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Case Number 00011

Buy Scream at Amazon


Miramax // 1996 // 111 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // April 30th, 1999

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All Rise...

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Maria's B-Movie Mayhem: Scream / Barn Of The Naked Dead (published September 9th, 2011) and Scream (Blu-Ray) (published April 4th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

Someone has taken their love of scary movies one step too far!

Opening Statement

Scream is a real gem of a movie that burst on the scene in 1996 and took the entertainment industry by storm. It uses some very good acting, lots of action, an intelligent and campy tongue-in-cheek script by the hottest writer in the industry, and a few well-placed cameos to deliver two hours of nonstop fun.

The Evidence

The best and most important element of this disc is the story. Penned by Kevin Williamson (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Halloween H20), the story revolves around a sleepy town in California where a number of gruesome murders take place. Someone is slashing teens apart in this sleepy little town, and with all the twists and turns of the script, you probably won't be able to guess the culprit until the end. Rather than take the age-old spin of a movie within a movie, Williamson puts a far different spin on the action by having the characters constantly compare the action on our screen with a typical slasher film. This makes for many funny, yet tense moments throughout the film. Numerous references to our favorite slasher films of days gone by, such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street and the like, make for several hilarious moments. It is also worth noting that Wes Craven, the master of the horror genre (with films like Nightmare on Elm Street and The Hills Have Eyes to his credit), directs the film.

Another highlight of this film is the acting in this film. Neve Campbell turns in another terrific performance, one that solidifies my opinion that she is an actress with great potential. Drew Barrymore adds a wonderful (if short-lived) performance. Skeet Ulrich does a credible job as well. But, in my mind the two that absolutely stole this movie are Matthew Lillard as Stuart and Jamie Kennedy as Randy. Lillard's whacked out turn as Stuart infuses each scene he is in with energy and is a huge net plus for the film. But, Kennedy is the one that completely steals the show both by design and accident. The character of Randy is the local loser who LOVES horror films. I mean, the guy works in the local video store! His commentary on the rules of surviving a horror movie is some of the best writing of the film, and Kennedy plays it for all its worth.

The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2:35:1, but sadly is not anamorphically enhanced. Too bad. While this is a fine transfer from the people at Disney, it could have been better. And a good anamorphic transfer is the key to reaching those lofty heights. That said, this transfer is probably about as good as it gets without being anamorphic. The colors were deeply saturated and very rich with no bleeding or ringing. The only thing this transfer really lacked was a certain sharpness that is present with the finest transfers from the likes of New Line, Warner Brothers, Universal and Columbia. Oh well, until Disney changes their stance on anamorphic I'm afraid this is as good as it's going to get.

The audio is fairly good as well. The disc contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that does a credible job. The forward soundstage is wide and deep enough, with good placement of vocals. Dialogue was not too thin as sometimes happens on other discs. The soundtrack makes good use of surrounds and LFE channels when the need calls for it, but its not going to tax your system. This is just not that kind of movie.

This disc includes a commentary by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven. The commentary is quite entertaining and informative. It must be noted this copy of the Scream is the original release. Since this disc arrived on the scene, Disney has decided to release a Collector's Series version that includes some additional extras, including a production featurette, theatrical trailers, TV commercials, behind-the-scenes footage, Q and A with the cast and a special effects gallery.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I really have little negative to say about this disc, except for the anamorphic issue discussed above.

Closing Statement

Scream is everything a horror movie should be—funny, scary, surprising and most of all entertaining!

The Verdict

Acquitted on all counts. The finest horror film to come out in several years, maybe even this decade.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 80
Extras: 75
Acting: 85
Story: 95
Judgment: 84

Perp Profile

Studio: Miramax
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Horror

Distinguishing Marks

• Theatrical Trailers
• Wes Craven Commentary
• Kevin Williamson Commentary


• IMDb

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