#127 -- Scream (1996)

Director: Wes Craven
Rating: 5/5

By the time Scream was released, slasher movies had already been done to death. The 1980s was chock full of them, in fact. So by the mid '90s, it would seem that everything had been done, and we'd seen it all. The formulas had been laid, and they were adhered to religiously. But this instant classic proved us all wrong. Directed by the wonderful Wes Craven, Scream stuck to those formulas, while at the same time poking fun at them. It was full of typical horror movie cliches, but it made it known just how silly they all were. It did these in such a smart and "make-fun-of-yourself" type of way that it was not cheesy at all. It also squashed a few horror movie stereotypes as well. I think it's safe to say that everyone is familiar with this movie, but just in case, we'll have a little rehashing. It's the story of a girl named Sidney. Her mother was murdered one year ago, and now similar murders are starting to happen. It would appear that there is a copycat killer, or perhaps her mother's killer is still on the loose. Is the man currently rotting in jail for Mrs. Prescott's murder the right man? It all starts with two kids from Sidney's school, and it escalates until it seems that no one is safe. The action culminates at a party held by one of Sidney's friends. Can the bloodbath be stopped, or are they all doomed?

Okay, let's take a look at some of the things this movie does so brilliantly. First of all, Randy's rules. Randy has a set of rules to help anyone survive a horror movie. They're very simple, yet all very true. I think Scream might be the movie that made us realize just how stupid horror characters are. Sidney herself took a jab at the stupidity of women in horror films, but when it came down to it, what did she do? Exactly the same thing. She ran up the stairs instead of out the front door. I think what this movie tries to teach is that you should never judge these people. Because in this sort of situation, you can't be sure what you would actually do. You can say you'd do the smart thing and head out the front door, but fear does strange things to people. Secondly, it shows us that the rules don't always apply. The number one rule in a horror movie is to never have sex. But Sidney proves that that doesn't necessarily equal death. I liked the fact that there were two killers instead of just one. The shock at the reveal was pretty epic, and the way these guys played their parts was splendid. And last, but certainly not least, the killers' methods. Honestly, with a movie like this, I don't think the kills should be all that important. The complete brilliance of it alone sold me, and probably tons of other fans as well. But, of course, this masterpiece couldn't just stop there, and the kills are wonderful too. It's not exactly the kills themselves, though. While they are well done (gutting, killed by a garage door, etc) it's what happens before the kills that makes it different: the games. I think the creators of Saw might have been influenced by this; and this is where "I want to play a game" originated. The victims were asked questions: horror movie trivia. If they got the answer wrong, they were killed. This is what made the kills different than anything else we'd seen. This is what sold me 100%.

There were nods to previous horror movies as well, of course--whether it was a part of the game, or in other aspects of the movie. There were questions asked about Halloween and Friday the 13th; there were mentions of Psycho, and Silence of the Lambs; there was even a janitor dressed just like Freddy Kreuger. I also think the cast was killer in this one. We had Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Henry Winkler, Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy, and Matthew Lillard (who is still one of my favorite actors of all time). Everyone did an amazing job, and this will always be, in my opinion, one of the greatest horror movies ever made.

Scream asks the most important question of them all, the most important question that could every possibly be asked. And that is, What's your favorite scary movie?

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