Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Complete 'Scream' Series

I like reading articles by people who know more than I. I like publishing them even better. So, I am delighted to represent a guest article by Ross Tipograph, who knows far more about slasher moves and celebrated "Scream" movie series than I, so he is far more capable of writing an overview of the series than I could have done.

Ross has written articles and reviews for a number of different blogs, but he is primarily known for writing about Halloween costumes at Click on the link to check them out.

(By the way, while Ross may be the first "guest blogger" here, he need not be the last. If you would like me to host something you've written, feel free to get in touch.)

In an effort to really dig deep into this series’ bloodstream, it seems a movie-by-movie reviewing is in order. Join us on a wild ride into the tongue-in-cheek world of Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson.

SCREAM (1996)
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, with Henry Winkler, and Drew Barrymore.
Dir: Wes Craven
Rating: Ten of Ten Stars

Na├»ve high-schooler Sidney Prescott (Campbell) lost her mother one year ago in a vicious murder. Now, in her senior year, it seems the killer is back to finish the game he started. Sidney’s boyfriend (Ulrich), friends (McGowan, Lillard, Kennedy), a plucky TV report (Cox) and a goofy town cop (Arquette) lend support / body count.

As every avid horror fan knows, “Scream” reinvigorated the entire genre from the joke that it became in the late ‘80s and completely left for dead in the early ‘90s. Kevin Williamson’s script made horror hip again, and the legendary Craven’s direction, with the great actors’ performances, pulled it all together.

It’s a balancing act – part dark comedy, part spoof of the horror genre, part genuine terror. The in-movie jokes range from Freddy Krueger to Michael Myers to Craven himself. The masterpiece horror scenes are set in a high school bathroom, to a teenage girl’s bedroom, to a giant bloodbath of a Friday night kegger. It’s artistic, it’s revolutionary, it’s the first piece of the “Scream” puzzle.

SCREAM 2 (1997)
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O’Connell, Timothy Olyphant, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Liev Schreiber
Dir: Wes Craven
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Sidney, Gale, and Dewey (the trio of Campbell, Arquette, Cox) are back, along with survivor Randy (Kennedy), a whole new slew of classmates. This time, Sidney’s in college, and the murders have started again. Meanwhile, a movie version of Sidney’s troubles in “Scream” has now been released, making her life a living Hell.

The irony has reached a new level – a movie based on the goings-on in the original “Scream” movie has now been made and released in the world of “Scream 2,” and it’s called Stab. Some say screenwriter Williamson is a hack, I say he’s a genius. The routine opening murder scene takes place at a Stab screening, and the tone is set from there.

What’s interesting is how Sidney is now a stronger, darker version of what we saw before. Campbell is great as the new Sidney, who channels her traumatized emotions into theatrical school performances, who hates airheaded sorority girls and has a sweetheart new boyfriend (O’Connell), and who can still outsmart the killer, or in this case, the killers. It’s a fantastic sequel – but nothing can match the original’s groundbreaking nature.

SCREAM 3 (2000)
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courtney Cox, Patrick Dempsey, Jenny McCarthy, Emily Mortimer, Parker Posey, Patrick Warburton, Lance Henriksen, and Liev Schreiber
Director: Wes Craven
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Our main trilogy trio is back, but no longer in the sleepy town of Woodsboro or on Sidney’s northeast college campus – they’ve moved to Los Angeles, the movie capital of the world. Working with the LAPD, they hone in on the new killer’s whereabouts and source of his threats, while a whole new slew of serial murders occur on the set of the third Stab movie, currently in production…

This is the ultimate tongue-in-cheek gift to movie fans – “Scream 3” takes place on the set of Stab 3, the newest sequel in a line of a horror sequels. This is the only “Scream” movie that I can enjoyably say breaks through the horror-dark comedy bubble that holds the first two movies and is seriously just a big ensemble comedy with some great horror moments. As you can imagine, the movie jokes are innumerable, and the supporting characters (especially Posey) are unforgettable.

I love “Scream 3” so much just on entertainment factor alone and my respect for the risks the filmmakers are taking to keep this series a real trilogy – which they totally succeed in doing. Many, however, disagree, saying this movie took the subtle comedy level way over the top, and how this one pales in comparison to the dark and chilling first two in the series. I don’t mind. I think, if you really love this series enough, and you have an appetite for great movie in-jokes, this is a total riot.

SCREAM 4 (2011)
Starring: Emma Roberts, Neve Campbell, Courney Cox, David Arquette, Hayden Panettiere, Adam Brody, Marley Shelton, Rory Culkin, Mary McDonnell
Director: Wes Craven
Rating: (N/A) – Releases April 15, 2011

It’s been ten years since Sidney (Campbell) has been free of any serial killings. She has written a successful book on her life and works as a guidance counselor at Woodsboro High, where it all began. Apparently though, a killer strikes again, with Jill Kessler (Emma Roberts), who is Sidney’s young cousin, and Jill’s friends (Panettiere, Culkin) as the main target. Dewey and Gale (Arquette & Cox) are back, too, plus help from two new cops (Brody & Shelton).

No one has any idea how this will turn out. The original director-writer team of Craven and Williamson are luckily in charge, plus help from “Scream 3” scribe Ehren Kruger, but who knows what’s happening on the set. I believe it is the most anticipated horror sequel in production, so naturally, everything is hush-hush. The introduction of a new, younger cast does not bode well for the lives of our thirtysomething returning trio. On a side note: Roberts and Panettiere are both Teen-Beat fodder, which does not bode well for their performances….

Come April 15, 2011, the new trilogy begins. That’s right, folks, Scream 5 and Scream 6 are on the slate as well – supposedly Williamson has a whole new bag of tricks up his sleeve. Fingers crossed.

Ross Tipograph is a film buff and Emerson College screenwriting major. He writes about Halloween costumes over at

April 15, 2011 has come and gone. Click here for a review of "Scream 4"!


  1. Rory Culkin? Any relation to the Home Alone kid? They should have got him to be one of the victims in the new film.

  2. Yes, he is Macaulay Culkin's youngest sibling.