As Scream VI is unleashed onto digital, it’s easy to forget that not only did Wes Craven’s original meta slasher Scream (1996) spawn five sequels and counting, but it changed the face of horror at the tail end of the ‘90s and inspired a whole host of self-aware horror films aimed at the cashed-up teen market. From I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) and Urban Legend (1998) to The Faculty (1998) and Disturbing Behaviour (1998) we take a stab at eight films that hail Scream as an inspiration.
I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
Written by Scream scribe Kevin Williamson, I Know What You Did Last Summer was the first film to ride the bloody tidal wave of Scream’s success. With slasher films en vogue again, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and Ryan Phillippe play four young friends bound by a tragic accident who are reunited when they find themselves stalked by a hook-wielding maniac in their small seaside town. With the requisite gore, a hot young cast and a hit-heavy soundtrack featuring Kula Shaker, The Offspring, L7 and Soul Asylum, IKWYDLS pitched horror to the teen market and in turn inspired a sequel, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) and a cricket themed spoof, I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer (2008).
Urban Legend (1998)
Directed by Aussie Jamie Blanks, this high concept slasher follows a series of gruesome murders at Pendleton University that resemble old urban legends. From the axe wielding murderer on the back seat of a car to the babysitter who realises that the calls are coming from inside the house, all are told with panache as the students are picked off one by one. With a cast boasting Jared Leto, Alicia Witt and Joshua Jackson plus Freddy Kreuger himself Robert Englund for added horror authenticity, Urban Legend, like Scream’s murderous mayhem, plays with the fact the potential victims are fully aware of the crazy predicament they are in.
The Faculty (1998)
Co-written by the eponymous Kevin Williamson and directed by Robert Rodriguez of Desperado (1995) fame, The Faculty fuses ‘50s style paranoia with Sci-fi chills as the teachers of Harrington High have an Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) style close encounter of the third kind that leaves them possessed by otherworldly parasites and plan to infect the students one by one. Cheerleader Delilah (Jordana Brewster), football player Stan (Shawn Hatosy), drug dealer Zeke (Josh Hartnett), new girl Marybeth (Laura Harris) and self-styled outcast Stokely (Clea DuVall) team up and take on the space invaders when Casey Connor (Elijah Wood), the school newspaper photographer, witnesses the murder of a nurse (Salma Hayek) who he later sees full of life and seemingly resurrected. The teachers on duty include Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth and Robert Patrick.
Disturbing Behaviour (1998)
James Marsden, Katie Holmes and Nick Stahl headline another thriller dripping in paranoia. Steve Clark (Marsden) is a newcomer to the town of Cradle Bay who stumbles across an evil conspiracy that is turning rebellious tearaway teenagers into well-dressed, well-groomed, intelligent individuals. Not so bad we hear you say, but there’s something odd about these well-maintained overachievers. And there’s no one more perfect roaming the school corridors than a clique known as the “Blue Ribbons.” When they try and recruit Steve, his rebellious friend Gavin (Nick Stahl) stops them, claiming they are “lobotomized and brainwashed” by school psychologist Dr. Edgar Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood). When Gavin himself mysteriously joins their ranks, Steve teams up with fellow misfit Rachel (Katie Holmes) to search for the truth.
Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)
It took the success of Scream and its subsequent sequels to resurrect Michael Myers and bring back Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Written by the ever-present Kevin Williamson and directed by Friday the 13th Parts II and III helmer Steve Miner, the film pre-empted David Gordon Green’s 2008 Halloween “requel” by totally ignoring Halloween 3: Season of the Witch and the subsequent Halloween sequels and creates an alternative timeline that followed John Carpenter’s stunning 1978 original and the nasty Halloween II (1981). Curtis tries hard but is let down by the by-the-number plotting that sees Strode going into hiding after the events of the second film to escape from her psychotic sibling. Ironically, some of the soundtrack work by John Ottman was replaced by Marco Beltrami’s scores from Scream and Scream 2 (1997).
Cherry Falls (2000)
Directed by Romper Stomper (1992) helmer Geoffrey Wright, Cherry Falls is a tasteless slasher that came at the tail end of the Scream era. Teenagers of the sleepy town Cherry Falls are living in fear of a serial killer whose murderous modus operandi is killing virgins. Starring the late Brittany Murphy as the innocent hero and Michael Biehn as her over-protective policeman father, the film’s outrageous plot sees the local teenage population organising a sex party to lose their virginity, so they are no longer on the killer’s hit list. The trashier elements of this sleazy horror flick fell foul of the censors as the youth of the town pay for the sins of their parents, but this remains a gleefully exploitative entertainment that delights in subverting the then tired terror tropes. In Scream, Randy (Jamie Kennedy) explains that “Sex equals death.” The kids of Cherry Falls have obviously never seen the film.
Final Destination (2000)
While the Final Destination franchise didn’t follow the serial killer template that made Scream such a success, it took many of the terrifying tropes that made Craven’s 1996 original a smash. From the all-knowing bunch of good-looking teens who have been thrust into a horrifying situation that fuses The Omen (1976) style stunt deaths, disaster movie mayhem and slasher film gore. Devon Sawa plays a death-cheating teen who has a premonition of a plane exploding before a school excursion. He and several of his classmates, played by Ali Larter, Amanda Detmer, Kerr Smith and Chad E. Donella, leave the aircraft before the tragic event happens and spend the rest of their short lives looking over their shoulders as death stalks them at every turn. Inventive, twisted and gleefully macabre, Final Destination remains a devilishly good time.
Scary Movie (2000)
At times hilarious, infantile, and downright silly, when Scary Movie hits its mark, it is a hugely enjoyable, if dated, horror spoof. Heavily focusing on the ghost faced chills of Scream and the hook-wielding spills of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scary Movie recreates key scenes from both. The brainchild of Shawn, Marlon and Keenen Ivory Wayans, and also starring Carmen Electra, Shannon Elizabeth, Anna Faris and Regina Hall, the brothers are not afraid to splash the gore while delivering the crass gags. The awfully familiar plot follows a bunch of suspiciously old looking teenagers who are being killed off one-by-one in suitably bloody fashion, a year after they disposed of the body of a man they accidentally killed in a road accident. There will be blood… and every other bodily fluid splashed onto the screen. Especially when A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is spoofed.
– DAVID MICHAEL BROWN
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