The wait is over. The teaser trailers are a thing of the past. The constant stream of leaked production photos and set news has come to a screeching halt. Tomorrow is the big day- the highly anticipated fourth installment of the SCREAM series hits theaters. Fans of the ghost-faced killer and leading lady Sydney Prescott will flock to theaters if not for the nostalgia, but for the newest generation of victims that are set to be claimed by the film’s yet to be identified masked murderer.
Let’s face it- SCREAM did for phones what Jaws did for the ocean, and even if you’re not a fan of the series, you have to admit that every once in awhile, when the phone rings, there’s always that curiosity- the one that says, what’s your favorite scary movie?
Inside you can read Andrea Albin’s special feature: SCREAM… AND SCREAM AGAIN!
SCREAM slashed its way into theaters in December of 1996, only days before the Christmas holiday. While most were flocking to family friendly cinema, others were taking on a new wave of horror. After a gloomy kick off at the box office, word spread and by the end of its run, including a second release just a few months later, the movie had become one of the highest grossing horror flicks of all time. Not bad for a movie that faced more than its share of criticism and blunder. But it didn’t stop there, the cast returned for a highly anticipated sequel the following year and in 2000 director Wes Craven turned it into a full blown trilogy. It was like the horror engine that could.
But it’s not the statistics that horror fans cared about. It wasn’t about screenwriter Kevin Williamson’s highly noted bidding war over the original SCARY MOVIE script, or Craven’s battle with the MPAA- it was about changing horror. It was about putting a new face on a dying breed, and Williamson’s script pushed limits that hadn’t been pushed in years. Sure- the characters were cliché, doing the same things and making the same mistakes as thousands before- but that was the beauty of it. That was the direction it was meant to go. Add in some pretty gruesome deaths, a highly traumatized, cute female lead, and a couple of psychopaths and it was a hell of a way to kick off the franchise.
Many will argue that the sequel surpassed the original, initializing another cameo death sequence starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Omar Epps, leading us into the same twists and turns that we had become accustomed to in the previous film. Finally, it rounded out with SCREAM 3 about three years later, disappointing many with its sudden turn from gory, rules-infused horror, to a comic bout with a mindless serial killer. However, with SCREAM 4’s release, fans are returning to theaters hoping that Ghostface is prepped to make a stellar comeback.
“Now Sid, don’t you blame the movies! Movies don’t create psychos, movies make psychos more creative!” Billy- SCREAM
Ask anyone who has seen the first movie, even those who aren’t fans of the horror genre, and the first thing they’ll remember are the rules. Every single one of the SCREAM films has, in one way or another, focused on those age-old annoyances that are seen in almost every slasher. A girl runs up the stairs instead of out the front door. Talking to strangers. Losing their virginity. Since SCREAM is one of the few films where the characters actually acknowledge the existence of cinematic horror, it was interesting to see them play it out just like a movie- a point that has given the franchise its trademark.
Randy, the nerdy video store clerk that bit the dust in SCREAM 2, walked us through the rules in all three films. That’s right, even after he was dead he managed to help Sydney and the gang defeat Ghostface. Pretty impressive. But let’s be fair, I couldn’t walk us down memory lane without talking about the rules, and, as obnoxious as Randy was, you can’t help but love him for it.
Number One… You Can Never Have Sex!
Quite the conundrum for Sydney since she loses her virginity to Billy right smack in the middle of a blood bath.
Number Two… You Can Never Drink or Do Drugs!
If this were true, the entire cast would have been screwed. That was one hell of a house party.
Number Three… Never, Ever, Ever Under Any Circumstances Say… I’LL BE RIGHT BACK!
More than likely, even the most careful of characters is bound to bite the big one. Look at Tatum, though her death had more to do with her assets than her strive to survive.
By the time the second film rolled around, Randy had a new list of rules to run with.
Number One… The Body Count is Always Bigger.
Just ask Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Will Smith’s wife.
Number Two… The Death Scenes Are Always Much More Elaborate… More Blood, More Gore.
The killers go so far as to commit murder in the middle of a theatrical rendition of Cassandra. Now that takes some stage presence.
Number Three… Never, Ever, Under Any Circumstances Assume The Killer is Dead.
It’s amazing how serial killers seem to have an immunity to guns and insanely heavy falling objects.
In the last film, Randy still managed to get his point across via video, despite his bloody demise in the second film. His sister miraculously surfaces with a tape that her brother had made smack dab in the middle of the massacre. Lame, sure, but we got the point.
Number One… You’ve Got a Killer Who’s Going to Be Super Human.
Or just smart enough to wear a bullet proof vest.
Number Two… Anyone, Including the Main Character, Can Die.
Come on now, we all know that Sydney is never really in danger. I don’t think the girl has even had a drop of her own blood spilt.
Number Three… The Past Will Come Back to Bite You in the Ass.
Or murder a bunch of movie stars and blame you for his shitty upbringing.
Going into SCREAM 4, I’m curious to see what’s thrown at us. Whether it’s a new set of rules or the theory that all rules go out the window, I’m sure Craven has something up his sleeve for how to survive another visit from the neighborhood masked killer.
“Have you ever felt a knife cut through human flesh and scrape the bone beneath?” Ghostface- SCREAM 2
Slasher fans love some good bloodshed. I know I do. I get tingles every time a director does something new and exciting to bring pain to a character on film. It’s that look of horror, the blatantly obvious fear that a character has that sets off the adrenaline it takes to fall in love with a scary movie- or detest the idea. Either way, the director got his point across.
Looking back over the first three SCREAM films, I’m sure everyone has their favorite death. I think most everyone can agree that the original opening sets it off. It was a huge surprise that one of the film’s main marketing perks, Drew Barrymore, gets gutted and hung from a tree in the first ten minutes of the film. No one saw it coming- the helpless boyfriend, the burning popcorn, the crazed voice on the other end of the phone. It all rolled into one hell of a memorable scare.
Another murder scene from the first film that had a lot of people talking was when Tatum met her demise via garage door. Girls remembered it because we had fallen in love with Sydney’s tough but tiny best friend. Most of the male population remembered it because of, well, you’ll see.
In the second film, I nearly cried when Randy was swiped off of the college campus, thrown into a van with Ghostface himself, and slaughtered via beatbox. Gale’s shrill scream said it all.
I’ll be the first one to tell you, I didn’t care for SCREAM 3. I felt as if there was something missing- as if it wasn’t meant to be a part of the trilogy. There wasn’t enough there in terms of fear, blood, anything that had become a crucial part to the existence of these films. However, I think the opening scene where Cotton Weary faces his demons and gets, well, stabbed, is the only scene worth mentioning.
The bottom line- SCREAM is a mainstay. Sure, there was laughter, there were plot holes, there were a few mind boggling mistakes, but overall, it was a vision. It was just what was needed to put horror back on the map and some of the more inventive kills are what makes the series. Think about it- would you have thought to kill the Fonz?
“It’s a perfect example of life imitating art imitating life.” Mickey- SCREAM 2
The original SCREAM film was truly thrilling. Here you have a director who was known for causing fright (hello, the guy did NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET!) at the helm of a successfully scary movie. Of course, it infused laughter, the occasional lame line, and a beautiful cast- but there was more to it. It was truly a groundbreaking film that the industry needed at the time. Unfortunately, it was followed by some movies that many of us horror purists would rather forget.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
A bunch of teenagers accidentally kill a man and bury the body. A year later, their lives are in the toilet and he’s after them for revenge. It could have been good, but it just wasn’t. I also hate the fact that it led to a lame sequel (I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER) and an even worse follow up (I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER). I wish I was kidding.
The premise was kind of cool- a serial killer is murdering college students using age old urban legends. I could work with it- if the kills were actually inventive. I don’t consider putting a dog in a microwave a good use of my time.
There were others. Valentine. Disturbing Behavior. One followed right after the other and the trend really hasn’t stopped. Nearly all teen slashers try to follow what SCREAM did back in 1996- unfortunately, most of them fail. It’s hard to beat an iconic film.
“No, please don’t kill me Mr. Ghostface, I want to be in the sequel!” Tatum- SCREAM
It’s been fifteen years since the first SCREAM film hit theaters. Many had little hope for the film, which was released during a time of year when Santa Claus overrides gore. But it overcame many obstacles, raking in millions of dollars and pushing for not one, but two closely greenlit follow-ups.
Now, SCREAM 4 is only hours from surprising fans. Critics are saying that this film is going to bring Craven and his crew of misfits, including fan favorite Deputy Dewey, back into the spotlight. The director and his crew are also in talks for a fifth and possible sixth installment. It’s certainly a challenge to do something new and different with each new addition, so here’s hoping the later films capture the same essence that we’ve seen time and time again from Ghostface and his undying legacy. I, personally, am glad that Wes Craven took his love of horror movies just a little too far and asked the impeccably spine tingling question- what’s your favorite scary movie?