Thursday, April 29, 2010

The very first horror movie I ever saw in theaters was Scream. So that whole film series, especially the first one, have a very special place in my heart. So the recent news that writer Kevin Williamson, director Wes Craven and series stars Courtney Cox, David Arquette, and Neve Campbell are all returning for a new Scream, one that kick off a new trilogy, is exciting news for me.

So it's with much pleasure that I bring to you the Scream 4 teaser poster that premiered at Entertainment Weekly last night. EW also has a short interview with Craven about the new film, in which Craven says that "Scream is one of the longest running stories I’ve told. It’s fascinating to still have actors who are very much into continuing their roles and have great chemistry. Part of the reason these three characters are still alive is because they’re so great. We haven’t wanted to kill them." Head on over to to read the entire interview which features a few small details about the new film. Below you can check out the poster and read my thoughts on Scream in a reprint from an article that appeared on DVD Snapshot this past October.

Scream was the first horror movie I ever saw in the theaters (unless you count Howard the Duck!), which might explain why I became enthralled, and mildly obsessed over it. It was 1996 and the internet was still relatively new to middle class America. Scream was the first movie I can recall that really used the internet for movie promotion. The website was set up like you were looking into a real investigation with casefiles on all the suspects and information which could possibly help you figure out who the killer was. At the age of 15 I quickly became obsessed with the movie after seeing ads and spending hours on the website.

When the movie first came out I was out of town, but my best friend and I made plans to see it the next weekend. I don’t about other towns in the mid-90s, but in Amarillo, TX in the conservative south, when a horror movie came out the theaters really didn’t care who saw the movie in the first weekend of release. But after all the underage kids got in on opening weekend, the flurry of phone calls from parents outraged that young Timmy and ‘lil Susie got into the violent movie that was going to warp their minds, would quickly cause the theaters to start checking IDs for the movies, and not just when you bought your ticket, but also at the door to the actual screen. So because my friend and I missed opening weekend we were turned away from seeing Scream. My friend’s mother even tried to buy us the tickets, and the theater told her she’d have to go in with us.

But being kept from the movie, just made me that more interested in seeing it. Eventually on the 4th attempt after being turned away yet again, we just found a bigger group of older teens and walked in with them with no problem. After weeks of anticipation you would think nothing could live up to the movie I’d built in my head, and you’d be wrong. The movie was like nothing I’d ever seen before.

As I said this was my first horror movie to see in theaters, I’d previously seen “scary” kids movies like The Peanut Butter Solution, Monster Squad, and the 50s version of The Blob, and I’d watched Nightmare on Elm Street 2 on TBS and shows like ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ But, this was new, this was an uncut, bloody slasher flick, with a plot and humor. And all of these ingredients made up a recipe that I devoured. I screamed and jumped out of my seat several times during the amazing opening scene, and I jumped, laughed, and cringed over and over throughout the movie. But most importantly for me, a kid who’d grown up watching Matlock and any other murder mystery shows I could catch, it was a whodunit. And after the killer(s) were revealed I had to see it again to look for the clues.

And see it again I did, and again, and again, each time taking more of my friends to experience this great revival of the slasher genre. I bought a scream mask, I bought the soundtrack, I rented it on VHS (and made a copy) the first day it was out, and when the movie came out to buy, I bought it the first day as well. (I also bought the Scream 2 soundtrack that day as well!) I watched those VHS tapes with a lot of different friends, and I scared a lot of girls with that mask. From there I watched with interest as more and more of the “self-referential” slasher flicks followed in Scream’s footsteps until they burned out. And I was at both Scream 2 and Scream 3 on opening night. But nothing ever came close to what I felt about the original.

Scream 2 came out while I was still in high school and Scream 3 was released a few years later when I was in college. I enjoyed them both, but over the four years between Scream and Scream 3 I grew up a lot. In fact it’s been at least 5 years since I’ve seen any of the movies. But recently there’s been news brewing about a new Scream trilogy. First, David and Courtney Cox Arquette signed on to reprise their roles as Dewey and Gail, and then within the last month it was confirmed that Neve Campbell would be coming back. I’ll be honest I was not interested in the least, until Neve signed on. And with original writer Kevin Williamson on board and Wes Craven in talks to return to the directors chair, I’m starting to get excited, and so I decided to return to the movie after all these years and see how it holds up.

I’m happy to report it was still great. Sure some of the references are dated, but for the most part the movie holds true. The central mystery of who the killer is, and why they are killing is still intriguing, and the scares and humor still work for the most part. I will say there is one plot point that is truly dated, but it doesn’t hinder the movie too much, at least not for me. In the film Billy is suspected of being the killer simply because he has a cell phone, which shows just how much the world has changed in the past 13 years. Back then most people didn’t have cell phones, it was mostly businessmen, and teenagers certainly didn’t have them. Now everyone has them, even the guy standing on the corner begging for change (seriously I saw a guy panhandling with a phone clipped to his belt last week), so the fact that Billy has a cell, doesn’t really work anymore in making him a suspect. One of the things I was most surprised about, was how much of the dialogue I could still recite word for word. It reminded me how much I used to watch this movie, and how much I truly loved it.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out one of the best parts of the movie, and something that truly got a lot of attention back when the movie was released, the opening sequence. When the movie was released it was advertised as a Drew Barrymore film, she was all over the ads, and her name was in all the promotional material. So when the movie opened with a phone call to Drew’s character, no one expected for her to die within the first few minutes. But that scene sets the mood for the entire movie, it lets you know that anything can happen, and no one is safe. It also catches first time viewers completely off guard. It was a risky move, but one that paid of brilliantly and possibly one of the reasons the movie was so well received at the time. It’s scary and has you on the edge of your seat from the beginning.

Watching Scream made me really want to go back and see the sequels, especially Scream 2, which I still say is a good movie, and would have been a great sequel had the ending not ruined it. But that’s a memory for another time.


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