August 31, 2015

Wes Craven: The legacy of Scream

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Written by: Lee Skavydis
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Horror film director Wes Craven died yesterday at the age of 76 after suffering with brain cancer. Behind him, a huge legacy in the field of horror remains. While he is affectionately mostly remembered for his work on A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes, the 1990’s horror movie Scream created a birthright all on its own!

Not many years had gone by since Wes finished completing his work on 1994’s New Nightmare. That was an effort to try and bring something fresh and new to the Elm Street series and end it on a high note rather than with the middle of the road Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Using Kevin Williamson’s unique script, Scream was filmed and released in 1996 to a modest $6,000,000. The film’s budget was $15,000,000 but the overall gross eventually settled around the $103,000,000 mark!

The story about a killer seemingly having watched too many horror movies and gaining a taste for bloodshed was a statement on the accusations by the media at the time that horror films really had the ability to instill such feelings. This statement was particularly emphasised when the killer said toward the climax, “movies don’t create psychos. They just make them more creative!”

But messages and statements aside, Scream was also a smart thriller and it always made it fun for the viewing audience to guess who was doing the dastardly deeds rather than just causing us to cheer or squirm when some meaningless teenage girl was bumped off. It was expected in the next three sequels, but the twist of containing more than one killer involved in the same happenings was kind of revolutionary at the time. This idea was further repeated in a number of future horror films including the subpar Urban Legend and Halloween: H20. The latter even took the liberty of using the score of Scream during the movie’s final killer/final girl chase! A choice that is particularly bizarre considering composer John Ottman constructed a decent one that was ultimately not used.

The first ten minutes of the original Scream will forever be remembered as one of cinema’s most frightening moments alongside the likes of the first act of When A Stranger Calls. But Scream was no one trick pony. Ahead were sometimes hilarious but often fun references to other horror movies, as well as moments of black comedy that did not detract from the film’s most frightening moments. Craven constructed a fine balance between both and clearly knew what he wanted the finished product to be.

This article cannot be published without mentioning the movies’ online fandom. During the time when the sequels were playing globally in the theaters, fans created their own scripts and stories based on the franchise and it was always fun for them to bring to life their own ideas of what they wanted to possibly see in a future instalment.

Although it looks as if the Scream franchise, at least in movie form, has had its day, it currently lives on in the form of a television show that is now being shown on MTV, which could revitalise its appeal. But its early days right now.

Backed by his other work, which has made just as much of a mark, various memories of Wes Craven by both critics and fans will forever be etched in minds for many decades to come.

With Scream surely being one of the most prominent


About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.


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