago, before I went no contact with a certain family member, she and her blatant homophobic husband would complain about gayness being everywhere on TV and they couldn't keep their kids away from seeing it. The conversations they would have with their kids is that "Queers are deserving of love but, it's still a Sin". This is the same family that claimed I don't like black people because I don't see what the big deal is about Beyonce. The same family that said they will not subject their children to 'Frozen 2' if it is found Elsa was gay. It's sad, infuriating but, all true statements. I wonder if they have thrown out their TV yet. I celebrate films like 'Fear Street Part 1: 1994' because of the inclusiveness. While the Horror genre has given outcasts and weirdos space all along, there was/is still a lack of representation and queerness as able protagonists. I love shoving Gayness, BIPOC as the main characters and good old fashioned Horror into the faces of traditionalists.
I can't lie, I jumped and yelped a few times during Part 1. There is nothing held back. Don't go in thinking that the camera will pan away during the most violent scenes. It doesn't. I implore you, don't look away.
If you discovered your love for music as a teen in 1994, I can assure you, you'll be dusting off your CD's and burning your mixes. Send me one if you do!
This is your last warning...
Fear Street: A Film Trilogy is not like every other R.L. Stine adaption.
While it's pure fun, and nostalgic it's not what you're used to seeing when it comes to R.L. Stine. Which makes me admire the beloved author even more. You see, creatives his age typically stick to what they know and do what works best for them. R.L. Stine allowed the writer's and directors to update, and bloody up his wonderful 90's stories. Stine supported each effort and even gives a little intro. Fear Street: A Film Trilogy has something for us middle-aged humans and the generations of horror lovers coming in behind us. I live to revel in my child-like wonder and Fear Street as well as Cabinet of Souls and Goosebumps ( the 2015 movie and series) allows for hours with it. While my family has evolved and we all nurture our own individual interests, R.L. Stine is a name that brings us together for discussion and nostalgic fun. Fear Street is now another favorite to the Halloween household.
What is your favorite R.L. Stine film adaption?