Sunday, October 25, 2009

30 Days of Fright - 24: Scream

Do you like scary movies? I do, and I've watched a few recently.With the large number of horror films out there it's probably no surprise that so many of them are quite similiar. Once you start categorising these films into Vampire, Teen Slasher, Satan, Zombie categories, then the similarities become even more apparent. The teen slasher genre probably has more cliches and trademarks then all the other types of horror movies put together which is probably what makes it such an easy target for taking the piss.

Scream (1996) is set in a rural town in Godknowswheresville, in sleepy middle America. One night a high school girl and her boyfriend are brutally murdered after the killer taunts his victim over the phone with odd questions about horror films. The town is shocked by the killings which bring the news media down once again, as one year prior a woman was raped and murdered there. Her daughter, Sidney, is a classmate of the dead girl and she and her friends deal with the killings as only teenagers can.

Sidney’s father is away on business, and the next night she is attacked in her home by the killer. She escapes, but her boyfriend Billy becomes the prime suspect for the murders, until the killer calls Sidney while Billy is in jail for questioning.

With the killer still on the loose the school is closed and a curfew imposed. With the kids all off home and unbeknownst to anyone, the school principle is murdered. That night, the kids throw a party and are having a great time until an uninvited guest turns up...

Why do those telesales people always ring during dinner?

Scream reinvigorated the market for teen slasher movies in the mid-ninties, and it did this by throwing in a few decent tricks. Firstly, audiences were shocked by a big name actress, Drew Barrymore, getting viciously slaughtered in the first five minutes of the film. With the girl everyone thought was going to be the lead dead, anything was possible.

With the big shock only sinking in audiences were treated to a series of decent homages to practically every horror movie made since 1970. A Nightmare on Elm Street is referenced all over the place due to both movies being made by Wes Craven, and the scene in the school with Fred the janitor is brilliant. But it’s not just Craven movies that get the nod, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween (a lot), Frankenstein, and rakes of others. This was a smart move, acknowledging the films that set the ground work for Scream and introduced a level of humour that worked very well.

Scream is a clichéd story but that’s the point, it plays up to the things you expect from a movie like this, the running up the stairs, the cheerleader type victims, the ending that’s not the ending, and so on.

The over-riding sensation I got as I watched Scream was a sense of déjà vu and not just because I’d seen the film before but because it’s stunning how similar Scary Movie is to the film it parodies, it’s almost as if Scary Movie wasn’t a parody at all but in fact a remake, which makes a little more sense when you think about it, as Scream is really a parody itself.

Two Thumbs Up coz “it’s a Scream, baby!”


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