SCREAM (UK w/s DVD cover
4 stars


"Someone has taken their love of horror movies one step too far. Solving this mystery is going to be murder"

directed by: Wes Craven
starring: Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy, David Arquette, Drew Barrymore, and Henry Winkler!

(back of video blurb):
       "Critically acclaimed as the definitive horror thriller of the '90s from master of the genre Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street), SCREAM will terrify you beyond belief! The residents of a picturesque small town (including sexy stars Drew Barrymore, Courtney Cox and Neve Campbell) are being victimised by a sly psycho with a twisted love for scary movies. As this masked predator continues to mimic horror films with real life acts of terror, it becomes clear that solving this mystery is going to be murder! An instant favourite with audiences for its unique style and edgy humour, this chilling one-of-a-kind thriller will make you laugh until you...SCREAM."

choice dialogue:

"If they'd watch Prom Night they'd save time!"

slash with panache?

       (review by The Blue Iris)

       Ah, SCREAM...Wes Craven's ode to the cheezy slasher flicks that had made him a household name all those years ago... It's developed a faithful following (just check out the IMDb to see the in-depth trivia and goofs section on it. Now THOSE people really scare me...) But since I'd seen it 3 or 4 times, I fully expected to be bored watching it this time. I thought, "Hey, I'm older now, I'm a grown up. This is going to be really boring." I was wrong.

       In fact, I think I liked it MORE this time. Having some distance between the original hype and the actual film helps to see it with less cynical eyes. (Strange, since cynicism is quite rampant throughout the film itself...) I knew when all the scary parts came up, I knew who lived and who died, and yet I still found myself clutching my beloved (almost as tightly as he did Drew Barrymore find what happens... 'when a stranger calls'.me...) and jumping out of my seat at the well-placed suspense scenes. Not many movies succeed in being scary after numerous viewings, but this is from no ordinary director and no ordinary slasher flick. As it stood at the time, it was to be the slasher flick to end all slasher flicks-- and it may actually be just that. (HALLOWEEN H20 was another "last word" attempt, but I was left disappointed, unfulfilled, and unsatisfied. But also not interested in seeing another sequel...) Without taking away from all that came before it, SCREAM set out to take all that we love about the slasher flick, drag it into the seen-it-all-so-what? '90s, and turn it into a sophisticated take on the genre. Even if you didn't like slasher flicks, you could enjoy this. There was enough comedy thrown in with the gore, so that it was making fun of itself as it was also reinventing horror flicks. So you men out there could reap the benefits of going to a movie you could crack jokes about while seeming hip, even as the hot chick next to you was cutting off the circulation in your arm because of the scariness. The perfect date movie!

       It was also fun to look back on the combination of the young hip cast, most relative newcomers at the time, alongside the cameos by film and TV veterans. There are a few "blink and you miss them" appearances, including Wes Craven and Linda Blair, as a stereotypically insincere, insensitive tabloid reporter who shouts at our heroine, "How does it feel to be almost brutally murdered?" A quick line that is nearly drowned out by the action on-screen, but it certainly speaks volumes about the state of the media today. We're all interested in cheap thrills, which is why we're watching a slasher flick in the first place, right? If I think too hard about the paradoxes, ironies, and all that, I think I'd get a headache. So I'll leave you guys to ponder the deep stuff on your own time. I've got a review to finish...

       The main plot is quite standard . Someone is killing the students in Woodsboro's high school and there are so many leads that everyone's a suspect and no one's safe. Sydney (Neve Campbell) plays a high schooler (and is actuallySidney (Neve Campbell) soon finds out that 'everyone's a suspect'! believable!) who's mother was murdered a year before. She helped get a conviction for the guy she assumed did it. But when more murders start happening and the killer begins digging up old memories for Syd, she begins to doubt that her troubles are over. The set-up may seem textbook, but we also have a heroine we actually care about and her friends who aren't just "bait" (although Rose McGowan's only other duty as Sydney's best friend is to be "braless". Hey, I'm not being catty--I said "Wow" during the garage scene just like everyone else...) Matthew Lillard's character has grown less funny over the years though. I eventually found myself rolling my eyes every time he opened his mouth. My favorite character is still Randy, probably because, apart from a few obvious differences, I "am" Randy--as I'm sure most of you out there are too. I worked at a video store and spent much of my free time watching horror flicks (although it wasn't until I was introduced to Hysteria! that I became a slasher film tastes run more toward the more subtle, everyday kind of horror--you know, like face-eating zombies...) I think I've done a fair amount of catching up though, and I know what rules Randy speaks of throughout the film. Basically, if you have sex, you die. If you drink or do drugs, you die. If you go anywhere on your own (even if you are with a group of 20 friends), you die. (Never say "I'll be right back" either--now you're just asking for it) It makes watching the flick a bizarre experience too... we're watching a scary movie about characters who talk about characters in scary movies. It's a clever device that never falls off into "precious"--like most everything that Kevin Williamson has written since, with characters that all seem to scream "Hey, we're hip and self-aware! Let's see how many pop culture references we can squeeze into one sentence!" (Ok, I'm guilty too...but not that guilty)

       From the opening credits, the film takes us on quite a trip. It never quite gets it right though--I mean, it's a great flick that I recommend, but the moments of cheesiness are too few and far between for our tastes. (Why I give this only 4 stars and a campy classic like SILENT NIGHT, BLOODY NIGHT 5 stars) Of course, it does have its favorite scene has Randy (Jamie Kennedy) alone at the disbanded party, watching the video of HALLOWEEN. He's half-drunk and he'sA party gets way outta control in Wes Craven' SCREAM. shouting at Jamie Lee Curtis to "Turn around, Jamie!" because Michael Myers is lurking behind her. Guess where the murderer in SCREAM is? We're also blessed with Courteney Cox shedding her good y-goody "Friends" image to be a fame-hungry tabloid reporter who stops at nothing to exploit our heroine for a big story. She also has some of the best lines in the film: after finding her cameraman dead on the hood of their van, she shrieks "I'm sorry Kenny but GET THE HELL OFF MY WINDSHIELD!" It's funny and a bit sad at the same time. Then we get to the Grand Guignol ending--which makes HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME's neverending ending look practically plausible. Unless it really knocks my socks off, I dislike movies that have "endings that aren't". Some films can get away with them, when we think it's all over and then BAM! It's a "cinematic orgasm" (see CARRIE) when it works, an "annoying tag in the back of your shirt" (see ANGUISH) when it doesn't. This ending was more like the latter to me. I guess it's a reverential nod to all those "wait, he's not dead yet!" endings we're so used to in this genre, but I've never found them entertaining or even a bit cheezy. They're just annoying. Why does every villain have to have the physical constitution of Rasputin? Just die already! (Don't get me started on the upcoming "Jason in space" take on the FRIDAY THE 13TH series. It's

       People probably enjoy making fun of SCREAM because it's now such a part of our pop culture vocabulary (and was cursed with such a horrid second part) that it's no longer cool to like it. Well, I admit it...I still like it. It's got a smart script, great acting, strong direction and a clear vision of what the final product would be to make SCREAM a clever and fun ode to the slasher flicks that came before. Let's hope the third part of the trilogy ends it on a bloody good high note.

BODYCOUNT 7     female:2 / male:5

       1) Male killed (gutted, off-camera)
       2) Female stabbed and gutted
       3) Male stabbed repeatedly
       4) Female crushed in garage door
       5) Male has throat slit
       6) Male stabbed with umbrella in chest and shot in head
       7) Male has TV land on his head (playing "Halloween"!)