Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Mimsy Review: Scream

Reviewed by Jerry Stratton, April 11, 2000

See the police are always off track with this shit. If they’d watch “Prom Night”, they’d save time!

Special features

Commentary Track6
Making Of4

Wow! I just saw all three “Scream” movies back to back. I watched Scream on DVD in the morning, Scream 2 on DVD in the afternoon, and Scream 3 at the movies. They hang together pretty well. This first of the Screams is designed as a montage-like homage to horror movies of the past in an attempt to both go beyond them and go back to basics. If you’re a horror movie fan, especially movies like “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street”, you’ll probably like this movie.

RecommendationPossible Purchase
DirectorWes Craven
WriterKevin Williamson
Movie Rating6
Transfer Quality6
Overall Rating7
  • Letterbox

This is a horror movie. If you want to see it cold, you probably shouldn’t read this part of the review. That’s why I put the recommendation up in the capsule review above. I’m going to try not to take away too much, but you’re going to learn some things about the movie that you wouldn’t have known without reading the review. Duh.

Before I saw “Scream”, I’d heard it described as an attempt to bring humor into horror. That’s sort of true, but not really. All good horror movies seem to have some humor, to break up the monotony of blood, and Scream doesn’t seem to me to have too much more than any other such movie. The difference is the source of the humor. “Scream” gets its humor by referencing other horror movies. I’m not a huge horror fan, but I saw definite references to all of my favorites. There are homages to all of the best scream movies of the past. You’ll see Psycho, Hallowe’en (and hear it also!), Alien, and Nightmare on Elm Street, for sure. There’s even a great couple of scenes where one of the characters expounds on “what to do to survive a horror movie”!

Wes Craven denies it on the director’s commentary, but the male lead is clearly made up to resemble Johnny Depp’s character in “Elm Street”. Even Wes Craven himself has a cameo role as a janitor in an homage back to another of Craven’s famous janitors.

The writer and director attempted to “update” the horror genre to use modern technology, the cellular phone being the most obvious. They also made the female lead a little bit stronger, continuing the progression of strength from Halloween and Elm Street. Unfortunately, the movie does tend to fall back into genre when the blood starts flying. It is at its best when playing with the genre, and at its weakest when actual murders are taking place. People still don’t fight back in reasonable ways until the end of the movie when the writer and director allow them to. The killer never gets hurt at all until the end of the movie, when everybody gets hurt. It’s still better than most movies in this respect, however.

The acting is great! Drew Barrymore’s opening sequence talking about horror movies with a stranger on the phone is beautiful. Neve Campbell does a marvelous job as the both strong and vulnerable teen-ager. David Arquette plays an inexperienced young police officer who falls in love with Courteney Cox. According to Wes Craven, the two also became “close friends” on the set. Very close friends apparently, since Courteney Cox, in Scream III, is credited under the name “Courteney Cox Arquette”!

The audio commentary, like the Craven commentary on “Nightmare on Elm Street” is good. Nothing incredible, just good solid conversational information all the way through. Wes Craven shares the microphone with the writer of Scream, Kevin Williamson, making the commentary even more interesting. While there isn’t any discussion of the meatier give-and-take that must take place between writer and director, we are given a sense of what is the director’s responsibility and what is the writer’s responsibility.

There are two behind the scenes looks at the movie, both in a sort of music video style with little voice-over. One is focussed on Drew Barrymore’s character, the other is a bit longer and more general. The props folks did a wonderful job on Drew Barrymore’s bloody mannequin! This thing must still exist in someone’s garage somewhere, probably Wes Craven’s. If I were Drew Barrymore it would give me the chills!

If you’re a big fan of the horror genre, “Scream” is a must-see, and you’ll probably want to own it. This is a decent DVD. While it could use an enhanced video transfer it does have some nice extras. If you liked the mainstays of horror—Halloween, Nightmare on Elm —you will also want to watch Scream. If you are looking for a movie to enter the genre with, you might try renting Scream, although I suspect the movie is really geared for those who have already seen a number of other movies.

Recommendation: Possible Purchase

DirectorWes Craven
WriterKevin Williamson
ActorsDavid Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox
Spoken languageEnglish
Special FeaturesCommentary Track, Making Of, Trailer
More links

If you enjoyed Scream…

For more about Courteney Cox, you might also be interested in Scream 2.

For more about David Arquette, you might also be interested in Scream 2.

For more about horror, you might also be interested in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Alien, Dead By Dawn, Halloween, The Evil Dead, and Hell House.

For more about Kevin Williamson, you might also be interested in Scream 2.

For more about Neve Campbell, you might also be interested in Scream 2.

For more about Scream, you might also be interested in Scream 2.

For more about Wes Craven, you might also be interested in A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream 2.