Scream (1996) | History of Horror

Scream (1996) | History of Horror

Chelsea Blanton

Welcome to Spinnaker’s History of Horror. Here we will be taking a look back at everything spooky in both film and video games and analyze how horror has evolved over the last century. Check back at every day for a new installment!

The late ‘80s and early ‘90s were stuck in a phase of worsening franchise sequels (i.e. Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan) that stained the name of the horror genre.  Lucky for horror fans, screenwriter Kevin Williams had the brilliant idea to make the ultimate meta-slasher flick. Yes, Scream (1996), a horror movie about horror movies. When Scream hit theaters, it offered a fresh approach to the horror genre by celebrating the conventions of the typical horror movie, which also happens to poke fun at itself. If you’re thinking, “Well, then Scream is just a spoof movie, right?” …wrong. Not to be confused with its parody, Scary Movie (2000), Scream offers a genuine, yet humorous, horror experience.

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The film follows Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), a high-schooler, whose mother was murdered exactly one year ago in Woodsboro by an anonymous killer. When two of her classmates are brutally murdered, the killing spree begins. Now, Sydney and her group of friends are stalked by an unknown masked killer who asks, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” The killer is well-versed in horror trivia and seems to be recreating a real-life horror movie. But who is the real killer? Can Sydney stay one step ahead?

Director, Wes Craven’s (A Nightmare on Elm Street) notable film transcended the genre by being self-aware. Craven, along with Williams, allow the characters to have a sort of meta-commentary on horror movie clichés. The most obvious and inventive satire in the film is when horror-movie aficionado, Randy (Jamie Kennedy), is watching a classic stalking scene from John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and drunkenly yelling, “look behind you!” at one of the characters, Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis). It just so happens that the anonymous ghost face killer is right behind Randy. You think he would know the rules by now. Oh, you don’t know the rules? Earlier in the film Randy tells us exactly how to successfully survive a horror movie: never have sex, never drink or do drugs, and never say, “I’ll be right back.” It’s standard horror movie stuff.

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With its all-star 90’s cast, tongue-in-cheek humor, and authentic scary movie moments that revived the horror genre, Scream is a must-watch for horror fans. So, grab your popcorn, turn off the lights and remember, never say “I’ll be right back”.

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