OSW Review | Scream (1996)

Scream (1996)

It needs to be said: SCREAM 1 is an iconic film; a fresh take on the slasher genre that crossed over into the mainstream. This blend of tongue-in-cheek 4th wall breaking in a horror hasn't been done this successfully before or since - sure the idea's been flirted with poorly in films like Leslie Vernon, but this film spawned imitations and even a BLOODY PARODY FILM FRANCHISE (``Scary Movie``). Let's find out why...

Fast forward to 3:04 for THE RULES of horror films!

Plot: Mysterious murders happen one year after the death of Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell)’s mother. The masked killer begins to stalk and pick off Sidney and her friends one by one. It culminates in a slasher house party.

What sets this film apart from so many (besides having straight-up comedy moments) is the cast are really likeable, have charm and elicit genuine laughs. The actors being strong, and well written is such a rarity in horror films. Great stuff. Well, everyone apart from the protagonist:
• Dewey (Ready To Rumble’s DAVID ARQUETTE! YES!) As the timid, well-meaning deputy police officer.
• Gale Weathers (What a wrestling name! Courtney Cox)
• Sidney (Neve Campbell), a sullen, self-obsessed prat. “”I’m sorry if my traumatised life is an inconvenience to you and your perfect existence” BOOOOO HISS FUCK YOU (run away).
• Billy (Neve Campbell’s creepy bug-eyed boyfriend)
• Stu (Stuballs!) My favourite teenage douchebag in all of film. I LOVE THIS GUY. He’s so funny. He’s overly animated and quite farcical expressions but I think he’s hilarious, and has some stellar quotes in the film.
• Tatum (Ready to Rumble’s Rose McGowan, Stu’s uber-gorgeous girlfriend and friend of Neve Campbell)
• Randy (Jamie Kennedy – the horror buff)
• Ghostface’s voice was by Roger L. Jackson, whom was originally just a stand-in voice-over, and never allowed to meet the actors (to be more unsettling for the actors) but was on set to talk to them by phone.

Thoughts on the film:
• This film is like watching the first shoot promo. A killer taunting his victims using horror trivia is both hilarious and feels like an admission of a new age of film’s knowledgable fanatic following; the rise of the horror smarks.
• The cold open with Drew Barrymore getting a call from ghostface/being murdered is one of the most memorable scenes in film. Seriously. It’s great. I love how it turns from flirting, to creepy, to psychopathic rage.
• Even though the mask isn’t particularly scary, the gimmick of easy setup of the character works perfectly with the tone of the film.
• I loved how the killer went straight after the protagonist (Neve Campbell). No fucking around, I’m here to kill you and try end this film early!
• Arquette is the “Meg” of the franchise, the butt of the jokes. However he comes off as a real nice guy. “What’s that constellation? I don’t know. That’s why I was asking you.”
• Great to see Courtney Cox! And The Fonz! All very likeable and popular actors. Well, 2/3 of them.
• It’s interesting watching this knowing who the killer(s) are. In the opening scenes, the height of Ghostface makes sense, you know which one’s which.
• The janitor’s wearing an inexplicable Freddy costume. They’re actually the clothes from the movie! Nice cameo, Wes Craven.
• A strong gimmick of the film is several characters’ knowledge of films and the horror genre, making analyses and references to many films along the way. It’s great on two levels.
• Fittingly they have a copy of Clerks above the tape player (a film with some great monologues about film kayfabe)
• The Killer isn’t physically strong and a bit clumsy (used for comic effect too) like running into an open fridge door and being afraid of thrown beer bottles. It also adds a dynamic of putting the ‘prey’ on an equal footing, apart from the knife, of course.
• I like how in general, Ghostface uses a knife. So much more intimiate than a gun (As the Joker says “Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all the… little emotions.”) The killer’s gotta chase you, catch you, and finish you!
• Randy has A RANT ABOUT THE RULES of surviving a horror film, to a crowd at a house party. Seriously. It’s amazing. #1 You can never have sex (crowd boos). #2 Never drink or do drugs (cheers & raises bottles). It’s a sin factor! #3 Never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back.” Because you won’t be back. Stu: I’m gettin’ another beer, you want one? Randy: Yeah, sure. Stu: I’ll be right back! (Crowd oohs!). A great meta bit where Sydney breaks #1 (loses her virginity) and wondering if that’d cost her in the film.
• A great gimmick of the news cameraman watching a “live” feed of the house, on a 30-second delay. Used for great effect as Randy watches Halloween, with Myers stalking Jamie Lee Curtis, shouting “Turn around Jamie!”, as Ghostface is actually stalking him. It also works as the actor’s name is Jamie Kennedy.
• There’s tons of false deaths and non-double taps (making sure the killer is dead) at the end. Randy does mention it (and the killer comes back to life) but it is a little much.

There must be some negatives?
• The big negative, which can’t be avoided with intentional (successful) comedy bits, is that tension can’t really exist. You don’t really care about who’s getting picked off because the characters don’t take the serial killings seriously.
• The stereotypical bitchy girls in the bathroom talk smack with Sydney in earshot. “Maybe she’s a slut just like her mother”.
• “This isn’t a movie. This is real life” BOOOOOOO
• That’s about it; just Neve Campbell’s character (as mentioned above). A self-absorbed, sulky wagon. Has consentual sex, then straight after, prys about his phone call. Really out of character just after having sex for the first time.

Some of my other favourite scenes & quotes!

Ghostface/Drew Barrymore: “I wanna talk to you” “They’ve got 900 numbers for that.”
Billy: “It’s called tact, fuckrag!”
Stu: “Liver alone! Get it? Leaver-alone!”
Arquette being at the front door whilst holding up the mask and screaming, amazing.
Policeman to Billy: “Why do you have a cellular telephone?” “Everyone’s got one.”
Courtney Cox summing up her character: “I could save a man’s life. Do you know what they’d do for my book sales?!”
Dating the 1996 film: Seeing Jamie Kennedy & the lads talking about horror formulas in videotape rental store.
Dating the 1996 film: The interview is shown as the matrix green text on Black screen
Randy: “There’s always some bullshit reason to kill your girlfriend”
Randy: “Motive? It’s the Millennium. Motives are incidental.”
Tatum: “Please don’t kill me mr ghost face! I wanna be in the sequel.”
Tatum’s death scene. Holy freezing nipples, Batman.
Stu: You (two) can use my parent’s bedroom. (*Sheepishly*) You guys can talk….or whatever!
Stu: (dying, pleading with Sid to not call the cops) Why’d I do it? “Peer pressure, I’m far too sensitive” (DIED!)
Stu: “You hit me with a phone you dick!” (This was an unintentional reaction and was kept in).

Scream Trivia!

• I’m sure you know this one, parody movie “Scary Movie” was the original working title of Scream.
• The use of Caller ID tripled after this film came out.
• Ghostface’s robe was going to be white, but that’s a little to close to the KKK, so they went with black.
• Billy mentions film productions using corn syrup dyed red as blood, and Scream does use corn syrup dyed red at the end.
• Arquette is actually younger than half of the main cast, who were playing teenagers 7 years younger than him. Scary Movie makes a joke about this.
• Linda Blair (The Exorcist) plays the reporter who says “People want to know, they have a right to know.”
• Arquette’s character was stabbed in the spine and was intended to be dead, but Craven filmed the rescue scene just in case he changed his mind, and did due to positive screen tests for Dewey.

Overall: A very enjoyable, easy watch. A rare treat to have a great, charming ensemble cast, with many jokes still hitting their mark after 19 years. I feel bad for the TV remake, trying to live up to this film. I’m sure you’ve already seen Scream but I highly recommend it.


Release Date
August 6, 2015