Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary since we lost beloved filmmaker Wes Craven. In remembering the filmmaker’s best works, today we honor his second best film: 1996’s ‘Scream’. Welcome back to Wes Craven Week.
Often times, when an artist is in the beginning stages of their careers, their first creative decade defines them. Sure, some of their later stuff is decent, but often it’s their first five or six endeavors people gravitate to.
However, Wesley Early Craven isn’t your average artist. After giving gleeful fans The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes in ’70s, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Shocker in the ’80s, Craven would again redefine himself in the mid 1990s. First with 1994’s massively underrated slasher sequel, New Nightmare, and then with a picture that would change horror forever.
So, let’s all remember the legend who gave so much of himself to our genre. Today, we continue to honor Wes Craven, as I take a look at the storytelling genius’ second best picture.
Wes, wherever are, this is for you. We miss you dearly.
1996’s Scream (#2)
Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’ one-sheet -Courtesy of Dimension Films
Someone has taken their love of scary movies one step too far.
In the middle ’90s, the horror landscape was as desolate as the world of The Walking Dead. Either Oscar bait dramas or overly cluttered comedies, mostly, the world of cinema was seemingly leaving our genre back in its heyday – the great sequel-heavy 1980’s.
In fact, the mainstream seemingly hated horror so much, it refuses to almost acknowledge the genre entirely. Moreover, one of the only horror films to ever get major Oscar buss, Johnathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs, saw people calling the film a “Thriller” ad nauseam. Hannibal Lecter most hailed adventure is, without a doubt, a horror film.
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Then, the year 1996 happened. It was here where the world would get acquainted with Sidney, Gale, and Dewwy; the Scooby Doo clan of Scream. Seemingly out of nowhere, everyone was on board for horror again – the artistic power of Scream is that powerful.
Written by Kevin Williamson, Scream’s most solid export is its script. Telling a tale of meta mayhem, forbidden sin, and frightful family history, Scream is one of the sharpest in cinema’s lineage. Featuring one of the best third-acts of all time, Scream went on to define a generation with its sharp wit and even sharper hunting knives
Moreover, what impact Craven made on the 1996 hit is highly evident. Whereas most filmmakers, especially at the time, wouldn’t have played Scream’s wit and sick meta sensibilities; Craven plays them like the fiddler on the roof. With Craven’s guidance, Scream didn’t create slasher films, Scream made slasher films more creative.
While having made arguably the best meta picture only two years early, Craven cut his teeth on the idea of meta storytelling with New Nightmare. He simply was the only director on the planet who could’ve done Williamson’s script justice. Destiny has a funny way of being like that in retrospect.
In addition, Craven directs the hell out of Scream. Made for a decent $14M, and robustly defying expectations by taking in $173M in the winter of 1996, Scream’s third-act is some of filmmaker’s best work. The finale of Scream is more energetic than the electricity running through Horace Pinker‘s body – the ending is an epic thrill-ride.
Scream is a once in a lifetime kind of picture. With it’s perfect blend of humor and horror, Craven having each not step on the toes of the other, the film’s tone, as a result, is one of our genre greatest death dances. One, I’ll glad share a phone call with, till I can no longer scream.
Join me tomorrow as I take a look back at the filmmaker’s greatest film. One..Two…Wes Craven Week is coming for you! Take care.
Miss Craven? Love Scream as much as we do? Then call up the other Craven Cravors in the comment section below and tell us what you think.