I briefly contemplated including this film in my horror movie franchise review, but seeing as there are only three films, I guess now four, I didn’t really think it was worth it. However, considering the new one was just released, and this first film is the only one I’ve seen more than once, I figured I should remind myself if this series was any good or not. I think this might have been the first R rated movie I saw in theaters, and I thought I was really cool. Well, I mean, I still think I’m really cool, just now for different reasons. I also think that I liked this movie so much that I tried writing my own sequel to it, and maybe wrote one full page. It was mostly just a scene of someone making themselves lunch for the next day in their kitchen at night, sneezing, and someone else saying “bless you”. Would you believe that the reason I thought that was scary was because I was always afraid of that happening when I was making my lunch for school the next day? What are the odds!
Almost positive that I had this picture clipped out of a magazine taped up on my wall in my room when this movie came out. I was so cool!
Drew Barrymore gets a phone call that sounds like the wrong number, until the voice becomes more and more threatening, and uses personal information until she realizes it’s someone who knows about her. She sees her boyfriend tied down outside, and if she answers horror movie trivia correctly, he will be spared, but sadly, she fucks up and he gets killed. Then the killer gets into the house and kills her too. The rest of the town is shocked with these murders, especially Sidney Prescott, played by Neve Campbell, because this murder is about a year after her mom was brutally murdered. The calls start focusing on Sidney, who narrowly escapes the killer not only at home, but also at school. The school principal closes school temporarily until the police can figure out what’s going on, and then he gets killed. Matthew Lillard‘s character has a huge party and a bunch of people show up, including students, the local deputy detective Dewey, played by David Arquette, and a trashy news reporter played by Courtney Cox. The teens get more and more drunk, and people start getting killed. First is Matthew Lillard’s big breasted girlfriend, played by Rose McGowan. Next is the cameraman for Courtney Cox, then Sidney’s boyfriend, played by Skeet Ulrich, gets attacked, and then we see Jamie Kennedy‘s character get attacked, not to mention Deputy Dewey, and, well, I think that’s it. Sidney sees that her boyfriend is still alive, and rather than being relieved, it turns out that he, along with Matthew Lillard, were the ones responsible for the murders. Skeet claims that Sidney’s mom was a whore who caused his parents to break up, and Matthew Lillard was just a psycho in general, so they planned all of these details of how to get away. There are a few snags in their plan, they end up dead, and Sidney, Dewey, Courtney Cox and Jamie Kennedy all survive to make a sequel! Hoo-ray!
Well yes, I did buy this costume from Spencer Gifts when this movie came out. Who didn’t have one!?
I remember thinking how scary this movie was when it came out, and it’s still a pretty decent slasher film, I just never quite realized how funny it was. Not necessarily laugh out loud funny, more so that it was quite self-aware, coming from Wes Craven, and there were quite a few moments where the dialogue caused moments that seemed to force the actors to look at the camera and wink. For example, Rose McGowan is trying to calm down Sidney because she is “starting to sound like a Wes Carpenter” flick….WINK! See what she did? She combined Wes Craven with John Carpenter, two huge names in the horror movie industry. Or when the principal, played by Henry Winkler, startles the school janitor, dressed in a fedora and a green and red striped sweater and calls him Freddy…WINK! Get it? Because Freddy Krueger was a janitor? Oh, and Linda Blair was in this as a reporter, so there’s that. I would say one of the things that stops it from getting a better rating is that there are too many of those references, and you forget whether you are watching a scary movie or watching a Scary Movie, which was intended to make lots of horror movie references and mock them. What works about this movie is how self-aware it is, and how it states typical scenarios and rules you can follow, and then makes sure to do things in a different way. If this was toned down a little bit, it might have been a little more successful as a horror movie, because we get it, you know you’re a horror movie, and there are lots of repetitive things that happen in all horror movies.
Yuck. People looked like shit in the 90’s.
I would say this movie is responsible for a huge surge of movies made in the late 90’s that all thought they were really clever and all had to do with teenagers. This isn’t to say that there weren’t scary movies before this that focused on teens, but based on the success of this, everyone thought it was box office magic, and caused shit like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, and lots of shit involving 20 something actors from TV shows where they played teenagers. Most of them were shitty and terrible, but at least it reminded producers that horror movies could be both financially successful and relatively successful with critics. Seeing Wes Craven return to a genre that he really helped create with A Nightmare on Elm Street 15 years earlier was met with an overwhelming reaction to see more smart horror, rather than the typical girl showing her boobs, then getting murdered. Which reminds me, there aren’t any boobs in this! How strange is it that a horror movie from the 90’s had no nudity in it, and even includes dialogue about how a big breasted girl always takes her shirt off in scary movies? And by the way, Rose McGowan was still a babe in this movie. I guess they decided that any time a different movie would have had a topless girl, this movie chose to play Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” instead. Fine with me, Nick Cave is awesome. Also, Matthew Lillard makes sure to show everyone how long his tongue is, multiple times, just in case you were wondering.
Wolfman Moon Scale