Posts Tagged ‘Wes Craven’

Source: Scream Trilogy

Source: Scream Trilogy

To this day, Scream (1996) is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have watched it 30+ times. Why? For its time it was one of the most innovative films in its genre. In fact, I would venture to say that today it remains one of the most intelligent and complex horror films ever made.

Why do I love this movie so much?

It pokes fun at every single horror movie cliche out there

Scream mocks the entire horror movie formula throughout the movie. Horror movie buff Randy explains to his friends that there are certain rules one must abide by to successfully survive a horror movie:

1. Don’t have sex. Sex = Death.

2. Don’t drink or do drugs. Drugs and Alcohol = Death.

3. Never say “I’ll be right back,” because you won’t be.

Some people break the rules and pay the price. Sidney, however, manages to subvert the rules. She mocks “big breasted” actresses in movies who should be running out the door instead of up the stairs…then proceeds to do the exact same thing. In any other movie, that would spell the end for the character, but she manages to escape death. Sidney also starts out as a virgin in the beginning of the movie, but later decides to have sex with Billy. According to horror movie rules for survival, this should mean doom. Only virgins are supposed to beat the killer. But again, Sidney manages to beat the rules.

The Blend of Horror and Comedy

When it comes to horror movies, I usually highly prefer a seriously scary movie over one that injects moments of comic relief.  But Scream manages to be equal parts scary/thrilling/suspenseful and funny/ridiculous, and succeeds in seamlessly combining two completely different genres.

Famous Cameos

Scream debunks the usual assumption in movies that bigger stars are the ones who “make it” to the end. Drew Barrymore and Henry Winkler both play some memorable  parts in the movie. But their iconic status doesn’t save them from perishing!

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Source: That Was a Bit Mental

Source: That Was a Bit Mental

 

The Director Inserts Himself Into the Film

I love how Quentin Tarantino and Stephen King give themselves obscure parts in their own movies. Wes Craven plays a bit part in Scream as well, as a janitor named Fred who Henry Winkler stumbles upon after hours in the high school. “Fred” is wearing a red and black striped sweater and a large brimmed black hat that look eerily reminiscent of someone else….

Source: Screened

Source: Screened

Classic Horror Movie References Galore

Scream directly and indirectly references lots of well-known horror classics. Carrie, Psycho, Halloween, The Howling, and Halloween to name a few. There are also many parallelisms between Scream and many of the older horror classics, which are discussed in detail on the website Hello Sidney.

The Quote Factor

If you asked us to, Emily and I could probably reconstruct the entire Scream screenplay. That’s how much of the movie we’ve memorized!

Here are a few favorites…

Tatum: “Please don’t kill me, Mr. Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!”

Sidney to Stu: “Stu, Stu, Stu, the media are going to be looking for a motive. What are you gonna tell them?” Stu to Sidney: “Peer pressure. I’m far too sensitive.”

Billy (licking red off his fingers): “Pigs’ blood. The same stuff they used in Carrie.”

Randy: “Did you really put her liver in the mailbox because I heard that they found her live in the mailbox next to her spleen and her pancreas.”

Casey: “You better leave now. My boyfriend’s gonna be here any minute and he’s gonna be pissed. He’s big and he plays football and he’ll kick the shit out of you!”

Ahhh, I could go on and on, there are so many quotable lines!

These are a few of the reasons I so enjoy watching Scream time and time again. To me it’s a movie that gets better and better with every viewing. In fact, I think I might go watch it again right now…

Okay, so it’s a bit (well a lot late) but it’s finally updated 🙂

Tonight’s double feature is a double dose of 90’s horror featuring actor, Sean Whalen (Twister, Never Been Kissed, Laid to Rest).  Our two features tonight will be The People Under the Stairs (1991) and Idle Hands (1999).

The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Directed by Wes Craven

“In every neighborhood there is one house that adults whisper about and children cross the street to avoid.”


In a run-down ghetto, a boy named Poindexter aka “Fool”  (Brandon Adams) is roped into helping rob the house of his family’s landlords, the Robesons, by a thug named Leroy (Ving Rhames) who is dating his sister Ruby (Kelly Jo Minter).  Fool and his family are in the process of being evicted because they are three days late with their rent, and they are unable to come up with the money to pay.  The rule of their landlords is because they are three days late, they have to pay three times the amount of their normal rent.  Fool decides to go along with the plan to rob the Robeson’s in order to save his family from getting kicked out into the street.  It is rumored that the Robeson’s have a hidden stash of gold hidden somewhere in their house.  The next day, Fool, Leroy, and another burglar, Spenser (Jeremy Roberts), go case the house.  Fool pretends to be a Bear Scout in order to approach the house, but the woman who answers the door is very cold to him, and tells him to go away.  She also does not allow him into the house when he asks to use the bathroom.  Spenser then takes his shot at getting into the house, pretending to be an electrician in order to gain access to the house.  The woman lets him in after some cajoling on his part, and after she notices a ring on his finger in the shape of a skull.  The look she gives as she closes the door tells up that things do not look good for Spenser.  A little while later the woman leaves the house. After a while, Spenser has still not returned, and Leroy is getting antsy.  He thinks that Spenser may have betrayed him, so he and Fool enter the house.  They are quickly attacked by a large dog, and after they escape that attack with minimal damage, they split up to explore the house.  Fool heads to the basement where he comes upon the dead body of Spenser, who happens to be holding a gold coin, and he also hears strange noises.  He rushes upstairs, sees that the Robeson’s are returning, finds Leroy, and tells him that Spenser is dead.  Soon Fool and Leroy are pursued by the Robeson’s- who consist of “Mommy” (Wendy Robie) and “Daddy” (Everett McGill).

Leroy ends up dead, but the Robeson’s do not yet know Fool is in the house, and he escapes when he follows a rag doll into the walls.  He meets a girl who lives in the house, Alice, who says the Robeson’s are her parents.  They have spent their lives trying to find the perfect son and daughter.  Alice is perfect because she does not hear/speak/or see any evil, but all the boys that the Robesons have brought home have not been deemed good enough as they have tried to rebel, and so they have been mutilated and stuck in the basement.  She has one friend, named Roach, who escaped from the basement, and now lives in the walls.  Mommy and daddy soon discover that Fool is still in the house, and they go on a rampage, especially when they find both Fool and Roach in Alice’s room.  Fool and Roach try to escape into the walls of the house, and Alice is punished- she has to clean up Leroy’s blood in the foyer.  Will Mommy and Daddy catch Fool and Roach, or will Mommy and Daddy get what’s coming to them?

The People Under the Stairs is a like darkly comedic modern fairytale of evil “parents” who have stolen children and mutilated them when they don’t turn out to be perfect.  Alice is the princess being held captive that the hero, Fool, comes to rescue.  The story also involves the riches that the Robeson’s have hoarded that Fool is trying to locate so that he can save his family, and the other people of the ghetto, from the clutches of the evil Robesons. The portrayals of Mommy and Daddy are over-the-top and endlessly disturbing.  They are incestuous (they are not actually husband and wife, but rather brother and sister), sadomasochistic, cannibalistic, and obsessively religious, with their focus on perfection, seeing/hearing/speaking no evil, and their insistence on everyone going to Hell.  The house that they live in is incredibly bizarre with its seemingly endless rooms and maze-like corridors, its passages within the walls, and its booby-traps.  It’s like some find of absurd funhouse that I for one would not want to be trapped in, although I wouldn’t mind owning a house like this- I’ve always wanted to live in a house with secret passageways and the like- I just wouldn’t want to have a bunch of mutilated people living in the walls.

Idle Hands (1999)

Directed by Rodman Flender

“The Devil will find work for idle hands to do…but what happens when he chooses the laziest teen slacker in the world to do his dirty work?”

This stoner comedy/horror film centers on a lazy slacker, Anton Tobias (Devon Sawa), who finds out that his hand is possessed by some kind of demonic force the day after his hand kills his parents without his knowledge.  One night, as Anton’s parents (Fred Willard and Connie Ray) are preparing for bed after a vigorous day of Halloween decorating, they turn off the light, only to see a message written on the ceiling, stating that something is under the bed.  Pretty soon they both are killed by something unseen.  The next morning, Anton wakes up, does his slacker thing, puts on some headphones, heads downstairs, switches on the TV, and looks for some pot, which unfortunately he is out of.  He heads over to his slacker/pot head friend’s house, where his best friends, Pnub (Eldon Henson) and Mick (Seth Green) say they are out of pot.  We get a glimpse of his love interest, Molly (Jessica Alba) as she rides down the street on her bike, and she drops her journal which is full of her poetry and song lyrics, which Anton thinks are brilliant.  He heads to her house to give her back the journal after some cajoling from is friends, and after borrowing a pair of pants, but when he gets there he ends up losing his nerve.  He returns the notebook, and then leaves abruptly.  He heads home, and is accosted by a couple of cops (one of which is Sean Whalen) who went to school with Anton.  He makes fun of them, they search his pockets, and find an empty baggy that smells like marijuana, and decide to charge him with drug possession.  He points out that the bag is empty, so they drop the bag on the group and write him a ticket for littering.  After arriving at home, and having an unsuccessful attempt at smoking an oregano and nutmeg combination, he prepares to make a sandwich, failing to see the blood on the knife.  After he takes a bite, he sees the blood, and hastily spits out the bite of food.  He then freaks out, using his lazy dog to explore the house looking for his parents, and he eventually finds them dead, disguised as Halloween decorations.

His friends come over at this point, and after some delayed reactions, they see the dead parents.  After finding some clues that point to Anton as the killer, he realizes his hand is possessed.  The possessed hand ends up killing his friends, who soon come back as zombies (although they don’t seem to be the flesh-eating kind, but more the comic-relief kind), and Anton’s hand ends up forcing him to go over to his love interest’s house.  While he attempts to control his possessed hand, Molly ends up showing Anton that she shares his affection, and they make plans to go to the school dance together.  Anton is finally able to leave.  After a few more murders at the hands of his hand, he decides to cut it off with a cleaver….but the hand still has a mind of its own.  Meanwhile, we are also following a druidic high priestess (Vivica A. Fox)  who is trying to locate the hand so that she can destroy it.  Will she find it in time?

Idle Hands seems to be a movie very typical of the time in which it came out, with the predominance of marijuana smoking slackers, but just put into a frame of a horror film.  The premise of the movie is that, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground”, and this particular demon has chosen to possess Devin Sawa because he is the laziest of slackers, and has “idle hands”.  He lives a life where he apparently never attends school, stays in his room for days at a time, and lives for getting high basically.  The demon that possesses his hand not only forces him to kill, but also gets him out of his house and into the world again, so I guess not everything was a negative effect of the possession.  The murders in this movie are never played seriously- the death of Anton’s parents was never really addressed other than when he finds the bodies, but he never was sad, and we never dwell on their deaths.  The deaths of his friends weren’t anything to feel bad about either because they just come back to life as zombies- they are the same though personality-wise, they just look a little decayed, although this saves the problem of having to find actual costumes for the school dance.  After Anton chops off his own hand (which seems to cause him minimal pain) the murders escalate when the hand escapes, and heads for the school dance.  We are treated to some death and mayhem at the hands of the hand, we get some more incompetence at the hands off our leads as they try to track down the hand, and we even get a cameo of The Offspring as they perform at the school dance, kind of reminiscent of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones performing at the party in Clueless!!  This movie was much better than I expected it to be, and there were many hilarious moments, but also some awesomely gruesome and interesting death sequences that definitely made for enjoyable viewing.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS may follow

–        Both movies obviously share the acting talents of Sean Whalen, who always reminds me of a young Steve Bushemi.  In The People Under the Stairs he has a larger role as the mutilated but heroic Roach who saves Fool on numerous occasions, and is a great friend to Alice.  In Idle Hands he is more of a losery loser for lack of a better word who wants to be a hero and has become a police officer due to this desire, but seems to be more into getting revenge on those who make fun of him.

–        Both movies are comedic horror films.

–        Both movies include a severed hand.  In The People Under the Stairs, the hand of one of Mommy and Daddy’s victims is fed to their vicious dog.  In Idle Hands, the possessed hand is cut off voluntarily and goes off on a vicious rampage of its own.

–        Both movie involve scenes where our heros/victims crawl around in walls and vents.  In The People Under the Stairs, the house of the Robeson’s is filled with secret passageways in the walls, and Fool, Alice, and Roach crawl around in these passages for safety.  In Idle Hands, Molly and her friend escape into the vents in the school to try to get away from the possessed hand.

–        In each movie Sean Whalen’s character dies L In The People Under the Stairs he dies by shotgun, in Idle Hands, by possessed demon hand.

–  The father in The People Under the Stairs looks eerily similar to the father in Idle Hands. That may just be me though.

A new feature in which I will watch a double feature every Friday.  The two features will be connected in some way- by director, actor, theme, setting, etc.  I will post something on the double feature I watch- movie connections and similarities, thoughts on each…sometimes it’ll be short, sometimes long, depending on motivation/time/level of sleep deprivation, etc

I’m kicking off this new feature with a double dose of 90’s horror.  Our features tonight will be Scream and The Craft, both starring Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, and both from 1996.

The Craft (1996)

Directed by Andrew Fleming (Bad Dreams, Dick)

“Relax….It’s only magic….”


In The Craft, Sarah (Robin Tunney), has just moved, and is starting at a new high school.  She catches the attention of some wannabe witches, Nancy (Fairuza Balk), Bonnie (Neve Campbell), and Rochelle (Rachel True).  Each has an issue in school- Nancy is white trash, Bonnie has burns covering a large percentage of her body, and Rochelle is discriminated against by Laura Lizzie (Christine Taylor).  After her love interest Chris (Skeet Ulrich) spreads cruel rumors about  Sarah sleeping with him, she joins the witches coven.  These four invoke the power of Manon, and each ask for something- Rochelle asks to not hate those who hate her, Bonnie asks to be beautiful outside as well as within, Sarah asks to love herself more and to be loved more by others, and Nancy asks for all the powers of Manon.  Well of course this works, and things start happening to our now actual witches.  Not everything about the wishes ends up being so great though, and Sarah decides that she needs to stop her friends, especially Nancy.  What happens next?  Well, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’ve never seen it.

Scream (1996)

Directed by Wes Craven (The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street)

“Someone’s taken their love of scary movies one step too far!”


Scream was released later the same year, and also stars Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, thus our double feature.  With this self-aware slasher, Wes Craven is credited with reigniting the slasher/horror genres.  In short, this movie is about a serial killer who begins targeting (mostly) teenagers in the quiet town of Woodsboro, a year after the death of Maureen Prescott, Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother.  A strange man is calling up his victims, and terrorizing them on the telephone.  Sidney is one of the first would-be victims, but is able to stop her attacker.  She then accuses her boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich) after he appears at her window during this attack.  He is released the next day after the phone records to Sidney’s house exonerate him.  After a few murders, a curfew is imposed, and Stu (Matthew Lillard) throws a party at his parent’s house.  More murders ensue.  This whodonit/slasher/comedy is a horror movie that points out the rules of the slasher, and gives shout outs to many horror films that came before it.

Thoughts on the double feature

Some SPOILERS follow

–        Although these two movies are different sub-genres of the horror film, there are some similarities.  Obviously I chose these two because they both star Neve Campbell and Skeet Ulrich, and they were also both released in 1996

–        Skeet Ulrich appears in all his greasy hair glory, although he is much less greasy in The Craft, I suppose it is because his hair is shorter, and in each he has issues getting girls to sleep with him, and he’s kind of a jerk about it when they don’t

–        Skeet Ulrich appears outside out main characters window late at night in both.  In The Craft he just sits outside the window on a ledge, and says that he can’t stop thinking about Sarah, and in Scream, he enters Sidney’s room, and says that he was watching TV (The Exorcist) and got to thinking about his and Sidney’s relationship

–        Both take place with characters in high school, and both include a scene where our main protagonist hides in a bathroom

–        In each, the protagonist has lost her mother- In The Craft, Sarah lost her mother when she dies giving birth to her, and in Scream, Sidney’s mother was murdered

–        In each, Neve Campbell’s character has gone through some sort of traumatic experience- In The Craft she suffered severe burns, and in Scream her mother has been murdered

–        In each, there is a huge house party thrown that our characters attend

–        In each, the main villain tries to pin a murder-suicide on our protagonist.  In The Craft, Nancy tries to make it look like Sarah has killed herself, and was the one who killed Chris.  In Scream, Billy and Stu want to make it seem that Sidney’s father was the murderer, and at the end of his murder spree kills himself and Sidney in a murder-suicide (obviously neither of these plans work out)

–        In each movie poor Skeet Ulrich dies

Other random thoughts

–        In The Craft, when Sarah is braiding Laura Lizzie’s hair into Rochelle’s hair for a spell, she makes a comment about Laura having split ends, and apparently this means that she does not have natural blond hair, but instead bleaches it….ummm, what?  I wasn’t aware that having split ends means you dye your hair- I have natural blond hair AND I have split ends, but yet I have never dyed my hair…..what am I doing wrong!!!????

–        Another movie connection- This is the second movie in a row in which Robin Tunney has tried to commit suicide, although in The Craft she says that she used a kitchen knife, unlike Empire Records where she uses a pink Bic plastic razor with daisies on it….Also, according to IMDb she had to wear a wig for this movie, due to the fact that she shaved her head for Empire Records