Articles, Blog

Does Scream Hold Up? – Movies with Mikey


Scream happened at the worst imaginable time
and it’s a miracle anyone saw it. But let’s back up a bit.
In 1764, The Castle of Otranto was – this is probably too far, back. I know where to
begin because I can talk about my other-other boo, George Melies. Watch the HUGO episode
if you haven’t seen it. It’s lonely. In 1896, Melies filmed The Haunted Castle, the
scariest film ever made and also the first scary film ever made. I think from there you
can put the origins of horror on anything like film studios filming circus performers,
Godzilla, War of the Worlds, Psycho, friggin’ The Blob, or Village of the Damned. Horror
definitely existed before 1968, but to the do the genre the correct amount of service,
nothing means nothing until 1968 when George Romero unleashed Night of the Living Dead
onto the world. It changed cinema. People were like holy shit, you can do that? And
according the MPAA: yeah, kind of … you can do that. The world got weird, the Beatles broke up—Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Otis Redding all
passed on–by 1970, things were scary. The 70s are wild times, my lovelies: The Exorcist,
Rosemary’s Baby, Suspiria, The Omen. Horror was an artform that could be used to comment
on society and our shared reality as a metaphor. Poltergeist brought us into the 80s, itself
a commentary on commercialization in suburban development, especially at that very specific
moment in time. You know, building a subdivision on a graveyard and only moving headstones
because you the developer didn’t give a shit in the first place. Right, Coach?
From there, the 80s were when horror went wild.
Focusing on three American franchises for one very important purpose: Halloween, A Nightmare
on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th. The moment horror turned into the never-ending 1980s
cocaine waterfall. Make as much money as possible, as fast as possible—the Disney way.
By the 90s in America, the cash flying from a never-ending money tornado was drying up.
There were still horror films making money but it was more cerebral affair: Silence of
the Lambs. Se7en. Nobody in Hollywood wanted a slasher horror movie in the mid-90s.
Enter Kevin Williamson, a writer who used his clout from the movie Scream to make Dawson’s
Creek, but I get ahead of myself. Before that, Williamson was having trouble making ends
meet. One of his screenplays, what would eventually become Teaching Mrs. Tingle was floating around.
He was watching true crime documentaries on tv when it gave him an idea. And that idea
was a script called Scary Movie. Hollywood went nuts for the script so they
started calling all the horror icons they could think of: including Wes Craven, who
said no. Because they all said no, multiple times.
Then Drew Barrymore accepts the lead, Sidney Prescott, in the movie. Which made Wes say
yes. Then Drew says, what if instead of the lead—I
played the character that died in the first reel? Yeah, that was Drew Barrymore’s idea.
Pulling a Psycho on the audience. Enter Neve Campbell and a host of up and comers.
Scream was a wild success, eventually, and we’ll get to that. But Does it Hold Up? Making a successful movie is like throwing
a dart from space and hitting a bullseye. Everything has to go right. Scream was a 14
to 16 million-dollar movie, depending on your source. It opened in 4th place behind the
4th week of the 101 Dalmatians live action remake, the 2nd week of Jerry Maguire, and
… the opening weekend of Beavis and Butthead Do America.
In cinematic terms, Scream was what you’d call an earner. It made more money in its
second week of release than it did the first one. It had a single week, it’s third week
in release, where it managed to top 10,000,000 at the box office domestically. Barely. Scream
had a 23-week run, scraping and fighting and relying on word of mouth to get to its just
barely more than 100-mil haul in the United States. Word of mouth made Scream happen.
Scream is a 1996 film directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson but you already
knew that. I like underdog movies, especially movies that came out during the Tickle Me
Elmo craze. “Times are tough right now, so you gotta do what you can to survive.” Oh here’s a funny one. But did you know Scream is a christmas movie. It was released
on December 20; the logic being that teenagers and horror fans wouldn’t have anything to
watch during the Christmas break. The Christmas where Beavis and Butthead Do America came
out. Because nothing explains Hollywood like convincing a horror icon to direct your film,
despite saying no repeatedly and then releasing that horror movie on Christmas because your
name is Bob Weinstein. Throwing a dart from space.
The most iconic stuff from this movie is seemingly a mistake as well. Like, just listen to Matthew
Lillard talk about his performance in this movie after the fact. “You know it’s kind of
crazy, youth this energy and was fearless and I just kind of was bouncing off the wall.
I look back at that performance and I’m like ‘What was he letting me do?’ it was ridiculous.”
I first saw Scream on VHS at my friend’s house. It rocked my world. It somehow spoofed
and made me think about horror movies, while being the scariest thing I’d ever seen.
If you’ve seen how Scream ends, you know how how wild it gets. “YOU HIT ME WITH THE
PHONE, DICK!” It was so dismissive of horror tropes while actively taking part in them.
And it not only points them out, it disrupts them. “There are certain rules one must abide by
in order to survive a horror movie. You can never have sex. Okay number two, you can never
drink or do drugs. Number three, never ever under any circumstances say ‘I’ll be right
back.’ “It’s a scream, baby! Hold on a sec… I’ll
be right back.” Sydney Prescott: rule breaker “Careful. This is the part where the supposedly dead killer comes back to life.”
“Not in my movie.” Nothing says throwing a dart from space quite
like when you see what was going on with the design of the mask in this film. “I know that they had a lot of people drawing
pictures of scary things. You know, witches, goblins, monsters. And they would send them
to Wes either Wes liked them or didn’t like them.” “Just none of them, to me, looked like the
right mask.” Not until a little painting by Edvard Munch
came around in 1893, did they have their answer and title. You see, while scouting their locations,
it was just on a bed post in the house. Wow, it looks just like Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting
The Scream, they said. Anyway, let’s get back to making our movie called Scary Movie.
What an unlikely and on the nose source of inspiration to just come along, What? Aren’t
all your favorite horror films insprired by Norweigan Expressionist paintings too?
What’s funny is that Scream’s contribution to cinema is really interesting: What if you
made a movie where the characters had all actually seen other movies? “I’m gonna swing
by the video store. I was thinking Tom Cruise and All The Right Moves. You know, if you
pause it just right you can see his penis.” A movie born out of the disaffected 90s.
This movie had every reason to just die on the vine and yet a number of unplanned and
in some cases, entirely accidental factors led to it being a success. I don’t say this
enough especially in an age where people routinely believe that single person makes every decision
on a movie which is 1000% not how movies are made. Here’s a funny way to look at it and
how I think about movies all the time: Movies are a miracle. Getting to release a
film is about the hardest thing you can do and by the time you get there, you will have
made 1001 compromises with everyone from the actors, to the costume department, to the
notes a studio gives you on a daily basis that might be as simple as: “Yeah hey Greg.
There’s not enough people eating sandwiches in the movie. Our data shows movies with sandwiches
in them track well in the 14-19 demo. But like mayonaaise actually tracks really bad with
kids under 15 so we’re thinking like ham and cheese might be the simplest option here.
Let me know what you’re gonna do.” Movies are a miracle.
They’re like throwing a dart from space. The biggest movies of 1996 in America were
Independence Day and Twister. Scream, in a year where R-rated movies did quite well,
arrived in a fitting 13th place for the year. Eraser was 14, a movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger
shoots a crocodile in the face before uttering “You’re luggage.” 1996 was weird, y’all.
Yes, obviously the question in the thumbnail is rhetorical to get people to click the video
and hopefully the audience is met with a bunch of stuff about a film maybe they didn’t
know in the first place. Scream is a movie that very much shouldn’t have happened.
23 weeks at the box office is almost six months! BUT DID YOU KNOW. This one’s pretty cool
so I’m gonna play it twice. BUT DID YOU KNOW
Scream came out on December 20. It showed you can release a solid movie in that window
and basically eat up the box office through the beginning of the year all the way up to
the summer because people don’t have anything else to watch.
Guess who was paying attention to that experiment? Titanic wasn’t done for its original summer
release so it was delayed. But it was released on December 19. Titanic is often lauded for
its clever release schedule but I see you, James. I SEE YOUUUUU
But does it hold up? Yes. Scream in 2019 is almost too relevant. A pair of cis boys blame
powerful women for all of their problems. Women wreck their shit anyway. YOU GOT KILLED
WITH THE TV The tone of this movie is unapologetically
1996. Name a single goal or wish any character has. I’ll wait. Sidney, I guess, wants to
be an actor for at least part of Scream 2. But can you name any goals? Randy? Tatum?
Stu? Billy? Principal Fonzie? We know Sidney very much doesn’t want to be Gayle Weathers
but by movie four, has completed her transformation into becoming Gayle Weathers. I told you Scream
has an arc! I guess slasher films are good at that. You
never get too attached. But that isn’t true either. If your series is about deconstructing
horror films while inside of them, maybe don’t kill the character that literally serves that
purpose in only the second movie. Halloween is really the movie series that
Scream goes after the hardest. It’s pretty hard to watch the first Halloween with the
rules in mind. Maybe Wes Craven was just airing his goofy grievances with John Carpenter.
Who knows. If you like slasher movies, especially ones
that are too smart for their own good, you probably like Scream. I think it represents
a moment in time we probably won’t ever return to. I mean, the movie only works because
it treats having a cell phone like the crime that is. YA BURNT CELL PHONES. Scream is the
last breath of the disaffected 1990s. Generation X The generation before me. I was fourteen
when this came out. Basically, that meant that I went to school, played a lot of Worms
2, and wondered if Jordan Catalano liked me back.
In the previous section, I told a few stories about how much of a nightmare, pun intended
out of respect, this movie was to make and bring to market. It makes Craven’s involvement
more meaningful to me. Especially when you look at what emotions
Scream actually comes from “I think the reason that I passed on it was
my usual stupidity. Just I have this long long career long ambivalence towards doing
genre films but there is an element to the genre that is, uh can be misogynistic for
instance, and always carving up girls. And there’s a part of me that feels like ‘how
much longer do you want to do this?” Nailed it. Another breezy and light Movies with Mikey ending. I think about this moment a lot. That moment where he’s like, oh shit, it was me. Like,
you can’t point out one of those lingering shortcomings of an entire genre and not recognize
your own part in it. I practically made this entire episode about that moment. That lightning
bolt of introspection. Making this episode was a little scary because
it crosses over a lot of avenues I don’t generally enjoy exploring. Wes is no longer
with us and people age. That’s hard as an entertainer and its hard on an entertainer.
But let’s go back to the beginning for a second:
The first film Wes directed was The Last House on the Left, one of the origins of a lot of
exceptionally troublesome tropes that would linger in the horror genre for decades. And
Gene Siskel got it when this film was released, saying:
“My objection to The Last House on the Left is not an objection to the graphic representations
of violence per se, but to the fact that the movie celebrates violent acts, particularly
adult male abuse of young women … I felt a professional obligation to stick around
to see if there was any socially redeeming value in the remainder of the movie and found
none.” That’s a nuanced take on exploitation filmmaking
for 1972. And one I agree with. And again I’m back in this moment.
So, Scream happens. They make Scream 2 immediately. Like, shockingly immediately. It was written,
shot, and released less than a year later – and a week before Titanic. Small world.
Scream 2 only spent 7 weeks at the box office. Are you sitting?
Wes directed Music of the Heart next, a touch-sappy biopic about the very real and worthy of a
movie Roberta Guaspari. Streep was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe because she’s
fantastic and so very watchable in it. It also stars Angela Basset and Gloria Estefan.
It is a perfectly fine Sunday couch and cocoa movies that Wes shot the shit out of.
Next up is Scream 3. And this entire scene with Carrie Fisher makes me ignore every issue
I ever had with this movie. “You work for?” “The president.”
“The president of the studio.” “Fifty dollars? Who are you a reporter for
Woodsboro High?” And then: Cursed in 2005, a delayed release
reteaming with Kevin Williamson that would do for Werewolves what Scream did for those
masks at Spirit of Halloween—that did not go as planned. Wes was vocally not happy with
the end result and all the studio meddling. Red Eye also came out in 2005, a film I absolutely
love that totally goes Sunshine in the third act. But this is a masterclass in thriller
filmmaking for the entire segment they’re on the plane. You should definitely watch
this movie. My Soul to Take in 2010 was a rough one for
Wes. It came from the right place. His wife produced it with him for the first time. It
was also the first time Wes Wrote, Produced, and Directed a film since Wes Craven’s New
Nightmare. You know, lovable chance-taking weird Wes. It didn’t work this time.
So, In 2011, we take one last fun spin around the Scream block with Scream 4. He was 72
when this came out. It was the last film he’d make. The whole movie is worth existing just
for the Hayden Pannitiere phone gag that is 100% Scream. “Name the remake of the ground breaking
horror film in which the villan-“ [Hayden rapidly lists every horror movie ever] I just think it’s really funny that Scream said goodbye like that And then four years later, he was gone. In my head, there aren’t a lot of directors
who just embraced the chaos of the universe quite like Wes Craven—well, maybe Terry
Gillium. So much of their careers operated in Murphy’s Law. Whatever can happen will
happen. Scream carries a lot of weight with me and I think it’s a hell of a fun horror movie
if you’re into that whole brevity thing. I totally understand if it’s not your bag.
To me, it has genuinely likable characters and each film presents a compelling mystery
along with its scares. And I miss him. I miss what he did for Hollywood and I don’t
think there is another person who throws darts from space quite like Craven did. And I just
wanted to tell you a story about why I think that.

100 Comments

  1. Awsamazing Eden Author

    Fun Facts: When Ghostface breaks through the window and Casey hits him with the phone, she actually did hit him in the face — and it was Wes Craven under the mask. The take is used in the film.

    At the end of the movie, Billy hitting Stu with the phone in anger was unintentional, as the phone accidentally slipped out of Skeet Ulrich's hands due to the fake blood. Stu screaming "You hit me with the phone, dick!" was actually Matthew Lillard's reaction.

    In the scene where Sidney attacks Billy with an umbrella, Billy's actor, Skeet Ulrich, got legitimately hurt because; due to surgery it was the one place that wasn’t covered with a pad.

    Reply
  2. Ungreatful Duck Author

    Woah, woah, woooah, hold it there cowboy, let´s not throw shade on Beavis and Butthead Do America, even if it´s just a part of the process for Mike Judge to grown as a creator and make Idiocrasy, the most clever movie ever made that predicted the future.

    Reply
  3. xcountryguy0 Author

    Mikey, I gotta say that the video essays you make for fun and for the art make me deeply introspective sometimes. Like I take a step back and try to figure out what my place is in life. Maybe you're not the video game producer anymore and instead make essays that analyze and critique other people's work but that has a lot of value. I feel like, at best, I can work my 9 to 5 and produce content pointing at other people who analyze and critique other people's content in an attempt to make enough ad revenue to buy a few more frozen burritos for myself. I guess what I'm saying is that I value what you do and I feel like it comes from the heart. I wish my own soul could produce works to that level.

    Reply
  4. hourglass_studios Author

    Long-time watcher. I love your intelligent introspective on everything you do, but recently you have become "sensitive sally". Don't let your environment (CA), and your friends color your opinion. I assume your disclaimer at the beginning was potentially in reference to your mention of Last House on the Left (which is – I agree – too explicit in it's portrayal of males vs females in the worst way), but is ultimately not necessary and is just one of the smaller reasons I feel that your work has less of an impact these days. Maybe I'm old, bigoted, and set in my ways, but I wish you would just get back to critiquing and analyzing things in an intelligent an logical manner, instead of pushing a message/agenda. Keep it up…but keep it a little less biased, please.

    Reply
  5. Lowen Crombie Author

    Funnily enough I'm doing a Scream franchise rewatch at the moment…. definitely still holds up and honestly probably one of my favourites from that decade!

    Reply
  6. Stuart Jackson Author

    So I finished watching this video about my favorite horror film ever, Scream. (I'm 33) Immediately watched Red Eye on your recommendation and simply came back to say thank you. Loved it beginning to end. Delightful, you might say.

    Reply
  7. Bird Boi Author

    Thank you for the warning upfront. Im always trying to watch YouTube film analysis of horror movies with my children (who are 23 and 26), but I find all too often that they are filled with horrific themes. Bless you.

    Can anyone recommend other safe videos about serial killing, mass murdering, media obsessed sociopaths?

    Reply
  8. ammie341 Author

    Me and scream are the same age. But I’ve been terrified of this fucking movie since I was a toddler. It didn’t help that my mom loved the shit out of it and always had it on in the background. I didn’t sit down and watch the film in its entirety until last year when me and scream were both 22. Even then it was mostly through my fingers 😂
    But I noticed the meta humor and the cabin in the woods level deconstruction of the horror genre and I was all for it (I guess cabin in the woods is scream level deconstruction?). I may not be able to watch the movie without being terrified, but at least I finally got to see how good it was. And I’m glad I did because that made this video super enjoyable. Even if I had to cover my eyes every time the ghostface popped up on the screen. Great video Mikey!

    Reply
  9. edvaira6891 Author

    Mikey, just wanted to say Thanks, and hope you know we all love you, man! This video made me smile today, and I really needed SOMETHING that would make me smile…This was a gift, and, for that…Thanks!

    Reply
  10. 3bood AE Author

    Visually it holds up at least. Well most things from the Late 90s onwards look modern. Pre 95 that 80s feel was still floating around, but afterwards todays fashion, music, films etc are all pretty much subtle variations of the Late 90s Early 2ks. I think western culture peaked then. Only thing thats significantly as in totally different is technology. So yeah. A way off topic response.

    Reply
  11. BlazeHedgehog Author

    This movie will always stick in my head as being frustrating to the kid who bought a Scream mask the year before the movie came out. As in, before it was known as "The Scream Mask." There was a whole line of different facial expressions, and the one I had was a sinister grin. So for years, every Halloween, I became known as the kid with "the knock-off Scream mask." Even though it wasn't a knock-off, and it wasn't explicitly a Scream thing.

    Reply
  12. Jake Samuels Author

    Watching your videos for films that I haven't seen is always a really cool experience, because it's like a thoughtful and extended movie recommendation. The poignancy you manage to inject into this one along with your (excellent as) usual humour made for a really insightful look at a movie that, if I'm being honest, I had never given much thought to before. Thank you for the great work you do.

    Reply
  13. Lulaire Noroub Author

    In my opinion, the problem with the Scream sequels is that they missed what matters about slasher movies. The characters matter individually in the film, but not across a franchise. Our feelings about "What happened to blah blah" are vague background details. What really matters is the threat. And the threat in Scream is the American high school in the Collumbine era. Not saying it would be easy, but if they could figure out how to thread that needle, it might have been a much more successful franchise if they swapped out the cast each time, maybe with a few of the old cast in supporting roles here and there, and kept the focus on what was actually scary about the movie. Believably violent American Teenagers.

    Reply
  14. Arthur Aveiro Author

    I asked for this episode on Twitter, not thinking it would actually happen. I guess Santa is real.

    I'm just so happy to be talking about Scream again. It's too good a movie and too fun a franchise to be forgotten, and that's how it feels nowadays. It was shocking to 13 year old me how smart, interesting, funny and scary it could be at once. I got sad that I'd never see it in theaters, then over the moon when they announced Scream 4 for the following year. Not enough films made me genuinely feel things like that, unfortunately. But watching this video and reading the comments, I'm happy I'm not the only one.

    Reply
  15. Duckie Alexander Author

    Hoo, boy…

    This is uncomfortable.

    You make good points of Scream but Last House was a big fuck you to the hypocrisy of how this film is violent and awful yet war and the graphic images are welcome because "it's the right thing to do for our great country."

    In fact, if you recall, the family of one of the victims decides to kill the three in equally awful fashions but they never got tried for manslaughter.

    It's as if the logic is "it's ok to kill in this world, as long as we sensitize and gaslight our enemy."

    Just like America in '72.

    Reply
  16. Lilach Geva Author

    hey, um… hhhWHY WAS ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK PLAYING IN THE BACKGROUND OF THIS VIDEO FOR EVEN A LITTLE BIT AND HOW. IN THE WORLD. IS THAT CONNECTED TO HORROR IN ANY WAY FKLKJLWATHRY.

    (dear reader, this must seem confusing, but i felt very strongly about this. it might seem really stupid and pointless, but this in a comment on a youtube video. they very often can be this dumb. don't @ me)

    Reply
  17. Javier Lorenzana Author

    I honestly really want to like, as in thumbs up your videos, mate. But you always have to say something like "movies are the hardest thing you can do". No. They're just a project. Every single project requires coordination. You're just aggrandizing the thing you know about. Movies are entertainment. By definition, not really that difficult to pull off. They just need to entertain.

    Reply
  18. UnderdogRecords91 Author

    I gotta admit, I still find Scream obnoxious in the same way as a lot of those Wannabe-Tarantino-movies from that time. It's not enough to know the tropes and subvert them, the filmmakers always had to congratulate themselves for it, by writing dialog that constantly references the fact that this is what they're doing.
    For me one of the greatest achievements of Edgar Wright is that he finally made these kinds of movies without the self-satisfied cum stains.

    Reply
  19. JamesCPotter13 Author

    13:07 and brings him back in a video recording talking about Trilogies…ON THE OFF CHANCE THAT ANY OF THIS SHIT HAPPENS AGAIN AFTER HE'S ALREADY BEEN TAKEN OUT BY THE KILLER.

    Reply
  20. PoloElefante Author

    I thought I was subscribed, what the heck? I saw this pop up and thought "where have you been Mikey?" but it was me who was missing, I'm sorry D:

    Reply
  21. geoingo Author

    I watched it for the first time almost a year ago and I really liked both Scream 1 and 2, it helps I was reading I'll Be Gone In The Dark at the time because boy are there overlaps in those stories with regards to the stalking and phone calls and complete mystery of a villain. And then the meta-ness oh boy I love meta-ness

    Reply
  22. Lilly Rey Author

    I love to watch to the very end so that I can read the funny Patreon Pretzel tier members. I actually saw this in the theater when it first came out and my best memory is when Henry Winkler came on screen and the audience said heyyyyyy at once. 😎

    Reply
  23. Nu-Metalfan 23 Author

    Wait, if you were 14 in 1996, then you are apart of Generation X. Generation X is people born between 1st September 1965 – 31st August 1984. Generation Y (my generation) is people born between 1st September 1984 – 31st August 1999.

    Reply

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