So once again we have survived.

Scream 4

tn_scream4The SCREAM movies had their day in the sun. They arrived at the end of 1996, during what seemed like a horror drought. “Horror” was so out of sorts that the characters just call it “scary movies.” The actors, while promoting it on talk shows, called it a “thriller.”

We all remember that, but I thought it would be interesting to look up the specifics. According to my research there were only six other scary movie thrillers released theatrically that year: CANDYMAN: FAREWELL TO THE FLESH, THE DENTIST, THE FRIGHTENERS, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE* and THINNER. DTV releases included TREMORS 2: AFTERSHOCKS, CARNOSAUR 3: PRIMAL SPECIES and CHILDREN OF THE CORN IV: THE GATHERING.

Compare that to now. It’s only April, and we’ve already tied those six if you include the touring RED STATE along with THE RITE, THE ROOMMATE, DRIVE ANGRY 3D, RED RIDING HOOD and INSIDIOUS. I count another ten coming in the rest of the year, not even including TWILIGHT. For last year I count 19 horror releases (8 original, 5 sequels, 6 remakes – see Appendix A for details). The difference in quality is debatable, but clearly there’s more of a market than there was back then. And this has been going on pretty much since SCREAM, because of SCREAM.

mp_scream4But it’s been 11 years since SCREAM 3, and that was supposed to be the end of a trilogy, so why another one now? Well, alot of things have changed. SCREAM 4 attempts to bring the story up-to-date on technology (all the kids have smart phones, text messaging, Facebook and Twitter, although there are a surprising number of land lines used), horror trends (they talk about remakes, reboots, “torture porn,” found footage movies [sort of] and even the postmodernism fatigue of SCREAM sequels). A couple of the death scenes are gorier, which has its place in the endless horror cycle: it’s a response to today’s hard-R horror, which began as a backlash against yesterday’s bloodless PG-13 horror, which came from the wave of THE RING type Asian remake ghost movies that rode in on the back of the young female horror audience built by SCREAM and its teen-oriented knockoffs. So it’s all connected.

The biggest change in horror during this period is of course the emphasis on remaking every god damn thing. Almost every “scary movie” referenced in the first SCREAM has since been remade: PSYCHO, TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, BLACK CHRISTMAS, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, HALLOWEEN, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, THE FOG, FRIDAY THE 13TH, PROM NIGHT, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. What’s that leave – THE HOWLING, THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN and TERROR TRAIN? Three of Craven’s own movies have been remade. So of course in part 4 a new series of murders happens in Woodsboro and our heroes (Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette all return) consider it a “remake” of the movie-within-a-movie version of SCREAM, Robert Rodriguez’s STAB. There are scenes in this movie where characters try to deconstruct a movie scene about characters deconstructing a movie scene in a sequel to a movie-within-a-movie based on a book-within-a-movie based on the events of the first movie. You know.

Yeah, it’s convoluted, but that’s the joke. But not that great of a joke.

Before I pick apart what I think is wrong with SCREAM 4 I gotta say that I enjoyed watching it okay. Other people have accurately criticized its awkward movie-deconstructing dialogue and its people wanting to watch horror movies shortly after someone close to them was murdered in a manner inspired by horror movies. It seems like references are more important to the filmatists than believable emotions. I agree with these complaints but I also feel like those are par for the course in a SCREAM movie, that’s sort of the world that’s been established. So even though it would’ve been nice if they improved it I didn’t have trouble getting past it.

And I look at it in the context of Craven’s filmography. Compared to SCREAM 3 this one wasn’t disappointing, there was nobody causing a gas explosion by using a lighter to see in the dark, no Jay and Silent Bob cameo, no lame casting in-jokes. Compared to CURSED it feels remarkably well-crafted and entertaining, almost as if it had a completed script before shooting (although it didn’t). Compared to MY SOUL TO TAKE it seems sane and competently made (although that one was so fucked I enjoyed it).

I felt like kind of a chump going to see this because I knew that they knew that I would want to see a part 4 even though I figured it would suck. The real victims of horror are not the people who say “I’ll be right back,” they’re the people who love horror movies and can’t restrain their curiosity about every sequel or remake they spawn. We’re like fish who eat the worms even when we see the hooks poking out.

With all that in mind SCREAM 4 was way better than I thought it would be. It was surprisingly okay. In my opinion the movie kind of works on the unambitious level of “hey, I remember these characters” and “hey, I remember what these SCREAM sequels were like.” I was pretty much expecting a CURSED type disaster ever since I read that the Weinsteins forced Craven to shoot rewrites that he had no say in, and scripted by Ehren Krueger, who you’d think would not be allowed near it after blowing part 3 so badly.

But on the level of “this completely justifies going back to the well again” it’s not a success at all. It’s admirable that they brought the original leads back and they’re still the leads, they don’t do a cheap and predictable stunt like killing off Jamie Lee Curtis in the opening of the last and worst HALLOWEEN movie. But they don’t give them much to work with.

Take Neve Campbell’s Final Girl Sidney Prescott, for example. She returns to Woodsboro because she wrote a book about surviving the murders, and she’s doing a signing on the anniversary of the murders. Not only did they already have Courteney Cox become a famous author for writing about the murders in a previous sequel, but this is the exact same scenario used for Dr. Loomis in HALLOWEEN REMAKE 2.

Sidney knows a few fight moves when she gets attacked. She doesn’t get upset much anymore and doesn’t seem at all bothered by the poor taste of kids celebrating the anniversary of the murders of her family and friends. I kind of like that, because we’ve seen the traumatized victim before, it’s been done pretty well, here’s something new. She’s changed, but I’d like to see her changed more. She doesn’t get to do enough. I’d like to see her really chase down this new Ghostface and fuck him up. If she’s a new Sidney she should be a really new Sidney. In fact we know nothing about her life other than that she wrote a book and doesn’t live in Woodsboro. Did she go to college? Does she have a boyfriend? Friends? Does she enjoy antiques or paragliding? Is she a person?

(And I can’t remember if they mentioned this in the other sequels, but shouldn’t Sid be packing by now? That would make for an interesting change in the formula if the first time a Ghostface attacks her she pulls out a gun and clips him.)

Since the movie spends alot of time reuniting the old characters the new set of young people don’t get as developed as the kids in part 1, and they don’t get as many funny lines. But I did like Hayden Panettiere’s character, a girl who likes horror movies but isn’t even portrayed as weird, goth, or nerdy. That’s almost progressive as far as gender roles in a SCREAM movie. On the other hand she doesn’t get to demonstrate much of her alleged horror trivia skills (see Appendix B for rant), and the one movie we see her watching is SHAUN OF THE DEAD. It might be more of an envelope push if she was really into GUINEA PIG or DR. BUTCHER M.D. or some shit.

Now that I think about it she must’ve been designed to throw off the Final Girl formula. She has a boyish hairdo and the androgynous name Kirby, but she likes to party and drink. She wears a suit-type jacket, but opened to show cleavage. Is she gonna survive or die? I don’t know what to do!

At any rate she definitely comes off better than the two male horror nerd characters, one a Culkin, one wearing a camera on his head to livestream and narrate his whole life. And I believe he uses the word “cyberspace.” I detect the scent of old people trying too hard to show they understand young people. At least they didn’t put in any references to that “Snooky” person.

There’s a whole bunch of pretty young ladies in this cast, and the older I get the more I think the adults playing kids really do look like kids. I believe Eric Roberts’s daughter plays Neve Campbell’s cousin. This might be a who’s who of young TV and movie stars, but I’m not sure, because I don’t know who’s who. But you know who I’m proud of? Anthony Anderson. Not just ’cause he lost weight. After so many years of playing “funny scaredy fat guy” I think it’s kind of awesome that he can just play a serious, stoic cop in this one. I mean it’s not much of a role, and being in SCREAM 4 is a step down from being in THE DEPARTED or HUSTLE AND FLOW, and I don’t really get the one big line he has. But still, good for him.

I won’t give away who the killer(s) is or are. It’s not a great solution to the mystery, but makes for a decent ending. One of the few times where I felt the authentic exhilaration of seeing a good horror movie was during a sequence near the end where they abandon the template of the other three movies and I finally felt like I didn’t know which way it would go. And one member of the cast gets to become a more memorable character at that point.

There’s a little bit of lecturing going on here, but not real sharp. It gets a little blatant in talking about The Kids These Days, but is neither saying anything original or getting as mean about it as it could. They’re trying to appeal to multiple generations of horror fans, but maybe it would work if it was more of a generational war. Like these young people now are a whole different breed that our old heroes have to learn to understand.

You know why they can’t do that? ‘Cause maybe the details are different, maybe they use different machines to do it, but the allegedly of-the-moment phenomenon they’re trying to satirize here really isn’t much different from the shit going on in our culture since years before the first SCREAM came out anyway. If it is something new I think they need to cut deeper to convince me of that.

That’s the problem, it’s alot of loose ideas with no meat underneath. Just ’cause you mention a bunch of modern shit doesn’t mean you’re saying something about it. I think part 4 would be more justified if the commentary on modern horror was more than just surface. It should be more than just a character saying the SAW movies suck, or mentioning FINAL DESTINATION, or pointing out that newer horror doesn’t follow the same rules about who can die as they supposedly followed in the old days. They say these murders are a remake, but it’s not all that different from the murders that were a sequel. They kind of hint at and then dismiss the idea of remaking or “rebooting” SCREAM. But this never feels like anything other than another SCREAM movie. Maybe there would be more drama, more meta-danger, if it really threatened to become one of those things.

I’m not even asking for anything deep here, just attention to detail. This looks like the other SCREAM movies, except maybe a little shoddier. It doesn’t look like 2011 horror. I think they should’ve shot it like a Platinum Dunes movie. Lots of gold tinting, pretty sunsets, shiny sweaty people in cut-off jeans. There should be atmosphere. In fact they could get around the we’ve-seen-the-mask-too-much problem by having the remake killers redesign the mask, just like they would in a real remake. I guess they can’t make Ghostface 8 feet tall with rock star hair without introducing some pretty ridiculous red herrings (Wrestlemania’s in town?), but still. Commenting on remakes and reboots would’ve been a perfect excuse to shake things up a little. And it worked in NEW NIGHTMARE.

Or at least shoot it in a different way. Use the same mask but give us some new cinematographical trickery so we look at it differently. A more artful look.

Or a shittier one. There’s an idea in this one that the killer or killers are filming the murders – I guess this is supposed to address today’s technologically-fed self-obsession, and reality TV and documentaries and also these BLAIR WI– well, actually that’s almost as old as SCREAM, so PARANORMAL ACTIVITY type movies. But if they’re going to go there, maybe they should show us a good chunk of the video? I mean, I hate that type of shit, but it would be a new take on SCREAM if it started with finding a video, something like a POV version of the opening of the first movie. Give us something, fellas.

At one dramatic point in SCREAM 4 a character gets to say a one-liner that is also a dis of remakes. When I saw the movie the crowd applauded at that part. It’s a satisfying moment but then you kinda think okay, yeah, fuck remakes, but what about part 4s that nobody asked for? In a part 4 worth doing I wouldn’t have thought about that.

So the bottom line is it’s more watchable than expected, but they shouldn’t have made it. It’s better than part 3 but not good enough for a new ending or especially a new beginning.

Oh shit, you know what? I don’t think they mentioned prequels at all. Maybe they’re saving that for part 0, THE RISE OF GHOSTFACE.

still_scream4
*Coincidentally HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE was another part 4 that was completely screwed over by the Weinsteins when they decided after the movie was almost done filming that they didn’t like the script and the whole thing should be rewritten and re-edited. From what I remember it turned out worse than SCREAM 4, although more ambitious since it took place in different time periods and even went into space. Shit, maybe I’ll watch that one again. Anyway, some things never change…

————–

APPENDIX A: Horror movies released theatrically in 2010

original: DAYBREAKERS, FROZEN, AFTER.LIFE, THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, SPLICE, THE LAST EXORCISM, DEVIL, MY SOUL TO TAKE,
sequel: SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, REC 2, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2, SAW 3D
remake: THE WOLFMAN, THE CRAZIES, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, PIRANHA 3D, LET ME IN, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE

(note: I excluded many movies that could arguably be classified as horror, including BLACK SWAN and PREDATORS.)

APPENDIX B: A deleted rant about weak trivia questions

Ah fuck it, I said I wasn’t gonna, but I need to rant a little bit about the use of horror trivia in these movies. The SCREAM killers make harassing calls where they sometimes quiz their victims about horror movies. The questions have always been beginner level, but I feel like it could’ve been upped a little bit for this one. After all we now live in this post-SCREAM world where horror movies are very popular, where Kirby the girl horror fan is normal, where an Academy Award winning movie already namedropped Dario Argento, where every child has access to the IMDb in his or her pocket. Even if they’re not serious horror fans they’re gonna know more than what these killers expect them to know.

But the SCREAM movies are not really aimed at serious horror fans. The trivia is like those Coca-Cola slides they used to have in theaters, they think everybody would feel good if they got it right so they make it real hard for somebody to not know the answer. They fucking ask what weapon Freddy Krueger uses! And Leatherface! I think we, as a society, are ready for harder questions. In fact it could even be a plot point that he catches them looking up answers on their phones.

I’m sure it wouldn’t be vastly improved by having a slightly more intermediate question like “the director of THE LAST STARFIGHTER and THE BOY WHO COULD FLY also played which iconic horror character?” But the use of for-babies-only questions in the movie shows that either

a) they’re aimed primarily at people only vaguely familiar with horror movies
b) the horror nerds in the movies are supposed to be less knowledgeable than they believe they are
c) the writers are less knowledgeable than they believe they are

I’m guessing it’s either a or c. Neither is really an indictment of the movies, but it does hold them back a little for serious horror fans like me and you. When SCREAM came out it was sort of a novelty to have the characters in a slasher movie recognize the tropes the same way the audience does, and use that recognition to try to save themselves. And there’s always one or more character that’s supposed to have watched alot of the movies and knows “the rules” of how they work.

I think Kevin Williamson is a guy who’s enjoyed a bunch of horror movies, but no more than that. He doesn’t have a Tarantino-level encyclopedic brain or a strong sense of analysis. He just digs on TERROR TRAIN and shit. So his characters are increasingly stretching it when it comes to these so-called rules.

Or in this case the trivia. In this one the scary phone voice asks which movie started the slasher craze – HALLOWEEN, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or PSYCHO. Then it claims the correct answer is PEEPING TOM (and like all nerds in movies and no nerds in real life he then mentions the director and year as a victory lap).

Nice try Ghostface but I gotta appeal to the judges on this one. PEEPING TOM is an excellent movie with some similarities to PSYCHO, and it was released first, but you cannot back up the claim that it started a “slasher craze.” When it was released PEEPING TOM was not a hit, was so hated by critics it pretty much ended Michael Powell’s career, and was overshadowed by the success of PSYCHO anyway. Meanwhile PSYCHO inspired some knockoffs like William Castle’s HOMICIDAL, but there was hardly a “slasher craze” until the ’70s.

Furthermore, using a multiple choice format for a question and not including the correct answer is for weiners, especially when the answer is subjective and two of the offered choices make more sense than your alleged correct answer. LAST HOUSE was of course earlier than HALLOWEEN and was influential at least in the area of titling and taglines. But I would go with HALLOWEEN since it became the most profitable independent movie of all time and was the specific inspiration for a whole slew of holiday slashers and masked killers. That’s what started a “slasher craze.” You think the makers of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT saw PEEPING TOM? I bet they didn’t.

So what’s your favorite scary movie, motherfucker? I bet it’s SHAUN OF THE DEAD.

Holy shit, what if Ghostface called Watson, the computer that beat humans on Jeopardy? That would be interesting.

Anyway, despite questionable quizmastering and all, my feeling on Kevin Williamson is that he’s a guy who loves horror movies and came up with a cool gimmick of how to pay tribute to them and he executed that gimmick well. But if it’s possible to take that concept to the next level in a sequel – and I’m not sure it is – he’s not the guy with the mind or the skills to pull it off. (He got closer than Ehren Krueger, though.)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, April 17th, 2011 at 7:17 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

116 Responses to “Scream 4”

  1. Excellent review Vern. Sadly the movie sounds about as good as I expected when I first heard it was being made. The only question I have is did they use the title track of Broken Arrow as Dewey’s theme again? If not then fuck this movie.

  2. **(And I can’t remember if they mentioned this in the other sequels, but shouldn’t Sid be packing by now? That would make for an interesting change in the formula if the first time a Ghostface attacks her she pulls out a gun and clips him.)**

    Roger that, Vern. Also (and I swear it pains me to say this when there are so many good, Craven-fearing theatregoers who want to believe they are spending their time & $ smartly), seriously, Sherriff Dewey would be obliged to call the FBI early in this one. I’m sorry for playing Johnny-come-realism here, but I just can’t get over the headache that this script gave me. It would have been so easy to find some dialogue-explained reason that federale 50,000 can’t come help out the local 5-0 po-po, yet it never occurs.

  3. I enjoyed this one pretty well, but Vern’s concise beat downs of characters in regards to the rules they seem to be arbitrarily making up and his trivia takedown are worth the price of admission and more that I paid for the film proper. That being said, I hope this is the last “Scream” movie for a couple of reasons: 1) I don’t know how many more of these sequels Gale and Dewey can accidentally survive, 2) Now that Sidney has embraced her legacy with strength and grace and is no longer letting it weigh her down she should be allowed to shed it entirely, 3) Also, the motive lacks as deep and personal a connection to Sidney as it has in films past (every motive has a direct correlation to her mother’s sexual dalliances that literally spans generations) and for the first time the entire spree feels like something that was entirely avoidable.

  4. I think I’ll wait SCREAM 4 for the local second-run theatre. If at all.

  5. You guys all need to look out for DETENTION. It is the proper meta comedy about self-referential horror, and it understands today’s kids. It’s from Joseph “TORQUE” Kahn and he totally strove for excellence.

  6. This movie was SO FATTY. There were at least 4 or 5 different scenes that were clearly created as variants for revealing the same information (usually boring exposition) and then they decided to use both of them. And my lord, I have never seen another movie with so many scenes of characters explaining things we literally JUST SAW to other characters. Over the phone no less. And what was up with the half dozen or so beats where Ghostface walks up behind somebody and then someone else yells, “look out!” just as s/he lunges at the victim?

    That said, I did like some of the meta elements. Shooting this like a platinum dunes film would have had some appeal, but if they did that they would lose a lot of the visual gimmicks of the film. You might not have noticed, and most people wouldn’t care at all, but there are dozens of visual cues from the original film repeated here. Most notably, when, deep into act 3, one character engages in a series of acts of self mutilation that beat for beat recreate a fight scene from the original, minus the other fighter.

    Little subtle stuff like that really got me going, because it was new and different.

    However, the film would have been better off to kill some of the main cast members, and kill them early. If this were not a Scream sequel, there is no way in hell we would spend so much time with this sheriff. There is no reason for Gale Weather’s character to even exist in this story, and until a very clever shot at the end of the 2nd (of 3) faux-climax, Sidney doesn’t even really have an arc in the film.

    How much more interesting would this film have been if you shifted the focus to Dewey. Keep the element of him cheating on her. That’s interesting. You create this arc about a dopey dude who somehow pulled the way out of his league girl, got her to give up everything for him, turned himself into a “hero cop” and then proceeded to fuck his way through every available piece of ass in town. And Gale knows it. But she’s already lost her career to this and if she divorces the hero cop it would be bad for book sales. But at the same time, she still kind of loves him. They fight, and then, early on in the film, maybe at the midpoint, Gale is killed.

    Now you have a really strong motivation for Dewey (not to mention and interesting bit of meta-casting what with their divorce and all, irl) to hunt down and kill the Ghostface killer. He’s wracked with guilt because he failed as a husband even when he got the girl of his dreams and now he’s failed to live up to the “hero cop” image in the most specific and personal of ways. So, he goes on a war path, breaking the rules to find the killer, going AWOL, ect.

    Meanwhile, you have Sidney trapped in town for 24 hours, or however long. She busies herself with protecting her cousin, who is suddenly in the center of a “remake” of Stab, where the killer is going and re-enacting all the kills from the first Scream/Stab. But now we’re seeing them from the Argento-style POV of the killer as he posts them on the web.

    Dewey, pretending to be looking out for her best interest uses Sidney as bait to lure the killer out. Slowly but surely, he becomes totally immoral in his quest, becoming a sort of second antagonist in the narrative.

    In the end, Dewey’s trap works, the killer comes after Sidney, finally killing her (perhaps Dewey even lets this happen because he views Sidney as partially responsible for Gale’s death?) before being killed by Dewey’s gun. And when they pull off the mask, he discovers that Gale actually was the killer, having faked her death earlier in the film or something like that. In keeping with the deconstruction elements, she could even have used her own book about the killings as a point of reference for her plot.

    So, in the end, you’re left with Dewey in shards, Sidney dead, and Gale dead. Dewey mocks up the evidence to make it look like Sidney was the killer (these films are always about frame ups) and then buries Gale’s body in the woods.

    In the last scene, we see him walking from her grave, carrying her Ghostface mask, with a bullethole in the temple, thus signifying that he will likely be the killer in the next film, where he would also be charged with leading the investigation into himself.

    I mean…not all of those ideas are good, mainly because I just came up with them off the top of my head, but I feel like it gives all of the characters something to actually…you know…do.

  7. caruso_stalker217

    April 17th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I never watched these SCREAM pictures. Except I think I saw the third one on television once. Any time I read a review of a film and the word “meta” pops up I am pretty much guaranteed to hate it.

    Fucking meta my ass.

  8. Odo – they didn’t use the BROKEN ARROW theme! I’m not sure why. Maybe they found out Paul was complaining about them using it.

  9. Scream 5 should be a mockbuster of Scream. Called Stab 5 and written and produced by The Asylum. Only there’s no real Scream 5, just the mockbuster of the movie-within-a-movie. Meta enough?

  10. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    April 18th, 2011 at 1:04 am

    Were Jay and Silent Bob in scream 3?

  11. Jay & Silent Bob were in one scene, taking a tour through the film studio and confusing Gale with someone else.
    Talking about Jay, Silent Bob and Scream. Is the killer in this one a monkey?

  12. I thought that Black Christmas started the slasher craze personally.

    I also thought that it would be pretty cool if the killer knew less horror trivia than the “victim” and had to be corrected.

    The most significant thing about this movie for me is that in the UK it is a 15 certificate (1-3 are all 18 rated), and yet I thought it was the most violent of the series by far, thus showing us how jaded to horror people have become due to the “torture porn” boom of the 00s. I bet it would have got an 18 if it’d had a tit shot or two.

  13. Yeah, the rating seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. The first two movies are still rated 18 and even on the Index here in Germany, while part 4 got its 16 rating uncut, although I heard from several people, it’s the bloodiest so far.
    Also I remember that Craven had to send the first movie several times to the MPAA to avoid an NC-17, while this one got its R right at the first try.
    Also

  14. (Ignore the last word from my post above. It came from an earlier version of it.)

  15. There were elements of the slasher film in The Thing From Another World, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Psycho, Peeping Tom, Black Christmas, Don’t Look Now, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Jaws, The Brood and probably others I can’t remember, but the “slasher” film subgenre really began with Halloween. It’s where everything came together to form the archetypes of the form: the masked, silent, indestructible psycho killer, the Point of View shots, the sex before death, the Final Girl, the holiday setting, et al. Halloween was a huge hit and a sensation in the late 70s that everybody was talking about, so it promptly inspired about a thousand rip offs, most notably Friday The 13th. Which probably is more the first true slasher movie, really.

    Nightmare On Elm Street is not really a slasher movie. It got stuck in that category but it’s more of a ghost story / Polanski-influenced surrealist film. It’s a lot closer to The Shining then Friday The 13th or Terror Train or whatever.

    Alien also had a lot of slasher elements, (final girl, ect) came after Halloween, and before the true advent of the craze; but it was being made roughly concurrent with Halloween and had existed in some form as a screenplay with roughly the same plot since about the early 70s. So it was more a case of “steam engine time” simultaneous inspiration that was unaware of each other. The truth is, though that both Halloween and Alien were heavily influenced, to the point of almost being semi-remakes, of Howard Hawk’s The Thing From Another World.

  16. **Now that I think about it she must’ve been designed to throw off the Final Girl formula. She has a boyish hairdo and the androgynous name Kirby, but she likes to party and drink. She wears a suit-type jacket, but opened to show cleavage. Is she gonna survive or die? I don’t know what to do!**

    She shows cleavage, but it’s not that alluring. I want to see her naked, but I don’t want to fuck her. She’s about to put out with the nerd, but almost everything she’s said might as well be the words of another horror fanboy. I don’t know what to do either!
    And her last act is that of liberation of the virgin horror fanboy. This stuff might make for an interesting analysis, but unfortunately it all happens in a movie where the characters literally say stuff like “Man, we shoulda locked the front door, what with a serial killer running around killing my friends tonight. Hey wanna watch a scary movie?”

    The hook-up at the end was also a case of the best hairdo in the movie meeting the worst hairdo in the movie.

  17. “to form the archetype of the form.” ? Whoo boy…I was really half asleep when I posted that, wasn’t I? Apologies….

  18. Jareth Cutestory

    April 18th, 2011 at 7:56 am

    Anyone ever see that installment of the SCARY MOVIE series where the Ghostface guy performs a rap song and smokes some pot and does the “wazzzuup” joke? I’ve never seen a SCREAM movie, but I imagine it must be so difficult for fans of the series to go into a fourth installment of the series knowing that the character had been rendered so ridiculous elsewhere. It would be like trying to take a FRIDAY THE 13th sequel seriously if Jason spent his downtime between movies hawking jewelry on QVC or participating in Dancing With The Stars..

  19. This footage could use Ghostface performing a rap song, but it’s good nonetheless:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9C4-sbQISg

  20. Vern, Anthony Anderson’s best work is still as the vile and cruel Antwon Mitchell on the later seasons of THE SHIELD. I believe it is the reason he was able to transition into more serious roles.

    Great review. I am sure it is better then the film you are reviewing. I consider myself a horror film fan, but there is no part of me that is even remotely curious about seeing this film. Your review only validates my fear that the people involved lack the insight or skill to effectively execute a deconstruction of modern horror films.

  21. Tab says:

    “Scream 4 The Life and Art of Vern”

  22. If I can comment on one tiny point from the review (of course I can), you mention Anthony Anderson, Vern, and his history of “funny scaredy fat guy” roles. Whenever I think of AA, I remember his EXCELLENT role from Season 4 of The Shield where he played a very serious, very intense, very complicated gang leader. Whenever I see him playing a comical fat nerd or something it always seems bizarre to me, because the guy definitely has the chops to play a very serious dramatic role. I know how appreciated it is when someone recommends that you please go watch 10+ hours of tv (and I’m not gonna do that) but if you want to see the guy doing some real acting, check out The Shield Season 4. A great show all around, but in particular, a great role for Mr. Anderson.

  23. – CC

    “It’s where everything came together to form the archetypes of the form: the masked, silent, indestructible psycho killer, the Point of View shots, the sex before death, the Final Girl, the holiday setting, et al.”

    I think the earliest “slasher”-slasher must be Bava`s “Bay of Blood” or Sergio Martinez “Torso”. I don`t think any of them started the slasher-craze, but didn`t american grindhouses import billions of guiollos in the seventies?

    Alien is definetly a slasher in my book and Ridley Scott has said that his biggest influence was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so there!

  24. I too vote for Black Christmas as the first slasher film.

  25. “Nice try Ghostface but I gotta appeal to the judges on this one. PEEPING TOM is an excellent movie with some similarities to PSYCHO, and it was released first, but you cannot back up the claim that it started a “slasher craze.” When it was released PEEPING TOM was not a hit, was so hated by critics it pretty much ended Michael Powell’s career, and was overshadowed by the success of PSYCHO anyway. Meanwhile PSYCHO inspired some knockoffs like William Castle’s HOMICIDAL, but there was hardly a “slasher craze” until the ’70s.

    Furthermore, using a multiple choice format for a question and not including the correct answer is for weiners, especially when the answer is subjective and two of the offered choices make more sense than your alleged correct answer. LAST HOUSE was of course earlier than HALLOWEEN and was influential at least in the area of titling and taglines. But I would go with HALLOWEEN since it became the most profitable independent movie of all time and was the specific inspiration for a whole slew of holiday slashers and masked killers. That’s what started a “slasher craze.” You think the makers of SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT saw PEEPING TOM? I bet they didn’t.”

    Nerd.

  26. Dirk – you’re right, that’s what they should’ve done! Ghostface should’ve had an incorrect answer and then she schools him on it, humiliating him into coming out to try to kill her, and throwing him off his game.

  27. The only decent thing about this movie is that I felt the killers motivation was at least plausible. When taking in the context of today’s teens and their “I want fame by any means” mentality and the way they use the livestream, youtube, twitter, facebook and other social media to achieve this goal. Man it was right on.

    It was not a reach of Mr. Fantastic proportions like the reveal and motivations from SCREAM the Third. Even if I felt Williamson and Craven went a little overboard with the “you see how selfish these millenials are” shit that one part made an otherwise unbearable piece of shit somewhat tolerable for about 5 min.

    Also the “I’m gonna set everybody up” sequence was just too hysterical beyond words. “?” scratches their face and pulls hair from their scalp but does it end there? nope. “?” also has to stab themselves and I guess that wasn’t believable enough. So then Kruger or Williamson ups the ante and recreates that one FAMILY GUY scene where the baby tortures the dog by having “?” overdo the torturing of their own self. I mean seriously it got to a point where it was like “guess what’s gonna happen with that frame that ? is staring at??” “oooh geez guys just wait till you see why that coffee table is there!!” that shit was fucking classic.

    Still this movie overdid the metatext way too much and I’ve enjoyed it in past entries but good god it was just too much. Especially in that shitty opening scene which is without a doubt the worst of all the openings. Which stinks cause all the movies have had at least memorable and cool openings even part 3. It was also far too predictable even for a movie in this franchise. The kills were tired and dated slasher fare no creativity. Considering this was a “reboot” and 10 years passed after the last and all that was unacceptable. It also had the quote “FUCK BRUCE WILLIS” and regardless of DISNEY’S THE KID and that stupid robot movie he made being in existence I could never condone that. Sorry but it’s still John McClane goddammit. This movie fucking sucked overall and it’s a shame cause I went in with no expectations and still ended up really let down. It had potential too. It’s safe to say I’m through with Craven in general.

  28. I forgot to say RE: the kills that of course with the exception of the one that led to the FUCK BRUCE WILLIS quote. That was the first time in the movie I actually went “wow that’s awesomely brutal” but by then it was too little too late. Seriously “stab stab the torso” and “slice the throat” and only just that recycled for almost 2 hours is just beyond played right now.

  29. I liked it, but I agree that it really has nothing to say about the state of contemporary horror/society/these kids today and their twitbooks and facetubes. At this point, the meta aspects of the SCREAM movies are kind of forced and not really crucial to the actual experience of watching the films. Like Spinal Tap, they’ve become the thing they mocked. But considering nobody else is really making these kind of movies anymore, I’m okay with that. They’re basically just showcases for Wes Craven to display the value of old fashioned filmatistical technique. At this point he could make an entertaining suspense thriller out of nothing but pretty people walking up and down staircases for 90 minutes.

    In the back of my mind, I held out hope that this would be a total hall-of-mirrors mindfuck in the NEW NIGHTMARE vein. I also held out hope that they’d finally kill off one of the Big Three. But shit, sometimes it’s nice to see a horror movie that doesn’t make you feel like you got bludgeoned with a turkey leg for two hours.

  30. Speaking of NEW NIGHTMARE I totally have to buy an optical disc version of that already. My special collector’s edition videotape finally crapped out and I loved that movie too much to not have any version of it around to watch every now and then.

  31. Oh and Majestyk you didn’t think the motivation was something to say about the state of today’s teens? granted it’s something those of us over 21 have known for a hot minute but it’s not like it wasn’t there. I do agree that it’s pathetic how the franchise kept steady depending on all the tropes it originally set out to skewer though. In this movie more than in any of the other sequels especially. I mean seriously like the “I’m in the closet part” when they were watching SHAUN OF THE DEAD. Which self respecting slasher fan couldn’t project it a mile away that the killer was in the closet they were in? that amongst a whole bunch of other shit was just too unbearable to sit through. Including having completely called who the killers were based on the amount of screen time one of them especially had up to that point like 50 minutes before the reveal.

  32. This was too little too late. Making us wait eleven years for something and not delivering on the goods makes it that much harder to take. There were some good scenes here (the opening, the stuff with the cops, etc.) but not enough to justify another sequel. Also, I don’t know why, but the new crop of Scream victims get more screen (scream?) time than the original stars. It’s almost as if the Weinsteins were worried no one would see a horror movie starring a bunch of fortysomethings so they threw in more and more teenyboppers in there.

  33. “The only decent thing about this movie is that I felt the killers motivation was at least plausible. When taking in the context of today’s teens and their “I want fame by any means” mentality and the way they use the livestream, youtube, twitter, facebook and other social media to achieve this goal. Man it was right on.”

    Only problem with that is…didn’t one of the Killers in SCREAM 2 already have that as a motive? Timothy Ollyphant(I wonder how many people remember he was in SCREAM 2) wanted to be caught, get famous and be able to escape punishment by claiming slasher movies had the effect on him of wanting to kill.

  34. Stu – The difference is that the killer in SCREFOURM didn’t want to get caught. He/She wanted to be a “celebrity victim” like Sidney.

    I’m a little bummed we never got to see the movie they made, though. Maybe the footage could be rediscovered at the beginning of 5CREAM.

    Broddie – Yeah, the motivation rang kind of true, but it wasn’t appreciably different from the kind of shit the jaded little fuckers in all of the earlier films were spouting.

  35. Yeah you’re right. When you think of it this movie’s killers borrowed elements from ALL the killers in the previous movies with the exception of Billy’s mom. Another reason why it just felt really old hat.

  36. By the way, one thing I’ve noticed these movies are consistently realistic about is the fact that you can’t bring a pistol with you on an airplane. That’s why Sidney had a piece in her cabin in SCR3AM but not after she flew out to L.A. later in the movie or to Woodsboro in SCRE4M.

    There ain’t no fuckin’ excuse for Courtney Cox, though. She keeps walking right into stabby situations with no protection and wondering why shit goes south for her. She’s a cop’s wife, too, so it’s not like she doesn’t have access to firepower.

    Personally, I think Sidney could take any of these assholes down bare-handed. She keeps kicking the shit out of the killer every time they go head-to-head, but then she runs away again after she gets him down. You’d think with all her experience she’d know that that’s when you step on his neck and don’t let off until your sneaker touches carpet.

  37. They totally should’ve called this SCREAM 4 ME.

  38. Speaking of realism at least for SCREAM standards one thing that also bugged me was the lack of any of that in this one. Like remember how they put a curfew and talked one up and shit in 1 and 2 once shit hit the fan? or how they actually acted like real people when their friends were being killed off? this movie sorely lacked that shit. I agree with the critics of the “ho hum my friend just go disemboweled oh well time to party and watch a scary movie” shit because of this. I mean at LEAST try to make these kids seem real. It just screamed “hey guys this is a movie” way too much.

  39. Yeah, I forgot the giallo films but stuff like Bird With The Crystal Feathers and Torso were definatly an influence too.

    Alien is not a slasher movie. It’s science fiction horror. It kind’ve developed on a parallel track with the slasher film and shares a lot of it’s basic elements, but like I said, I think that’s ’cause both Alien and Halloween descend straight from Hawks’ The Thing.

    Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t a slasher movie either….It was Ridley Scott’s main influence (also seemingly the only horror movie he was a fan of at the time, frankly); but Dan O’bannion, who was primarily responsible for the original script, was a sci-fi fan and really into Hawks’ The Thing. And then Walter Hill, who produced it and wrote the shooting draft, liked it because it reminded him of one of his, Hill’s, favorite films–The Thing From Another World. Ridley Scott absolutely gave Alien a look and style and overall tone that I don’t think anyone else could have, but he didn’t have much to do with it’s actual content.

  40. Broddie – I think you might be misremembering the earlier movies. Right from the start, the teens in SCREAM were cynical little cocksuckers who cracked jokes about their slaughtered friends and immediately started hanging out and watching horror movies even though there was a killer running around. The only one who ever felt any empathy for anybody was Sidney. That was always part of the M.O. of the series. It just seemed particularly egregious this time around.

  41. It has been over a decade since I saw last saw them so yeah this might actually prompt a rewatch. But I remember there were people besides Sid bugged about Drew Barrymore’s death. Same when Dewey’s big tittied sister bit the dust and in part 2 with Randy’s death. There may have been some Rick James style cold bloodedness from some characters but at least there also some characters that displayed some empathy. In this one they were literally all like “oh well sucks to be Jen, say how about we go party?” lol.

  42. I’m rewatching the original right now for the first time since I was like 13 and man wow I’m 27 now and it still hits hard. Just the use of the voice in that opening scene makes it like 40 times more atmospheric than the new one. The subtlety in the inflictions and how you can tell which on of the killers it is in retrospect based on the delivery and how he goes from very relaxed and calm to fucking flipping his wig on Drew. Damn it Wes wtf happened to you?

    This is infinitely cooler than “IM GONNA KILL YOU YOU FUCKING BITCH, FEEEEEEL MY AGGRESSIVENESS” from the last 2 sequels. I need to add this shit to the collection ASAP.

  43. You guys wanna know something mindbending? New Nightmare and Scream were the first two slasher movies I ever saw.

  44. Also, the kids in Scream who were making the jokes were…you know…the killers.

    That said, I’m basically the age of the characters in Scream (22 now), and when I was 17 I was almost murdered, twice. Recently, a good friend of mine from middle and high school committed suicide. After I was attacked, I still loved horror movies. Being drenched in my own blood didn’t stop me from watching bloodbath slashers within a few days. Similarly, I’ve certainly made my fair share of jokes about my dead friend, sometimes at his expense. There is a definite catharsis or maybe just a coping mechanism to that. I don’t know that it’s all that unrealistic to say, “Some of our friends are dead, let’s watch a horror movie.” At least not for me.

    But then, I also wrote a short comedy script about my near brush with death called, “Execution is Everything.” Later, I made an animated sitcom pilot called “Hail Hitler!” So, I might be a callous asshole.

  45. Vern and Hunter D – you have between you expressed pretty much everything I felt about this movie.

    I actually would have liked it better if the motive had been underplayed, or played strictly “meta” (as they keep saying). There’s a certain scariness about fucked-up people doing fucked-up things for no good reason, which is why the motive assigned to one killer in one of the previous films, “I’m going to blame the movies”, works so well. This one tries to explain too much, and I don’t buy it.

    I also wish it worked as a “straight” whodunnit, like Scream 2 did. (Scream 3 has clues to the motive but not the person it relates to; the killer is quite literally the only person in the cast it could possibly be in terms of the important characters, but you still have no way to “work it out”. Scream 1’s clues were almost all genre-based, although there are a couple of definite exceptions.) I didn’t guess the killer/s in this movie and I don’t really see how I was supposed to. Maybe I missed some stuff.

    Oh and Vern, the “Broken Arrow” theme was only in “Scream 2”. (It’s the scene where Gail and Dewey are going into the campus film school at night.) Didn’t appear in 1, 3 or 4.

    I enjoyed this film and I’m glad they made it. Still, it’s a case of having good ideas but often pretty crap execution. And I almost think they should restart the franchise with none of the original characters. I agree with Hunter D, the old characters weighed it down. Given how good a red-herring appears in Dewey’s life this time out – for a while I was convinced that character was the killer – I think they could have seriously developed the idea.

  46. OH FUCK. Forgot about Travolta’s theme in “Broken Arrow” being used, as well as the entering-campus theme. I’m a fucking idiot.

    Although like I said in my “Mindhunters” post, it is a really awesome theme.

  47. And for the record, when they said “Forget the rules” in “Scream 3”, it meant only one thing: Gail would kill Sydney. What a complete and utter fucking waste that that didn’t happen.

  48. Thanks for the compliment, Paul. I appreciate being in supplementary to Vern’s always immaculate insights.

    Scream 1, btw, is a brilliant little film. The fake out death of one of the killers leading to the reveal of a tag team of slashers is really, really well done and conceptually exciting. Too, the subtext of Stu’s crush on the boyfriend character is a great angle. In fact, that film is legitimately SCARY to me today in the wake of the Columbine attacks.

    You see, the character dynamics of the killers in Scream and their motivations and the media circus aspects all mirror the Columbine attacks almost exactly.

    Eric Harris was a sociopath with delusions of grandeur. Dylan Klebold was a depressive who linked himself to the only person who would pay attention. Kelbold wrote about his desire for certain girls in his journals, but I think the homoerotic subtext makes sense with him too. Columbine was not a jocks verses geeks thing. The “trenchcoat mafia” wasn’t real. The “do you believe in G-d” thing never happened.

    The truth of the matter is this; it was an act of domestic terrorism that was linked to the Oklahoma City Bombings and Waco far more than it was ever about ‘getting back’ at the preps.

    Harris set up bombs outside of town to blow as a distraction to give them more time in the school. They set giant drums of gasoline in the lunch room to blow up the entire school (killing EVERYONE, not any one particular group). They figured the police would confuse the reports of the explosion at the school with the explosion outside town and that the response time would be slowed because of the fire in the woods.

    Meanwhile, they would wait outside, then attack in a military fashion (45 degree angle from each other moving inward toward the exit while survivors tried to escape.) They would kill hundreds, and then go inside, deal with any other survivors, and then commit suicide.

    The police would be outside the school, unaware that the killers were already dead inside. Then, in the middle of the media circus, their final bombs, set inside of their cars in the parking lot — the logical place for triage — would explode, live in TV, killing hundreds more.

    They did it to become infamous, mentioned in the same breath as McVeigh, et al.

    Also disturbingly, Heathers prefigured almost this exact same plan by a full decade.

  49. Having just finished the movie a moment ago Hunter and reading your commentary you’re absolutely right. The way Billy and Stu are so nonchalant about it all (viewing it as a game of sorts) makes it so effectively creepy. The fact that somebody around you could actually go on such a random sociopathic spree gives that first movie a sense of terror that neither of the sequels could ever replicate. Speaking of Heathers if they ever decided to make another SCREAM they should look at Daniel Waters to pen it. Perhaps he could provide some rejuvenation to this now tired concept. I like the idea Vern suggested of having Sidney kill a Ghostface right off the bat forcing the other to improvise as she has now “changed the rules”. That type of shit is right up that man’s alley.

  50. Yeah. There were lots and lots of ways to do this movie as a sort of “reboot via sequel” where the characters are smarter than the killers because they’ve already seen/lived this movie. But they didn’t do that.

    Glad that people appreciate the ideas because, frankly I felt kinda dumb for spending time writing an alternate plot to a movie that already exists. But really, Dewey could have an excellent and pretty epic arc across the films in they went that way. Could really legitimize the films and give them some forward momentum instead of doing the same thing over and over.

  51. THIS REVIEW IS SO GOOD. A great example of a great review that only Vern could/would write. Clearly next book material.

  52. “The real victims of horror are not the people who say “I’ll be right back,” they’re the people who love horror movies and can’t restrain their curiosity about every sequel or remake they spawn.”

    You should be REALLY proud of this line.

  53. The film should have a Platinum Dunes look to it? Or at least look different? Disagree completly. Save THAT for the re-make. Scream 4 should not have been made? Yet you enjoyed it. And despite it’s dismal box office should recoup it’s doe on dvd sales/rental. I must say I did enjoy it. It was fun, made both myself and my other half jump out our seats and we left talking about the movie in a positive manner. Classic? No. But worth my money on an entertainment level. Scream is a big screen experiance film as the sound amps up well to give the requisite scares, something which the films lose out on the small screen. Unless you have the sub woofers planted.
    Character develpment was ample enough considering we are piling in fresh meat and killing as many as they can in the timeframe given. One thing I would agree with as it dawned on me in the first 15 minutes….Sydney should carry a piece. She’s in America for fucks sake!

  54. Mr Man – actually Sydney seemed like a bit of a wimp in this one, more so as the film went on. I mean, she defended her cousin at the start, but then couldn’t stop herself from being stabbed at the end? That kinda bothered me.

  55. nabroleon dynamite

    April 20th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    My Scream 3 story…

    I went to the movies with a lady that worked with me at the time. We went in her car, so my car was parked in front of my house. Enter my Babymomma who saw my car at my house and stopped by. She knocked on the door and noticed a purse sitting on my couch though my living room window.

    She then decided to knock on my bedroom window since she figured we were in there fucking. Since I didn’t answer (because I was at the damn movies) she kicked and shattered my window. I get back home expecting to get my “After the scary movie freak on” only to have to call the police because I thought somebody tried to break into my crib.

    I called my babymomma after the police left and she fessed up.

    The moral of the story is…

    I Will Avoid Scream 4 Because My Babymomma Is Fucking Psycho!!

  56. Vern – thanks for the comment dude.

    I also think it would have been interesting if some sort of comment on the Scary Movie series was made. Obviously they would have been parodies of the Stab series, but it still seems odd in retrospect not to comment on them.

    Based on some of your comments guys I really need to check out some of this Giallo business, I do enjoy horror but it’s one of the genres I am least knowledgeable about being more of an action/thriller/scifi/fantasy man. Any tips for wicked nasty horror movies welcome please. Martyrs took me to my limit but I loved it so don’t be afraid to recommend some nasty shit.

  57. Dirk – Start with Argento’s DEEP RED. It was my first real giallo (SUSPIRIA doesn’t count) and I think it’s still my favorite.

  58. If you’re looking for nasty shit, giallos aren’t necessarily the best place to go. Giallos can get pretty damn violent, but in a stylized, aesthetically pleasing way and not in a brutal, disturbing way like MARTYRS.

    But if you’re looking for classic giallo (which in my esteem should be equal parts classy & trashy) I would say start with DEEP RED a la Majesyk’s suggestion and move on to the classic Argentos (BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, OPERA, SUSPIRIA, INFERNO, etc).

    If you’re more looking for gross, Italian horror has plenty of that, just not necessarily in their giallos. Lucio Fulci is a good place to start: THE BEYOND, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD.

  59. Fulci’s NEW YORK RIPPER mixes giallo stylings with extreme, nasty gore and sleazy sex. It also has a killer who talks like a duck, so it’s really got it all.

  60. Fulci definitely made a few worthwhile giallos: NEW YORK RIPPER, THE PSYCHIC (aka much better title SEVEN NOTES IN BLACK), DON’T TORTURE A DUCKLING. All pretty cool, but if you’re gonna do Fulci, I think his BEYOND/HOUSE/CITY trilogy of surreal, nightmarish, grotesque supernatural horror films are the place to start.

  61. I agree, but Dirk specifically asked about gialli so I assumed that was the mood he was in. There’s a very different brand of nastiness in a film about zombies than one about regular old sick fucks.

  62. Good point. Though the problem with recommending nasty giallos is that some of the more conceptually fucked up ones (WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? i.e. the one where the killer stabs women in the vagina) are some of the worst. I guess NEW YORK RIPPER is a happy medium. Sergio Martino’s TORSO isn’t too graphic, but it’s awesome and the last act is amazingly sick and twisted.

  63. Dan – Is GIALLO A VENZIA the one with the vajajay stabbings? I got that one but haven’t been in that kind of mood. (Probably for the best, honestly.) How terrible is it? Bear in mind that I know what I’m getting into when it comes to Italian-style terribleness.

  64. The one I’m thinking of is WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE? unless I’m confusing titles, which is entirely possible. It’s not very graphic and in fact the movie is pretty boring and not stylish enough, but it was a sick enough premise that I couldn’t resist. I would say skip it.

    Speaking of elaborate giallo titles, my vote for best giallo title of all time goes to YOUR VICE IS A LOCKED DOOR AND ONLY I HAVE THE KEY. It’s so awesomely ridiculous that it deserves a better movie attached to it.

  65. And not that anyone asked, but the worst giallo ever is probably THE SISTER OF URSULA. Although that might be a technicality because really it’s more of a cheap, poorly made softcore porno disguised as a giallo.

    It’s about a killer who murders women with a gigantic strapon. Which, I know, makes it sound like you should see it immediately. But oh my god is it awful. Outside of a lot of hilarious shots of the killer’s strapon enhanced shadow, it’s tedious, slow and punctuated by a lot of unerotic scenes of awkward, unenthusiastic, poorly staged humping.

  66. A decent gaillo to start with other than DEEP RED (which to me feels a little bit convoluted to really count as a pure gaillo) would be Argento’s TENEBRE. That one is a straight-up gailllo if ever there was one, features occasional spurts of ingenuity from Argento, but for whatever reason may well be his most professional. It has a plot which at least toys with making sense, substanially better acting and dialogue than usual, a slightly more focused narrative, and still manages some weird ass setpieces that only Argento could really think up. I’m not really a gaillo or slasher fan myself, but that one surprised me and I think could provide a bridge between normal movies and the rest of gaillo-dom.

  67. Plus it has one of cinema’s greatest arm-choppings.

  68. The arm chopping is classic, but I think the best part of TENEBRE is that crazy chase sequence where SPOILERS that dog jumps a fence and chases that girl all around town until she tries to hide in a basement, which (oops) turns out to be the basement of a serial killer. That’s the kind of uniquely crazy/thrilling set piece that you only find in an Argento movie.

  69. Majestyk, Dan & Subtlety

    Thanks a lot guys, my horror knowledge is mainly limited to the mainstream stuff that most people know about so any and all suggestions are welcome. I enjoy gross out (Bad Taste) as well as the more psychological (The Shining), as long as there is a story and some substance to it then I’m generally good.

    I hasten to add that I hate all that Platinum Dunes crap.

  70. Drik — There’s almost no story or substance to any of the films mentioned above by me, Mr. M or Dan. I honestly cannot think of a single true gaillo that I would ever use those words to describe. They’re almost antithetical to the concept of a “gaillo.” Fair warning.

    What they do have is a whole squirming pile of stylish, nighmarish, imaginative crazy.

  71. I mean, Dirk. Sorry bud.

  72. I can’t think of a single giallo (or a single Italian horror movie, for that matter) that has characters you give one single shit about. They’re arch plot movies, where the arbitrary hand of God moves people to and fro to their dooms, with their wants, needs, and personalities having little effect on their ultimate outcome. If you can deal with that, there’s some crazy spectacle to behold. If you can’t, it can be a very cold, distancing experience.

  73. Warning taken.

    Still it’s not gonna be boringly shiny anaemic teen horror by the sounds of it.

  74. Hmm. In fairness to Argento, I think the writing and acting in his first few films (esp. BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE and DEEP RED) works, and the characters are reasonably fleshed out for a thriller. (Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I always found David Hemmings & Daria Nicolodi’s immature, schoolchild-esque bickering-flirtation to be funny and engaging and whatnot). But after that in his filmography, story and characterization is given lip service at best, with a movie like INFERNO not really even having a clear protagonist.

    I think there’s also a running theme of voyeurism/self commentary on the way we watch movies in a number of his films, but that’s only if you want to dig deep. Otherwise I agree, mostly his movies are about stylish camera moves, luxuriating in bright colors and dark shadows, violence made aesthetically pleasing, eye-popping imgery, etc, and not so much about story, theme, characters, any of that bullshit.

  75. I also meant to add, the acting even when it’s good tends to suffer because everyone is dubbed, even though most of the time the main character is an American or Brit and is clearly speaking English. It’s just that in Italy they shot films without sound and all the dialogue was post-dubbed.

  76. Going to Netflix Deep Red and Tenebre – will report asap.

  77. I’m one of those who though SCREAM wasn’t half as good as it was hailed to be, and not half as smart as it thought it was. The ending revelation was very well handled, though.

  78. Majestyk – for someone who prizes story and character so highly, I’m a big fan of Argento. You have to be in the mindset to appreciate him though. His movies tend to fall into two types: the pure suspense (“Breathe” and its ilk), and the pure whodunnit (“Sleepless”). Argento does both types of story very well at his best, although his less-impressive movies tend to be purely forgettable just because, without strong characters to bolster them, they fall apart if everything else isn’t perfect.

    Oh, and his collaborations with “Goblin” have produced some of the most memorable ambient soundtracks in cinema history. Which of course appeals to me in particular a helluva lot.

  79. Asimov:

    I just rewatched Scream with a friend of mine who had never seen it and I disagree. The opening 13 minutes is one of the best slash and stalk scenes of all time, the characters are well fleshed out and detailed, and the narrative builds to a conclusion that is both logical and shocking. Sure, the kills aren’t that great for the most part and the sequence with Sidney in the bathroom makes literally no sense in any realistic context, but the film is indeed exceptional.

    Plus, Stu is just a GREAT character. His homoeroticism and his slow death are something I have never seen done in another slasher film on nearly the same level. But then, I might give Lillard a bit too much credit because SLC Punk is one of my all time favorite films.

    In any case, I have a question for you all; can anyone identify a single character arc in ScreFOURm? I literally cannot. Sidney does not change or grow throughout the film. Dewey does not change or grow throughout the film. Gale does not change or grow throughout the film. The killer(s) were already crazy by scene one. The only growth anyone goes through during this film is going from alive to dead.

    Also, why do none of the main characters effect the plot in any way? Seriously. If Sidney, Dewey, and Gale’s scenes were removed, you would still have the EXACT same movie. They just stand around doing nothing.

    Can you guys name another film where all of the protagonists remain passive/reactive for the whole of the film and have no arc? Because I can’t. In fact, if I thought this was intentional, I would think the movie was a piece of baffling, Charlie Kaufman-esque genius.

  80. Hunter D – Gail and Dewey’s flirty deputy learn to stand each other, I guess.

    But does it occur to you that you’ve just described a good half of the entire slasher horror genre? To wit:

    – In the “My Bloody Valentine” remake (which by the way is one of the four or five worst films I’ve ever had the misfortune to try and watch all the way through, and those of you who know how harsh I can be on films in this forum will appreciate how strong that statement is) there are three main characters, two of whom are the only logical suspects in the film, and every arc that happens to them is “fake”. Jaime King’s wife character, who is one of the most unsympathetic “characters” I can remember in horror, questions the nature of the relationship with her husband for a bit, but that turns out to be fake. (His pregnant bit-on-the-side, who happens to be the only likeable character in the film, is killed off for cheap schlock and then never mentioned again; which makes this whole subplot cheap, nasty, predictable, and intelligence-insultingly moronic, all at the same time. Four terms that aptly describe the entire movie. You see why I hate this film?) Meanwhile the killer also appears to have an arc – he’s coming home to deal with his personal demons. Of course, he turned out to be a delusional psychotic the entire time, so this arc is fake as well.

    – In “Terror Train”, Jamie Lee Curtis never really seems to do anything except find bodies. I guess she’s useful for that. The conductor acts the same throughout – he’s the kids’ protector – so the only real “arc” that I can think of involves one of the disposable teen couples whose relationship is on the rocks. Of course they both get killed soon after this situation is resolved, so it’s not exactly germane to the movie as a whole.

    – In “Sleepaway Camp”, what you’ve described is taken to the extreme in the case of one character – the whole POINT of the killer’s motivation is to keep the status quo, and stop anybody who threatens it. Although this isn’t such a good example as the last two because both Angela’s brother and her prospective boyfriend have recognisable character arcs.

  81. No, I mean, none of the protagonists even have an internal dilemma. Just “don’t die.”

    I can’t speak fairly of MBV3D because a friend of mine did a rewrite on that so it’s harder for me to judge.

    I have not seen the other two. Do they all lack a moment where the final girl stops running and decides to FIGHT BACK? you know, becoming an active, rather than reactive character?

  82. Hunter D – “Sleepaway Camp”‘s final girl is, it’s fair to say, a special case. She never runs, or really does much of anything. She invites sympathy because she’s picked on a lot, but we never really see her do anything to change the situation. “Terror Train”‘s final girl ends the film in pretty much the same way that she started it.

  83. One of my favorite guiallos is The Secret Vice Of Mrs Warth by the guy who made Torso. It`s pretty tame in the gore department, but has a great story, stylish direction and a protagonist who must shower every five minutes or so.

  84. dna,

    Edwige Fenech was the sexiest of all the giallo actresses; STRANGE VICE is worth it for her alone, but I agree it’s also decent on its own terms. THE CASE OF THE BLOODY IRIS is another really fun one that she stars in, where she and her friends are similarly inclined to take their clothes off for no good reason every time there’s a break in the action.

  85. Speaking of Italian horror I had forgotten just how awesome DEMONI 2 was till I bought a copy of it and rewatched this weekend for the first time in over a decade. We need “TERROR AT THE CINEMA” type movies back. I think POPCORN was the last and it was pretty lame as I remember it.

    Saw it back to back with NIGHT OF THE DEMONS of all movies the latter which is still one of my faves. Just based off the simple fact that the damn black guy is the other survivor besides the final girl and he is also the only muthafucka that actually had any common fucking sense in the damn thing.

  86. Yeah SLEEPAWAY CAMP’s final girl is basically non-existent. Of course considering the movie’s twist it pretty much makes sense as to why. Come to think of it SCREAM 4 owes a lil something to that movie too now that I mention that.

  87. BAH!!! I meant the first DEMONI but I did also buy part 2 and will watch it tonight. All I remember about that one was how it was very POLTERGEIST 3 like.

  88. DEMONS is, like, one of my favorite horror movies ever, so don’t even get me started dude. I must have seen it at least 10 times by now. My lady and I have even adopted “Baby Pig” as a pet name for each other.

  89. That scene with the dog in Tenebre was amazing.

  90. SPOILERS for original SCREAM

    Hunter D — totally with you on the Lilliard love. He does some of his best mega-acting there, and what makes it all the creepier is that there’s no explanation offered. He goes from very convincing goofy best friend to very convincing sadistic killer, and you’re denied any kind of closure on how or why. The drawn out death scene with the drool and everything is great, too – his pathetic whining and over-the-top painful lurching just makes him seem like a cornered animal. Its really the only thing I distintly remember about that whole film.

    As for another film which has no character arcs, the most obvious example is PHANTOM MENACE. I’m a frequent prequel apologist, but I’ll be the first to admit that that film has no central character and no character arcs for any of its characters. No one learns a lesson or grows or anything. That is, I think, in a large part why people responded so negatively to it.

    Another possible example is SNAKES ON A PLANE. Most of the central characters have no arc at all. There’s just a bunch of snakes and then its over. Again, I suspect that a lot of the unexpected hostility towards that one came from its lack of basic storytelling fundamentals. Although I like that one a lot too. Ahem.

    SPOILERS for original SCREAM above!

  91. Mr Subtlety – I don’t think “Phantom Menace” or any of the other prequels count, because to have character ARCS, it follows that you first must have CHARACTERS. The sequels don’t even manage that. The people in those movies are blank slates who do what’s required for the “plot”, if one can call it that, to progress, regardless of whether or not any of it actually makes sense.

    Agree also on “Snakes on a Plane”, although I think I liked it less than you did. Pretty much this is one of those films where Vern, in his review, put into words exactly what I was thinking. It’s so frustrating because, like the piece-of-shit Balrog from “Lord of the Rings”, I know EXACTLY what I would’ve done differently. And as Vern said, #1 on my list would be the kung-fu guy getting to roundhouse-kick a motherfucking snake. (Here’s how I would do it: I would have the camera be BEHIND the snake, like a third-person shooter videogame. The snake approaches the kung-fu guy, unawares, slithering; when all of a sudden, kung-fu guy realises, spins around, kicks out. WHAMMO. Snake’s head does a perfect 180, facing towards the camera; the mouth drops open; the tongue comes out; the head starts to drop, first slowly, and then makes an audible thud as it hits the ground.)

    Most of the time, Lillard is just weird; but for some reason he worked perfectly for “Scooby Doo” and he worked perfectly for “Scream”. I liked him in “Hackers” also, but I found the whole tongue thing that he does rather distracting.

  92. Finally saw Scream 4 and came here to share my thoughts but everything seems to have been covered. So instead of that I’ll ask if anyone knows what was up with Timothy Olyphant’s voice in Scream 2.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulECuDNUYco

    Did he sound like that in everything back then or was that a specific choice he made just for this part? He sounds like he was going through puberty during the shoot. Apolgies if this was already covered in this thread.

  93. Did someone say they wanted to see Hayden Panettiere naked but didn’t want to fuck her? Did I read that right?

  94. Thomas Crown – that’s the photographer’s eye, I guess!

  95. though i enjoyed the flick, my main problem with it was that it was too entertaining. I wasn’t scared for a minute because i never felt a real threat. To be honest it felt like Scary Movie with less farting.

  96. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t be sure, but my guess is it won’t be as enjoyable and entertaining as your review. That was a great one, thanks!

  97. This movie was just released on dvd in Sweden and i have to say it was a bonechilling experience.
    On the surface the movie travelled on the same waters the previous installments did. but what made this one so chilling to me is how tragic events from a previous generation transforms into tasteless entertainment for the next.
    Just like WW2 and the Vietnam war was traumatizing experiences, nowadays we have all sorts of pop culture entertainment surrounding WW2 (COD, Medal Of Honor) and Vietnam ( Vietcong, Missing In action, Rambo etc.)

    It´s really unnerving how dissensitized we have gotten.

  98. The word “tedious” kept popping up in my head during Scream 4. Let’s be honest – the mystery/slasher genre that Williamson/Craven revitalized with Scream died a long time ago. Scream 1 worked, mainly because it did such a good job swerving us with the false-death of the guy we figured was the killer, and then the reveal of the dual killers. It was something most of us had never seen before. (BTW – I just saw an older movie that used that plot device first, even though I can’t remember what it was for the life of me)

    Every single other slasher whodunit afterwards has been ass – the horrible plots, the casting straight from WB/CW/UPN, the lack of nudity, the excruciating process of watching every single person act like a red herring for no reason other than to be a red herring. These things practically write themselves, and Scream 4 just seems like it’s on auto-pilot. Plus the “meta” beginning seems like some shit that would have been funny when Wayne’s World came out, and the motive of the killer is about 10 years dated as well. Did you know alot of people are famous for no good reason?! No shit! It’s like this script was unearthed in a time capsule and filmed untouched.

    The red herrings are worse than ever (Marley Shelton, Mary McDonnell, and the ex-boyfriend guy seem to exist only to say foreboding/creepy things), and the slasher sequences are fucking awful. There’s no pacing, no style, no imagination. It’s just endless scenes of people getting stabbed in the back or front; I swear the parking garage scene with Allison Brie has got to be the worst-written and staged slasher scene of the last 20 years. Shit, I just realized watching a slasher movie with bad plot scenes and bad slashing scenes may be the only thing more fruitless than watching a bad porno.

    I will have to say I give the movie props for revealing the killer with a decent amount of time left (much like the beloved Perfect Getaway) and the identity did surprise me, mainly because I stopped giving a shit and couldn’t keep up with the 15 or so new characters. Man what a terrible movie.

  99. Am I the only one who really loved the first 5:30 minutes of this?
    S
    P
    O
    I
    L
    E
    R

    I mean, first it starts out really lame, with all the bad stuff that we expect from a 10-years-later-SCREAM-sequel, like blatant smartass dialogue about horror movies, lame kills and oh, it’s AGAIN two killers! An then BAM, it’s just Stab 6, which leads us to the celebrity cameo, this time with a kill that is more surprising, but doesn’t make any sense and BAM, it’s just STAB 7. Don’t know about you, but I was laughing so hard at this. Too bad that the rest of the movie wasn’t that good, but at least it didn’t suck.

    It was just irritating to me, that Hayden Panettiere seriously looked like my big school crush in that movie. The hair, the clothes, even the size and to a degree her face. Wow, that made the late-90’s flashback complete.

  100. I’ll always remember this thread fondly for the moment I started our friend ThomasCrown442 down the path to full-on Hayden Panettiere devotion.

  101. I was always devoted but that was the final straw.

  102. Michael Mayket

    July 7th, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Does anyone else feel that the overall structure for this film was Williamson’s original plot for SCREAM 3? As I recall the little we heard of his original treatment involved Sidney, Dewey, and Gale back in Woodsboro where Ghostface is terrorizing a new collectom of high school kids. After Williamson left Craven decided he’d already done the teenagers in Woodsboro story in the original and came up with the Hollywood satire that the third film became. I think Williamson just took his original idea for the third film and added some lines about Twitter and the rest.

    We know that he was unhappy with the final result of SCRE4M after the Kruger rewrite and refused to do any press for this movie. I’d love a chance to talk to him SPOILERS UPCOMING because I’m 99% convinced that he intended to Jill to win. I think the original ending was Jill being taken out on the cart by the paramedics, but then the studio or Craven or whoever chickened out and added the hospital finale where Sidney lives. Williamson discussed when it went into production how he envisioned it at the beginning of a new trilogy, and I think in the next one Jill was supposed to be the new Sidney wi a new Ghostface except she was also the old Ghostface and I have no idea where it would have gone from there… although I don’t think that film would have ever been made making SCRE4M the end of the series because no studio would have made a new SCREAM where our “heroine” is also a psychotic killer, but I’m convinced it’s what Williamson wanted.

  103. Michael – That’s an interesting theory, since one of the only things I liked about Scream 4 was that Sidney, Dewey, et. al are victorious in the end. Sure, it’s a return to status quo (and is the exact opposite of a “reboot” as some people led us to believe Scream 4 was) but I found those characters likable, and I kinda hate the idea of “passing the torch” movies with young hip casts, etc.. (The non-passing of Indy’s hat in KOTCS was the best part of that movie too)

    The idea of a movie with a female serial killer being terrorized by more serial killers is awesome though.

  104. Michael Mayket

    July 7th, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    She wanted to be the new Sidney… Be careful what you wish for because Sidney’s life is a non-stop whirlwind of people trying to murder her. I’d just really like 30 minute to pick his brain because I really don’t know where it would’ve gone, but if I’m right I’d be interested to find out.

    Ultimately though Neal I’m with you because I like Sidney, even if as Vern points out she wasn’t much of a character this time around and don’t want to see her die. She’s Cassandra after all. Personally, I think every SCREAM movie should end with Sidney and Gail facing the final killer together which is something SCREAM 3 was sorely missing with Sidney alone at the end.

  105. Count me as one who enjoyed the fact that the originals made it through, although I wish Dewey had been the one to figure out the killer was the killer during their conversation. For a bit there, I thought Sidney actually was dead and he was fucking with he killer to get her to reveal herself. I think us Scream fans give Dewey more credit than the writers.

    I also wish Kirby had corrected the killer. “No, you asshole! Black Christmas!”

  106. The Original... Paul

    July 8th, 2012 at 5:32 am

    (SPOILER WARNING for Scream 3.)

    Neal – I wish they HAD gone down that route, rather than just re-hashing the same Scream plot over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Scream 2 – I’d even go as far as to say that as a pure whodunnit, it’s probably the best movie of its genre that I’ve seen – but there’s no denying it followed most of the same beats as the original “Scream” but with a different setting and mostly different characters. And “Scream 3” was a big disappointment in so many ways. The dialogue wasn’t on par, the cameos were annoying, the whodunnit was obvious from the first twenty minutes, and the movie mindlessly re-used ALL of the cliches the other “Scream” movies satirised. In fact, the killer is SO cliched, if I thought the movie was any smarter I would’ve argued that it was a deliberate attempt to satirise how predictable most of these whodunnits actually are. To wit:

    – The killer is the ineffective white guy!
    – Who is also the only character to wear glasses in the movie!
    – Who is generally accepted as “dead” by the other characters in the movie despite the fact that his is the only supposed “death” that happens offscreen!
    – Who is suspected a lot early on in the movie but then conveniently “cleared” by evidence that actually does nothing of the kind!
    – Who keeps appearing for no apparent reason and who is the only character who doesn’t prove either an obstacle or a spur for one or another of the “heroes” in some way, apart from the token black guy (whose function in the movie is to be the token black guy!)

    I mean, short of giving him a love-triangle where he comes in between the heroine and obvious love-interest, I don’t see what more they could really have done to make it obvious it was him. I thought they’d have a second “surprise” killer, like they did with Scream 2, but unfortunately the movie isn’t smart enough for that. I’ve read that they actually did INTEND to do that with Emily Mortimer’s character, but… it’s Emily Mortimer. That’d be like having Laura Harris as your surprise villain or something. Everybody’s done it.

    Now I actually had fun with “Scream 4”, but I can totally understand why you didn’t. I agree with your assessment of many of the movie’s flaws, although they didn’t ruin it for me like they did for you. Total waste of Allison Brie though.

  107. In response to Mouth’s (comment 2) suggestion that Sid should be packing heat – Damn right! It would have been awesome if some idiot prankster, but not the real killer(s), had tried scaring the shit out of Sid all dressed up as Ghostface and she had just done an Indy and shot them dead there and then. That would have produced some interesting character stuff as Sid would have to come to terms with a new devestating emotional torment, (she seems to have largely dealt with all the shit that came before), namely killing an innocent person.

  108. Vern, I gotta ask: Why have you reviewed all of the SCREAM movies besides the second one? It’s my favorite out of all of them, and I think it’s the rare sequel that bests the original. I guess that’s obvious, given the first part of that last sentence. But I see reviews for every episode but that one. I’d love to hear your take on it. I know it didn’t come out in 1995, but maybe when you’re done with this series (which I am enjoying), you could check it out.

  109. Yeah, I think I’ll do that. Good idea. I think what happened is 2 came out before I was reviewing, then I did 3 and 4 when they were new and revisited 1. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the second one.

  110. The Original Paul

    May 31st, 2015 at 4:15 am

    Dirk – FTR I love that idea. It’d be a great way to take the series in a new direction.

    Think I’d prefer a 5CREAM (you know they’d call it that) if it got some new blood in though – and not the fake “new blood” that we got in SCRE4M.

  111. The Original Paul

    May 31st, 2015 at 5:23 am

    Oh wow, just realised I replied to a three-year-old comment. Damn time and its continuity!

  112. Damn so Wes Craven passed on and this piece of shit has the privilege of now being considered his final effort. A shame. I really was rooting for him to make a legit comeback movie and give us something worth rooting for one last time before moving on to the afterlife. Nevertheless R.I.P. to a true genre master.

  113. Nah, he made worse and when people look back, they will remember him for the many classics he made, instead for his lesser movies. Just like when he was still alive. R.I.P.

  114. The Original... Paul

    October 8th, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Broddie – it’s not that bad a sendoff. The killer alone in the house at the end of the film might be some of Craven’s best directing for the past ten years or so. And this actually felt like a SCREAM movie, for all its flaws.

    TV series was pretty entertaining as well (although the reveal was kind of a letdown).

  115. Paul if you’re talking about what happens after the reveal to me that was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen with all it’s self inflicted 3 Stooges shtick nonsense.

    I do wish this movie would’ve stuck to the original ending though. I would’ve given it at least credit for that much and it would’ve been an interesting conceit for a 5th movie.

    Interesting that the TV series seems to be playing around with that premise itself in it’s own way.

  116. In retrospect this movie is worth watching to see Wes Craven’s own take on a SCARY MOVIE type of slasher parody.

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