Scream Franchise

Scream 5

Scream 5 is days away from opening on screens. With that, I thought I’d give my take on the Scream franchise so far. Yes, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST 4 MOVIES!

Scream (1996)

This was a love letter to the horror geek, mostly embodied by Randy, who lets everyone know the rules to surviving a horror movie. There’s the reverence for Jamie Lee Curtis, Linda Blair’s cameo as a reporter, Wes Craven’s cameo as the janitor wearing the Freddy outfit, Tatum’s mistake of referencing horror director “Wes Carpenter.” It was a good time, a near perfect film.

The only issue I really had with the film was with the obvious killer being Billy. The only thing that really throws you off of Billy being the killer is that it’s just too obvious, and you don’t think they’d make it that easy to guess. I know the voice was played by an actor (Roger Jackson) who is not one of the main cast, but, when I first heard the voice after being introduced to the teens, I remember thinking – that’s the boyfriend’s voice. When the killer calls Sidney and she thinks it’s Randy doing something sexy with his voice, I thought – why wouldn’t she think it’s Billy? It sounds just like him. Oh, they are trying to throw us off. There was a point in the movie where I no longer thought Billy was the killer – again, that’s just because I thought they made it so obvious. Was that the intent?

Overall, though, the movie was well-executed and lots of fun. It opened the door for studios and major actors to take a chance on horror. It introduce a lot of people to Rose McGowan’s nipples, which I’ve been seeing as a meme a lot when people are posting about their excitement for the next installment.

4.5 / 5 Ghost Masks

Scream 2 (1997)

Holy shit! Scream 2 starts with an opening scene that is even better than the Drew Barrymore scene in the original. By the way, Drew Barrymore is definitely a top 5 actress for me. We are about the same age, so I’ve “grown up” with her and have had a celebrity crush on her for quite a long time, so I could easily justify her opening scene being the best ever. To this day, I still think Scream 2’s opener may be the best start of any horror film I’ve seen.

Then, the middle hits. It’s fine. There’s the car crash scene where they have to escape the car with the killer passed out. It’s intense. It’s been awhile since I’ve watched it. Do they make sense of not pulling the mask off the killer? Were they going to do so and that’s when they look back to see the killer is gone? Anyway, the rest of the middle is, in my opinion, ho hum, falling in line with your typical slasher. Within that middle, Randy is violently murdered. I think you could see that from two points-of-view. One, anything can happen in the sequel and no one is safe. However, they could’ve chosen Gale or Dewey. They chose Randy, the horror geek. Two, the horror geek is killed because it was the filmmakers saying – sorry, horror geeks, this isn’t about you anymore; we’re simply going for the mainstream audience at this point. You’re done.

I remember rolling my eyes at the finale when I first saw it in the theaters. I remember rolling my eyes when I re-watched it in 2021. So, Billy’s family is genetically psychotic? His mom couldn’t deal with the fact Sidney had to defend herself from her son? Even if she lost a lot of weight, I’d think Sidney would still think Billy’s mom looked familiar unless she never really met her. I don’t know.

The Stab franchise is introduced here, and it contains a good amount of comedy for the audience, setting up that great opening scene. Like in any movie like this, you have to just watch and enjoy the movie within the movie and not think about it too much. They show a funny re-enactment of Billy and Sid running into each other after Billy spent the night at the jail, the humor being the “Billy” actor’s portrayal of slapping his head and staying “Stupid” after their interaction. I think my wife leaned over to me and said – the only one who knows he did that was Billy, and he’s dead, so how did they capture it in the adaptation? Sometimes, you have to remind yourself it’s only a movie.

3.5 / 5 Ghost Masks

Scream 3 (2000)

Stab 3 is filming, and a killer is turning the fictional Stab movie into real life.

There are a couple things I like about the movie. First, you can’t help but smile whenever Parker Posey enters a scene, right? I’m not even talking about Scream 3; I’m talking about anything she’s doing, so it was great casting to have her in the movie. Second, I liked that Sidney was a recluse, trying to live her life in safety. After the first incident, yeah, you can think it’s over and try to move on with your life. After the second incident, I would agree that you’d try to avoid contact with as many people as possible. That said, I can’t remember the timeline from Part 2 to 3. Is it the same 3 year span in between release dates? If so, wouldn’t she still be in college? Did they say how she could afford living the life she does? I thought Stab was based on Gale’s book(s), so did Sid receive any money from that? Did she come into a lot of money? I may need to re-watch the film for these details.

Aside from this, it’s another run-of-the-mill slasher film. It feels like it has turned into the type of movie the first film was satirizing. Yet another person is Sid’s life is psychotic; this time, it’s her half-brother. He knows about Sidney, but Sidney doesn’t know about him. Did he try to reach out after their mother’s death? Did Sidney spurn him? Why was his first inclination to kill Sid instead of reaching out to her? I don’t know. It was weak. Luckily, Parker Posey was cast, keeping this from being a complete waste of time.

2 / 5 Ghost Masks

Scream 4 (2011)

So many questions. Sooooo many questions.

Sidney has written a book about her experiences, and, of course, it’s taking the world by storm. She comes back into the public eye (not sure if she had stayed secluded in the 10 years since the previous film), returns to her hometown, and (dun, dun, dun) the killings start again. This time, it turns out to be her niece, who wants all the attention Sid has received from the murders.

Again, there’s nothing exciting about the movie, another run of the mill slasher. Maybe it’s been because ten years have passed, but I felt like Sidney wasn’t as intelligent in this movie. A lot of times, I was asking why she would do something because she should know better OR be jaded enough from her past experience not to do stupid things. The returning characters weren’t all that endearing, and the new characters weren’t anyone I cared about.

Where I got really confused was the ending at the hospital. I read that Kevin Williamson ended the movie as they were leaving the house. I think a re-write of the script added on the hospital piece, and none of it worked. While Scream 2 may have the best opening scene of any horror movie ever, I think Scream 4 has the worst closing scene. I tried looking it up after watching it to see if there were explanations, but I think it was just bad and lazy writing.

The Ending: Jill is seen as a hero for escaping the murders. Everyone who knows she is the killer is believed to be dead. Dewey is talking with her in the hospital and then lies to her about Sidney’s condition, even though he doesn’t suspect that she is actually the killer. Again, I don’t know if he was written to have lied to her or if it was just bad writing. He tells Jill that Sid is still alive but is in the ICU. It’s touch-and-go, but they think she might make it. I’m guessing you see Sidney within the next hour, and she is 90-95% recovered. Definitely not touch-and-go. Definitely is going to make it. Dewey goes to visit Gale (where he eventually realizes Jill is the murderer). Gale, who has the least damaging wounds of the three (Gale, Sid, Jill), appears to be in the worst shape of the three. I know different people get impacted differently by things, but it doesn’t make any sense. Jill, who mimicked Gale’s wound on herself as well as damaging herself even further, is able to get out of bed like nothing has happened (if this is the case, why is Gale even in the hospital?). Jill disconnects from her equipment and heads to Sidney’s room. Sidney and Gale also eventually disconnect from their machines, and a fight breaks out in Sid’s room. NO MEDICAL STAFF COMES IN TO SEE WHAT’S GOING ON. NO MEDICAL STAFF CHECKS ON THREE DIFFERENT PATIENTS WHO WOULD’VE SHOWN AS FLATLINING. Everything about the hospital scene is terribly written. Again, I’m good at thinking It’s just a movie (see Stab comment in Scream 2 above), but, even for me, this was egregiously bad writing. Finally, at the end, with Jill dead(?), Jill moves. Is she actually still alive? Was this missed in the editing process? At this point with as bad as this whole sequence has been, I have to assume it was a mistake.

1 / 5 Ghost Masks

Scream 5 (2022)

I have no idea what’s going to happen in Scream 5. Sidney coming anywhere near a Ghostface killer again and having kept her identity as Sidney Prescott would be an idiotic start. I had read rumors at one point that Stu actually survived the first Scream and was intended to return in one of the sequels. If this is the case, he would’ve been either been the #1 suspect in previous sequels OR would’ve at least been mentioned – “Just checked and Stu is still locked in the hospital/jail/etc.” If he had escaped wherever he was, he’d be the #1 suspect from the beginning of this film. I hope he is not brought back….ever. I can’t imagine it’s another one of Sidney’s family members. I can’t imagine it would be any of the other previous survivors – not even Gale to try to get a new book published…also that would seem too reminiscent of Part 4. I’m going to wait until the movie streams. Can’t spend time/money out of the house on the series at this point. That said, I do want to see the latest…eventually.

Saw Franchise (almost)

It had been a long time since I had seen a Saw movie (I stopped watching after Part 3). I’m curious about Chris Rock‘s upcoming film, Spiral, so I decided to give the franchise a viewing, since all but Jigsaw was streaming on HBO Max. This may contain SPOILERS to the films.

The film series plays out like a soap opera…with blood. History is constantly re-written throughout the franchise to try to cover the plot holes from the previous film(s). I know these are movies. I know it’s not real life. Still, it seems like they try to place the films in “real life,” but you need a ton of suspension of disbelief in order to make any of this work. It was a lot of Saw to watch over a short period of time, so I thought I had missed a few things along the way. I did a little research trying to find out if certain questions were answered, and I usually found they weren’t.

Basic premise as I see it: A man (John Kramer) is diagnosed with cancer and decides to kill himself. After being impaled, he survives and has a newfound respect for life. Since it took a bloody, near-death event for him to turn his view about life around, he decides he is going to do the same to others. He kidnaps people (or has his minions kidnap people) and puts them into these traps they must survive. In order to survive, they typically need to put themselves through a ton of pain and/or kill someone else. If they survive, hey, great. Now, you have a new respect for life. Wasn’t it a great thing John Kramer did for you? The survivors will typically end up working for Jigsaw and carrying out his plans because I guess they “get it” once they’ve been through it. I don’t know the purpose the film-makers had in making this. I don’t know if we are supposed to think Jigsaw is psychotic, but Jigsaw is psychotic. He has a God complex and continues to say he doesn’t kill anyone. However, he places people into circumstances where someone will die. John Kramer is a despicable person. I had a feeling the films were trying to create this anti-hero where we would root for him or his traps. For the most part, the films had no one to root for. It was bad people doing things to bad people. Or, like in Part 3, a man’s son had been killed, and he was still upset over it, and Jigsaw thought that was unacceptable because the daughter wasn’t getting as much attention as she needed. Yep, that’s worth a possible death and leaving the girl without parents.

Every movie, you find out he has more and more accomplices helping him out. At one point, I assumed the entire city had to be working for Jigsaw, so who is going to go after. After he dies in Part 3 (the Part 4 twist is that it’s happening concurrently with Part 3), all these accomplices continue doing work, and, somehow, John Kramer was able to set up all these traps and have things ready to go. Everything always needs to fall into place perfectly for the games to work, and, no matter how unlikely, everyone always does exactly what they need to do to allow the game to continue. Look, this guy randomly decided to go through that door. Hey, there’s a tape recorder there. There’s a message addressed to the person who went through the door. What’s the odds that it would happen once let alone EVERY SINGLE TIME? Anyway, back to the accomplices continuing the work after Jigsaw dies, I couldn’t get over why they wouldn’t just walk away. Is Saw really about cults? Is Jigsaw the cult leader and all these accomplices are his brain-washed followers? Is that the purpose? John Kramer thinks he is doing something great for the people, but his methodologies are crazy and unacceptable? Maybe that would explain one of my other complaints – Jigsaw doesn’t work. Even though it was explained he was an engineer at one time, was he independently wealthy? I kept asking myself where he is getting all this money to create these elaborate traps. Like a cult, maybe his followers were giving him all they had, so he could do all this?

At one point, we get into the John Kramer back story, and we find out he was married. His wife miscarried their son when someone tried to rob her clinic. This is supposedly the impetus for his rehabilitation ideas. Wait! I thought it was the car crash when he tried to kill himself. Anyway, he goes off the deep-end, and his wife leaves him. But, wait. Later on, she ends up being his disciple and carries out some of his work. WHAT? WHY? Why would she leave him in the first place if she thought everything he was doing was a-ok? Anyway, it continued to play out like a soap opera as the series continued. I felt it kept turning into a farce. I don’t know if the laughs were intentional later in the series. I don’t know why I put myself through the films. I made a good decision back in the early 2000s to quit watching after Saw III. I thought the first one was good when I first saw it. It was still fine during the repeat viewing but didn’t hold up very well. Originally, I thought Saw II was a step down from the first one, and I still felt this way. Lastly, I thought Saw III was terrible, which is why I stopped watching the movies. I still thought it was terrible. The sequels after that actually kept getting worse. For some reason, I decided I was going to make it through, so I kept on watching.

Aside from the traps (and usually an elaborate one to begin the movie), the Saw movies were known for their twist endings. There were a few times I had to google what the twist was supposed to be. For Part II, even if it wasn’t a shocker that Amanda was in on the game, the fact they were watching a pre-recorded game and the cop’s kid was next to him the whole time was a good twist. In Part III, it was telegraphed pretty early that the two main characters were husband and wife, but I read that the twist was Jigsaw testing Amanda. Lame. The twist in Part IV, I think, was that it was happening at the same time as Part III. Shrug. Is that the same one where you find the cop is in on it as well? There was one movie where, at the end, they realize if they had worked together as a group (they were down to the final two with all the others already killed) they could have all survived. Their revelations were things you were already screaming at the screen while it was happening.

Lastly, I know it’s unspeakable to say this. Even the bad reviews give kudos to Tobin Bell and his performances. He didn’t do much for me in the films. He knows how to speak in a hushed tone and philosophize. Okay. Maybe compared to the rest of the acting, he seemed like a standout, like a mediocre athlete on a terrible team will be thought about as a greater talent than what s/he is just because of who they are surrounded with. Yes. When you compare Tobin Bell’s performance alongside Shawnee Smith’s Amanda, Tobin Bell stands out. When you isolate Tobin Bell’s performance, it’s fine. Then again, maybe I’m punishing him unjustly for the bad scripts he had to act from. Maybe putting forth a fine performance from a crap script is something to celebrate. The rest of the actors weren’t able to elevate the material.

Anyway, overall, I give the Saw franchise a big thumbs down. I really don’t understand its popularity. If it’s an allegory for cults and cult-like behavior, then I think they may have done a little bit better than I had originally thought (at least, there may be a point – but you don’t need that many films to make it), although the performances and scripts were still terrible. That said, I like Chris Rock, so I still want to give Spiral a shot. However, he is supposedly doing this film because he is a big fan of the Saw movies, so that knowledge lowers my expectations by a lot.

As a franchise, I give Saw 3 Puppets out of 10

Friday the 13th Ranking

Well, it’s Friday the 13th, and I haven’t been doing anything on this website and realized I never published any Movie reviews, so why not do a quick and dirty ranking of the Friday the 13th movies.

Here it goes…starting with my least favorite:

12. Friday the 13th VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

I tried to like this one. I really did. I re-watched it earlier this year in hopes of a Halloween III: Season of the Witch experience, where, upon further viewing, you are able to enjoy it and suddenly allow it to shoot up the ranks. It just didn’t do it for me. There are some cool bits with Jason, and Kane Hodder is the best, but they are on the boat for too damn long, and I feel like that part really drags it all down. And the toxic ending…

11. Friday the 13th (2009)

I need to re-watch this one. I’ve been reading a lot of comments about people really liking this one. When I saw it, it didn’t do anything for me, and I haven’t seen it since that first viewing. I remember it pretty much being a remake of parts 2 – 4, offering nothing new to the story line, what little story line may exist in the franchise. I don’t remember liking any of the “victims.” It seemed like they were just making a “greatest hits” package, and it left me cold.

10. Friday the 13th Part III (1982)

I never saw this in 3D. Maybe that’s the problem. Like the remake, I felt like it was more of a “greatest hits” of the first two movies. That said, it did create the iconic Jason look as he first dons the hockey mask in this movie. Nothing else memorable about this one.

9. Jason X (2001)

My wife and I went to see this one in the theater. We had to go tell someone that we were actually in the theater after they never started the film – I guess they didn’t realize two people actually bought tickets. It’s different. I give them credit for putting the same Friday the 13th formula in a new setting. The 1980s Crystal Lake memory scene comes off as really fun. Jason is just unstoppable. There’s a lot of humor in this one, although I’m not always sure how much of it is intentional. It may be ranked low, but I still thought it was a lot of fun. This may be the one I watch tonight.

8. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985)

Sure, it’s bad. It lacks a Voorhees. But, it tried to do something different with the story, and I give them some credit for that. It also continues on the Tommy Jarvis story line, showing the aftermath of his run-in with Jason in part 4. The hillbilly mom and son are a hoot.

7. Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

Well, we all know better now, right? I love Crispin Glover’s character, and Corey Feldman’s Tommy Jarvis is excellent. This film, along with part 5, would probably be the cause of everyone thinking this series of films is nothing but nudity because those two films were. This movie coming in at #7 tells me that I really enjoy these films. Of course, I already knew that. It seemed like it had some of the best and worst that a Friday the 13th film had to offer.

6. Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

My friends and I snuck into this film on opening night. It was the first Friday the 13th film I saw in a movie theater. I think I had probably seen them all on home video by the time this film came out. Anyway, I like the continuity from Part 6, starting off with Jason still at the bottom of the lake. It was Jason vs a telekinetic Carrie-like heroine named Tina. It had a lot of the normal Friday the 13th characters and killings, but I enjoyed the Tina element as something a little different. It was also the first time Kane Hodder would star as the hockey masked one.

5. Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993)

From what I’ve read, a lot of Friday fans hate this movie. Again, I enjoyed they did something different with the story. Also, I was a big fan of Shocker. Since that film never received a sequel, this kind of acted as a sequel to that as well. I thought the acting was top-notch. I loved the hand-to-hand battle scenes. Creighton Duke may be my favorite Friday the 13th character. It had good humor. I remember reading about the story line in Fangoria on the way home from a relative’s house and got really excited about this. I didn’t feel like I was let down.

4. Freddy vs Jason (2003)

A lot of eyerolls on this one as well, but I thought it was a lot of fun. You can’t take the films seriously, and this one was a turn off your brain and just enjoy type of movie. Somehow, they were able to get these two horror titans together, and I think the story worked well enough. Putting Ash into a sequel or even Pinhead, I think, would’ve worked and been lots of fun as well. What could’ve been…

3. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Thom Mathews (from the first two Return of the Living Dead movies) portrays the last version we have seen of Tommy Jarvis. The film marks the return of Jason after the Part V story line. Tommy is still dealing with issues from his dealings with real and fake Jason. He needs to make sure Jason really is dead, but, alas… Filled with tons of cheesy mid-1980s humor and tame kills during a time when the MPAA was really cracking down on horror film violence. From what I remember reading Kane Hodder’s book, I believe this film marks the first time he donned the famous hockey mask, doubling Jason actor, C.J. Graham.

2. Friday the 13th (1980)

The original. Betsy Palmer. Adrienne King. Kevin Bacon. The camp is going to re-open after a lot of mis-steps following the drowning of a boy some 20+ years ago. This would be the film, as a horror-loving child, that would end up scaring the shit out of me and causing me to take quite a few years off from watching horror until a friend introduced me to A Nightmare on Elm Street when we snuck into the theater to see Dream Warriors. It has likable characters. Gruesome kills. Officer Dorf and Crazy Ralph. As a fun exercise, I’ve been trying to write a remake of this film, which would also set up the sequels. I don’t know if a true Friday the 13th remake would work these days because everyone would expect to see Jason in his hockey mask. Anyway, I know it got roasted upon its original release, but it’s really a fun film.

  1. Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

I was re-watching the film this year, and this one put forth a lot of the tropes that would later be made fun of in slasher films, but it all works in this movie. This film was made at a time when they still tried to add characterization. The characters are likable. In my opinion, the actors were really good. Killer Jason is introduced in a burlap bag, like the killer in The Town That Dreaded Sundown. I thought the ending was well-conceived. There were still some gruesome kills. Suspense. Amy Steel was great as the final girl. It’s a toss-up between her and Adrienne King for who is the best final girl in the series. I watched them back-to-back earlier this year and was shocked to discover I liked this one a little more than the original.

Anyway, that’s my list. I decided to figure out the current rankings on imdb and Rotten Tomatoes. I matched 1 with imdb and 3 with RT. Doesn’t mean anything – just curious how closely I ranked with the masses.

imdb:

12. Goes to Hell (4.2) 11. Jason X (4.4) 10. Manhattan (4.6) 9. New Beginning (4.8) 8. New Blood (5.3) 7. Remake (5.5) 5. (tie) Part 3 / Freddy vs Jason (5.7) 3. (tie) Jason Lives / Part 4 (6) 2. Part 2 (6.1) 1. Original (6.5)

Rotten Tomatoes:

12. Manhattan (8%) 11. Part 3 (11%) 10. New Beginning (18%) 9. Jason X (20%) 8. Goes to Hell (22%) 7. Part 4 (23%) 6. Remake (26%) 5. Part 2 (27%) 4. New Blood (35%) 3. Freddy vs Jason (41%) 2. Jason Lives (50%) 1. Original (64%)