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5 Directions Netflix Should Take the R.L. Stine Movies Next



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If you’re reading this, you’ve probably watched Fear Street Part 1 – 1994 by now on Netflix. The horror film launches a pretty solid trilogy that continues to unfold this weekend and next, but once it concludes with Part 3 – 1666, the story of Sarah Fier has come full circle and reached its natural conclusion. Which begs the question, what do Netflix and Chernin Entertainment do with R.L. Stine‘s beloved Fear Street books next?

Well, for starters, I think they need to plan some standalone movies and traditional franchises, rather than a series of interconnected films from different eras, featuring different casts and styles. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the ambition behind the Fear Street trilogy and think that overall, these three movies turned out to be a successful experiment in terms of both genre content and release strategy. The buzz is definitely strong out there among my fellow genre fans, but Netflix may want to mine individual titles for solo films going forward. That said, given my own personal Stine fandom, I think it would be smarter to combine certain titles with similar settings and themes, which is how I approached this list of five directions that Netflix should take the Fear Street franchise next.

The first two kinds of Fear Street books that came to mind were vacation-themed stories set on either the beach or some kind of skiing trip. Setting and atmosphere are an important part of horror movies and Stine has always had a knack for capturing the odd feeling of being in a new place, a feeling that kept readers on their toes and would likely do the same for viewers, I imagine. So the beach and the snow prevailed, as did two of Stine’s most popular series — the super-chiller Cheerleaders stories and The Babysitter books that aren’t part of the Fear Street franchise. My last slot went to Stine’s holiday-themed books, which seemed like they’d fit well serving a single story while offering up their own individual strengths and iconography.

RELATED: ‘Fear Street Part Two: 1978’ Revisits the Summer Camp Slasher With None of the Rosy Nostalgia | Review

Without further ado, here’s where my imagination led me, guided by Stine’s macabre hand, which certainly helped shape my love of horror movies as a kid.

Cold as Ice

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OK, so this one would combine the Fear Street books Ski Weekend and Truth or Dare. Now, I know what you’re thinking — didn’t Hollywood just make a terrible Truth or Dare movie? And yes, it did, but that film hinged on a supernatural concept, which is not what this is at all. Cold as Ice (a working title) would be more of a psychological thriller in the vein of Karyn Kusama‘s masterful slow-burn The Invitation and E.L. Katz‘s underrated directorial debut Cheap Thrills.

See, Ski Weekend follows best friends Ariel Munroe, Doug Mahr and Shannon Harper, who become stranded in a blizzard and are saved by a strange man named Red, who guides them to a hilltop ski resort — only in this movie, Red takes them to the luxury ski condo from Truth or Dare. They proceed to play that same game, which Red and his fellow hosts quickly make uncomfortable, and it soon becomes clear that their snowy refuge is a trap of sorts. As the night progresses, the game becomes deadly, and panic soon sets in as Doug’s car disappears and no one can get any cell phone service. But hey, at least the house is full of guns. Will Ariel, Doug and Shannon escape and live to ski another day, or will they be forced to turn on each other in a battle to survive against all odds?

Wanna know how I’d make this movie if I were an exec? Well, first I’d cast Netflix darling Noah Centineo as Doug, and I’d cast Whitney Peak (Gossip Girl) and Emilia Jones (CODA) as Ariel and Shannon. That’s a solid young cast right there, and then I’d pay Michael Shannon a few million to play Red before calling it a day because that package should be enough for a greenlight, baby!

Red Sands

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One of the reasons I’m super excited to see Old, the new movie from M. Night Shyamalan, is because it’s a horror-thriller set on a beach. We don’t see too many of those, and when we do, they’re often cheesy B-movies emphasizing bikinis and gore over any semblance of a story. But the beach is scary, and it’s not just because of the shark from Jaws. All of those small oceanside towns that survive off the summer tourist season would make a fascinating setting for a horror movie, and there are several Fear Street books I think you could mine for beach-related material. You take a sliver of Sunburn and add a gram of Goodnight Kiss, a dash of The Dead Lifeguard, and a pinch of Party Summer, and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat for young genre fans right there.

In fact, let me tell you exactly how to do this. You start with the basic premise for The Dead Lifeguard. It’s about a bunch of young lifeguards at the North Beach Country Club, which some say is cursed. Sure enough, lifeguards begin to die one by one as evil stalks them… from above. That’s right, the villains here are vampires — the bats flying over the beach in Stine’s Goodnight Kiss, and the dead lifeguards are April and Todd from that story. But we don’t know that vampires are behind the murders right away. No, the first two deaths are initially ruled to be fatal accidents. It’s Claudia, the protagonist from Sunburn, who suspects something else is going on while visiting her friend Marla’s beach house for the week.

Claudia and Marla team up with Matt from Goodnight Kiss — who we’ll make the head lifeguard here — and together they track down the vampires, who can either be Marla herself (in a surprise twist) or Party Summer protagonist Taylor and her three friends, which would make this one something of a gender-swapped take on The Lost Boys. The vampires could even “hang out” beneath the town’s deserted motel, the infamous Howling Wolf Inn from Party Summer, where the mysterious owner (possibly the main vampire?) allows them to stay. There’s an epic confrontation between the bloodsuckers and the surviving lifeguards, who use their training to defeat evil. But is it once and for all? That’s for Netflix to decide!

I’ll leave the casting up to Netflix as well, though I will say this — they need to make either David Hasselhoff or Pamela Anderson the Drew Barrymore of this movie and kill off the lifeguards’ beloved boss in the opening scene. That’s what would get people talking. And again, the title is totally open for debate! I only love it if you love it, right?

The Babysitter

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OK, so these books technically aren’t even part of the Fear Street series, but trust me when I say that this Stine property is The One. And there’s no reason that Jenny Jeffers, the titular babysitter, couldn’t just babysit for a family that lives on Fear Street. So that’s a pretty simple fix.

The Babysitter, not to be confused with the Netflix movie starring Samara Weaving or the 1995 Alicia Silverstone movie, follows a 16-year-old babysitter who starts receiving menacing phone calls from someone whose twisted motives appear to be driven by past trauma they’ve attributed to an inattentive babysitter. A sequel could move things from high school to college, where Jenny starts seeing a psychiatrist at the university hospital due to her continuing nightmares. Jenny has allowed herself to start dating again, but she’s reluctant to take a new babysitter job even though she could use the money. Eventually, she relents, and the threatening calls begin again. Is the culprit Jenny’s new boyfriend, her shrink, or someone else entirely? Of course, by the third film, Jenny herself becomes a suspect, which would be understandable given the trauma associated with multiple attempts on her life — a route I’ve been waiting for the Scream franchise to go with Neve Campbell‘s Sydney Prescott.

I know there’s a fourth Babysitter book but Stine starts to veer into the supernatural there, and that’s not what this series is. We talk about movies like Knives Out and Murder on the Orient Express when we talk about murder mysteries, but slasher movies are the best kind of murder mysteries, and that’s the fun of this franchise — who is the villain in The Babysitter, and did that person survive the first film, or is someone new stalking poor Jenny? And has she cracked by the third film? Is it all in her head, Never Talk to Strangers-style, or is there actually someone after her again? Netflix execs need to be looking into this series because there’s a way to do this that could be very cool.

Evil Cheerleaders

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This is really a franchise unto itself between The First Evil, The Second Evil, The Third Evil, The New Evil and The Evil Lives! Clearly, there’s enough material here that Netflix could probably squeeze out a decent trilogy. It’s certainly worth discussing. The First Evil follows sisters Corky and Bobbi Corcoran, two newcomers to Shadyside High who want more than anything to make the school’s cheerleading squad. But as soon as they’re named to the team, terrible things start happening to the cheerleaders. Are these “accidental” deaths the result of human error, or the wrath of an evil spirit from the Fear Street cemetery?

The sequel would delve deeper into the spirit’s mythology and would follow only one of the Corcoran sisters, who remains haunted by the other’s death. The sisters can still communicate with each other in dreams, so this movie would be a bit more fantastical than the first film, though, by the end, the surviving sister’s cheerleading teammates come to believe her incredible story of a supernatural evil unleashed with a score to settle. Yes, the same evil that killed Sarah Fear (as it was originally spelled, I believe), the character at the center of Netflix’s new Fear Street trilogy.

As for a third film, I’ll let the data dictate the story points there, but rest assured, there is plenty more evil where The First Evil and The Second Evil came from. Oh, and First, Second and Third are actually kind of boring titles, so you could just call the second film The New Evil and the third film The Evil Lives! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? How much does the title even matter when you’ve got cheerleaders shaking bloody pom-poms and back-breaking carnage on the football field… and that’s just the halftime show I’m talking about. There’s also a gnarly shower scene in these books that finds one girl in very hot water, shall we say? It’s pretty gross, but as we’ve seen from the first two Fear Street films streaming now, these movies are willing to go there.

Silent Night and Other Holiday Tales

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Stine already did the heavy lifting here, setting the pins up so some streamer could come along 25 years later and knock them down. He gave us The New Year’s Party, the Valentine’s Day-centric, Broken Hearts, Halloween Party, and Silent Night, which takes place around Christmas and spawned a trilogy that could honestly be mined as its own separate thing.

Let’s start there. Silent Night follows a rich, spoiled young woman named Reva who becomes the target of a stalker in the run-up to Christmas. The sequel picks up one year later and sees her kidnapped, while the final book presents an array of suspects as Reva’s fashion show is sabotaged and she’s targeted once again for murder.

So you take that general structure and combine it with the prank element from both The New Year’s Party and The Wrong Number. Reva and her friends played a fatal prank on a classmate named P.J. at a Halloween party (from, yes, the Halloween Party) and now her friends (Josie and Melissa from Broken Hearts) start dying all around her. Meanwhile, in place of the threatening valentines from Broken Hearts, Reva could begin receiving anonymous “gifts” in the 12 days leading up to Christmas. It’s a simple matter of mixing and matching. And though I could tell you who the killer is in my version, I won’t, since Netflix takes its spoilers very seriously. Let’s just say I see this as Netflix’s version of I Know What You Did Last Summer but set in the winter. Genius, I know. Now pay me millions of dollars and let’s keep this Fear Street momentum going, gang! For there’s no better time than the present to mine the Stine!

KEEP READING: ‘Fear Street Part One: 1994’ Is a Gory B-Movie Schlockfest for the Streaming Age | Review


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Benvenisti Eyal

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