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DVD - Scream David Arquette and Neve Campbell Clever hip and scary. Soneone's taking their love of scary movies one step to far
With the smash hit Scream, novice screenwriter Kevin Williamson and veteran horror director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) revived the moldering corpse of the teen horror picture, both creatively and commercially, by playfully acknowledging the exhausted clichés and then turning them inside out. Scream is a postmodern slasher movie, a horror film that cleverly deconstructs horror films, then reassembles the dead tissue, and (like Frankenstein's monster) creates new life. When a serial killer starts hacking up their fellow teens, the media-savvy youngsters of Scream realize that the smartest way of sticking around for the sequel is to avoid the terminal behaviors that inevitably doom supporting players in the movies. They've seen all the movies, and the rules of the genre are like second nature to them. One of the scariest/funniest setups features a kid watching John Carpenter's seminal Halloween on video. As Jamie Lee Curtis is shadowed by Michael Meyers and the kid on the couch yells at her to turn around, Craven reverses his camera and we see that the kid should be taking his own advice. The fresh-faced young cast (including Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette) is fun to watch, and their tart dialogue is sprinkled with enough archly self-conscious pop-culture references to make Quentin Tarantino blush. --Jim Emerson
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At this same time an unknown but determined writer named Kevin Williamson has locked himself into a hotel room for 3 weeks determined to not go home until he completes the writing of a screenplay for his newest story which he is simply calling “Scary Movie”. To make a long story short, he completes writing the screenplay and begins to shop it around to film studios. The Weinstein brothers at Dimension films love it, they sign Kevin Williamson to write the film and after initially being turned down by Wes Craven, Wes gave it a second chance and agreed to come aboard to direct the film whose name was later changed to “Scream”.
Wes Craven has an incredible legacy in the horror genre that shaped and re-shaped the entire genre over the course of 40 years of his films. He revolutionized the genre in the 80’s with “A Nightmare On Elm Street” and now over ten years later he was about to do it once again with the Scream franchise. Scream is a genuine masterpiece because it not only contains all of the elements needed for a fulfilling horror movie, it goes one step further and introduces new ideas while being done with a keen sense of self-awareness throughout the movie that had never been done before in the genre. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare started to explore this idea of self-awareness of the actors within the movie but in Scream he took it to the next level. We see the now famous “Rules To Survive A Horror Movie” as perfectly explained by one of my favorite Scream characters Randy. Moreover, this thread of self-awareness runs throughout the picture from multiple characters but never done in an “over the top” manner where it does not “work” within the context of the moment.
It is the story of a small town where people are being brutally murdered and the killer’s attention begins to focus on the lead character Sydney Prescott and as the film unfolds there is revealed a much larger back-story that is under girding all of the events which are happening. No one can create tension and suspense in a scene better than Wes Craven and he is arguably the star of this film because of how brilliantly he tells the story visually from behind the cameras. Scream delivers at all the important angles and keeps you guessing as well as jumping throughout! The ending is fantastic and very original!!
I am a STICKLER for not giving spoilers and even though this film is now TWENTY years old I will still not reveal anything more specific about the film other than to say, this is a MUST watch film for anyone who enjoys a top-shelf murder mystery, suspenseful thriller and slasher horror. Wes Craven’s direction and tone for the film is nothing less than SUPERB and combined with brilliant writing this is an instant classic and is no surprise to this fan/viewer that it turned the entire horror genre upside down upon its release. Horror movies are not supposed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in the box office but Scream and it’s sequels have done just that. It is NO accident!!
This is the film that sparked a myriad of “copy-cat” films in the late 90’s and early 2000’s who were desperately trying to reach the success of the Scream franchise but all of these far more inferior films failed miserably to do so.
Finally, if you have never seen Scream and perhaps you’re not a fan of the horror genre please hear me out, you owe it to yourself to watch this film at least once! Twenty years later it still stands up tall and towering over the genre. Sadly, Wes Craven passed away in August of 2015 but thankfully he was able to see the incredible fingerprint he left on the film industry which he helped shape since the 1970’s. I can only imagine what new projects he would be working on right now which upon completion would once again revolutionize the genre. Rest In Peace Wes Craven and thank you for over forty years of SCREAMS!!!!
It's also a hard film to criticize, because the answer to almost every complaint (e.g. the actors playing high school kids all look like they're well into in their 20s) can always be 'but that's the whole point, it's always that way in these movies'. But one thing that does annoy me that isn't so easily shrugged off is that the cast seem to be in a number of different movies. Skeet Ulrich, for example, brings a surprising amount of realism and depth to his character, while Courtney Cox as an 'I'll do anything for a story' reporter plays a cartoon of a cartoon. This isn't of issue of 'good' versus 'bad' acting, but it does make figuring out just what the tone of the film is, more muddy than it needs to be.
Probably the best thing about 'Scream' is it knows when to BE best. The opening and closing 15 minutes are the two strongest sections of the film, so if the middle is a little all over the place and sometimes repetitive, and a little more obvious in it's humor, that's not what you walk away remembering.
Written by: Kevin Williamson
Starring:David Arguette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Skeet Ulrick, Drew Barrymore, Rose McGowan, Roger Jackson, Matthew Lillard.
This is an excellent story about a killer who dresses in a dime store ghosty face costume. He sneaks around the little town of Woodsboro heckling people with vicious phone calls (thanks for the terror Roger Jackson) and stabbing them if all goes as planned. He is an uncoordinated villian and ends up sprawled on the ground as often as his victims. It is an off beat approach to a horror movie that paid off at the finish line like Seabiscuit to win. Many a risk was taken in this film and one has to give credit to Craven and Williamson for pulling it off. What's so unusual? The dialogue in this movie drops the name of about a dozen other movies. The result is not meltdown, but upbeat. Also the so called objective reporter is a main character exploiting the story for her own book sales. So Gale (Cox) becomes a character with a past who has angered many with her selfish style. Another odd thing: Craven goes for laughs here and there. Usually a horror flick is serious and goes for fear. Other things you don't often see in a shocker is very good to excellent photography: inspirational sunsets, sweeping panning shots.
Campbell and McGowan do a great job as two feisty friends both with some smarts. Barrymore shows some very good acting during the film's opening scenes. A strange sound occurs in this movie as Neve opens a closet. I have never heard a kind of electronic moan and thought it added some freshness. Music was good featured by an acoustic version of "Don't Fear the Reaper". One more comment: there were of course scary bloody moments in this movie. When Wes goes for terror, he doesn't mess around. He'll make you feel like it's all happening outside your bedroom window. Maybe it is? The phone will ring first.
This movie gets my vote as a groundbreaking great idea. Give it a try.