R.L. Stine’s first “R” rated adaption took the world by storm with its three week premiere event on Netflix. As a horror fan, it was nothing short of amazing to get a horror trilogy back to back, week after week. Especially considering how much fun this series was, and how it successfully pulled off telling one continuous story that spanned decades (and centuries).
While Fear Street works perfectly as one long narrative, each of the three installments have their own tone and style, and could probably stand on their own. So with everyone on the internet creating their own “rankings” of the three parts, we thought it would be fun to compare them in different categories as objectively as possible.
Note: The 1994 Part 2 segment at the end of Fear Street will be counted along with the rest of 1994. While the scenes that take place in 1666 will count towards that. Also, major spoilers (obviously)
Round I – Characters
Between Deena, Ziggy, and Sarah Fier, all three installments of Fear Street gives well-developed protagonists, who are also surrounded by an array of interesting side characters. We don’t spend too much time in 1666 to really get a sense of the all the other villagers.
And honestly, the casting of the other actors is a bit distracting. It makes sense for us to see Deena as Sarah because she’s the one having the vision. But doing the same for all the other actors just feels gimmicky, like something a sitcom would do for a flashback episode.
1978 honestly had the best protagonist with Ziggy (much of that having to do with Sadie Sink’s performance), and there was a tragically poignant arc between her and Cindy as the sisters reconciled and learned to rely on each other.
However, if we’re talking about the best ensemble, 1994 is impossible to beat. Between Deena and Sam trying to navigate their breakup and feelings, to Josh being a great nerd character who’s not too stereotypical, to the hilariously dark humor from Kate, there’s not a weak link in that cast. They seem like an ordinary group of teens you might have met in high school.
Round I Winner – 1994
Round II – Story
Granted, Fear Street is one long story, but each part is different in the sense that 1994 is a 90s teen slasher, 1978 is a vintage summer camp slasher, and 1666 is a historical drama. Each one has a famous “homage” they draw from, with varying degrees of success.
Opening with a kill and main character fake out (as Scream did), 1994 gets off to an amazing start. Plotwise, it’s simple and straightforward, echoing Scream but without the sense of humor or meta self-awareness. It didn’t attempt to conceal any of the mystery, but it worked because its characters were so interesting.
Once again, we don’t really spend enough time in 1666 to get the full story. It pays homage to Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”, but doesn’t quite have the detail or depth to pull it off. In a weird way, the 1666 would have worked better as a 10-15 minute flashback, or it needed to take up the full 2 hours.
When it comes to efficient storytelling however, 1978 does it best. It gives the perfect setup with its characters and the Sunnyvale/Shadyside conflict right from the beginning. The characters don’t figure out too much too soon and it creates a lot of tension and suspense. It did exactly what it set out to do, and makes for the perfect standalone slasher.
Round II Winner – 1978
Round III – Style/Tone
Despite taking place in three different time periods, all three installments share a similar look and feel, no doubt having all been directed by the same person, which allowed for continuity. So what this round really comes down to is which one pulled off their time period best.
Unfortunately for 1666, its biggest distinction is the quasi-Irish/English accents that everyone seems to be doing, with very little success. Both 1994 and 1978 convey their time periods with an onslaught of period music that probably accounted for half the production budget to license it.
What it really comes down to is the fact that 1978 really feels like it could have come out in that era. It mostly uses practical effects, doesn’t get too long in gimmicky references to what was current at the time (except maybe for the Stephen King line). It’s quite clear that between the three time periods, late 70s/early 80s slashers was the subgenre that the filmmakers understood best.
Round III (and overall) Winner – 1978
Honestly, all three are awesome and they only beat each other out very slightly. Fear Street remains a horror masterpiece that we are all very lucky to enjoy!
Which one is your favorite and why? Let us know in the comments!