October Extras #14 - Scream (1996)

OCTOBER 14, 2007

LAST SEEN: 2004 (?) (DVD)

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?


  1. This is another one of those movies where everybody is so sick to death of the knock-offs and shitty crapfests that came after, they forget that it was actually a pretty good flick. It gets blamed for opening the floodgates for things like I Know What You Did Last Summer and all the similar dreck, which it probably deserves, but as you point out it actually works on its own.

    The opening sequence with Drew Barrymore is fucking tense, esp. to horror fans who are playing along at home. It's a horror movie for horror fans, really.

    But, has Skeet Ulrich ever given Johnny Depp his DNA back? :)

  2. I'm not usually in the minority when I say that I hate almost everything about this movie. Man, I thought it was slick and snooty. I don't think I liked even one of the characters...or the killers.

    This is about the time that I realized that there was very little to be excited about with newer movies. Luckily I had just discovered Cemetery Man about the same time and Anchor Bay was starting to put out those cool clamshell videos (or where they still putting out the double cassettes?).

  3. This is one of my favorite movies and definitely deserves more credit. It's like the cool thing these days to hate Scream. It's sad. Scream is a great flick, and I enjoyed most "knock-offs" like IKWYDLS and Urban Legend. :)

  4. I went to see it with a bunch of people in 1997 who just thought it was something to watch on a Friday night.Most in the cinema thought it wasn't scary or funny.
    Its oh so ironicly clever of course.I haven't seen it since 98 and well I thought Neve Cambell was decent and thats about it.
    I knew half the plot before going in due to me reading sight and sound and other uk film mags.So the "shock" of Drew getting dead straight away wasn't a shock.
    I despise the sequel on every level and wished I'd never watched it.Plus I was cheering when Mr Movie Geek Randy gets it.The guy is so up his own arse.Yet US watchers nearly ended up in tears as he reminded them of their own geeky video store 80's.Maybe if someone not repulsive rather than Jamie Kennedy had played him,there might have been more sympathy over here.
    Then again I wanted Gail Weathers to get hanged,drawn and quartered by the end of the first one.

    Oh and I may be the only person on the planet that doesn't mind the 3rd one.hahaha.

    I vastly prefer THE FACULTY.I don't hate any of the characters or actors in that,even if it borrows much ideas from SCREAM.Also I vastly prefer Clea DuVall in the geek role.

  5. "There's Nothing Out There" wasn't the first movie to have a character who is aware of horror movies. "Evil Laugh" was, from 1988. Barney in that movie is reading Fangoria, talks about how if you have sex you'll die, and does other things that show he is an avid horror fan. Not to be a dick, just pointing that out (partly cause Evil Laugh is an awesome cheesefest)

  6. It's been a log time since I saw this so I watched it last night. I think this movie was wildly successful at what it set out to do. It was pretty great at satirizing slasher movies while being a very good one in the process. The plot kept me guessing (the first time I saw it), it was funny, the gore was satisfying, most of the characters (though I will always hate Courteney Cox) are likable, and the opening with Drew Barrymore is one of THEE finest moments in slasher movie history.

    Neve Campbell is the ultimate girl next door. Watching this reminded me of how much I was in love with her in this movie.

    One gripe. The two killers plan to frame Sidney' father for the murders by planting evidence on his body and then give themselves alibi's by stabbing each other. Previously, Stu helped Billy fake his death in front of Sydney with the use of Karo syrup. So, before Billy is really stabbed by Stu his shirt is completely soaked in the syrup. Obviously, any forensic investigator would find that to be extremely strange. I mean, how would Billy answer question about that? Very bad plan. Hardly the plan of someone who had successfully framed someone a year earlier, eh?

    Otherwise, great film!


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