(director: Wes Craven; screenwriter:Kevin Williamson; cinematographer: Mark Irwin; editor: Patrick Lussier; music: Marco Beltrami; cast: Drew Barrymore (Casey), Neve Campbell (Sidney), Skeet Ulrich (Billy), Rose McGowan (Tatum Riley), Matthew Lillard (Stuart), Jamie Kennedy (Randy), Henry Winkler (Principal Himbry), Lawrence Hecht (Mr. Prescott), Courteney Cox (Gale Weathers), (Jamie Kennedy), David Arquette (Deputy Dewey Riley), Joseph Whipp (Sheriff Burke), W. Earle Brown (Kenny), Kevin Patrick Walls (Steve), Liev Schrieber (Cotton Weary); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Cary Woods/Cathy Konrad; Miramax; 1996)

“Cleverly penned.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of the better Wes Craven(“Nightmare on Elm Street”/”Shocker”/”The Hills Have Eyes”) fright flicks. It’s cleverly penned by first-timer Kevin Williamson. While acting as a homage to the slasher films of the 1970s, it runs down for the viewer the slasher movie conventions. It mixes lewd comedy, in-jokes, decrepit satire, social commentary on the debasement of society and the usual slasher film scares. It also brings on a surprisingly nutty but appealing denouement, in a film that maybe I’m giving too much credit for pulling off some sicko jolts without apologizing for being an exploitation film. It goes out of its way to tell us in no uncertain terms that “Movies don’t make psychos; movies make psychos more creative.”

It’s set in the suburban California small town of Woodsboro. It opens with high school coed Casey (Drew Barrymore) confronted by a psycho killer who, previously made a threatening crank call on a cell phone. The psycho quizzes her on details from Carpenter’s Halloween before he brutally hangs Casey by her intestines and her boyfriend is disemboweled. The town virgin, Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell), is bummed out because her mom was brutally murdered a year ago and her dad (Lawrence Hecht) has left town on business and can’t be located. Sydney’s further startled when right after a crank call her slippery boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) climbs into her bedroom window looking for some action and she responds by necking with him. When learning of the murders, Sydney thinks it might be the same one who killed her mom and wonders if the one convicted of mom’s murder might in fact be innocent. Sleazy tabloid TV news reporter Gale Weathers ( Courteney Cox) is all over the murders, hoping it will increase sales of the book she just released on the murder of Mrs. Prescott.

Sydney’s perky best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan), whose naive brother Dewey (David Arquette) is the deputy sheriff, is dating the school weirdo, the hyperactive Stuart (Matthew Lillard). Other town characters of note include the high-strung high school principal (Henry Winkler), who hates teenagers; Randy (Jamie Kennedy), the nerdy video store clerk, whose expertise is in horror movies; and the no-nonsense Sheriff (Joseph Whipp).

The killer is being hunted by the local cops. But while donning a Halloween costume and wielding a large hunter’s knife, the psycho goes on a killing spree, which culminates in a bloodbath in the house of Stuart’s parents–where the students are partying.

Top 365 Films - Scream