Scream: The Wes Craven Legacy Revitalizing Amendment

Just like the original Scream, the return of Ghostface to the screen seeks to popularize the slasher for a new generation of horror fans…and armed with smartphones, and text messages instead of phone calls.

And it is that, although he paid homage to Psychosis and already classic films like Halloween, Friday the 13th The Prom Night, Scream he wasn’t typical slasher in which a group of teenagers is harassed by a masked maniac and only a virgin heroine is able to stop him. Or not at all. Directed by the legendary Wes Craven from a screenplay by Kevin Williamson, the film would also set new standards for the teen horror film or teen horror, combining scare jumps and teenage angst with a bit of comedy…and a lot of that tongue-in-cheek self-awareness.

Of course, Craven is also the creator of Freddy Krueger, perhaps the most emblematic figure of horror movies in the 80s. But it was 1996, the time when Neve Campbell was best known for the popular series Party of Five –and for being one of the young witches–, and the one in which the hordes of imitators and sequels had made the slasher commonplace and predictable. It is still an irony that, after having been a satirical and even critical look at the genre, Scream has become a full-fledged classic, and a franchise as revered as its own was once. Halloween.

After its release, however, Scream became the first thriller –yes, that’s how they described it on the posters– to reach the main cinemas in practically a decade. Magazine Fangoria noted in his coverage of the set that promised to be so original that not even those involved in its realization could agree on what it was. Was a slasher? Was it a parody of a slasher? Twenty-five years after that spate of brutal murders rocked the small town of Woodsboro, California, a new killer has donned the Ghostface mask…and seeks to resurrect not just a franchise, but an entire genre.

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crimes of the past

Actually, Scream It wouldn’t be the first movie to poke fun at horror conventions while having the characters openly discuss them. The rules were clear years ago: the silent film The Lunatics (1912), by Maurice Tourneur, already used visceral violence to seduce fans of the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Paris, and many tropes of the genre were already present in films such as The Cat and the Canary (1927) and The Old Dark House (1932), inspired in turn by the success of The Bat (1926)—in which the guests of a remote mansion were threatened by a murderer hidden behind a grotesque mask.

Also inspired by the Yellow italian and thrillers suspense like Peeping Tom Y Psychosis in 1960, both prototypes of the genre, the term slasher it can in fact apply to any film in which a mysterious killer lurks and murders unsuspecting victims. Usually by the use of sharp instruments and on the anniversary of a tragedy, or a holiday that inspires the murderer…, and in which a and in which the young virginal—the final girl— is left alone to face the murderer… and to tell the story, as the sole survivor.

Thus, it is not surprising that a film like Pandemonium, of 1982 –whose original title was Thursday the 12th–was already a contemporary parody of a genre that had reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s (the «golden age» of slasher) with today classic films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Y Black Christmas in 1974, Halloween (1978), Friday the 13th (1980) and, of course, Nightmare on Hell Street (1984), the amazing reinvention of the genre with which Craven would save New Line Cinema from bankruptcy. That, the studio behind the tape and nicknamed “the house that Freddy built”, a success that would have slipped out of Craven’s hands when he gave up the rights… and he didn’t see a single cent of the royalties.

“It’s kind of sad,” Craven told me in an interview for Who FIRST in 2009, regarding the remake a The Last House on the Left that he himself produced. “[Pesadilla en la calle del infierno] It was the first movie I wasn’t making with a friend I could trust to give me what was fair.” “He told me, ‘we’re friends, just sign the contract.’ And my lawyer said not to do it and I did. And that’s how others got rich, and I didn’t. That’s a bit sad.”

“But those things happen, you know?” he told me, laughing. That’s Hollywood.”

Wes Craven Scream 2022

he who laughs last

Wes Craven may have been the only person in Hollywood who wasn’t thrilled with a young Kevin Williamson’s script originally titled Scary Movie. The truth is that, beyond the humor (black, like the Ghostface robe) and the references to the genre and the author himself, the franchise is still an anomaly. The identity of the maniac changes from one film to another, to be revealed only at the end of the film and, in addition to Sidney Prescott –final girl atypical too – both the bumbling but endearing Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Gale Weathers, Courteney Cox’s obnoxious reporter who would win Dewey’s heart, have managed to survive Ghostface time and time again.

Just like what happened with Halloween, the imitators were not long in coming, and films like I know what they did last summer (1997), urban legend (1998) e, inclusive, Halloween H20 (1998) make up a cycle of neoslashers that although they incorporate metafictional elements, they would only highlight Craven’s imprint as one of the masters of the genre, and a genuine author in the original sense of the term. While movies like The Hills Have Eyes The The People Under the Stairs had abusive family relationships, both A Nightmare on Elm Street What Shocker Y Scream they dealt with family trauma and the sins of parents which, beyond conventions and rules, are recurring themes in the director’s filmography.

“And what interests me seems to interest the audience as well,” Craven confessed in that interview. “People thank me for making movies, and they mean it, so I think there’s something I do that helps people a little bit.”

In Scream and its aftermath, as Ghostface impersonators reenacted the Woodsboro murders over and over again, Craven would finally find the franchise that had eluded him with Freddy and hadn’t even gotten off the ground with Horace Pinker, the supernatural killer of Ghostface. Shocker. In 2011, the director confirmed that he had been hired to work on a fifth and sixth installments – as was Williamson, contractually obligated to write Scream 4 Y Scream 5–, which would be made if the fourth film was successful. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A new beginning?

After the death of Wes Craven in 2015, due to a brain tumor, the franchise seemed to have also come to an end. Williamson himself expressed doubts about a new film after Scream 4 “It never took off in the way they expected,” in his own words. But in November 2020, Williamson revealed that the new movie’s title would simply be Scream. It would be a relaunch of the franchise, but also a direct sequel to Scream 4. This the tape itself defines as a recuela: a mix of remake and sequel.

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, members (along with Chad Villella, producer) of the collective known as Radio Silence and also responsible for the successful horror comedy Ready or Not (2019) and the thriller Devil’s Due (2014), this new installment promises more than that particular mix of comedy, horror and adventure that has characterized the work of the trio of filmmakers. “It’s scarier than Ready or Not”, reveals Bettinelli-Olpin. “This is a horror movie. It’s a movie of Scream and it’s all that Wes and Kevin established from the beginning. We’re trying to do everything we can to pay homage to that.”

Neve Campbell Scream 2022

With Campbell, Arquette and Cox back, and a cast of young actors more than appropriate for a slasher (and which includes Jack Quaid, Melissa Barrera, Dylan Minnette and Mason Gooding, as well as the return of Marley Shelton as Judy Hicks), the directors seek to account for the current state of the genre, media and pop culture in the same way as that Scream I did it with him slasher, but without being a parody or a farce. “Unlike 1996, terror is not on the downside right now,” says Gillett.

“It is not something old-fashioned, we are living in another golden age. And that’s built into the story in a very important way.”

“That was really our goal, first and foremost,” the directors conclude. “Scare people and make them laugh…and give them more of the same things that we love so much about the other movies.”

Anthony Camarillo Journalist and filmmaker, he has been a collaborator of Cine PREMIERE since 2002, host of Horroris Causa on UAM Radio 94.1 FM and member of the team of Mórbido: International Fantastic and Horror Film Festival. He currently teaches the subjects of Narrative, Scriptwriting and Cinematographic Genres at SAE Institute Mexico, as well as script workshops for short films.

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