By the time the 1990s arrived fans were fried on the slasher concept. Save for a few subgenre entries, the typical slasher film felt like the previous to hit the market, which felt exactly like the one before that, and the one before that. It was an exhausted concept and it seemed screenwriters had run out of ideas. There was virtually zero ingenuity to be found and somehow, as a result, the entire genre took a brutal hit. Newspapers declared horror dead. Media outlets began to steer clear of anything horror related. Fewer frights hit theaters. It was a dismal time for us fans, until Wes Craven again stepped up and completely revived horror.
Kevin Williamson’s script for Scream set Hollywood ablaze before a single camera had rolled. For a time it was one of the hottest scripts making the rounds, and the very real energy surrounding the story began to blossom and rekindle a lot of interest that had flat-lined. That interest would soon reach a fever pitch once the movie was shot and released. It opened slowly, but like truly great pictures do, it quickly sprung to life, word of mouth extending it a chance to impress a large audience. That’s exactly what it did, it impressed on an enormous level and suddenly, the genre that critics were declaring a corpse was breathing on its own.
The story is witty. The characters are relatable, likable and very memorable. There’s plenty of blood and guts to feed the desires of the gore hounds and the finale is nothing short of epic. Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott immediately became recognized as the finest scream queen since Jamie Lee Curtis. Everything that could go right, did, and Scream not only saved an important branch of the cinematic tree, it went on to become an adored franchise that now breathes life on the small screen after seeing three sequels perform fairly well at the box office.
When it comes to slasher films, Scream occupies the same territory that past greats – a few of which you’ve read about in this article – occupy. It’s a film that will never be forgotten and deserves every fiber of praise it’s received in the 20 years to pass since arriving. For these reasons, Scream must be viewed as a truly defining film and a key installment of the macabre.
Continue the countdown of the 15 films that defined the horror genre on the next page!