I’m sure by now you are well aware of the sad passing of horror genius Wes Craven. It is always sad when someone passes away, as human beings we always grieve for those who touched our soul, even if that person never knew that they did. We grieve for them, for their family and friends, and for the loss of their art. Make no mistake, Wes Craven was indeed an artist, his canvas was film, and his paint, buckets and buckets of fake blood.
As most of you know our Retro Replays go up on Monday but I didn’t do one this week because I was on vacation in the Outer Banks and when I’m at the beach I do little else but chill on the shore, drink beer, and eat good local food. Shoot most of the trip my phone and laptop were left in my bedroom.
However, with the sad news about Wes I wanted to do a Retro Replay on one of his many movies that scared the shit out of me growing up, but I didn’t want to wait until next week so today a special treat for you all, a one time only Retro Replay Tuesday Edition.
The problem with this review was which of his films do I review. He has a plethora of greats to choose from, the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Scream series, The Hills Have Eyes, The Rainbow and the Serpent (very under rated), Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (I’m not even joking with that one, seems like an odd pairing really), and the host of many others.
As a child I was petrified of Freddy Kruger, there were some scary mofos in the 80’s but to me the guy who would get you in your dreams was the worst. You could out run Mike Myers and Jason, Chucky was just a toy, but Freddy got you when you slept. So with that I was leaning heavily towards A Nightmare on Elm Street, but then I thought about it some more and I felt I needed to go with what I consider Wes’s best film, Scream.
I’m sure some will disagree with me, but the reason why I think this is his best work is because of how ground breaking the first Scream was.
First and foremost, Scream gave a shot in the arm to the horror genre which had kind of fallen off by this point. Most of the horror films coming out in the early 90’s were bad sequels or more comedy than horror like Army of Darkness or The Frightners. Scream not only revived the horror genre but made it scary again while at the same time turning it on it’s head.
First and foremost Jamie Kennedy’s Randy sets up the rules for horror films. Like the virgin always lives, never say “I’ll be right back”, and so on. It was a nice way to show how 90’s teens would react if thrown into a horror film situation. Of course this also led to a lot of stupid copy-cats (not too mention a series of spoofs) but any ground braking film will do that.
The opening scene in the movie with Drew Barrymore’s Casey receiving the phone call from Ghostface is absolutely terrifying and real. When we watch a horror movie we know Freddy isn’t going to get us in our dreams, or Jason won’t walk out of a lake, but that phone call Casey gets is very real and something that could happen in real life. Fun note, when that move was released on DVD (or maybe VHS is was 1996 after all) my friend and I were 13 and got his older brother to rent it for us. We waited until his parents went to bed and watched the film. It ended around 2 AM and right as the credits started to roll the phone started to ring. We were frozen, we both looked at each and were scared beyond belief. It turns out it was just my friend’s older brother calling home to let his mom know he was staying at a friend’s house that night. But that fucking call scared the absolute shit out of us and we didn’t sleep, we just played Mario Kart the rest of the night.
That opening scene is filled with so much suspense, it’s really Craven at his finest. It only has a couple of cuts with some nice long shots. And the the line “I want to know who I’m looking at…” is fantastic and changes the tone of what seemed like a pseudo friendly conversation. This scene also sets the tone of the movie perfectly by getting your heart pounding right from the start with real steaks. Anyways, here is that opening scene:
After that opening scene we’re thrust into not only a slasher film but also a murder mystery. While watching the movie my inner detective kept trying to figure out who the killer was. I was partially right, I figured Skeet Ulrich’s Billy was the killer, I mean just looking at Skeet you can just see he has murderous intentions, but I had no idea that Matthew Lillard’s Stuart was his accomplish and his line towards the end when Billy is stabbing him “…I’m feeling woozy here…” always cracks me up.
As this movie is a pseudo spin on the entire genre it has a few cliched characters, like Rose McGowan’s slutty Tatum, Courtney Cox’s noisy reporter Gale Weathers, and the virginal Sidney played by Neve Campbell. However David Arquette’s Deputy Dewey is my favorite character. He’s bumbling and funny, but has a heart of gold and does is job as a deputy to protect the citizens, in spite of getting mocked the entire time.
I’ll be honest with you, when I popped this bad boy on I wasn’t sure if I was going to still like it. It has been at least a decade since I last watched it and lets face it, a lot of movies from the early to mid-90’s haven’t really aged that well, so I was pleasantly surprised finding that I still very much enjoy this film. I was then reminded on how this was like the go-to parents are away from home invite a bunch of friends over to watch movie, which my sister and I did quite often actually.
This movie is a tribute in and of it’s self to Wes Craven’s genius. Just as the genre he helped define in the 80’s was growing stale he took it and turned it on its head breathing new life into it. So if you’re putting together a Wes Craven marathon this week make sure this one is included which is why I’m giving this our Retro Replay rating of Relieve it!