Scream: The Brilliant Horror Still Shines 25 Years Later

Scream / Dimension Films

There are two camps involved when discussing Scream, the 1996 slasher film about a killer in a Halloween costume that wreaks havoc on a small town. You either believe Scream is a good movie or a great movie.

Let’s start with the first camp. Why is Scream a good movie? For starters, the story is pretty straightforward to understand. A killer known as Ghostface, who wears a ghost mask and black gown, targets a high school girl named Sidney Prescott one year after the murder of her mother in the town of Woodsboro, California. The killer begins to murder teenagers and townspeople as he fights to get closer to his main target, Sidney.

In two sentences, the main character and plot are established without confusion. It’s a classic “whodunnit,” as the audience seeks to learn the identity of the killer, and why they’re targeting a teenage girl.

Good premise? Check.

Good writing and direction? Double-check.

For the latter, you couldn’t find a better director in this genre than the “Master of Horror,” Wes Craven. As a pioneer in horror, Craven is the mastermind behind the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise as well as cult classics like The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and Swamp Thing.

The script was written by Kevin Williamson, who was an unknown writer at the time. Williamson wrote a script called Scary Movie, which became Scream, that combined elements of a slasher film with a black comedy. Though mostly known for his horror projects, I always find it ironic that Williamson created the teen drama, Dawson’s Creek. Imagine a Scream and Dawson’s Creek double feature. Sign me up.

In terms of its cast, Scream elected to go with established actors at the time instead of unknowns, which was typically common in horror. Neve Campbell was on Party of Five, Courtney Cox was on Friends, and David Arquette had roles in Parenthood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to go along with being from the famous Arquette family.

All of these elements (premise, script, director, cast) set Scream up for success. Add in a twist ending where it’s revealed Ghostface was not one, but two killers and Scream was an instant, entertaining thriller.

It’s a good movie.

But it’s not just a good movie.

Scream is a great movie. In fact, I’ll go one step further and describe it as brilliant.

The seismic impact of Scream in the horror genre cannot be overstated. Scream combined the meta-humor of a black comedy with the gore and frightfulness of a horror film. Williamson was clearly a huge horror fan as his script is an homage to Halloween. The concept of introducing characters who were self-aware and in on the joke was ingenious. The teens openly discuss horror films and poke fun at the cliches throughout the film. Everybody is a suspect, don’t have sex, don’t have alcohol or drugs, never say you’ll be right back, etc. Randy even explains the rules for survival in a horror film!

I left out one very important cast member, and her presence adds to the genius of Scream. The actress I’m referring to is Drew Barrymore. In 1996, Barrymore was a huge name in Hollywood. Barrymore was very established in pop culture by 1996, having been in E.T., Batman Forever, Guncrazy, and Poison Ivy. She even flashed David Letterman. Barrymore was about to hit the A+list, which is why it came as a surprise that she signed up for a small horror film after reading the script one night.

Barrymore was set to play the leading role of Sidney but had to drop out due to previous commitments. Most stars would leave the project entirely, but Barrymore stayed on and asked to play Casey Becker, the girl who appears in the opening scene. Although she’s in the film for around 10 minutes, it’s arguably the most important scene in the entire franchise.

As Barrymore mentioned on Hot Ones, she wanted to change the rules of a horror film. Most of the time, you never think the main character is truly in trouble since they’ll never die, and if they are murdered, it’s never at the beginning.

Not Scream.

Here’s your biggest star in the movie and she’s killed within the first 10 minutes. That’s a Red Wedding-type move. Killing Barrymore was jaw-dropping moment that confirmed nobody was safe. Anyone could be killed at any time. Even Henry Winkler (in an uncredited role)!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a special shoutout to Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard, who played Ghostface as a duo. To steal a phrase from The Rewatchables podcast, this duo gave the biggest heat check performance in the movie. It’s so over-the-top and filled with memorable one-liners, but it fits their characters. Psycho teenage murders are probably going to be a little dramatic and crazy.

Now, Scream is getting a fifth movie this January. It’s not an official reboot, but it appears to mirror themes and ideas from the first film.

Scream rewrote and revitalized the slasher genre, and its legacy should still be celebrated 25 years later.

Besides, if you remove all the humor and violence, Scream is simply an advertisement for landlines.

Scream / Dimension Films

Leave your thoughts about the movie in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.

Say Goodbye: Best Final Movie For A Character Or Franchise

Logan / 20th Century Fox

Endings are so hard to get right. Viewers give so much time and emotions to the characters in franchises that span multiple years and movies that when the ending falls flat, it’s a disappointment all around. The poor reception Game of Thrones received for its final season is why I believe George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished A Song of Ice and Fire.

When certain characters or franchises receive proper endings to their stories, it leaves viewers satisfied. It’s reassurance for all the hours they spent committing to a story, that their time wasn’t wasted. With No Time to Die serving as Daniel Craig’s swan song in the Bond franchise, let’s explore some of the best final movies for a character or franchise.

Note: I tried to stick with characters or franchises with finite endings. I love Return of the Jedi, but Luke, Han, and Leia all returned in the Skywalker trilogy so Episode VI wasn’t a true ending to their story. If Iron Man returns to the MCU, I might have to adjust this list. Toy Story 3 was perfect, but then Toy Story 4 happened so I can’t count the third film as an ending as well.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

When describing the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a “masterpiece” is typically the noun of choice. There are little flaws in Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy adventure told in three movies. From the epic action sequences to breathtaking cinematography, LOTR became the gold standard for cinematic storytelling. Return of the King is 201 minutes long, and yet it moves so effortlessly and never drags. Every loose end is tied up and every character gets a proper ending to their story. Not only did fans love Return of the King, but critics and Academy voters praised the film, resulting in a perfect 11 for 11 at the 2004 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

Avengers: Endgame

Telling a complete story in one film is hard enough. Imagine crafting a story that spans over 11 years and 23 films?* From Iron Man to Captain Marvel, Kevin Feige perfectly pieced together every story in the Infinity Saga, which culminated with Avengers: Endgame. For 7 years, the Mad Titan known as Thanos was built up to be this unbeatable villain, and up until Endgame, he never lost. Not only did Endgame have to conclude the Infinity Saga, but it also had to set up the future of the MCU. Well, the future of the MCU was passed to Spider-Man, Black Panther (RIP Chadwick), and the Guardians of the Galaxy while Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans received admirable endings to their versions of Iron Man and Captain America respectively. Onto Phase 4, we go!

*Spider-Man: Far From Home is included in the Infinity Saga as the 23rd film, but it feels like a bridge between Phase 3 and Phase 4 instead of the last film in Phase 3.

Christian Bale’s Batman in The Dark Knight Rises

There are two camps. You either like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises or you hate The Dark Knight Rises. I’m in the former. Dark Knight Rises had the impossible task of following The Dark Knight, which is the best comic movie of all time with the best acting performance of the 21st century, Heath Ledger’s Joker. Nothing could top that masterpiece, and when Rises came out, many compared it to The Dark Knight and picked it up apart. Eight years have passed, and The Dark Knight Rises has aged well in terms of its swan song to Christian Bale’s Batman. Bane’s voice is still confusing all these years later, but Bale’s heartfelt goodbye to the caped crusader is successful. It’s a proper and finite ending to a superb trilogy. With rumors of Downey Jr. and Evans returning to the MCU after Endgame, it’s refreshing to see that Bale’s Batman will never come back. He sacrificed himself for Gotham City and retired to Italy with a beautiful woman. If that’s not the dream, I don’t know what is.

Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine in Logan

When comic book movies bring in directors with both dramatic and comedic success as well as a strong affinity for character development, good things can happen. Case in point, James Mangold masterfully wrote and directed Logan, Hugh Jackman’s final film as Wolverine. For such a violent film, Jackman played Wolverine with such nuance and compassion that for the first time, viewers could sympathize with Logan the person as opposed to Wolverine the mutant. Logan is a great movie that doesn’t need to add “comic book” as a qualifier.

What are your picks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @unafraidshow.

Ranking Daniel Craig’s James Bond Films Before No Time to Die

Casino Royale James Bond

Daniel Craig is my favorite actor to play James Bond. If you just heard the sound of glass breaking, that’s because a brick was thrown through my window on behalf of Sean Connery. This is where I’m supposed to say “with all due respect,” and then throw a backhanded insult at Connery’s portrayal of Bond. But that’s not going to happen. Connery provided the blueprint for 007: charming, sophisticated, and an elite spy. He’s second-best in my book.

I compare the Connery vs. Craig debate to the exhausting argument over Jordan vs. LeBron as the GOAT in basketball. If you grew up with and experienced Jordan at the peak of his powers, then you’re going to say Jordan is the GOAT. The same argument can be applied to LeBron with the younger generation. Appreciate the greatness of both instead of tearing the other down to make a point.

Craig’s version of a gritty and troubled Bond who still retained his charm and elegance won me over from Day 1. Many forget that Craig’s casting as the seventh actor to take over this prestigious character was met with a lot of hatred. Craig wasn’t a star by any means. He was a classically trained actor known primarily for his work in the theater. Plus, he had blonde hair, and that pissed A LOT of people off. Guess who supported the decision to cast Craig? Sean Connery!

Ahead of No Time to Die, I revisited Craig’s previous four films. Two are excellent, one is solid, and one just doesn’t belong with the rest. Here are my rankings.

4. Quantum of Solace

One of these things is not like the other, and that’s Quantum of Solace. It’s not bad in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a movie that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. The central theme is revenge as Bond sets out to find those responsible for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd. 007 as a bat-out-of-hell, killing all those in his path to avenge his girlfriend is a solid premise, but it’s not exactly a James Bond movie. Revenge is a good theme, but the final mission somehow turns into stopping Dominic Greene from controlling the water supply in Bolivia. Is this a revenge movie or a statement about environmentalism? I left the film with more questions than answers. Craig is still good, and Olga Kurylenko was a badass that deserved better in this franchise. I don’t see myself revisiting this film for a long time.

3. Spectre

Solid is the word I keep returning to when describing 2015’s Spectre. The opening scene is spectacular and one of the best Bond openers ever. Casting Christoph Waltz to play the villain was an excellent decision because of his work as the main antagonist in Inglourious Basterds. However, his use in the film was more of a letdown than a high point. Craig and Waltz barely shared the screen together for the first half of the movie. The showdown between the hero and villain at the end didn’t provide the spark to generate excitement for future films. Essentially, Waltz set a trap and tried to escape before being foiled by Bond. I needed more in the final battle. Overall, Spectre is entertaining, but it could’ve been better.

2. Casino Royale

There are Internet stans, and then there are the stans who believe Casino Royale is the best James Bond film of all time. These fans won’t accept any other Bond argument if Casino Royale is not number one in the power rankings. I respect their ability to stand up and fight for what they believe in. Casino Royale is an excellent film and the second-greatest debut for a Bond actor behind Connery’s Dr. No. It was a return to form for the franchise, and the introduction of a darker, grimmer version of Bond. Craig vs. Mads Mikkelsen is some of the best Bond vs. the villain scenes in the entire franchise. Make no doubt about it, Casino Royale is a classic.

1. Skyfall

There’s only one right answer for Craig’s best Bond film and it’s Skyfall. This film rules from start to finish. It’s a 143-minute thrill ride that never allows the audience to catch its breath. It’s a Bond film at heart, but the story and characters can stand on their own. It’s a complete story with a satisfying conclusion.

Skyfall pulled out all the stops, bringing in the big guns to better the film. Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes was brought in to direct. Javier Bardem played one of the best villains of the 21st century, Raoul Silva. There is no excuse as to why Bardem didn’t receive an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The Academy held the fact that Bardem previously won as a villain in No Country for Old Men against this performance. Adele wrote and sang the spectacular theme song, “Skyfall,” which won Best Orginal Song. Frankly, Skyfall was good enough to receive a Best Picture nomination.

With the best director, villain, song, and Bond, Skyfall is the easy winner.

What is your favorite James Bond film from Daniel Craig? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

2021 Fall Preview: 10 Most Anticipated Movies

Dune

Are the movies back? Frankly, they never left, but movies haven’t felt special in over a year due to the challenges of the pandemic. Studios continue to push the dates back on films, which is the equivalent of punching me square in the face. I’m looking at you, Top Gun: Maverick and Mission Impossible 7.

However, the fall slate of upcoming movies looks very promising. It’s a great mix of tentpole blockbusters and Oscar contenders. In other words, movies made for me are coming out this Fall and for that, I salute you, Hollywood.

Below are my 10 most anticipated movies for Fall 2021. Studios, don’t you dare push these films back to 2022. We, the people, need these films!

No Time to Die

It’s the Bond swan song for Mr. Daniel Craig as he drinks his last martini in No Time to Die. The world has waited 6 years for 007 to return to the big screen, which is the longest wait between Bond films since the 6-year wait between 1989’s License to Kill and 1995’s Goldeneye. Craig’s films have been both critically acclaimed and box office hits, and this franchise will miss his presence. Before we start photoshopping Idris Elba into a tuxedo, let’s enjoy one last go-round with the baby blue spy.

No Time to Die will be released in theaters on October 8.

The Rescue

Ladies and gentlemen, the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature goes to The Rescue. Mark it down now because there’s no way this film loses in March. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the filmmaking duo behind the Oscar-winning Free Solo, return to direct The Rescue, the story of the Tham Luang cave rescue. For those who don’t remember, a soccer team of teenage boys and their coach were trapped in a cave back in 2018, and a rescue team of divers had to work to extract them before they ran out of food and air. Watching the trailer, my jaw hit the floor multiple times. How did they film this? I can’t wait to find out.

The Rescue will be released in select theaters on October 8.

The Last Duel

If there’s a list of things I like, The Last Duel checks off a lot of boxes.

  • Matt Damon: check.
  • Ben Affleck: check.
  • Damon and Affleck writing a film together: check.
  • Jodie Comer: check.
  • Adam Driver: check.
  • Ridley Scott: check.
  • Ridley Scott directing an action movie: check.

I’m sure there are going to be A LOT of think pieces surrounding this film because of its brutal subject matter. However, I’m still in for all the reasons above.

The Last Duel will be released in theaters on October 15.

Dune

You had me at “directed by Denis Villeneuve.” Find a better thriller and sci-fi director of the last 10 years than Villeneuve. Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival, and Blade Runner 2049 are some of the best films of the 2010s. Throw in an all-star cast that would make the 2017 Warriors look like a CYO team and we’re cooking with gas. Dune is an incredibly hard book to adapt, and this film will be “Dune: Part I.” Why the film isn’t being publicly marketed like that makes me scratch my head. Regardless, early reviews of Dune have praised the cinematography but criticized the plot. I’m going to trust Villeneuve, who hasn’t let me down yet, to give me a satisfying film.

Dune will be released in theaters and HBO Max on October 22.

Eternals

The Marvel film I don’t know anything about is Eternals. The trailer looks like something Marvel has never done due to the little presence of CGI and a green screen. Imagine being Chloé Zhao right now. You won Best Picture and Best Director for Nomadland, and now you get to release a blockbuster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Right on, Chloé. If Eternals is a success, then it could lead to more indie and visual filmmakers entering the MCU, which will only benefit Marvel in the long run.

Eternals will be released in theaters on November 5.

House of Gucci

Father, son, and House of Gucci. Ridley Scott goes from an action thriller in The Last Duel to a crime film about the Gucci family, where Maurizio (Adam Driver) was murdered at the hands of his ex-wife, Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). The trailer toes the line between serious biographical film and parody because of the over-the-top accents. I’m intrigued, and if any filmmaker could make two successful films in one year, it’s Ridley Scott.

House of Gucci will be released in theaters on November 24.

West Side Story

I’m probably in the minority, but I’m all the way in on West Side Story. The saga between the Sharks and the Jets is one of my favorite musicals of all time. Many were skeptical as to why anyone would reimagine West Side Story after the 1961 film adaptation was downright perfect. Once a little-known filmmaker named Steven Spielberg (ever heard of him?) signed on to direct, West Side Story had my attention. The visuals and wide shots in the trailer look spectacular. In a world where CGI dominates the movies of today, West Side Story is a much-needed change-up from the norm. I can’t wait to sing my heart out during “Jet Song.”

West Side Story will be released in theaters on December 10.

Nightmare Alley

Guillermo del Toro, welcome back. In his first film since The Shape of Water, del Toro crafts up a good ol’ fashioned psychological thriller with Nightmare Alley. Bradley Cooper stars as Stan Carlisle, a manipulative carny that teams up with a dangerous psychologist named Dr. Lilith Ritter, played by Cate Blanchett. If you’re confused, then that makes two of us. However, Cooper is one of “my guys” so I’m obligated to see everything he’s in. Luckily for me, Nightmare Alley looks right up my… don’t do it… don’t do it… alley.

Nightmare Alley will be released in theaters on December 17.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

You may not like Marvel, but its ability to dominate pop culture is unprecedented. Case in point, the trailer Spider-Man: No Way Home racked up 355.5 MILLION views over 24 hours across all online platforms, which set a world record previously held by Avengers: Endgame with 289 million views. The MCU is shifting, and No Way Home will play a huge part in explaining the multiverse. In my best Dave Bautista voice, “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!”

Spider-Man: No Way Home will be released in theaters on December 17.

Don’t Look Up

  • Leonardo DiCaprio 
  • Jennifer Lawrence 
  • Rob Morgan 
  • Jonah Hill 
  • Mark Rylance 
  • Tyler Perry 
  • Ron Perlman
  • Timothée Chalamet 
  • Ariana Grande 
  • Scott Mescudi 
  • Cate Blanchett
  • Meryl Streep
  • Chris Evans

The last time Adam McKay had a cast this stacked, he won an Academy Award for The Big Short. Giddy up.

Don’t Look Up hits Netflix on December 24.

What is your most anticipated movie of the fall? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.