Scream (1996)
July 3, 2015 2:55 AM - Subscribe

Do you like scary movies?

Mefi Horror Club Guidelines. Also, if you want to choose the next film, let me know.
posted by Literaryhero (33 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I hadn't watched this movie in ages, and holy crap is it terrifying! WHY, WHY, WHY do your houses have so many windows? Since I hadn't seen it in so long, I couldn't remember whodunnit, well until about 2/3 of the way through and then somehow my memory got jogged. Still, what a good movie.

Also, not directly related, but one of my earliest memories of Korea was climbing a mountain, and seeing some pre-teen boy hiking with a scream mask on his face.
posted by Literaryhero at 2:57 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can go on and on about how this movie is the reason horror movies are in contemporary society looked at as a legitimate genre rather than straight-to-video cashgrab, bad parodies, and excuses to have gratuitous sex and nudity onscreen.

Like Scream by itself is a fantastic teen slasher movie, and a fantastic foray into genre-savviness, but even beyond that it almost singlehandedly resurrected not just the teen slasher but the horror movie as a legitimate type of film.

Also super odd takes on sexual consent from of all people the murderer.

Are we getting spoilery in this thread b/c I can't imagine we're not?
posted by griphus at 6:59 AM on July 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I watched this last summer or the one before and frankly, I think it holds up. I remember being quite impressed with it when I originally saw in the theatre (oh, to be nineteen again!).

One thing I sense now that I didn't when I was 19 is that it seems like the two murderers feel very intimate to me.
posted by Kitteh at 6:59 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


And in case anyone wants to listen, cortex and I did an episode of our podcast on Scream.
posted by griphus at 7:00 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing I sense now that I didn't when I was 19 is that it seems like the two murderers feel very intimate to me.

You know there's a cut Gus van Sant-like scene of the two of them just watching horror movies and sidling closer and making eye contact and the next thing that happens is that they're furiously making out in the shower.

And then we see the final consummation of their love right on screen!

"You already cut me too deep. I think I'm dying here, man!"
posted by griphus at 7:03 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if there were. Again, I don't know if the gay subtext was always there and I missed it as a teen, or if I am just reading way too much into Billy and Stu's friendship.
posted by Kitteh at 7:07 AM on July 3, 2015


There's a scene in this movie that gives the viewpoint character a particular view of a house seen through the trees in the dark that is exactly like the view I get when I pull into my driveway and look toward the front door of my house.

So I essentially think of this movie and creep myself out at least once every day.

I think one of the coolest things this movie does is give every single character in it an interesting inner life. There was a lot of attention paid to characters who, frankly, were incredibly likely to bite it in the very next scene. Win on every level.

I also really like the way it plays with power dynamics. There's just something so awful about the phone calls, and the way the caller has vastly more information about what's about to happen than the person on the other end of the line. CREEPY.

And finally, my favorite thing about the movie - it pays as much attention to the creepy-factor as it does to the comedy factor. I laughed AND jumped out of my skin all the way through.
posted by kythuen at 7:25 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


...or if I am just reading way too much into Billy and Stu's friendship.

No their sort of relationship definitely has precedence going back to, like, Hitchcock in Rope and to an extent Strangers on a Train (and to a greater extent I think the Highsmith novel of Strangers on a Train.) Like unless you're an old-time horror/thriller buff as a teen, it's pretty easy to not spot that, but going back to it, especially now where in a similar movie in 2015 they may as well have been openly gay and their friends wouldn't really bat an eye, there's definitely a lot in that relationship to dig into.

The other thing is that their murders were not at all sexual. And that fits in with the sort of Jason/Freddy/Leatherface/etc. thing they're aping where it's murder-for-murder's-sake but Stu and Billy are not supernatural creatures and they clearly experience at least some emotions and considering how much "horny teens" are a staple of the teen slasher genre, you can make a solid argument that they're sublimating (or anti-sublimating I guess?) their sexual desires into murders that they commit together.
posted by griphus at 7:30 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Again, I don't know if the gay subtext was always there and I missed it as a teen, or if I am just reading way too much into Billy and Stu's friendship.

Yooou missed it (and it's made even more, erm, explicit by the second movie (ROT13 coded if we're not discussing the later movies just yet): va gur frdhry, gur xvyyre qhb vf n zna naq n jbzna, jvgu *mreb* frkhny purzvfgel (tenagrq, gurer'f n trarengvbany ntr tnc, ohg fgvyy). Gurve neenatrzrag vf pyrneyl abg vagvzngr, juvpu fubjf hf whfg ubj "pybfr" Fgh naq Ovyyl jrer.).
posted by Etrigan at 7:37 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, I was a nineteen-year-old living in the Deep South who did have some gay friends but subtext was not a thing I was hip to just yet!
posted by Kitteh at 7:38 AM on July 3, 2015


I'd be willing to bet you weren't the only person in the target demographic who missed it, Kitteh. Which is another thing in its favor -- the great horror movies almost always have subtexts that large swaths of the audience only notice in retrospect. They grab you with Zombies! Serial killers! Nightmares! and leave you with a tiny part of your brain saying, "Oh, shit, yeah, those two dudes were totally repressed, weren't they..."
posted by Etrigan at 7:45 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


The entire reason we have Vampire horror fiction as a genre was because whoever was in charge of censoring prurient material either didn't catch the whole "fucking" subtext to it or they did and realized the people who would complain of such a thing wouldn't, the people who enjoyed it would give it to their friends, and the people who didn't notice it just got a spooky novel with a monster in it.

I am often envious of people who encounter movies with subtext before they're able to grasp it because basically Kitteh got to watch basically two different movies whereas I only got to see the one.

This is also why everyone who read Illuminatus! at 15 needs to re-read it a few decades later when it turns into a different book.
posted by griphus at 7:49 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


griphus, it really was a different movie to me on rewatch. I need to ask anyone else my age who saw it back then if they now see the subtext too!
posted by Kitteh at 7:51 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am often envious of people who encounter movies with subtext before they're able to grasp it because basically Kitteh got to watch basically two different movies whereas I only got to see the one.

I totally agree -- however, I would argue that Scream rewards the viewer just as much on the second viewing as the first, as you try to puzzle out whether it holds up as a story.
posted by Etrigan at 7:57 AM on July 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah, IMO any well-made movie where the Mystery Person is revealed to be a part of the main cast should be watched twice because any good director will throw in hints and foreshadowing that will only make sense in retrospect unless you are literally Sherlock Holmes.
posted by griphus at 8:00 AM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Kevin Williamson is gay right? It's hard to imagine that subtext is an accident.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:18 AM on July 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ohhh, that is true. I think I knew that back then? Maybe?
posted by Kitteh at 8:22 AM on July 3, 2015


Oh how I love this movie particularly the meta aspects of it. It's one of the few horror film where characters acknowledge the horror genre overtly and even discuss well known tropes. One of the mains is even super genre savvy! I mean that scene where you have Sydney complains that horror films are about big breasted women running upstairs when they should run out the front door and then the killer manipulates her into doing EXACTLY that. So delicious There's a fun movie within movie going on during the party where the suspense of characters in the truck watching the teens mirrors the suspense of the audience watching the movie play out.

One of my favorite scenes in between Dewi and the chief. The chief is smoking and Dewi has, on all things, an ice cream cone. The director told Arquette every time the chief takes a drag, you take a lick. If you go back and watch it's hilarious. It's one of those things that's subtle but totally make the film.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:14 AM on July 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Subtle?
posted by entropicamericana at 2:41 PM on July 3, 2015


For all that it's my favorite slasher movie (and some days my favorite horror movie in general), I feel weird about how little I have to say about it. It's aged remarkably well aside from some dates technology stuff and clothes. It manages to satisfy what you want from this sort of thing while also subverting it all over the place and is just a hell of a lot of fun.

I still can't believe MTV has turned it into a TV show...
posted by sparkletone at 3:11 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah I usually end up re watching this every few years cause, hey I like horror movies, and I'm always surprised by how solidly constructed it is.
posted by The Whelk at 5:03 PM on July 3, 2015


And oh wow, Courteney Cox's cell phone!
posted by Literaryhero at 1:53 AM on July 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Our household totally cracked up over "Son, what were you doing with a cellular telephone?"
posted by kythuen at 11:44 AM on July 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


For me this is easily Wes Craven's best movie. By miles. A Nightmare on Elm Street has a terrific premise and villain...But is so clunky otherwise. That will always be his biggest title, pop-culturally, but it was really the third movie expanding the idea that made it grab hold of the culture's attention so tightly.

Scream is such a tight slasher-movie engine. I've always loved how much soap-opera backstory happened before this movie begins, and is doled out a little at a time to build a basis under the present-day story and give it more weight than just a "kids in peril for whatever reason" thing could have been. It starts getting out of hand in the sequels, but as a stand-alone slasher movie, this is pretty much peerless in actually establishing a situation and characters that you can get invested in. It makes it feel so much more tense when there's danger!
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:14 AM on July 6, 2015


Also, the creepiest line of all time, talking to Drew Barrymore in the beginning "I want to know who I am looking at." Shit just got real! I hate to admit it, but watching this the other day, I actually physically gasped when he said that.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:44 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


And speaking of Drew Barrymore, she gets a prominent spot on the poster being that she gets brutally slain ten minutes in.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:47 AM on July 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


And speaking of Drew Barrymore, she gets a prominent spot on the poster being that she gets brutally slain ten minutes in.

That was brilliant. From then on, in the rest of the movie, everyone was fair game to be killed off.

Another random thought: I know that they must have been anticipating a sequel since they cast Liev Schreiber to appear for like 2 seconds in news footage...But just for this one, I love when there's a character in a movie that barely actually appears (or maybe doesn't appear at all) in the movie, but their name is dropped all over the place...Because when writers do that, they tend to come up with great, memorable names for these phantoms. I think about Harry Lime, or Leland "Buzz" Meeks*, or Cotton Weary.

* (or, even better: Rollo Tomasi)
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:00 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Drew Barrymore dying was probably the most influential single event in the history of horror cinema. It demolished the "Star will live, character actors will die" trope and made slasher movies scary again, because you legitimately did not know what would happen.

And the poster was a work of art that just contributed to the audience's confusion. Look at that thing: biggest recognizable* person on it dies in the opening scene. Second biggest is the killer. David Arquette gets top billing (let me say that again: David Arquette gets top billing) and is arguably the least important character who makes the poster.

* -- Who the hell is the large face with the hand over her mouth, anyway?
posted by Etrigan at 7:03 AM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know that they must have been anticipating a sequel since they cast Liev Schreiber to appear for like 2 seconds in news footage...

Williamson included the treatment for Scream 2 in the original script for Scream. He knew exactly what he was doing.
posted by Etrigan at 7:04 AM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Drew Barrymore dying was probably the most influential single event in the history of horror cinema. It demolished the "Star will live, character actors will die" trope and made slasher movies scary again, because you legitimately did not know what would happen.

Considering the whole genre-savviness of Scream, I've always considered Drew Barrymore getting killed so quickly as an homage to Psycho. Hitchcock even ordered theaters to not allow latecomers in to keep under wraps the fact that the ostensible star of the film dies about halfway through. Also, Barrymore's character walks around with a large knife reminiscent of the one with which Marion Crane is murdered.
posted by griphus at 7:43 AM on July 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can enjoy watching Scream several times. I can't say the same for the sequels.
posted by Monochrome at 2:36 PM on July 7, 2015


And isn't that even more meta than the original? Sequels are always worse, especially in horror, so patent cash grabs sliding down the quality scale were more or less required.
posted by Etrigan at 5:14 PM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know that they must have been anticipating a sequel since they cast Liev Schreiber to appear for like 2 seconds in news footage...

Williamson included the treatment for Scream 2 in the original script for Scream. He knew exactly what he was doing.


And of course the mysterious couldn't-possibly-be-him thing is also a horror trope, so including him so he could be wondered about as the actual killer is a necessity.

I also love Scream but have another fond spot for it because of its excellent commentary track. The most significant bits in it for me are Craven talking about the changes the ratings board required. If you listen to it now you may well find it confusing at points - it was recorded over the unedited release but they at subsequent points put it on top of the theatrical cut. But they mention two notable changes - the zoom in on Barrymore hanging from the tree, disemboweled, had every other frame removed to speed it up for theaters. Rose McGowan's neck snapping has shorter visibility as well; I can't recall if they increased the noise when they cut away sooner or not.

Regardless, I think Craven makes an interesting point when he talks about the board allowing atrocious acts to be portrayed as having lesser consequences when they say you can do these things but make them look clean and neat, or at least more clean and briefer. But someone is still killed - we, the audience, just don't have to live with it afterwards.

The other interesting thing I remember is that the bit with the liver in the mailbox was supposed to be delivered straight and it was the actor's request to do a take with the Jerry Lewis voice.
posted by phearlez at 11:21 AM on July 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


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