"I'll just get my gear."

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.)

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.

187 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.

  117. After watching it for the 2nd time, I liked it a bit more, but still consider it only a tiny bit better than part 3. But HOLY SHIT, this has the worst batch of supporting characters of the whole series! At least the dedication of the killer is really impressive.

    Fun fact: I totally forgot that Henry Winkler was in part 1, Timothy Olyphant was in part 2, Patrick Warburton was in part 3 and Alison Brie was in part 4. I wonder which actor I will forget about in possible future SCREAMs.

  118. Oh, I forgot, this time they REALLY fucked up the whole thing with the rules. It’s not just that every single was incredible bullshit (at least the ones from the previous movies were plausible enough to make a whole generation of horror fans believe them), just like in part 2 they didn’t give a shit about actually obeying them!

  119. I figure I need to re-watch these, and I think I’m going in reverse chronological order.

    I think SCREAM 4 is a decent SCREAM film. I think the first and second acts are a bit of a snoozefest, and this film feels vaguely smaller and cheapter — less cinematic and more made-for-TV almost. Further, the casting and performances for the newbies are thoroughly forgettable and unispiring, with the exception of Emma Roberts and honorable mention to Rory Culkin, who is pretty boring for most of the film but turns in a very interesting final act. And it’s the final act that saves the film. It’s just fun, and this film’s killers are the most inspired and downright fun since Billy and Stu. Moreover, there are some great kills (one of them I think inspired some of the HALLOWEEN KILLS SUV-centered killing action), and I do like Neve Campbell and Dewey.

    Overall, I give this film a B-. Decent.

    Also, as one who has been openly critical of performative or language-policey forms of wokeness, I have to say that I was really struck by just how white this film is (honorable mention: Anthony Andersen in one of his earlier transitional roles where he was not being cast as a general-purpose buffoon). This film is super, super white in a way that I found downright distracting this time around.


    Side Note on the SCREAM series…

    I saw 1-3 theatrically, so, these films journeyed with me from high school through college. I did not bother to see part 4 at the theater and barely remembered anything from having watched it on video 10 years ago. Over time, I realized that I liked the idea of these films more than the films themselves. At a time when Freddy and Jason were both on the ropes, and where Craven’s earlier attempt at a meta-slasher failed to connect, I was excited about the idea of a new slasher franchise with good production values.

    My problems with the franchise have always been as follows:
    1. Too jokey, too talk, and enamored of its own cuteness, thinking it can coast on a lot of “fanbody” horror movie trivia-dropping as if that is funny or insightful. Haha, you said “Wes Carpenter” or you name-checked Gunnar Hansen. You guys really get horror, this is a horror fan’s horror movie, let me pull my jaw off the floor, etc. These films were the original fan service, wink-wink easter egg films, but I always found that aspect to be cringey more than anything.

    2. Ghostface is not a scary or interesting villain. The Ghostface voice thing is supposed to be this great iconic horror character voice, but he sounds like a weekly top 40 radio dj or Access Hollywood correspondent, and he just will not shut up, incessantly talking his victims to death. By the time he gets around to his signature chase, he’s practically talked them to death. He’s not funny, he’s not menacing, he’s just talky and whiny and annoying.

    3. Ghostface, again. The fact that the sequels have always needed to invent a new copycat villain behind the mask has never resonated with me. Sure, maybe you can get away with that once, and even then, it feels like a lesser villain — an imitator. Billy and Stu are Ghostface. Every other film has been FRIDAY V NEW BEGINNING Ghostface — some rando intimating Billy and Stu or imitating the other imitators of Billy and Stu. As a result, there is no actual villain with continuing gravitas, just a string of also-rans and imitators who are given who-gives-a-shit reasons for copycatting the original Ghostface. Thus, Ghostface is not a coherent substantive villain — he’s just a voice distorter thing and a cheap suit, and, so, these movies are just tales of Sydney being harassed by a new copycat killer every few years. Yawn.

    Now, having said all that, I think SCREAM 1995 is legitimately pretty good and original, and, so, it definitely deserves its legacy as a solid and original slasher film concept that does some different things, plays with and subverts convention, and gives us a pretty shocking and satisfying ending, just in the execution of it if not the surprise.

  120. I watched SCREAM 4 a couple of months back. I liked it quite a bit back in 2011, but I agree that the first two acts don’t really hold up while the third is still quite entertaining. I would still say it’s better than SCREAM 3, but I haven’t seen that in over a decade so I’m not speaking from authority. I would like to say my observations were as socially conscious as yours, but mostly I noticed that several of the characters used what appeared to be Blackberrys; 10 years ago was more 10 years ago than I realised (I was still rocking my 2005 standard Nokia in 2011 for the record). I hope SCR5AM factors David Arquette’s second wrestling career in somehow.

  121. Yes, the Blackberry was in effect. Betweent that and the dude with the livestream cam headset, it was an amusing foray into forecasting popular technology adoption. Too early to incorporate those Google glasses, lol

  122. I think not finding the ghostface voice scary might be a gender thing. Because a normal dude voice that is condescending and snide that turns on a dime to rage was quite effective in my opinion. You could hear the suppressed violence just waiting to bubble over.

  123. I’m with Maggie. That voice has only gotten more on-point as time has gone by. It’s the voice of every mediocre white man who has to be the smartest person in every room or his dick will fall off. It’s the voice of the male video game fan who lives to prove that female gamers are poseurs. The college freshman with the shitty mustache who wants to inform you that you are wrong about your master’s thesis because he skimmed an internet article one time. It’s the voice of every boorish radio host and edgy standup comedian who doesn’t really care about anything except proving to the world that he is smart and everyone else is dumb. You can practically hear the silent “actually” in front of every word Ghostface says, and the implicit threat in daring to contradict him. That voice is what school shooters and insurrectionists hear in their head. It’s perfect.

  124. I wouldn’t take issue with any of gendered inner/outer monologue associations you have with the voice — those sound plausible enough. But since when does being a whiny gamer douche, a gaslighting boyfriend, or a pimple-faced school shooter equate to being a compellingly terrifying slasher? No judgment if you do find that actually scary as the voice behind the guy in the mask — I’m glad someone does. And I think maybe it works in a film about domestic violence, though even then, I find the confident, man-of-few-words-dude-bro (a la Wahlberg in FEAR) to be a more compellingly menacing take. But I’m more for the slasher who is not here to argue or reason with you or explain what he’s doing — the implacable force of nature who is here to *watch* you run and squirm vs. the loquacious one who is here to convince you via rhetorical argumentation that, you know, there are really good reasons you ought to start squirming right now. And even in the realm of chatty slashers, I’ll take Krueger, who is the smooth criminal purring type who is not about to fly off the handle at any moment, becuase he knows what he’s doing, he’s confident, he knows he’s scary, and he’s just enjoying it.

    In short, I agree with the interpretation and characterization you’re reading into Ghostface as a good one. For me, it’s just not a good one or a scary one. He’s just a whiner who projects a lack of confidence.

  125. I mean, you’re far more likely to get murdered by “a whiny gamer douche, a gaslighting boyfriend, or a pimple-faced school shooter.” A man with a lack of confidence, a total fucking phony who is lashing out at the world for not conforming to his fantasies of power, is just about the most dangerous creature on the planet. These are the true monsters of our world.

  126. Can we please stop referring to the killers as “Ghostface”, as if he was one person? That shit has been annoying me for years. I mean, we don’t refer to all the different killers in the SAW franchise as “Jigsaw” either. And that was at least a name, that was said out loud in the movie(s). Nobody called them “Ghostface”.

  127. Right, Maj. I am far more likely to die of a heart attack than by being killed by an undead zombie wearing a hockey mask, but that does not mean I’m going to be effectively scared in a movie where we journey through a middle-aged guy’s struggle with saturated fats.

    CJ – Yes, this is my other point up there. The fact that there is no actual person continuity to the SCREAM villain is part of what makes it so unique, but it also undermines my commitment to the series, becuase it’s just this year’s rando who is seeking copycat fame and/or making some kind of art statement.

  128. I disagree. Every killer is taking on the persona of Ghostface the same way every actor/stuntman in a HALLOWEEN movie took on the persona of Michael Myers. It is correct to discuss this persona as a character distinct from the individual wearing it.

  129. And, once again, misgivings notwithstanding, SCREAM 1 is solid, and SCREAM 4 ultimately redeems itself, and I don’t really remember what I think about the other 2, but I plan to watch them in the not too distant future.

  130. I don’t think it exists in a world of correct/incorrect but is more fruitful/not. It’s a singular idea, and for every other killer, the persona lacks weight or meaning outside of a continuity in the backstory/motive/psychology/trauma of the person who is that persona. This is precisely why FRIDAY V and FRIDAY 9 don’t work for most people, and it’s why JASON X uber Jason does work okay in spite of looking goofy and being a kind of reconstituted Jason. The sense of an actual continuity of personhood — with all the traumatic history and exploits attending it — is what invests the persona with gravitas and makes the killer a compelling figure.

    Having said that, aside from the issues noted, the chief weaknesses of the persona after part 1 is that the persona has no backstory and the persona’s motive has disappeared up its own ass in derivative faux-meta-ness. In the original film, Ghostface was a persona adopted by a couple of deranged performance art / clout-chasing psychopaths who were interested in enacting and deconstructing the slasher film killer as a kind of performance art / get-famous scheme. This was a truly fresh take the first time out. Subsequently, the persona is just “psycho guy who likes to ask increasingly who-cares wink-wink movie trivia and then chase and kill people” or same psycho guy who is also fixated on Sidney Prescott. And, as sequel viewers, we can’t un-know that the killer underneath the costume is the n-th iteration of someone biting Stu and Billy and justifying it by appeal to the evolving logic of sequels, reboots, etc., which is just an admission of derivativeness.

  131. Completely 100% agreement with Maggie and Mr. M. Can’t even add anything because you’ve said it all. I probably wouldn’t have thought about it that way back when I first saw SCREAM, but yes, a lifetime of experience has taught me it’s EXACTLY the weak, insecure narcissists of the world who pose a real threat.

  132. I was directly addressing CJ’s comment, Skani. I didn’t see your follow-up. I agree that the thing that sets SCREAM apart from other slasher franchises—its meta-ness—is also what makes it uniquely unviable as a slasher franchise, at least without better writing than what the sequels offer. The concepts each killer represents would have to be scary on a cerebral level to compensate for the lack of primal fear response generated by a more tactile and specific villain. I think we agree that SCREAM 4 gets the closest to this. Eric Roberts’ daughter and Macaulay Culkin’s brother aren’t scary as physical entities in the manner of a Jason or Michael, but their mindset is frightening. That can’t be said for whatever the fuck was driving Aunt Jackie and Whatshisdick from Part 3.

  133. (Obviously I mean Aunt Jackie from Part 2 and Whatshisdick from Part 3. I am not a poseur. Please don’t murder me, Ghostface.)

  134. In also though Whatsisdick’s voice synthesizer walkie-talkie thing for SCREAM 3 was a stretch for the series’ world, but it’s becoming less so with some of the vocal deep faking going on out there.

  135. Meant to say always rather also, not that it really matters

  136. Clearly, 5cream should be about an elevated horror Ghostface. Now he phones you for an extensive, hour-and-a-half, MLA-sourced conversation on slasher movies, their roots in folklore, and what they have to say about race in America before he starts chasing you with a knife.

  137. I kind of can’t imagine discussing any slasher series in the realm of what’s frightening or not…after the first entry or so, are ANY of them scary? Maybe some suspense, or a jump scare, but that’s about it. I’ll take the Scream series over any of the classic series. Who needs boring Jason and sitting through endless of scenes of generic teens fooling around, or the silliness of Freddy…although at least those had the nightmare element to make them more interesting. Halloween got mediocre and then just terrible (talking OG series). These are the best directed out of the series and always have some fun setpieces, even when the movie itself is so-so (looking at you, 3). The characters are at least fun. Is the reveal genuinely scary? After the first, of course not, but how could they be? Those two were creepy even after the reveal, probably more so…the ending of Scream felt like a glossy snuff film. I know someone who got killed in her house by her boyfriend and that scene absolutely seems like what that probably felt…heightened testosterone fueled insanity. Can’t keep going to the well and keep things frightening. But that’s fine with me as long as it keeps them lively.

    Also I guess to me it’s fun that each time it’s a different killer altogether. That’s a really unique to a slasher series and allows each one to have a real ending and no one happens to survive being shot in both eyes and set on fire. No bullshit fake endings either, like when they seem to be dead but show up right before the end credits to wink at the camera. I hate that shit.

    Basically I’ll take the worst of this series (hi 3 again!) over the best of any other series sequel. The only other sequel to a slasher I can think of off the top of my head that does interesting stuff is Texas Chainsaw 2 but it goes kinda limp after the excellent first half.

  138. Oh CJ, Casey names him in the first movie: “Please don’t kill Me, Mr. Ghostface” or whatever she says to him.

    To me the most interesting thing about the killer is how he DOES become the same guy even when the reveal is different…same costume, same voice, same mannerisms (the way he’ll clean the knife with his fingers), always kind of clumsy and gets hit a lot, doesn’t do the fast walking after victims but sprints at them, etc. It’s the same character every time…not the same ultimate character, but before you see the reveal and learn the motivation, the character of Ghostface is 100% the same right down the line.

  139. I never really think of the SCREAM movies as the same category as FRIDAY, NIGHTMARE, HALLOWEEN, etc. so I’m okay with Ghostface being a different kind of killer than the others. It’s not a supernatural or unstoppable force of evil. It’s a scary killer who’s also just a dude. They’re more like a horror/thriller hybrid. I enjoyed the mystery of who the killer turns out to be. I like the addition of a mystery to solve rather than just a killer to survive.

  140. Oops, hit submit too soon. I meant to say that’s why I liked the latest CONJURING movie better than the other installments. It had more of a mystery element to it where they were out and about investigating stuff than just a haunting.

  141. Maggie it’s true they are mystery thrillers for sure…but in the end, they are slashers. I agree, I think having a mystery makes them way more interesting than watching some faceless, wordless brute walking slowly looking for the next pair of drunken breasts in a shower to stab. Scream movies feel like actual stories. I liked Halloween Kills but it’s every bit of a slasher sequel…just notch up the kills, as long as stuff is happening who cares.

  142. Those are good points, Maggie and Muh.

    It’s true that few of these killers are scary after a couple movies — although, so help me, there were some solid scares in HALLOWEEN 2018. So, maybe “scary” isn’t the word. I’mg going for some amalgam of menacing, implacable, mysterious (alien, otherworldly), confident, physically imposing or intimidating. What I enjoy about the classic slasher and the body count film are those qualities — not that a slasher has to have all of them, but s/he has to have most of them. The slashers I like best have most if not all of those qualities. Ghostface tries to muster and evoke these sorts of qualities, but he’s working too hard. And, of course, that’s sort of the point — Stu and Billy are fundamentally imitators, self-conscious wannabe slashers. A first-generation slasher doesn’t have that self-consciousness: He’s not slashing as a fan or imitator or performance artist or for social reasons; he’s slashing for private, primal reasons that have nothing to do with social reaction or reputation. There’s a gravitas to Michael Myers in HALLOWEEN KILLS (for intance) that comes from his stature, implacability, and his complete lack of interest or need to explain or telegraph. Ghostface is really the anti-thesis of this. This makes Ghostface more “realistic” and grounded but less menacing or compelling as a villain.

  143. Skani what you like about average slashers makes Ghostface unique. Really is there a slasher character that has a real personality other than Freddy? Maybe Texas Chainsaw but they’re not exactly “slashers” exactly. Chucky I guess. But mostly they’re ALL otherworldly, mysterious, wearing a cool outfit, etc. I like those qualities too. But I think the suspense in Scream movies is better than your average slasher because of the difference. The opening of 1, the school chase in 2. Scream is as much of an offshoot of 90s thrillers like Kiss the Girls as slashers, it’s kind of a hybrid. And I like those thrillers a lot too. Something like Joyride is my JAM.

    Kaplan I looove the idea of an elevated horror Ghostface. Should get really bogged down in politics and be slow paced with lots of shots of people standing in artsy hallways, staring as some low droning lets you know you’re watching a horror movie.

  144. “watching some faceless, wordless brute walking slowly looking for the next pair of drunken breasts in a shower to stab”

    There it is! The perfect encapsulation of why I watch Slasher flicks.

  145. By most peoples definition of a slasher/thriller/who-dunnit type horror-ish movie, Dario Argento’s output in the 70s and 80s are the perfect examples of what we want. I’m not really big on the slasher genre, but 5-6 of his movies are really high on my list.

  146. Pegsman, yes. Particularly something like DEEP RED, and Argento and Bava and giallo are often cited as big influences, particularly on o.g. FRIDAY THE 13TH.

    Muh, you are on point, and for those reasons, I respect what SCREAM is trying to do, and I extra respect how successful the series has been in a variety of ways, particularly in continuing to crank out many reasonably effective films without breaking its own sacred oath to avoid the supernatural. At the same time, the Ghostface “persona,” the self-aware “horror movie that’s obsessed with horror movies,” and the constraints of needing to fixate on Sidney and adhere to normal laws of physics and mortality — these have started to wear on me over time. But I kind of admire how they keep managing to grind out intermittently engaging films with/despite this formula. I do feel that this next one needs to level up the stakes and have some new reveals that tie together the series, which is a dicey proposition in its own right, but for me the “oh, look, another copycat killer is here, and Sidney/Dewey/Gale are back together again” schtick started to feel strained in 3.

    In short, will I keep watching these? Of, course, who am I kidding? Will they have effective moments or set pieces even up through part 10? Almost certainly. Has the series been basically creatively bankrupt and in desperate need of some new angle since at least part 3? Yes to that, as well.

  147. I wonder how much blame can directly be laid at the feet of the SCREAM franchise for the gag-inducing levels of self awareness that’s crept into other genres, especially in it’s attempts at humor (and I use that word loosely here)? Poe Dameron telling Kylo Ren he can’t quite understand him because “of the mask and the breathing”. 99.9% of MCU humor. Spoofs are a lot more honest in that their raison d’etre is to strip mine a genre or movie for every possible gag. But movies which essentially play in the same sandbox but consider themselves a cut above because of their “oh so cool” levels of awareness kinda rub me the wrong way. I don’t hate the SCREAM franchise anymore than I hate THE EXPENDABLES for all it’s “nudge nudge wink wink” references, but there’s a whole “shitting where you eat” thing going on that stops me engaging with them completely.

  148. I guess the rise of Whedon happening parallel to, but as far as in know not particularly in conjunction with, the rise of Ghostface, I’m not sure they can shoulder too much of the blame for contemporary snarkiness. Obviously for stuff of the time like URBAN LEGEND and HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION, but today the influence is still out there somewhere but not necessarily direct.

  149. Yeah I was probably unfair to take a swipe at SCREAM like that. THE RISE OF THE SNARK probably has many many socio-cultural reasons

  150. My feeling about snark in those kinds of movies is this. First, look at action movies of the 70s. Overall, pretty serious, right? In the 80s, same thing. Then…Arnold Schwarzenegger started making puns when he killed people. Which got a huge reaction and they leaned into those for further movies. Then Bruce Willis is cracking constant snark in Die Hard (but they are smart to turn it off when needed too, and have McClaine be scared as hell). Eventually we get Roland Emmerich who really wanted to make the most fun good time movie ever about billions of people being burned to death, so we get Independence Day where people are cracking jokes two minutes after the vaporization of civilization. Remember all the jokes people were cracking the day after 9/11? And then you go al the way to The Mummy where not a spare second can be left open without a wisecrack or mugging and funny looks. For a looong time you couldn’t watch a movie and have it seem like any character on screen actually gave a fuck about what was happening. I think that stuff has to do more with the snark content in modern movies than Scream.

  151. Yeah, but then you had the years after 9/11, where even BATMAN became a joyless, heavy handed metaphor for the war on terror, James Bond wasn’t allowed to do any James Bond things other than the sex and the most fantastical element was a guy doing parqour, and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA became a show about a bunch of moping stage actors, mumbling in front of a shaky, blurry handheld camera how fucked they are, while talking about religion and war in muted colors.

  152. Well these things go in cycles. But Batman needed an adjustment after Batman and Robin, and I’d argue so did James Bond. They just decided what if we actually took Batman seriously for once? I liked the crazy stuff of Die Another Day and really wished the cool guy with diamonds in his face was the villain other than Bland White Brit, but it was seen as too silly and they course corrected. And Royale felt more like old school Bond than they had in a long time…closer to From Russia With Love or Dr. No.

  153. I’d also not say Batman Begins is joyless at all. I remember THINKING it would be, then seeing the movie with a fast faced more mainstreamed story, quite a bit of action, and then still, yes, plenty of wisecracks. And movies after 9/11 didn’t necessarily get joyless, 2005 had a lot of big fun-type movies (and also War of the Worlds which as decidedly not). But even look at 2004, closer to 9/11 you got Hellboy, Van Helsing, Spider-Man 2, CATWOMAN.

  154. Even DR NO had a villain with robot hands, who worked in a SciFi underground layer and employed three assassins who pretended to be blind. Just sayin’.

  155. “I’d also not say Batman Begins is joyless at all.”

    I was about to say that there was certainly no joy in it for me as a viewer, but then I realized that I’ve gotten a ton of joy out of finding new ways to mock Bale’s stupid Batman voice over the years. Here’s my latest: He sounds like a voice actor who was told this morning that he’s also voicing his character’s father and he hasn’t had time to prepare anything.

    A little esoteric, I’ll admit. I’m sure my next one will be better. It’s not like I’ll ever run out of material. I mean, have you heard what they went with in those movies? Bale sounds like Sean Astin getting third runner-up in a cast-only Anne Ramsey soundalike contest on the set of THE GOONIES.

  156. Casino Royale has a flipping assassin and a villain who cried tears of blood. They went subtler, but still had Bond touches.

  157. Eh, I guess a guy with an eye infection isn’t too bad in a supposedly “realistic” and “serious” 007 movie. Totally forget about him though, even if it was Mads Mikkelsen.

  158. Bond goes in waves, there’s a solid number of them that don’t have anything ridiculous. Timothy Dalton’s entire short run. Most of Brosnan’s were more realistic…Goldeneye had no robot hands and I recall the boring one with the sub wasn’t crazy (and also no fun). Shit three out of his four were fairly straight. Connery had From Russia With Love and if you take out the villain lairs, about half of his movies are pretty straight. Even Roger Moore had For Your Eyes Only.

  159. If you read reviews from the 60s it’s a bit surprising how many critics who blamed the Bond movies for being hard and cynical. And it looks like it was the copy cats – like the Matt Helm movies – who “invented” the puns to take the edge off. Then of course Guy Hamilton came along and tried to ruin the 007 franchise with his “playboy moron accidentally stumbles over the solution” approach to the character.

  160. Years before Matt Helm movies showed up Bond was definitely doing puns. Like the guy he electrocutes in Goldfinger and then declares “shocking.” I may be off but I think that was the great-granddaddy of all murder puns to come.

  161. Yeah, THE SILENCERS came out in 1966, GOLDFINGER was 1964. Even if FROM RUSSIA WITH DR NO were both completely free of pun-liners, which they aren’t, Dino would be innocent. And OUR MAN FLINT came out a couple of months before SILENCERS, and you’ve also got our friends from U.N.C.L.E.

    (Side note, when people say “superhero films are the new Westerns” a much better comparison would be the 60s Spy Craze)

    Also, I hope you’re not offended by this pegsman because I know you’re being playful (and even if you aren’t I just generally hope you’re not offended!), but I hate the “actually GOLDFINGER is one of the worst Bonds because nothing Bond does effects the outcome” take, it’s such a joyless “uh, I’ve studied film structure” take, or more often a “I once watched something by someone who read something by someone who studied film structure”. If the film is fun and entertaining (it is) and the main character is cool and charismatic (he is, IMO, we don’t need to get into *that* again) I don’t care how “structurally right” it is.

    Yes, yes, that scene with Honor Blackman is a bit rum. You win person whose thinking of posting that Have a cookie.

    But with all due respect, this is a Ghostface thread and we should honour that. Any Bond talk should be taken to the VIEW TO A KILL thread where some sexy genius gave a definitive assessment of NO TIME TO DIE I don’t think many people read.

  162. (But before that I should say I don’t mean to dismiss the view of anyone who is offended by that scene in GOLDFINGER. In my dismissal of smart ass attitudes, I foresaw a kind of smart-ass response that post would almost certainly get on certain other, lesser, sites and tried to head off such a response at the pass. I perhaps tried to be clever here at the expense of being sensitive. Hope I didn’t offend anyone, and it I did, sorry)

  163. I’ve never been offended in my life. The GOLDFINGER thing isn’t so much about what happens in that particular movie as it is about Guy Hamilton destroying Terence Young’s vision.

  164. Hmm. In which case I see two potential alternative timelines;

    1) A very similar timeline when someone else comes along and “ruins” said vision

    2) The series peters out comparatively quickly and Bond becomes one of those things mostly forgotten to time like the THIN MAN, or best case scenario becomes one of those things that gets revived from time to time in most televisual period pieces all drawing from the same well a la Poirot.

    But perhaps there are other paths I can’t see.

  165. If James Bond hadn’t been present, Goldfinger would have been successful. Bond stopped the bomb from exploding.

  166. No, he didn’t. A CIA guy leaned over his shoulder and stopped it, while Bond just stood there banging on the controls.

  167. Personally I don’t care a whole lot if the main character has much effect on what’s going on around them. I mean, I don’t want it to be every movie, but sometimes I’m okay with watching someone go through crazy experiences.

  168. The engineer wouldn’t have been able to do anything about the bomb if Bond hadn’t just dispatched Oddjob, or for that matter if he hadn’t recruited Pussy Galore earlier. These complaints that Bond doesn’t do anything in GOLDFINGER have always been silly. (Now, SKYFALL, on the other hand ….)

  169. Oh, he does tons of shit in SKYFALL.

    He loses the list of names.
    He goes AWOL.
    He gets Moneypenny busted down to deskwork.
    He fails his field-readiness tests.
    He chooses not to save several of his allies from pointless shootings.
    He loses the gun he was specifically told not to.
    He forces himself on a sex-trafficking victim and says a pithy one-liner when she’s murdered for it.
    He creates and executes the exceedinly idiotic plan that gets his boss killed.
    He somehow gets a promotion.

    SKYFALL is not the worst franchise movie I’ve ever seen, but it is perhaps the most detrimental to its series. I used to be a casual Bond fan but have not been able to stomach one of his books or movies since. The fact that Bond fans (at least at the time) considered it to be one of the greats made me very much not want to be a Bond fan.

  170. That’s why I said that it isn’t GOLDFINGER specifically. If you watch the Terence Young movies, Lewis Gilbert’s, Martin Campbell’s and Peter Hunt’s one, you see that what they have in common is that the main character actually works for a living. He investigates, he gathers evidence and takes action. In the other, silly ones, he just hops from bar to bar and from bed to bed, stumbling over the sollution. But a lot of fans seem to enjoy that, so who am I to criticize?

  171. “He gets Moneypenny busted down to deskwork.”

    Err…she gets busted to deskwork because she SHOT Bond instead of the bad guy.

    He does some risible stuff elsewhere in the movie, but this one’s on Moneypenny, or M, if you like who forces her “to take the bloody shot”

  172. Yeah, but she’s only forced to “take the bloody shot” because Bond can’t do his one job, which is to murder people in a timely fashion.

    God, I hate everything to do with Moneypenny in that movie. The shaving scene remains the skeeviest scene I’ve seen at the cinema this century. And I saw HUMAN CENTIPEDE in the theater. I have found Daniel Craig vaguely repulsive ever since.

  173. I’ve never been as hard on SKYFALL as Vince. Those who don’t believe me can check the archives for evidence. Now that the series (hopefully) have come to an end I will say that of the 25 there are only 6 that you need (and I’m using the word in it’s broadest sense) to see, in this particular order:

    CASINO ROYALE, where it all starts.
    DR NO, the first mission as a bitter man.
    FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, where he developes some style.
    THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, for the spectacle.
    ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, where we see the human behind the mask.
    NO TIME TO DIE, where it all ends.

  174. How do people figure Bond is evading his job duties in GOLDFINGER? He infiltrates the enemy base. He recruits an asset from the enemy staff. He tries to smuggle information out, by more or less the same method he uses in the novel; it works in the book and doesn’t in the movie, but in both cases that’s down to blind chance. And then in the movie he gets the information out anyhow via Galore.

    As for SKYFALL, it fails on just about every level. I’m absolutely mystified by people who count it as a favourite. Roger Deakins is a treasure, but he photographed THE LADYKILLERS too, and you don’t see people orgasming over that.

  175. Ohhh yeah, Bond didn’t stop the bomb. Well the military was only there because Bond got Pussy Galore to call them, which she wouldn’t have if not for his sweet dick.

    Some of my fav movies don’t have the hero accomplish much. Indiana Jones didn’t stop the Nazis, the heroes of King Kong don’t actually do jack shit, etc. I think it’s actually kind of nice sometimes.

  176. I tapped out at the first 10 minutes of QUANTUM OF SOLACE. Haven’t seen another once since. I 2nd THE SPY WHO LOVED ME love. I see you pegsman. I don’t care that Roger Moore looks 65 years old in it that one still hits hard like 36 Chambers.

  177. Muh, that’s probably why GOLDFINGER is Spielberg’s favourite.
    Broddie, I don’t think he looks that old i TSWLM. But that navy uniform does wonders for him, so…

    I guess we have to save the rest of our comments until Vern reviews NO TIME TO DIE.

  178. I’ve never considered SKYFALL to be the deathless masterpiece some do, but at the same time, don’t quite get the extreme hatred for it in some corners as well. As the resident Bond (and Rambo) Geek around these parts, I cut the series far more slack than any of you will ever do and consider pegsman’s list of Must-Watch entries short by at least 5, but nevertheless, “Perfectly Watchable Entry” is how I’d file the 3rd entry in the extremely uneven Craig era (having not watched NO TIME TO DIE) and can hazard a few guesses as to why it was so well received:

    -It followed the atrocious QUANTUM OF SOLACE
    -It was easily one of the best looking Bond films, par for the course for anything Roger Deakins chooses to lens
    – Bardem’s Silva was a cool baddie
    – It introduced 3 welcome additions to the series, Harris’ Moneypenny, Fiennes M-To-Be and Whishaw’s Q
    – It featured some pretty cool and stylish action sequences
    – It brought the marvelously fractured “Mother-Son” relationship between Bond and M to a poignant close, and after 6 movies, Dame Judi finally gets the much needed spotlight to deliver a ferocious performance. SHE was the Bond Girl and SKYFALL’S trump card

    All the bits that didn’t work, I agree with all the 250 times I must have heard it. Silva’s plan relies on a Cosmic Alignment of people, place and subway schedules, Bond’s tryst with a victim of sex trafficking is problematic etc. I just don’t consider them to be major deal breakers to my enjoyment of the film.

  179. Wow Bond talk in the Scream thread. I always said SKYFALL was the Bond movie for people who hate Bond. And it worked. It got a much larger audience than the others. I’m only surprised so many Bond fans also love it because it’s mainly interested in dismantling everything the series stands for while also resetting it back to status quo.

    I will now revisit the View to a Kill thread to read Pacman’s No Time to Die thoughts.

  180. Franchise Fred, see that opinion of SKYFALL being the Bond movie for those who hate Bond is one I’ll have to respectfully disagree with. As I mentioned above, it’s not the Gold Standard of the Craig era many people think it is (CASINO ROYALE still takes that honor IMHO) , but it’s hardly the dismantling of all classic Bond trappings you think it is. There’s the exotic locations, the big action sequences, two dalliances, albeit brief, with sexy women, a baddie with an outlandish scheme, a theme song that evokes the classic Shirley Bassey era etc. Hell, Bond drives M to his ancestral home in the classic Aston, threatening her at one point with ejection via the red button on the gear stick in a classic nod to GOLDFINGER. There’s too many affectionate callbacks to Bonds Past for this to be any kind of serious middle finger to what the franchise stands for.

    Here’s a Bond movie, that sadly doesn’t enter the conversation much these days, which was a a far more effective deconstruction of the Classic Bond Formula:

    LICENSE TO KILL had Bond in berserker rage mode for much of it’s running time, Felix Leiter gets brutally assaulted on his wedding night, his wife raped and then murdered and Leiter himself losing a leg after being fed to a shark. Features very little in the way of gadgets, the Main Villain is a Drug Dealer whose grand plan is to sell more drugs and Bond delivers his coup de grace by setting him on fire.

    I liked it, but a few buddies I went to see it with turned to me after and said “Did we just watch Bond or an episode of MIAMI VICE?”.

    So it can be argued, LICENSE TO KILL was a Bond movie for people who hated Bond far more than SKYFALL was. But the former was a commercial failure while SKYFALL went on to gross a billion worldwide so am trouble believing hundreds and thousands of Bond haters showed up to make it do gangbuster business.

  181. KayKay, having the Goldfinger car in a movie all about how this is the serious real world Bond is confusing at best, and more likely pandering.

    The dismantling is stuff like Bond fails his mission, M is unreliable, M dies (because whoa Game of Thrones and Walking Dead kill main characters can you believe we’d do that in this series???), a former 00 is the villain (but unlike in Trevelyan in Goldeneye, Silva was a true believer who was disavowed by M) and Bond being out of shape.

    Yes it has a lot of the trappings but it’s making great efforts to be the anti-Bond. A lot of that was John Logan. You get an A-list writer in there they want to make their stamp and do something wild but often that’s not really in service of the story. And yet it bends over backwards to reintroduce Q, Moneypenny and a male M like it wants to say, “Dont worry, the next one will be back to normal.”

    Licence to Kill has issues but I like it more than Skyfall. It was their first try without a book so it doesn’t always work. I wish Bond actually faced consequences for fucking up the CIA and Japanese intelligence’s missions but it still works out for him. And Felix is awfully happy at the end when he really shouldn’t be.

  182. I feel bad for not being a responsible citizen and bringing us back to Ghostface and instead being a Bond bore in two simultaneous comment sections (this is the COP OUT/ARMY OF THE DEAD Kevin Smith debate all over again!). BUT…

    One of the funny things about the Craig era is that the first three films all end with “and now he’s the Bond you’ve known all along” (even the one that seems to insinuate that he’s getting old and somehow drove a BMW in 1964), which is then retracted, to varying degrees, in the film that follows.

    While it was the first Bond movie not to use a title Fleming used, LICENECE TO KILL’s writing process vis a vis the source material was much the same as it had been since THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (or at least that’s what it looks like from the outside), which is basically using scraps as they please (that film uses unused elements of the LIVE AND LET DIE novel). THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN was, excepting CASINO ROYALE ’06, the last Bond film to directly adapt a novel, and that was the loosest adaptation up to that point. The previous 80s films were all named after short stories and took elements from one or more of those short stories but largely had original plots. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER take nothing directly from the novels apart from the titles and one or two character names; they were different enough from the novels that tie-in novelisations for the films were produced. Mind you, they were for BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN too.

    The third Dalton film was reportedly going to be called THE PROPERTY OF A LADY, a name taken from a short story which had already been adapted in the first act of OCTOPUSSY. It was also reportedly going to end with him fighting a cyborg, so God knows how they were planning to justify that title (if true/they stuck with it). QUANTUM OF SOLACE is also named after a very off-brand short story that has someone telling Bond about a tale of domestic strife, justified in the film by making Quantum the name of the off-brand, pre-right return Spectre, a frankly ridiculous decision from top to bottom.

  183. I’d buy that LICENSE TO KILL is the Bond movie for people who don’t like Bond movies. I don’t like Bond movies (they’re the godfather of all PG-13 action, more lifestyle porn than legitimate badass, and all 20 minutes too long—except QUANTUM OF SOLACE, whose atrocious editing at least brings the movie in at an appropriate length for this kind of thing) and it’s my favorite Bond movie. It’s like how ROBIN HOOD is the Disney movie for people who don’t like Disney movies (also my favorite Disney movie).

  184. I guess what I mean by the anti-Bond is what Vern mentioned in the View to a Kill thread. That SKYFALL even more than other Craigs was so proud of itself for exploring his psyche and backstory. It felt like “Dont worry, if you don’t like action heroes doing awesome things just because they’re awesome, this one’s all serious and personal and talks about his childhood so you don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying an action movie.”

    I can see Licence to Kill being for Bond fans who wanted to see the series push itself into the modern era. I don’t see it as so much anti-Bond although the “Bond goes rogue” device sure got old in the ‘90s. I don’t think it’s entirely successful but I admire what Licence is trying to do.

  185. I feel we’ve debated SKYFALL enough earlier, but let me just say that when I talk to people who couldn’t give a rats ass about 007s psyche, they rave about the motorcycle to train chase, the subway train wreck, the fight in the casino and the home alone sequence. They love to see Craig in action. The fanatics, those who wear a tux to the premiere and have a Walther PPK replica at home, they love the movie because the gun barrel was back, Q is there, and Moneypenny, the old Aston Martin and several nods to the other movies. I still don’t agree with the whole list of complaints, but then the movie isn’t among my handful of favourites either.

  186. I think The pretitle of Skyfall is actually the James Bond movie I’ve been waiting for from Craig. Too bad the rest of the movie wasn’t.

    And my OCD requires me to remind you the Gun barrel was in Quantum of Solace too. Also at the end which was a cool twist for one more, but repeating that trick again felt uninspired. I was so happy it was back at the beginning where it belongs in SPECTRE.

  187. I read somewhere that Mendes felt that Craig’s walk towards the camera in the opening scene would have looked stupid after the gun barrel sequence. Anyhow, it backs my theory that the movies with the gun barrel thingy at the end is supposed to happen before DR NO on the timeline. And kudos then to Craig who went from up and coming youingster to world weary has-been in two movies.

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