And then three years later, there was Scream 3 which is... well... it's just as much fun as the first two. I'll give it that.
On the other hand, it's not quite the brilliant balance between hard-R Horror Movie and comical commentary on the genre. While still held together quite well by director Craven, series creator Kevin Williamson was making a far bigger splash on the small screen since Scream had made him a sought-after name in motion pictures. Therefore the Kevster's original outlines for Scream 3 were taken up and formulated into a Scream-like screenplay by Ehren Kruger. The result feels a lot like Scream, but also a lot like one of the many immitative flicks that followed and copied Scream. Oh, it's great fun and it works very well in a lot of ways, but instead of being Scream, Scream 3 is another film that tries to be Scream, occasionally becoming an uproarious comedy and occasionally clicking as that violent horror extravaganza, but never managing to gel as both at the same time.
Then again, in many ways, I've got to say... who cares? We know the characters, we love the characters and the next chapter is still filled with surprises and an interesting plot as the survivors of "The Woodsboro Murders, much like the Scream Trilogy, have gone Hollywood in a BIG WAY!
To begin with, Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) is now the host of one of America's biggest sleazy talk shows called, get this, "100% Cotton". He's also just filmed a cameo appearance (as himself) in the latest film based on the Ghostface Killer's exploits: Stab 3!
And Stab 2 has only just now been released in theatres!
Fictionalized though Stab 3 may be the film's producers want as much realism as possible in this psycho-killer rehash, so he's hired one consultant type guy who actually lived and survived the real ordeal, namely former Woodsboro Deputy Dwight "Dewey" Riley (David Arquette), now single and soaking up the Southern California Rays. This is, of course, both ironic and sad considering the proximity of his Hollywood Star-Crossed lady love Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox), who went from tabloid transplant to Woodsboro to 60 Minutes II) and back down to the trashy tabloid reporting that launched her career.
How the hell did we get these two crazy kids back together? The same way they got together in the first place! In a weird, if familiar, case of life imitating art imitating life, there just happens to be a crazy-ass Ghost Faced killer at large in Tinsel Town, making harassing phone calls in the recognizable voice of Roger L. Jackson to his victims before he picks them off one by one with his slashing hunting knife.
He's still got that same, now-iconic Edvard Munch-inspired Fun World mask (created by Brigitte Sleiertin, just eff-why-eye); he's still got that shimmering black robe and he's still got that monstrous modus operandi... and this time he's stalking the cast and crew of Stab 3!
But if this madman is making his own movie by ruining the Film-With-A-Film-to-be, then who is he looking to cast as his splatter star? Let's see, we've accounted for Gale, Cotton and "Dew-Drop"... who the hell else is even still alive? Oh, yeah... Our main character, man! sweet, sweet Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell). The good news is that she is looking exceptionally beautiful (more so than in even the previous films). The bad news is that the events of the previous movies have turned her into something of a remote recluse and just about nobody but her dad Neil (Lawrence Hecht) has clue one about where the eff-you-see-kay she is.
Undaunted, the killer is going to keep slashing until he finds her... or finds somebody who feels like telling his ass just where she might be. Taking the "Everyone's a Suspect" theme to the next level, Ghostface even uses his handy-dandy voice disguiser to impersonate not just the "Phone Voice" from the first film, but also just about everybody else in the cast, whether victim or victor!
This time out, he's got one hell of a clan to emulate... and I don't just mean the cast of Stab 3 (see sidebar)! Check this out!
And, in true Scream saga fashion, the Cameo Cast is almost more noteworthy and memorable! From Wes Craven's familiar "Hiya" right behind a studio-touring Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith (as Jay and Silent Bob, of course), to Arquette brother Richmond as a student, to the legendary Roger Corman as Stab 3's Studio Executive to none other than Carrie Fisher as loyal studio employee Bianca, this one is filled to the rim with brim!!!
As Randy himself reminds us, in the "Final" chapter of a trilogy, we have to go back to the beginning to find out something we thought we knew about the mystery of the series... and that, of course, revolves, as always, around Sid's mommy Maureen (Lynn McRee in an expanded part this time). The real question here, almost as big as who the hell the killer might be, is whether or not Sid is losing it... or may have lost it already as she sees more and more of mommy and hears not only her voice but even those of Billy Loomis and Stu Macher!
Oh, you think that's a Spoiler? Hell... you ain't seen nothin' yet, human!!!
The truth is that so much of this, from the twisted surprises to the punchy, Scream-esque dialogue, to the opening shocker to the peppered-in cameos, to the "New Rules" feels more like a calculated copy of the series in a great many areas, without quite the magic balance the original had. I mean, really, can you imagine Jay and Silent Bob showing up in the first film? That would tanta-fucking-mount to actually having Fonzie playing the Principal in Scream instead of Winkler playing some other guy! Hey, it's funny and welcome, but it's also just a teeny-weeny beanie-weanie bit silly.
Williamson's notes set up a great many story elements, but left a lot more open to Krugerian interpretation. Ehren, in turn, left certain frames unpainted so that Wes Craven (a veteran slasher flick writer himself) could complete the creations. Wes' influence shows in good ways and other ways that are, again, quite familiar. Here the horror homages feel less like self-aware metafictional references than like rip-roaring repeats from the Craven Cache! When we find a spot of A Nightmare on Elm Street or even Shocker tossed into our collective salads, it's hard to see these as wink-wink-nudge-nudge moments with tongue planted firmly in ass-cheek as they feel like rehashed repeats required for slasher sequel resolution.
In truth, however, Scream 3 is what it sets out to be... entertaining, scary, funny and fun! Sure it falls into many of the same clichés that the series originally spoofed and spiked to the bloody court, but this is still a Wes Craven film and still a lot of scary coolness. Instead of falling flat as shaken-up seltzer, Scream 3 both furthers and completes the Scream trilogy (at least for now), taking us back into the history of the story for new revelations and still surprising us along the way to earn Three Stars out of Five! And that's not bad, folks! With Marco Beltrami returning to score the film, Wes Craven still helming the picture and the killer cast we've grown to love and root for, Scream 3 is far from a waste of time. Still no nudity, though. Sigh... See you in the next reel.
Click HERE for More Reviews and Relive the Saga