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Laramie Movie Scope:

A self-mocking film that's among the best of a bad lot

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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Jan. 5, 1997 -- "Scream" is an effective horror film that happens to spoof the slasher film genre at the same time. Even though it is bloody and brutal it is also fun in a macabre sort of way.

There are all sorts of references about slasher films, including the "Haloween" series, the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series and the "Friday the 13th" series of films, as well as "Prom Night" and several others in the film, directed by Wes Craven, who just also happens to have created the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series and the "Friday the 13th" series of films.

This isn't the first time Craven has made a movie like this. His "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" was a similarly introspective film about the horror genre. Maybe it's because Craven is a former humanities professor that he is able to make a slasher film that pokes fun at itself and even provides a running commentary on itself as the story goes along. Even though the genre has put food on Craven's table, he'd probably like to make more meaningful films.

At one point in "Scream," there is a very brief scene of a janitor in the hallway of a high school where a murder is committed. The janitor just happens to be wearing the same kind of sweatshirt that the killer wore in the "Elm Street" horror series.

In another scene, a kid who has seen all the horror films, lectures kids at a party about how the killings happening in their town are just like a horror film. He ticks off all the conventions and all the cliches. While watching a horror film, and with the real killer right behind him he cries mockingly at the television, "Look behind you!." It is funny, but it is also pretty gory and frightening. It is, despite the self-mocking and humor, a true slasher movie.

At another point in the film a young woman talks about how horror films are peopled by actresses with little acting talent and large breasts, who run upstairs when they ought to be going out the front door to escape the killer. She later runs upstairs, with the killer in hot pursuit.

I used to like slasher films when I was younger, but got turned off on them after seeing a particularly sick (shot from the killer's point of view) one called "Black Christmas." The misogynistic aspect of many of these films are apalling. So when I say "Scream" is one of the better slasher films I've ever seen, it is not saying much. It is the cream of a pretty bad crop. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 1997 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)