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This review appears direct to the web courtesy of THE CINEMA LASER.

SCREAM

SCREAM

Wes Craven’s SCREAM ($40) is the most fun that I’ve had at a horror movie in at least a decade. SCREAM certainly heralds the triumphant return of the horror movie. I can’t remember any other horror film that has grossed well over one hundred million dollars and continued to play theatrically through its home video release. SCREAM takes the psycho/slasher sub-genre and turns it on its ear. Writer Kevin Williamson knows the genre like the back of his hand and so do the characters in the film. Every teenager in SCREAM is savvy to films like HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH and Craven’s own A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Heck, some of the characters are even viewing HALLOWEEN during the course of the film. Despite their familiarity with filmdom’s psycho-killers, the teenagers of SCREAM still manage to fall victim to the knife-wielding maniac stalking them. Since SCREAM is intended as a homage to the genre, the plot resembles that of many other films. There’s the core group of teen characters who fall prey to the killer, plus a number of red herrings to keep the audience guessing. For those who have never seen the film, I really don’t want to give anything away, and for those who have, you know what’s coming. Wes Craven’s direction is sure, and he keeps the shocks coming at a solid pace. SCREAM is also Craven’s first ‘scope movie, and he seems completely at home with the extra width of anamorphic framing. Another thing that sets SCREAM apart from most films in its genre is the strong ensemble cast. I can’t think of anyone in the film who turns in a bad performance. Neve Campbell is terrific as the film’s heroine. She is strong, but vulnerable. The big surprise is Courtney Cox. Cox has appeared in so much lightweight fare, that I figured her to be a lightweight actress. She’s cast against type as hard-nosed TV tabloid journalist, and truly delivers the goods. Drew Barrymore also delivers with a devastating performance. Barrymore has become quite an appealing performer, and she carries the film’s crucial opening sequence on her own. David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan and Henry Winkler comprise the rest of the terrific cast.

The unrated director’s cut of SCREAM has been given a good looking Letterboxed transfer, and was released on Laserdisc by Dimension Home Video. The transfer restores the film’s proper anamorphic 2.35:1 dimensions, which are absolutely necessary for one’s enjoyment of the film. I feel sorry for the poor videocassette renters stuck watching a pan and scan version of the film. Pan and scan must turn SCREAM into a real horror movie! The transfer has good detail, even during the film’s numerous dark sequences. The colors appear fresh and natural.

The digitally encoded Dolby Surround soundtrack has a good mix. Dialogue, effects and music remain distinct on the track, yet they blend perfectly to enhance the film’s atmosphere. A Dolby Digital track is also available. As supplement, SCREAM features an audio commentary with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson. I found the commentary quite enjoyable, and it gave a marvelous insight into what every individual involved with the production contributed to the finished film. The audio commentary also points out the little bits of the film that had to be snipped out of the theatrical release (to appease the MPAA), but were included on this unrated director’s cut of SCREAM. Craven and Williamson also briefly mention their work on SCREAM 2 that was in production at the time the audio commentary was recorded.

 
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Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1997 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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