Movie Review: SCREAMDimension Films
1996
R

“And what movie is this from? ‘I Spit On Your Garage’?”

Inspired by slasher genre movies past, a serial killer donning a cheep Halloween costume from Oriental Trading Company is bumping off teenagers, adhering to the unwritten “rules” of the horror genre. While the kids use this as an excuse to get freaky, on the case to find out who’s on the murder spree are the insecure local deputy and his tabloid journalist girlfriend. Lord help us all…

I remember working at the Oriental Trading Company’s mail order catalog product ordering center back in the summer of ’97, working the phones and taking orders for the crap that the company sells. One of the calls I got was from a guy with his buddy in the background who requested, and I quote, “That cool Scream mask.” Mind you, I had no idea what he was talking about, because due to certain circumstances at the time, I had no idea that this movie even existed, let alone what the killer’s trademark mask was. The conversation was rather amusing: “Dude, you know…that mask from Scream?” “What’s Scream?” “You know, that movie.” “There’s a movie called ‘Scream’?” “Duuuuuude…you need to see that movie, man! It’s awesome!” “Riiiiiight…so you have no other description of the mask, other than ‘the Scream mask’?” “You know…the Scream mask! The Scream mask, man!” “Thank you for calling, sir.” *click* I stand by my decision. I wasn’t about to waste time coaxing a better description out of someone who obviously adhered to the Wake-N-Bake philosophy. Anyhoo…

For all intents and purposes, for those wondering why I’m reviewing this movie when I’ve bashed it in the past, let me clear something up: I didn’t bash Scream, the movie, per-se. I just rag on the many who, for some reason or another (perhaps waking and baking), think that Scream is the greatest, be-all, end-all horror movie ever made. It’s not. Sorry. Truth hurts, I know…

That said, I thought Scream was a better-than-average slasher movie. Yes, it’s a paint-by-numbers concept that shamelessly borrows horror concepts from past horror movies, but it openly admits to this in the movie itself. Therein lies what sets Scream apart from the rest of the New Wave Of Teen Slasher Flicks that followed- the script is a gleeful romp in horror formula, paying tribute to both the greats that have inspired and the ravenous fans that continually quote from them. Had that angle not been used, Scream would have just been another mediocre teen slasher featuring whoever was hot at the time.

Speaking of which, the cast, while using the hot, A-list 20-something teens of the time, and some from the past, are particularly strong. I will always have an on-going crush on Drew Barrymore, regardless of being married briefly to Tom Green. She makes a brief but memorable Scream Queen victim right away. Neve Campbell is…well, I’ve always thought she had very minimal range as an actress. Quiet, morose, and whiny. Props to Henry Winkler’s Principal. He owned in that scene where he’s chewing out the two students for pulling the killer-related pranks. Liked the little nod to Craven’s other franchise with that janitor in the Freddy sweater. Rose McGowan was her usual annoying self, as was her on-screen boyfriend. Wanted to slap ’em both. Although McGowan did die in a rather amusing way…let’s just say that having a hefty bust line does have its drawbacks. David Arquette plays…well, David Arquette with a badge. He’s the deputy who gets no respect (I tell’s ya), and goes all goo-goo eyes for Courtney Cox’s smarmy reporter character. My favorite character (by default, really) was played by Jamie Kennedy, the horror fiend who works at the local video shop, and has a running knowledge of all things creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky.

Admittedly, the ending did twist things a bit. Not with the whole “Villain’s Discourse” at the end…I pretty much deduced the motivation behind the killer about fifteen minutes into the movie (“Hmmm…rapist who killed her mom is in jail waiting execution? Wonder if her boyfriend’s the guy’s son…”). No, it was the unconventional…um, I’ll just stop there. You’ll have to see it yourself. Oh, stop pouting. Overlord of Funk and Evil, remember?

All said and done, Scream is like that Big Mac value meal…you know what’s expected, you may have had it before several times, but it satisfies. Just stop thinking it’s the greatest horror movie ever made. Go rent The Exorcist, or any of the other movies referenced in Scream. Get you some edumucation…