Thursday, April 15, 2010

Film #21: Scream (1996)

We learn so much from horror movies.
Friday the 13th taught us to be nice to disabled people.
The art of pulling an all-nighter was demonstrated in Nightmare on Elm Street.
And the importance of family dinner was shown in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
All good life lessons, no doubt. But for the teenagers in “Scream,” the lessons taught in scary movies are more than just suggestions for life-improvement. It is the key to continuing life itself.

A sadistic serial killer is running wild in the sleepy town of Woodsboro, murdering shinny teenagers only after quizzing them on their favorite scary movies. We have all wanted to murder Drew Barrymore at some point in our life. But the Ghost-Faced Killer of Scream gets all the fun in the opening sequence, disemboweling and stringing up olde mush-mouth from her front yard oak tree only after she flunks the killer’s movie test.

That murder puts the entire town on edge, especially loveable teen Sidney Prescott and her group of rowdy friends. The timing of Drew’s death is a little awkward, seeing as it occurred almost a year ago to the day that Sidney’s mother was raped and murdered. You’d think that might give a teen girl some issues, but that doesn’t stop her creepy boyfriend Billy Loomis from wondering why their once hot-and-heavy R-rated relationship has suddenly turned all PG. Ahhh teens, even horny when a serial killer is on the prowl!

Sidney is the next person to get a home horror-movie themed killer call, and only narrowly escapes the Ghost-Faced Killer’s blade. Conveniently, her Dad had gone out of town on business for the week and left her alone. Or did he? Seems olde Dad never checked into his out of town hotel. Hmmm. Suspect?!
Right after the near slaying of Sid, olde Billy jumps through her bedroom window with that evil of all evil devices, a, gasp, cell phone! He must have been the person who called Sid! Only killers have cell phones in 1996! Cops arrest him, and peg him with the murders though Billy screamingly denies any role. Double suspect!

Sid stays over at friend Tatum’s house, protected over by Tatum’s dorky deputy sheriff brother Dewey. But even in the mighty presence of the law, the killer calls again for a sequel terror chat with Sid. Yet, Billy was in jail at the time! Whaaaaaaaaa? Ooops!
Everyone’s a suspect, including that creepy horror movie nerd Randy who works at the video store and keeps screaming about how the killers have brought a horror movie to life!
As the body count rises, dorky Dewey and local tabloid reporter Gail Weathers try to solve the crime.

Meanwhile, Woodsboro High School is canceled due to the murders. What better to do when a raging teen killer is on the loose than to get drunk, smoke dope and have sex! Sid, Tatum, Randy and others gather for a party to do just that. The night’s centerpiece is watching old horror movies, as well a lecture by Randy on how just to survive the mass killings by learning from the flicks.
If the Ghost-Faced Killer is trying to turn real life into a horror movie, then it is up to the teens to identify the stereotype pitfalls of the genre in order to survive.

A killer on the loose! Drunken teens at a house party! Horror movie code states the blood will surely fly. And it does, in the 1996 treat “Scream.”

RDHP Ratings and Review

C-Rating: 5.0
Chris Dimick screams:
“Scream defined a generation of horror movies. My generation. And because of this, the Wes Craven directed slasher has a very special place in my heart. There is just so much to love about this movie. The unique plot was mind-blowing at the time for any horror movie fan. Scream was the first self-aware horror movie – it took the clichés of the genre and addressed them head on.
Discussing the horror movie formula in a horror movie was the genius of screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who went on to pen several other well-loved teen horror flicks.

By 1996, the horror genre had become very tired. The slasher rage of the late 70s and 80s had been played to death, and in the early 1990s the mainstream horror movies coming out where boring and uninspired. Then comes Scream, a movie bent on exposing the horror clichés of the 80s and killing them off once and for all. Who better to do this than Wes Craven, who helped mold the slasher genre himself with A Nightmare on Elm Street.
That Craven could come in and simultaneously call out the banality of modern horror, while also celebrating it, was just incredible.

But the movie is about more than just an interesting plot. It is friggin’ scary too! At least, it was scary to 16-year-old Chris Dimick, back when I could still feel fear due to a movie (I’m numb now).
The quick, poppy opening scene with Drew Barrymore sets the horrific tone from the start. The energy speeds along with the plot, as Williamson truly keeps the audience guessing just who the killer is until the knifey end.

The plot is familiar (teens getting hacked up by a slasher) but also entirely fresh in the way it is presented. The dialog is snappy and entertaining, the performances are slightly over the top in an endearing, horror movie way, and the twist ending leaves everyone both smiling, laughing, and screaming in the end. Mix in several horror-movie genre references and cliché call outs, and it is a sure bet that anyone who appreciates scary movies would get a kick out of this flick. And that is just for people who appreciate horror. For those of us who loved horror back in 1996, “Scream” was like bloody catnip for our souls.

Many people, including 16-year-old Chris, had become saddened by the recent state of the genre in the mid-1990s. The slasher genre had run its course, and fans were waiting for a savior to arise from the endless crap being produced in Hollywood. We needed a hero, a film to restore the horror genre to its previous glory. Horror had become the bastard step-child of film, and those who appreciated it were deemed either dorky, crazy or just plain weird.

It wasn’t cool to be a horror movie fan in the mid-90s, at least not in my high school. As you can probably tell, I’ve enjoyed horror movies for a long, long time. But before Scream, many horror movie lovers like me tried to avoid ridicule by keeping their passion to themselves.

Sure, you’d stay up in your best friend's basement until 4 a.m. on a Saturday watching Evil Dead, Halloween, and random Skinemax Troma Movies. But you wouldn’t dare wear that Friday the 13th tee-shirt to school. Dorkiness and horror were one in the same. Then came Scream.
The movie was a cultural phenomenon, and basically re-launched the fledging horror genre into the spotlight. Scream caused a new renaissance in horror, and the number of quality green lighted horror flicks to be released in its wake skyrocketed, thanks to its trailblazing.
But more personally, Scream created a cultural renaissance in my high school in particular. Suddenly, it was cool to be a fan of horror movies. Everyone saw Scream, and couldn’t stop talking about how entertaining a “horror movie” it was.

In a way, Scream made it socially safe for me to unleash my true horror loving self. It made it okay to wear that Motel Hell tee-shirt in public, and openly discuss who would win in a fight between Freddy and Jason (even after a movie devoted to the subject, the jury is still out). You might say, ‘Well, why didn’t you just embrace your love of horror despite society’s condemnation.” It was high school, you know, the place you try to fit in and not out.

But after a life of keeping my horror freak tucked away inside, I was more than happy to unleash it on the world and fully embrace my love of the scare. Scream made me feel safe to do so, and I haven’t turned back. It wasn’t long after that I realized, “Who gives a damn if it is cool to like horror. I like horror and if anyone doesn’t like that they can go have sex with themselves.” Such is the wisdom that comes when the pimples go.
Horror movies taught the Scream character’s how to save their lives. In turn, Scream taught me how to embrace mine. Horror Chris was unleashed thanks to Scream, and I haven’t been able to contain him since.

I thought much too long about what to rate this movie. I was hesitant to give it a perfect 5.0, just because doing so, personally, carries a lot of importance with me (is anything in life perfection?). But really it came down to this. The movie defined a generation of horror movies; it was fresh, exciting, entertaining, and scary; I have a solid personal connection to the film. And above all else, for me Scream is solidly nestled in that most scared horror movie nerd’s possession: “The Top Five Favorite Horror Movies List.”

If you have never seen Scream, do so. It might not change your life like it did mine, but at the very least you take part in one hell of an entertaining ride. And if nothing else, you get to see Drew Barrymore die! And aren’t you sick of her already!"

N-Rating: 3.7
Nick Rich screams:
"At this point has anyone not seen Scream? Seriously, has anyone not seen Scream? Well, even if you have seen it, I still have a job to do, so here goes...

As far as Slasher films go, its hard to go wrong with the 1996 classic Scream. It has it all: a seemingly ever-present killer, shocking death scenes and a plot as slippery as a freshly caught catfish. Just when you think you know what going on, the story twists just out of reach, making you wait for the big reveal at the end. For me, watching this film was like opening a time capsule. I was 16 when Scream originally came out and horror movies were fairly new to me, but Scream blew my mind! The story was great and the "wit" (I can see now how this film flavored my own), teenage as it was, really felt fresh and genuine.

Being an old man now, Scream doesn't hold quite the same appeal for me... the things in the film that were fresh have since been gratuitously repeated and subsequently I've begun to grown weary of "hip" teenage films. When you're 16, seeing a 25 year old actor playing a 17 year old calling another dude a @#$^rag seems supremely cool, but as an adult it makes you a) roll your eyes at teenagers and b) roll your eyes and scoff that Hollywood caters to them. But I can't hold that against Scream (well, I could, but I won't), it was a movie for its time, my time... which is why I rated it so high.

If nothing else, the RDHP has begun to change my taste in horror films and I find myself drifting away from movies like Scream, but am still able to appreciate them for what they are: popcorn entertainment.

The Skinny: Watch Scream if you're feeling angsty and want to relive your 90's-licious teenage years... or if you want to be thankful you weren't a teenager in the 90's.

Things We Learned From Watching Scream:
-Skeet Ulrich is the poor man’s Johnny Depp.
-In the millennium, motives are incidental.
-If you want school to be canceled, just start murdering people.
-Teen suicide is out this year.
-Big knockers + doggie door escape + masked killer = death.
-Saving a man’s life totally boosts book sales.
-The media “has a right to know” what it is like “to almost be brutally butchered.”
-You can call 911 using the Internet.
-The Internet existed in 1996.
-If you pause the movie “All the Right Moves” just right, you can see Tom Cruise’s penis.
-Your principal loves you.
-PG-13 relationships involve flashing boobs.
-The Fonze is cool even while playing a square (see below):

Nick Lements the Passing of 1996
Oh 1996 how we miss you!
With your sensible clothing, neon power suits and huge video tapes! You felt like you were the future today (I mean, you could call 911 through your computer!), but looking back you seem more like gawky teenage photos. It is during this awkwardly, futuristic time that we were introduced to Scream - and have never been the same since.

RDHP Presents Little Known Serial Killer Duos:
It is nice to do things you enjoy with others. Scream shows us such is the case with murder. Grab a buddy, and take a look at the below pairs who we suspect have more than a few bodies buried under their bunk-beds.

Bert and Ernie
What better to cover up their horrendous killing spree than to invite the children of America into their bathroom? Ernie was known to call each of his victims "rubber ducky" as he choked the life out of them.

The Wright Brothers
Why do you think they were so eager to fly away?

Princes Leia and Wicket the Ewok
Wicket would lure kind souls in with his disarming cuteness and Princess Leia would use her infamous tresses to dispatch them.

Hall and Oates
C'mon! If you were this untouchable in 80's, wouldn't you?

Quote of the Viewing:
[After the school's principal gets shivved by Ghostface, special guest RDHP viewer Melissa Rich gasps.]
Mel: "I forgot how many people get killed in this movie."
Nick: "It is a horror movie. Called Scream!"
Mel: "I know, but so many are dying!"

RDHP Salutes Whitey Tighty T-shirts:
In honor of Skeet Ulrich's dreamy penchant for whitey tighty t-shirts in Scream (Nick’s wife verified his dreamy-ness) we thought we would honor some other great wearers of the classic too-tight coverings!

Marlon Brando (A Streetcar Named Desire)
Even his mumbling couldn’t take away from his “desire”able fashion sense. My-grandma-had-the-hots-for-him-dreamy.

Jack Black (Orange County)
Good ol’ JB proves that it’s in the way that you use it… well, kinda. Sloth dreamy.

James Dean (Rebel Without A Cause)
With as much as he squinted, we’re pretty sure he needed glasses. Stigmatism dreamy.

Johnny Depp (when he’s not filming a movie)
Mel says: Skeet Ulrich’s babby-daddy is dreamy.

No comments:

Post a Comment