Monday, April 25, 2011

30 Day Horror Challenge Day 25 - A horror film that you used to hate, but now like

This film was an interesting case because I liked it, then hated it, and now like it again. Admittedly, my years of hating on Scream were not fair. I’ve always said that you must judge a film on its merit alone. Scream was actually pretty good. My hatred for the movie wasn’t really based on the film itself, but on people’s reactions to it and the mile long trail of crap that it spawned. It was a bit of hypocrisy on my part. I do recognize it now for what it was; a very astute satire of the slasher genre.

I was 16 when Scream came out. Me and nearly the entire drama department of South Gwinnett High School went to see it one night. I dug it. I liked the way they acknowledged the clichés of the genre and made them key points of the story. I completely identified with Jamie Kennedy’s character, as I was the horror geek/walking encyclopedia of my group of friends. I liked the way it was basically a “who dunnit” mystery with some slasher aspects thrown in. The gore was pretty subdued, but there were a couple of fun messy moments. The cast did a good job, featuring some of the more unique standouts of the late 90’s teen TV crowd. I definitely enjoyed Rose McGowen’s sweater. It even had a pretty good soundtrack. All in all, it was a really fun satire of the horror genre.

Sorry. I had to.

Then, I started to notice something. My classmates were describing Scream as “the scariest movie I’ve ever seen.” They were talking about it like it was a straight up horror flick. This was my first real moment of clarity regarding the mainstream audience’s complete lack of taste when it comes to horror. All the preppie kids that young black trench coat clad Nathan hated were talking about how this was what a good horror movie was. It was so much better than “that old crap.” This did not sit well with me, a young horror fan who already knew his stuff. Not to mention being a high school boy, I was naturally full of piss and vinegar and harder than hardcore about everything. I knew it was a horror/mystery/comedy, but it seemed no one else did. Apparently, only a parody like Scary Movie would register in their minds as comedy. In my view, Scream had poisoned everyone’s mind against the classics that I loved.

Then, the never ending procession of copycats started. I Know What You Did Last Summer. Urban Legend. Valentine. The Faculty. Carrie 2. Soul Survivors. Disturbing Behavior. Scream 2. Scream 3. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. The so called “late 90’s slasher craze” was in full swing. People would say “aren’t you happy? Horror movies are “in” again. No, teenybopper crap horror is in. Movies that were figuratively and literally gutless. There was no gore, there was no gratuitous nudity, there was no sense of fun, and there was no uniqueness to the plot. In other words, nothing that made the slasher flicks of the 80’s great. All we had was bad acting by cookie cutter WB actors and everyone trying to write like Kevin Williamson. It was like a long episode of Dawson’s Creek, but one of the pretty boys was in a mask. Basically, we were treated to hundreds of Scream clones minus the intelligence. The style even crept into franchises I liked, such as in the case of Halloween H20. I loathe the mainstream horror of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, and in my mind it was Scream’s fault for starting all of that.

Scream was my pariah. It was the film that had ruined horror movies in my generation. It also happened to be the movie everyone bought or got for Christmas in 1997. For the next year, it was on in the background of every party I went to. Any time anyone said they wanted to watch a horror movie, that one was the flick that got popped in the VCR. I probably saw Scream at least 50 times that year. The hatred grew.

Years went past and I tried to put the whole “90’s slasher craze” out of my mind. Scream was an anathema; I never owned it and refused to watch it. When I was collecting the Movie Maniacs figures, Ghostface was the one I refused to buy. Any time a movie lacked substance, I compared it to Scream. Then, a couple of years ago, I was flipping through the channels and ended up stopping on Scream. Before I realized it, I had watched the entire movie. Not only that, but I enjoyed it. After a few years of not seeing it, I was able to look at it with a fresher perspective. It’s a damn good flick. All of its imitators sucked, and a lot of the audience completely missed the point, but Scream can’t be held responsible for that. Scream 2 and 3 both are still awful, but not the original. It still stands up as a good mystery/horror satire. Scream, I apologise for all the years of animosity and harsh words between us. Let’s just let bygones be bygones, ok? I’m still iffy on Scream 4 though. I think I’ll wait for the 1.99 theater for that one. I’m still only giving it one and a half severed thumbs up, ‘cause old grudges die hard. Nathan says check it out.

2 comments:

Guts and Grog Reviews said...

I almost went with this as well and what you said pretty much sums up why.

cash said...

Scream was smart and a great whodunnit. I particularly liked the Kennedy role since I was that black trench coat guy myself. Well, Cash still is anyway ;)

I watched Scream again just after watching that abysmal Scream 4. And, like you, I really enjoyed it after all those years. I appreciated the writing, the jokes, the classic horror rules in the spotlight. The opening was some of the best horror I've seen in a while, all the way up to Drew swinging in the breeze with a pile of steaming gore beneath her. Very well done. If you watch the scene again, pay attention to the part where the parents can hear Drew on the phone gasping for her life. I feel if Craven would have let that scene go on a little further so you can hear her being strung up the tree and gurgling a horrible death, leaving the visualization to the parents' (and our) imaginations, it would have been three times as powerful, but I digress....

SPOILER!!

If you watch it KNOWING who the killer(s) is, its interesting to note how the characters give up their guilt casually near the beginning of the movie. The scene at the school gives us the killers straight up but an ignorant audience has no clue. Stu gives us information that only the killer could have known. No small town cops are going to tell you how they found the body and his remarks were spot on. That was a nice, subtle touch by the writer.

I just got word that Scream 5 is green lit and will continue to tarnish the genre's name. Mr. Craven has been an upset for more than a decade. I hear Carpenter's The Ward is mediocre at best and thats the first movie he's made in over ten years. What the fuck has happened to the guys that used to make slick, intelligent, graphic no holds barred horror with WAY smaller budgets than they have now? Do they fall out of the talent tree? Jesus Lord God!! Someone save us.

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