Party like it’s 1996: Scream Turns Sweet Sixteen

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20 December 1996 was the US Theatrical Debut of the original Scream! We all know the story by now – fresh-faced screenwriter Kevin Williamson wrote a script called Scary Movie, his last-ditch effort to break into Hollywood. Miramax’s Dimension Films won the bidding war and Wes Craven would direct. The rest is history.

When Scream was about to come out I only knew what I had read about it in the pages of Fangoria magazine. After its initial coverage I was kind of perplexed by a cast and crew separately describing the movie as really horrific and really funny. I think the word “spoof” or “lampoon” came up somewhere, an instant turn off (I would later discover the movie wasn’t a spoof at all, but a satire – big difference). However a later issue, once the film came out in the USA (or was about to – foggy memory here) let loose with some enticing red-drenched photos, such as what happened to Drew Barrymore’s character Casey. Hmm, this was looking good! Hopefully after Vampire At Brooklyn, Wes Craven was back.

A week or two in advance of the film’s February 13 1997 Australian release date, I saw a sneak preview advertised. It held me captive in a way no horror movie had in years. I was always the “monster kid” but during my teen years in the 90′s when the genre became pacified with unscary stuff and the great directors of the 70′s and 80′s creating the equivalent of bland McDonalds food, I got distracted by normal-person things like basketball. Scream brought me back to my interest in movies, specifically darker fare.

I started going to see flicks theatrically again and would see Scream multiple times. The movies previewed before it turned me onto other titles I would check out and enjoy, like The Relic. I’d even become interested in other genres like thriller and drama for the first time, chasing the cast members into other stuff like Skeet Ulrich in Touch and Rose McGowan in Going All The Way. One simple movie opened up my life in many ways.

All in all I wound up watching Scream 10 times. It had such a long theatrical run I just went back every few weeks, sat in the front row and picked up all the cool little clues and homages. Bringing friends along was great too, because I could always watch it through their first-time eyes. Sixteen years has passed – Scream is now the same age as the characters within the film. There’s a certain kind of encirclement there. And there hasn’t been any movie like Scream since. I don’t think there ever will.

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3 Responses to “ Party like it’s 1996: Scream Turns Sweet Sixteen ”


Reader Advisory: Comments may contain SCREAM 4 SPOILERS
  1. Wonderful tribute! It’s so great to read your writing again. I didn’t see it in theaters until the April 97 rerelease, but I still very much remember it coming out 16 years ago and being immensely creeped out by the glimpses of Ghostface in the tv commercials!

  2. Thanks Ashley! Big Drewseum fan here. I wonder how many Drew Barrymore fans came from her role in Scream. Definitely this one.

  3. Great site! I happily remember watcheing the movie at cinema in 97. I was soo excited!!! Best movie ever! :)

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