OCTOBER 14, 2007
At Comic Con, I happened to run into Kevin Williamson at some party. As I was carrying two beers at the time (the open bar was about to shut down), I couldn’t shake his hand (plus I probably looked like the world’s biggest douchebag, wearing a Slither t-shirt and carrying two MGDs at an otherwise classy party, but whatever). So I simply told him how Scream had re-ignited my interest in horror, in particular slashers, when it first came out in 1996, and thanked him on top of it (I did NOT thank him for providing me many a fantasy of Joey Potter crawling into my bedroom to watch movies and sleep with me).
It may seem strange, but in the first half of the 90s, there were maybe 3 horror movies a year in theaters. Go back and look at your Fangorias from 1995 - they were covering Judge Dredd and Congo, because there was nothing else to cover. As a result, I was more interested in action movies until Scream came along and reminded me why I liked them so much in the first place.
Even ignoring my own personal reignited love, Scream really brought the genre back, and it’s pretty much been “in style” ever since. For the second time (the first was a movie called There's Nothing Out There, but few people, and I am not one of them, have seen it), a horror movie took place in a world where the characters had actually seen horror movies. This was mainly personified in the Randy character (whose death in the sequel remains one of the most genuinely upsetting character deaths in slasher history), who worked at a video store and had a strange affinity for Prom Night (come on dude, Prom sucks! Why no love for My Bloody Valentine???). He was the one to explain “the rules” in the film’s most famous scene, all of which were circumvented in one way or another in the next 20 minutes.
I was surprised how well the film has held up, especially with the new wave of knockoffs and parodies that have come since. Unlike most of those other films, Scream genuinely works as a slasher movie, with some great red herrings and well executed finale that neither cheats or betrays the film’s logic. As I mentioned in the Dead in 3 Days review, it’s entirely possible to solve the killer(s) identity in this film, not to mention go back and look at all the little clues that were sprinkled throughout. Also, the film’s first 10-15 minutes remain a slasher movie highlight, especially when you consider that this occurred long before the days of killing off a ‘celeb’ or important character in the first scene, which is now a staple.
On the cons side, Rose McGowan’s character is far more annoying than she is supposed to be (I never have or will shine to her as an actress, and remain entirely confused as to what exactly she offers as either an actress or even just eye candy), and Dewey is so stupid at times you gotta wonder how the guy even got hired as a deputy. There’s also some really bad editing (as usual, Dimension shows no respect or reverence for anything, not even the film that put them on the map, as the DVD is non-anamorphic. It’s not even the uncut version that was released on VHS!), particularly during Steve’s murder and when the killers are stabbing each other. And I remain miffed that Williamson “homaged” the killer’s motive directly from Happy Birthday To Me, which is one of the very few slashers of the late 70s/early 80s not mentioned by name in the film (or the commentary track).
Scream 2 (a future October extra, hopefully) was pretty good considering how quickly it was made (released a year to the day after the first one – which was a word of mouth hit, not a “Hey it made 100 million on Friday let’s start writing the sequel on Monday” type movie like Saw or Hostel was), if not as tight and creative as this. And the less said about 3, the better. But this one remains one of the best slasher movies, IMO, and with each subsequent disappointment from Craven and Williamson, it even sort of improves with age.
What say you?