Back in 1978 and 1994 and early as a decade ago, before TV networks realized they could have big hits with summer shows, many networks would take their less-desirable shows and stick them in slots normally reserved for more popular shows.
It’s called “burning off” and it still is popular even though not as used now there are multiple TV stations and streaming services.
It’s July and shows are on summer hiatus, but a few million viewers may think they’re tuning in to see Who’s The Boss or L.A. Law and found themselves watching Poochinski or Where’s Rodney? The shows were failed pilots and this was the one-and-done the networks had to fulfill contract obligations to air the shows or just to show something so they didn’t rerun more popular shows getting them in trouble with syndication clauses from Hollywood attorneys.
After watching two of the Fear Street movies, I feel that Netflix is burning off these movies by dropping them over a period of three consecutive Fridays.
The first one is awful. It’s set in 1994 and I would rather watch a 90-minute Poochinski movie than it. At least I know that I’m getting a movie about a talking dog voiced by the late Peter Boyle and starring the guy who’s Kimberly Williams-Paisley’s character was married to in those Father of the Bride movies.
From what I’ve heard from very displeased and hostile R.L. Stine fans, these aren’t even Fear Street type stories. Since both movies focus mainly on slasher genre, it seems they could have played with the formula a little.
While 1978 saw the rise of the slasher with Halloween, the decade was most notable for all those devil-horror movies. What makes 1978 worse is it suffers the almost two-year head start that American Horror Story did by tackling the genre also set mostly at a campsite as this movie does.
Friday the 13th had a lot of imitators with The Burning, Madman and Sleepaway Camp and sequels to Friday and Camp that were mostly bad. As kids stopped going to camps in the late 1980s, the movies seemed no longer relevant as they branched out having killers lurk in mines, colleges, high schools, birthday parties, etc.
The camp in 1978 seems to be set where the lunatics have overtaken the asylum. Maybe I missed it, but there was only one adult at the camp, a nurse, who goes nuts quickly and is taken away in an ambulance. The counselors don’t seem much older than the other campers and I really don’t think so many young adults and teens would’ve been left with so little supervision.
And just like in 1994, there’s an unbelievable rivalry between the people of Sunnyvale and Shadyville that would make the Hatfields and McCoys seem like an episode of Family Feud. Even Mafia families aren’t as violent and brutal to each other.
The movie has Sadie Sink (of Stranger Things fame) being tied up and her armed being burned by a cigarette lighter by teens who say she is a witch and nothing is done. Sink is really the only good part of this movie but my fear is that she’s already being typecast in these roles.
The plot is simple. Some camper or counselor gets possessed, goes nuts, picks up an axe and starts hacking and chopping people to gory mess that’d make Negan throw up in his mouth.
In between, there’s a lot of babbling and whining about the characters feelings. It’s crazy how whenever people are being chased by killers, they always stop to fight with each other.
Part of the appeal of the 1980s slasher was they knew how to pace themselves. Even the worst slashers knew better. And the deaths may not have been creative but at least there was diversity. After the third or fourth person is hacked up, you really don’t care.
And part of the formula of slashers was making the victims somewhat unlikeable that when they did get what was coming to them it was justified.
But here, the violence is so over the top and the victims are so psychotic, you’re not just rooting for the killer, you’re glad he’s taking these people out when they’re young because who knew what they would turn into as adults.
Bookending this movie are the remaining characters of the first movie and poor Gillian Jacobs (of Community fame) who probably needed some quick money and that’s why she made these movies. Jacobs’ was eventually turned into the Ned Flanders of Community which sucks because she could be funny when given the right material.
The third movie is expected to drop this Friday, July 16. It’s set in 1666. Could the change in period actually be an improvement? I don’t know.
I must admit that 1978 was better than 1994, but it’s along the same lines as when someone breaks their arm but it’s not the one they use to write. It’s still very bad, but it could’ve been worse.