While it’s not often listed among the greatest horror films of all time, it’s certainly my favorite in the genre, and I’d like to make its case to those who haven’t seen it, or don’t remember it as fondly as I do. Allow me to revisit.
Drew Barrymore. The most famous actress in the bunch gets killed in the opening scene of the film. Spoilers? Not really. If you saw it in theaters and the line for popcorn was too long, you might’ve missed it. Not an exaggeration. I’m not saying that people showed up to the movie BECAUSE of Drew Barrymore, but the opening scene lets you know that they mean business. Two killings, both bloody and violent, and Drew Barrymore doesn’t live long enough to share a scene with any of the other protagonists.
The film doesn’t just play by the standard rules of a horror movie, it espouses them openly in the script. And brilliantly so, might I add. Randy (Jamie Kennedy’s character) works at a video store and as the killings occur, he warns the rest of his friends about the trappings most horror movie victims fall into. The creative way this was folded into the script and how things play out helps take this movie to the next level in terms of enjoyment.
A prime example of a great scene in this film is the one in which some of the characters are watching Halloween, and as one of the characters does his own running commentary along the way, they cut to other events going on inside (and outside) of the house, and it follows along with the commentary. At one point, the character is pointlessly yelling at a character on-screen to turn around because the killer is coming up from behind them, meanwhile he should have heeded his own advice (which SCREAM viewers have undoubtedly yelled at him) as Ghostface is coming up behind him.
I can’t go too much into how I feel the character portrayals were handled, as I wouldn’t want to give too much away and spoil the ending for anyone. I will say that this is the only enjoyable role I’ve seen from David Arquette, and were it not for FRIENDS, I could say the same for Courtney Cox.
The music in this film is something that I also feel like I should comment on, even though I don’t typically include that sort of thing in my reviews, but because I actually bought the soundtrack, it bares mentioning.
- School’s Out by Alice Cooper – What better way to show how the high school kids were treating school’s cancelation in light of the murders as a time to party by including this typical summer-starting anthem?
- Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Absolutely added something great to the film, giving it a foreboding and mysterious feel, and dare I say a touch of a “western” impending showdown with the bell tolling and vocal work.
- Don’t Fear The Reaper by Gus – Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some Blue Oyster Cult, but I greatly prefer this version of the song. It has a much more solemn tone, mixing one part “lullaby” with some creepy sadness and great work on both the guitar and violin.
- Youth of America by Birdbrain – I’m not sure why this song wasn’t released as a single and given decent radio play, though perhaps it’s the dark tone and lyrics. It used to get a lot of play in my car back in the late 90’s.
- Hive by Moby? Well that’s just Moby being Moby.
I’m not a horror movie fan. Not by any stretch of the imagination, because quite frankly, my own imagination gets away from me sometimes, and having horror movie scenes in my memory bank doesn’t help that sort of thing. That said, I bought SCREAM on VHS, having enjoyed it in the theater. And then eventually I bought it on DVD. I rarely watch the film, but I’m never disappointed when I do. Spooked? Certainly, but never disappointed.
My Score: 9.4/10