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Monday, June 21, 2010


So, for my first post, I was torn: Do I write about The Collector, which I had just rented last week, but didn't exactly like? Or do I look around in my personal DVD pile, and do a review from one olf those? Well, I eventually settled on consulting Netflix's Instant movies, and decided to rewatch Scream, Wes Craven's spoof/deconstruction of slasher flicks. (SPOILER WARNING: Just to give you a head's up, I'm going to be going into fairly great detail about the movies I watch. If you haven't seen them, you might not want to read any further until you have)

So, we begin with what is probably one of the most-spoofed/copied/talked about opening scenes in modern slasher film history: A young woman(the always-cute Drew Barrymore) is home alone on a school night, and is receiving a series of prank calls, a la When a Stranger Calls. The Voice(as he's referred to in each film--which seems kinda bizarre, when you consider that each film's killer is a different person, wouldn't the voice sound different from film to film?) at first seems kind of playful, but things quickly go bad for poor Drew. Seems he has her boyfriend tied up, and will kill both of them if her knowledge of horror movies isn't up to snuff(pun intended).

I'll be honest, I've never really liked these opening scene kills. They give you an opening kill, sure, but why waste the talents of Ms. Barrymore in a scene that merely requires her to panic, run around, and then die? It's almost as if Craven wanted to have a "James Bond"-ish opening setpiece to set the mood, pre-credits, but to me it just seems like an excuse for a few cheap "boo" scares. And we don't ever meet the boyfriend character prior to his appearance as a victim, so I certainly don't give a crap if he lives or not. So, in summary, we have 2 people die we don't have any emotional investment in, and their deaths don't really have any impact, storywise.

Anyhoo....we then meet Sid(Neve Campbell, looking mighty fine), our Main Girl. We learn in this scene that:

a) her mother, Maureen Prescott, also died prior to the events in the film
b) her dad apparently lurks outside her bedroom door at night, waiting for excuses to burst in
c) her boyfriend is obviously Spider-Man, as he has a hard time entering a room by way of the door

Oh, and we get a completely ridiculous scene where Sid and her boyfriend(Skeet Ulrich, channeling the first NOES's Johnny Depp) are making out, and apparently Sid is pure and chaste, so won't do anything with her boyfriend beyond necking....except where she completely contradicts herself and exposes her breasts to him(but not the audience, dagnabbit!). Yeah Sid, way to stick to your guns.

So, next day at school. We get to meet most of our main characters now: In addition to Sid and Billy(the Skeet Ulrich character), we meet Sid's BFF Tatum(Rose McGowan, doing her impersonation of Dolly Parton); Tatum's boyfriend Stu; and Stu's buddy, horror-film buff Randy, the lovable "geek-we're-supposed-to-identify-with" character. How I'm supposed to identify with a guy who does Columbo shtick, I have no idea. Just go with it, I guess.

So, they all learn of the murder of their friend Casey, which we all just watched about 10 minutes ago(keep up with us, movie!), and mourn her death by cracking jokes and generally just forgetting her name about 5 minutes after this scene ends. Nice friends. She never even got a funeral. *sniff*

Oh, and The Fonz is now a high school principal. I guess his substitute teaching job during the last season of Happy Days paid off. Grats Dude. He's working with the local cops to try to figure out if any of the students had a motive to kill Casey, I guess. Whatever. The town police force consists of a Chief, and Deputy Dewey(David Arquette). Dewey's main role in each film is apparently two-fold: He's a human punching-bag, and he's the one guy in each film who plays his character as such an oddball, I keep saying, "How is this guy NOT the killer???"

So, Sid goes home, gets a scary phone call, and Johnny De--Uhhh, I mean "Billy" shows up again. He drops a cell phone the size of the Titanic, and is immediately arrested by the police, who took lessons from Sid's Dad about lurking outside her door. Oh, and we get a 3-second view of the man who (allegedly) kill Sid's mom on t.v., with the improbable name of Cotton Weary(the equally awesome-named Liev Schrieber. Seriously, it's like they came up with names after playing Mad Libs).

Turns out a local reporter, Gale Weathers(even SHE wonders why she's not a weathergirl, with a name like that!), doesn't believe Cotton did it. What does this have to do with anything? Not much, at this point. As a result, Sid doesn't trust her. Which is weird, because the reporter I wouldn't trust would be the one who used to be possessed by Pazuzu. Different Strokes for different folks, I guess.(Seriously, we have had, up to this point Drew Barrymore, Henry Winkler and Linda Blair appear at this point. Throw in Charo, and it could be an extra-gory episode of Love Boat.

Oh, and we have a great little scene in a bathroom. Sid is upset, and wants some "me" time(well, not "me", "her"...but you know what I mean), so she ducks into a school bathroom. After checking under the stalls to make sure she's alone, she starts trying to get her shit together, when she hears 2 students coming in. She hides in a stall, and listens as they both pretty much win Bitch Of The Year, by mocking her mother's death. Nice school.

So, Henry Winkler dies, a few scenes after bitching out two kids who would've been better victims(seriously, wouldn't you rather watch two guys who mock a murdered friend, get killed than a kindly, nebbish principal? Add in the 2 girls from the bathroom scene, and we have a great body count) Oh, and before he dies, we get the films lamest joke: He says something to the school janitor Fred. Fred who is wearing a beaten-up fedora. And a striped sweater. And is played by Wes Craven himself. Subtlety, thy name is Scream. And Fonzie dies right after doing the very thing he was lecturing the two teens about. SHEESH.

So, now we have a few murders, a killer loose in a small town, several characters who might've done it, and a town curfew. What's a girl who gets constantly reminded of her mother's murder and the deaths of those around her to do? Why, go to a party of course! But first, we get a scene where Sid is hanging out at Tatum's house, and gets another call from the killer. This lets Billy off the hook, because he was apparently in jail when the call came in. This scene also further makes me suspicious of Dewey, as he makes a point of picking up the hung-up phone and saying "Hello?" in a weird way. Maybe Arquette's just a weird guy, I dunno. He just comes off as creepy to me in these films.

And finally, the film's major setpiece: the party. A crowd of mostly forgettable extras yelling and hooting and hollering in a living room for most of the rest of the film. They've just recently been told of a schoolmate's gruesome and painful death, so of course they want to watch slasher films and generally just act like a-holes. This is also the oft-parodied scene where Randy lays out "the rules" for surviving a scary movie:

-Don't go anywhere alone
-Don't ever engage in anything, you know, FUN. This includes smoking, drinking, sex, and possibly playing on the Wii.
-Don't ever say stuff that'll get you killed. Stuff like, "I'll be right back", or "I just saved a bundle on car insurance by switching to Geico" or whatever.
-Don't ever feed them after midnight. But this might be from something else, I dunno. I stopped caring after Fonzie died, you bastards.

So, everyone still alive is at this party. Gale and her camera guy show up, Dewey's there, Sid shows up, Skeet's there, Lindsay Lohan shows up to score some blow, you name it. I swear I saw Waldo in one scene. Gale gets in and manages to hide a spycam in the house to film all the slaughter. Skeet(sorry, "Billy") manages to sneak off with Sid to a bedroom about 5 miles away, as you can't hear the rowdy party from where they are. Dewey manages to slip away from the camera guy, to leave him in the van to get slaughtered. Oh, and camera guy's name is Kenny. So, when he dies, wait for the great joke when someone screams "Oh my god! They killed Kenny! You bastards!" And keep waiting. 'cause it never happens. Damn, movie, do I have to think of EVERYTHING???

Anyway, Billy and Sid decide to "just do it", and get an endorsement by Nike. We STILL don't get any good TnA. Tatum decides to get more beer, and heads out to the garage, which is apparently in a soundproof room in another country, as no one hears her get murdered. Does Ghostface stab her? Nope. Does he shoot her? Nope. He lets her assault him several times, makes enough noise to make Marlee Matlin take notice, then kills her by waiting until she gets stuck in a doggy door built into the garage door. Did that make any sense to you? Yeah, me neither.

We then get to the biggest twist in the film. As the garage door is being raised and Tatum is facing certain death, her head is revealed to be made out of the same rubbery material as her breasts. Sadly, we never get to see the alien face under her mask, but we know it's there, don't we?

Meanwhile, Sid and Billy finish the most disappointing 5 minutes of either of their lives, and Sid decides that pillow talk should include accusing the guy you let have sex with you of being a killer. Why she waits til now, I dunno. Ghostface then shows up and attacks Billy, which makes this his Worst Night Ever. Sid drags Billy downstairs, where they run into Randy and Stu, who are accusing each other of being the killer. Randy eventually reminds them that if they don't let him in they'll get "X'ed", so he wins.

Realizing they're about to run out of film, the crew decides to wrap things up: Randy, safely inside, blurts out how happy he is to be a virgin, and Billy shoots him. We then learn that Billy and Stu were the killers? Why? Who knows? The writers certainly didn't. They decided that murdering their friends would make them famous, which is incredibly stupid, because to get away with it, they'd have to take the secret to their graves. Well thought-out plan guys. Realizing the stupidity of their scheme, they begin stabbing each OTHER.

So, Gale and Dewey burst in, get injured, and serve no purpose at all, other than to distract Billy and Stu. Sid uses the opportunity to slip away, and calls Stu. She eventually gets the upper hand on two mass murderers, and shoots them both. Of course, this being a slasher film, they're not yet dead, and neither are Gale and Dewey. (Oh, and Sid's dad turns up, too....I had forgotten an entire subplot about him vanishing earlier in the film, until Stu and Billy reveal they abducted him to set him up as the killer. Or something.) Sid kills them again, and the movie ends.

What did I learn from this experience? Several things really:

-Sex with Neve Campbell gets you shot.
-The Fonz doesn't practice what he preaches.
-Courtney Cox has weird taste in men.
-There's a magic box that can distort your voice, and make EVERY voice sound like the same guy.
-Rose McGowan IS AN ALIEN.

Eh, whatever. It has many silly moments and plotholes, but Scream is still pretty entertaining. I just hope Dewey's the killer in the new one they're would at least explain SOME of his weird "character moments".

In keeping with my love/hate relationship with the killer druid/baby-eating tree movie The Guardian, I give Scream 3 trees, outta 5

See ya next week!(C'mon Netflix, mail me my next movie....)