Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Iconic Horror Scene: Scream (1996)

Seeing as how I was unimpressed by Scream 4, I decided that for this Iconic Horror Scene I would talk about the first Scream film. This is the scene that started it all, and really brought horror back to the mainstream in the mid 90s. It starts with a girl home alone by herself making popcorn, getting ready to watch a movie. She is played by Drew Barrymore, who was the biggest star in the film, which makes you think that she is going to be okay.
Suddenly she starts getting this phone calls from a creepy stranger. At first she shakes it off and doesn't think anything of it, and actually starts talking to him about horror films, and even flirting a little. Suddenly, he says that he wants to know who he is looking at and the whole tone changes. It goes from normal to suspenseful with that one line. Barrymore starts looking around, turning the outside lights on and locking all the doors. She is only talking to this person on the phone and yet she is terrified and we are terrified for her. It only gets worse when we hear the doorbell ring because not we know for sure that it is not just a prank. Things only get worse for poor Ms. Barrymore when she sees that her boyfriend is tied up on the patio. In order to save him, she has to play a horror trivia game. The guy on the phone asks her who the killer is in Friday the 13th, and she says Jason. Unfortunately for her and her boyfriend this is WRONG! You don't even see Jason in the first film until the very end when he jumps out of the water. Any horror fan should know that it is in fact Mrs. Vorhees who is the killer in the first film. After he kills her boyfriend, the killer enters the house. Barrymore decides to get out, which is smart, but then decides to linger, which is not smart. While peeking in the house, she sees Ghostface running around, and then sees her parents driving towards her house. Instead of running towards the car, she decides to look for Ghostface again, and sees him standing right by the window.
Finally she decides to run away, but then makes the bad decision to stop and Ghostface attacks her again, stabbing her twice. She is only a few feet away from her parents, but can't scream because she has been stabbed in the throat. When the parents enter the house immediately know that something is wrong. When trying to call the police, her mother hears her voice coming from the other phone that she has in her hand. She is forced to hear the sound of her daughter dying, and then sees her hanging from a tree when she goes to get help. In a way, it is similar to the shower scene in Psycho. Like I said, Barrymore was the biggest star in the film, so by killing her off right away, it gives a sense that anything can happen. This is similar to killing off Marion Crane, who was the main character in the first half of Psycho.

This scene is what the Scream franchise should be known for. It is scary and suspenseful, and doesn't try to add elements of humor. While there are humorous parts of Scream, they know to keep them separate. Even though Scream might not be considered scary by todays standards, especially since you see the Ghostface mask every Halloween (I totally rocked it one year...), and it has been parodied in films like Scary Movie, but this movie came out when I was 6/7 years old and I remember being terrified!

Like I said before, Scream did a lot to help bring back the horror genre. There weren't a lot of horror films being made in the 90s, but after the success off Scream, you saw a lot more of them. This includes the teen horror film that came out the following year, I Know What You Did Last Summer.

I Know What You Did Last Summer
Now that a bunch of mediocre sequels and parodies have been made, people forget how great Scream really is, which is unfortunate.

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