This week we lost a true master of horror, Wes Craven. The man who has given us so many memorable movies, quotes, scenes and characters unfortunately passed away on Sunday. A true talent who understood what it was to scare people, he could get into the mindset of his characters as well as the audience to scare the shit out of them! The pure brilliance behind the likes of The Nightmare on Elm Street was proof that this man knew what he was doing with this genre. Later on he used this knowledge in Scream, the 1996 film that has since spawned three sequels and a TV show.
Whilst it may not be everyone’s favourite horror film, I love it! It’s a guessing game until the almost end, I think it’s obvious who the killers are. Craven plays on other films be essentially taking the piss out of them. Throwing in references to his own films, having a speech about the rules which will help you successfully survive a horror movie, stereotypical events (the girl running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door) all of which made Scream a great movie to watch and parody that you could take seriously, with this film he turned the genre on its head and poked fun at it. Because of this it’s one of my all time favourite horror films and here are my top five scenes.
1. Opening sequence
It’s truly a brutal way to begin the film. We have one teenage girl, Casey, at home alone who receives a call, and whilst they are playful at first, things take a turn for the worst. Her boyfriend Steve has been kidnapped and is currently strapped to a chair in her back garden, whilst she her attempts to save his life go downhill. In the end, he’s left with his insides on the outside whilst the parents of the girl find her hanging from a tree. A really horrific way to begin a film and it perfectly sets up the rest. One thought I had about this scene recently is that the parents come home to find their house filled with smoke and teenage daughter dead. Traumatic to say the least, they have even found Steve’s body yet, poor bastards! Check out the first five minutes here, I couldn’t find a clip of the entire thing unfortunately.
2. Tatum’s death
A tough female supporting character is always handy as she’ll provide some sassy comments, not giving a fuck attitude and will be resilient to the killer’s attempts to make her the next victim. At least, for a short while anyway. Tatum bit the dust when she had no where left to run besides the cat flap in the electric garage door. At first, after being cut by Ghostface, she throws bottles in defence and even knocks him down. It’s at this fatal moment, when things take a turn for the stupid. Tatum jumps down into the tiny cat flap door, get’s stuck and the killer very simply activating the garage door, so she gets sliced right at the top. The reason I’ve added this one in is because of how she died, mostly through desperation and stupidity. She starts off so well by defending herself with what ever she finds, knocks him over then tries to escape in the most ludicrous way possible instead of calling out to your friends who are on the other side of the door! Dammit! Anyway, it’s also an original death and no one knows she’s dead, besides the killer of course, for quite sometime.
3. Rules about horror films
Randy is the film fan within a horror film. The man who will know everything you need to know about surviving a horror film. A nice nod to the audience whilst mocking all horror movies at the same time. It’s a dam good scene where the geek is the centre of attention whilst at a party, just before the final couple of scenes. As he lists the rules, you’ll notice that the movie goes out of its way to break every single one of them, yet another way Craven mocked the genre in the best way possible. Check out the scene below.
4. The reveal of the killers
*SPOILER ALERT* Billy Loomis and Stu Macher reveal themselves to be the killers and it’s no entirely surprising. Billy was accused of being the killer earlier in the film when he was found with a mobile phone and Stu is bat-shit fucking crazy! Funny but he did exhibit all of the stereotypical killer attributes including talking about how to gut someone, actively defending himself and just being a little off, enough to assume that something wasn’t quite right. Something was quite wrong in fact, what with him killing people and all! And why did Stu do this? Down the peer pressure, really?! Billy’s reasons were clear cut. He reveals that he’s the one who killed Sidney’s mother a year ago because of an affair she has with his father causing Billy’s mum to abandon him. It’s almost heart breaking but then you remember he’s gone around the town, killing innocent people! Not the best way to chalk up sympathy. In the end, it’s this reveal that’s the most shocking (well, my final best scene from Scream is also shocking, in its own way.) due to the history of what has happened. Very well done!
5. Stu’s death
He’s a character with several screws lose, doesn’t always say the right thing at the right time and constantly goes out of his way to make others laugh. He’s such a great character which is why it was actually a shame that he had to die. Of course he had to die, being one of the orchestrators of the events the occurred in Woodsboro. His death happens when Sidney knocks him on the floor, smashes a vase on the back of his head, he’s almost out cold when she pushes the TV on his head, electrocuting him to death. With smoke coming out of the back of the TV, Stu lies there, with his time in this franchise coming to a shocking end. Superb.
There are a couple of things I want to note about this film, namely the references to other movies and one particular (almost) mention of a famous TV character:
- Fred the janitor is played by Wes Craven and is the spitting image of Freddy Krueger, minus the blades on his gloves.
- Linda Blair, the girl from The Exorcist, plays an obnoxious bitch of a reporter, demanding to get a story out of Sidney.
- Henry Winkler, who played the Principal of the school, is most famous for play Arthur “Fonze” Fonzarelli in Happy Days and his first name in Scream? Arthur. Nicely done Wes, very nicely done.
Thank you for the nightmares Wes Craven, you gave us so much to scream about.
Keep. It. Reel.