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Saturday, 22 January 2011

WS - The Importance of Wes Craven's Scream

Halloween was a massive hit with audiences in 1978, and was quickly followed by a huge number of similar films, including Friday the 13th (Sean Cunningham, 1979), Bloody Valentine (George Mihalka, 1980) and Graduation Day (Herb Freed, 1981) to name a few. However, due to the repetitive nature of Slasher films, and the huge number of badly done sequels and remakes, the genre began to quickly fade towards the end of 1980's. The first half of the 1990's had also been very quiet for the genre, before Wes Craven's Scream.

Scream plays quite well, and generally follows, the conventions of a Slasher film. The opening scene, with Drew Barrymore as a Scream Queen, is quite an iconic scene within the genre. The following of the 'rules' also gives Craven ammunition to play with - it allows him to incorporate a huge number of false scares when people feel something is going to happen - but doesn't, creating tension frequently. But Wes Craven was too clever to simply follow other people's rules, and according to James Marriott, made his own contribution to the genre:
 "Scream's most lasting contribution to the slasher was simply to add a new level to teen obnoxiousness, genre familiarity providing another reason why these people have to die; and the film only flirts with real darkness inadvertently, through it's smug superficiality and a tone that lurches from the genuinely unsettling to crass comedy."
Halloween is obviously a very important film when looking to make a Slasher or just simply looking into the genre, but many would argue Scream fits in the same bracket. And Wes Craven definately understands the importance of Halloween, often referring to it in Scream, be it with Casey Becker calling it her favourite horror film in the opening scene, or when Randy Meeks, the Slasher boff character in Scream watching it in the house towards the end.The number of links between Scream and Halloween is high, which shows just how important Wes Craven, a Slasher genious himself, thinks Halloween is.

Another interesting thing about Scream is the inclusion of a Slasher Boff in the form of Randy Meeks, a friend of both Sidney Prescott (Final Girl) and the killers. Another quote from James Marriott is:
"Scream's clever-clever self-referentiality is redundant given the conventions of the genre, but the film is effective enough as a slasher, manipulative jump cuts providing the necessary jolts and a few deft touches putting it ahead of the competition"

Randy seems to act as Wes Craven's way of talking about the conventions, and recognising the conventions with in the film. One significant quote from Randy is: 
"That's the beuty of it all; Simplicity! Besides, if it gets too complicated you lose your target audience" 
The reason I think this line may be important is because it could potentially represent Wes Craven's feelings towards the genre. Therefore, this film could have all been made with this in the Directors mind. If the plot is too complicated, then people may be too concerned with that to be getting scared and creating their own fear within their mind. Randy may also be in the film to give Wes Craven's take on the slasher genre. Randy's rules to survive a Slasher are: 
"1. Never have sex. Sex = Death.
 2. Never drink or do drugs. It's a sin, it's an extension of rule number 1.
 3. Never under any circumstances say "I'll be right back"" 
 Randy also says, "Only virgins can outsmart the killer" and "The killer always comes back for one last scare", which follow more typical Slasher conventions.

To see some extra information on Randy Meeks, click here  

Another line from the film, one that I suggested we should use in our film comes in the opening scene. When there is a knock on the door, Casey Becker says, "Who's there?". The killer then rings her and says, "You should never say who's there". When there is a knock on the door in our film, we will take inspiration from Casey's line, although there will be no response.

So Wes Craven has clearly taken the Slasher genre and added to it for his own film, whilst keeping a similar outline to Carpenter's Halloween. Both films are inspirational in their own ways, to us, and to other professional filmmakers. 

Here is the link to the IMDB page for 'Scream'
Here is the link to the IMDB page for Wes Craven

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