As we saunter into the final week before we can at last see Scream 4 for ourselves, I thought I’d reflect on a topic that most fans have been buzzing about significantly over the last few months. It’s probably one of the top subject matters that has been occurring to fans of the franchise, right after “who dies?” and “who is the killer?” I’m talking about “Stab”; or more specifically, what has happened with the franchise-within-a-franchise since the year 2000, and, of what we’ve seen in clips and trailers is actually from the “Stab” movies.
The wonderful thing about Scream 4 is that it can play around with the world of “Stab” in a way that Scream 2 & Scream 3 couldn’t. In Scream 2, we were introduced to the concept of the movie-within-a-movie – it was new to us at the time. And I think the viewers loved the idea of it – I will always remember seeing the Heather Graham opening to “Stab” for the first time and thinking it was genius. And then we were treated to another clip featuring Tori Spelling and Luke Wilson as Sidney and Billy respectively. Again, cleverly, the clip mirrored and also parodied another scene from Scream, had fun with it and commented once again on the horror genre. It was brilliant.
Scream 3 came along and we’d skipped ahead two films to “Stab 3”. This was intriguing because “Stab 3” was initially a totally new concept – the first in the series to not be based on reality. In fact, “Stab 3: Return To Woodsboro” is rather similar in concept to Scream 4 (being that Scream 4 sees the characters “return to Woodsboro”). What was fun about seeing the production of “Stab 3” was that we got our first taste of what Hollywood would do to the franchise given free reign. They weren’t basing it on anything. We got to see an initial idea which featured a black version of Randy, a typical, slasher-film-esque shower girl called Candy, and the death of Gale Weathers. The idea of “Stab 3” was both corny and uninventive (black Randy, shower girl) but also daring and rule breaking (Gale’s death).
Of course, “Stab 3: Return To Woodsboro” was never made, given that its cast, director and producer were all killed. However, this paved the way for a different “Stab 3”, which I am lead to believe was based on Scream 3’s events and called “Stab 3: Hollywood Horror” (brilliant).
We are also lead to believe that the “Stab” series has reached somewhere in the region of seven sequels at the point we pick things up in Scream 4 – and I can’t wait to see what they’ve done with it. We are now at a point where time has elapsed a decade, and, because Sidney Prescott & Co have lived murder-free lives, Hollywood has been able to do what they wanted to do with “Stab 3: Return To Woodsboro” – they’ve taken it from art imitating life, to simply…art! I use the term loosely, but you get the picture.
What I am excited to know about how the “Stab” series has progressed is has it become ridiculous or has it become daring? Have they killed off Sidney, Dewey or Gale yet, like they intended to in the original version of “Stab 3”? My guess is no, given that they have continued to churn out sequels. Where have they taken the franchise – are there instalments set back in Woodsboro? Have they gone all “Jason Takes Manhattan” and done a “Stab: New York”? Have they done an “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” and set “Stab 5” on a remote tropical island somewhere, where Sidney has no means of escape. And who are all the killers in them? Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have already commented on the turn that horror has taken since Scream 3 – will we see Dewey & Gale strapped back-to-back to a giant swinging pendulum blade, having to choose which one lives, while Ghostface watches from the wings, a la “Saw”.
I’m not getting my hopes up too high that we will find out all the specific answers to these questions. I’m sure Scream 4 doesn’t spend too much time mapping out exactly what’s gone on in Stabs 4-7. But I sincerely hope it gives us some great insight into what’s happened over the past 10 years.
One thing I can be sure of is that there will be “Stab” scenes. I already have my theories on whom of the cameo girls are probably “Stab” deaths and who are Scream deaths – but based on what I’ve seen of clips, I think that we’ll be treated to some great “Stab” scenes.
I hear also that Gale Weathers has apparently, in Scream 4, written several books in the “Stab” series. This brings me onto wondering how the three main cast members treat the franchise now. Gale has clearly capitalized on it. But what does Dewey make of that? And Sidney has written a book herself – is she travelling down the same path as Gale – making money from her troubled past? Similarly, how do the new kids relate to “Stab” – the trailer shows a Stab-A-Thon in a barn; cinema geeks clued up on the rules; Sidney’s cousin imitating Ghostface on the phone. Has Stab totally eclipsed what it was based on?
The interesting thing with Scream 4 revisiting the idea of the franchise-within-a-franchise is that Kevin Williamson has written it. He came up with the whole concept and he created the scenes we saw of “Stab” in Scream 2. In Scream 3, we got to see plenty of the cast and production of “Stab 3: Return To Woodsboro”, but we didn’t see any actual footage from the series. I don’t know about anyone else but I was praying for a clip of “Stab 2” in there! Just seeing the poster for it in John Milton’s office was pretty exciting!
I’m thinking Williamson will have put his “Stab” hat back on when penning Scream 4. These scenes are, after all, his chance to escape into the absurd for a little while, and poke fun at what he has created. I just know that he will have taken pleasure this time around in elaborating more on the world of “Stab” and that we’ll see some great scenes from what has become of the series since “Stab 3: Hollywood Horror”. But in the meantime, we have a week left – so keep your guesses coming as to how you think it will all take shape. Because in 7 days we will know all the answers! Enjoy this final week people!