There’s a whole generation of kids out there nowadays who for the most part have probably never seen a true slasher movie. There’s another large portion of them that have no idea what that is and probably think I’m just making that up. But real movie fans, and real horror fans, know of the lost art of the Slasher genre. For decades it was seemingly the only type of horror movie anyone in Hollywood wanted to produce and it’s hard to blame them, as the genre burst onto the scene in the 1970s immediately introducing two of the most iconic villains in the history of all movies with Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. The genre kept swinging in the eighties not just with a slurry of sequels thought out on cocaine benders, but with more classic characters like Freddy Krueger and movies such as Prom Night. Then In the mid-nineties, Wes Craven gave us another instant classic with the Scream franchise, but for whatever reason after the third one, slasher movies seemed to vanish. Obviously this was partially due to fatigue from the genre, as there really is only so many different ways to tell a story of teenagers getting murdered at parties.
The only slasher movies to really come out nowadays are low budget, direct to video films that are really only entertaining if you’re under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Sure, we had that half-assed Friday The 13th movie that couldn’t decide if it was a remake or a sequel, but nobody cares because it sucked. But then from the darkness came a bright light of hope in the form of Netflix’s Fear Street Trilogy, based off the best-selling series by R.L Stine, of Goosebumps fame. Now I will admit that while I have heard of the book series, I have never read any of the Fear Street novels and at first I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, nor was I overly excited. From the ads for the films I could see they were trying to be slasher movies, but being R.L Stine adaptations I assumed these to be more In the vein of his Goosebumps series with more I guess, kid-friendly, horror. That’s not a slasher to me, so I stayed away until last night when I realized that all three of the movies had been given an "R" rating. Now I’m not gonna tell you that ALL movies need that rating to be good, but I will tell you with one thousand percent certainty that any and all slasher movies NEED that "R" rating. This might sound depraved but upon seeing that these movies featured bloody violence and teenage drug use, I had to see what was up.
Obviously these aren’t your standard slasher movies, having a unique and interesting backstory to this world. To be quite honest, any time a story about an ancient witch's curse can be spun into a skull mask wearing teenager on a killing spree I’m likely to be interested. If you add an axe-wielding teenager on a killing spree at a 1970’s summer camp to that equation, you’ve got yourself a hit. Even with the "R" ratings, I must admit I was genuinely, and pleasantly surprised at how far Netflix was willing to go in these movies, especially in Part 2. These not only felt like old school, hardcore Slasher films... they are that. And they’re on wide release, with each of the first two instalments currently in the top 10 most watched movies on Netflix in the past week. And while I am hyped for the third and final instalment of this trilogy to premiere Friday night, what I’m most excited about hasn’t even come to fruition yet, but it’s the fact that the potential is there for old school slashers to make a return.
Hollywood always has been and always will be a copycat business, and these streaming services are no different. Originally, these movies were set for theatrical release but I feel they were better served here. I didn’t know they could still make good slasher films in 2021 and I probably wasn’t going to egregiously overspend on a movie ticket and a big cup of ice with a little soda to find out (Editor's note: just ask for less ice, bro). But now they’re getting major attention on Netflix as well as a very positive response, proving that not only will this style of movie still work, but also specifically the "R" rating and pushing the envelope in terms of brutality will still work. First and foremost to consider from this, is Netflix’s competitors, such as Prime Video, have obviously taken notice, and it’s safe to assume they’ll soon start looking for similar content. The second aspect to consider is R.L Stine has written a LOT of books, I mean seriously, it’s fucking ridiculous how many books this guy has written. We’re starting with this trilogy but there are 61 total books just in his Fear Street series and no that is not a typo. With the prior success of the Goosebumps films and now this success, there’s no reason to think they’ll stop adapting R.L Stine properties as we’re now five movies in and haven’t even made a dent in the man's collection. And don’t worry, there’s plenty more slasher movies to make from this as the Fear Street books include a standalone book about lifeguards being hunted by a killer, as well as a series about evil cheerleaders going on killing sprees and you can sign me right the fuck up for that.
Keep in mind that this year we will also see yet another Halloween movie as well as another Candyman movie helmed by acclaimed horror director Jordan Peele, which, I will add, looks awesome. Then in 2022 we’re slated for a fifth Scream movie as well as what they’re calling Halloween Ends, which I’m not expecting to be the end of anything because we all know these types of movies never actually end. There’s obvious reasons to be skeptical about some of these releases, all of them being at minimum the fourth such movie in their respective franchises and in Halloween’s case, the 12th and 13th instalments. But to me the biggest anomaly of the slasher genre is the rare ability for the sequels to not only get stale over time but to sometimes even get better. The Fear Street films have given me renewed optimism looking forward not only at the potential of more of that series, but also in these upcoming releases. The slasher movie formula has proven to still work nearly 40 years later, and I feel that at long last, the return of Slashers is upon us. It’s time to make kids afraid to drink in the woods again.