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“What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?” Ranking Scream: The Meta and the Madness

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A decade later, a new Scream is finally back in theaters, and all good horror buffs are bingeing the series in anticipation. Returning to its unique dissection of the slasher genre is always a blast, and while they have all earned my adoration, some made the cut above others in my ranking.


1. Scream

 It goes without saying that the original is killer. Scream released during a drought in quality slashers and mainstream horror; a cesspool of b-movie sequels trying to recapture the magic of films like Halloween, with writing and acting as chaotic as a meth lab explosion. It cut off the genre’s head, filled its corpse with new ideas, and injected it with some much-needed adrenaline. The script, which seriously should have been nominated for Best Original Screenplay if The Academy ever gave horror the time of day, served us a meta slasher whodunit that kept audiences guessing, laughing, and clutching their pearls. The cheek, the nerve, the gall, the audacity, and the gumption it took to kill off Hollywood royalty Drew Barrymore in the film’s opening made it clear that all bets were off!

My inaugural viewing of Scream took place hidden away in my cousin’s bedroom after finding the VHS on her bookshelf. I saw the cover art and, having briefly heard about the movie on TV, thought something along the lines of, “Why is she gagging so?” I was perhaps too young to be watching (around 9) and most certainly too immature to understand the intricacies of its script, but everyone thought I was playing video games, and I knew I could get away with a screening. I was immediately invested and sitting on the edge of my seat, desperate to know who the killer was while I covered my eyes from the gore. Over time, my love for the original only appreciated, especially for the personal story at its center and the impeccable cast. No character was written off as cannon fodder: The bitchy bestie Tatum and ruthless gay icon Gale Weathers proved women in horror can still have depth, and gave us two to fear second only to Ghostface himself; Randy the Meta Machine explained horror and its tropes to both characters and audience, essentially “don’t go in there!” personified; Billy and Stu, the OG killers, brought brooding hair, a touch of homoeroticism, and a scene-stealing wackadoo performance by Matthew Lillard; and the final girl herself, Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, was the girl next door with bangs and a backbone.

The original Scream deserves all the praise and respect it’s earned and retained throughout its 25 years. It lands the #1 spot on this list partially due to this reverence, but also because the quality of the writing, acting, and direction make it one of the few films I can watch ad nauseum. Like Sidney self-referentially states in the fourth movie: “Don’t fuck with the original.”

Gale’s Best Lewk: The first time we see Gale is in her lime green blazer and skirt, and it is everything. She stepped onto set and said, “I’ve arrived,” hitting us with a flamboyant representation of 90s fashion that Gen Z only wishes they could have pulled off during their recent mass appropriation of 90s culture.

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2. Scream 4

 It was a bit of a struggle deciding between Scream 4 and the next one on my list, but ultimately I gave it to the 2011 sequel that, to me, did what the series does best and elevated the genre. Released about a decade after the previous entry (much like the upcoming 5cream), the film’s tagline, “New Decade, New Rules,” proved true. Not so much focused on Sidney’s past, the fourth film in the series is more a rumination on the fame a tale like hers inspires and the jealous rage those without the glory may experience. This time around, Ghostface is the stuff of legend, and this new generation of teenage cutting boards almost can’t believe they’re in a scary movie.

Replete with a mega-meta movie-within-a-movie opening that highlights Scream’s influence on our world as much as within that of the films themselves, some of the better kills and thrills in the series (poor Olivia’s bedroom looked like something out of a Rob Zombie flick), and another fresh young cast, Scream 4 feels like going home again. The fact that a fourth film was released after such a long hiatus also upped the tension by suggesting the possibility that one of the original trio loses their fight against Ghostface – it didn’t happen, but the gamble is back in 2022.

The real star of Scream 4 is Emma Roberts as Jill, who was almost certainly cast due to her nasty performance as Madison Montgomery, the narcissistic witch you love to hate in American Horror Story: Coven. Initially, a demure clone of her cousin Sidney, the climax reveals Jill to be the killer seeking the fame she’s witnessed Sid achieve. What follows is an iconic Reaction Whore™ moment where we see Jill, thinking she’s won, proceed to rip out her hair, stab herself, bash her head into a wall, and throw herself onto a glass table to complete her transition from defenseless victim to survivor and, most importantly, celebrity. The insanity of this moment had me cheering for the psycho like I wanted her to win, so maybe Kevin Williamson was on to something… The irony of Jill’s attempt at going viral is that Sidney’s fame is undesirable; she’s suffered immensely because of it. Jill killed all her friends, her mother, and even herself to attain it. Scream 4 asks: “Was it worth it?”.

Gale’s Best Lewk: Listen, Gale wasn’t stunting pretty here like she used to. Her writing career was struggling, and she got stabbed in a barn! However, I’ll give props to the Bedpan Couture hospital gown she wore during her showdown with the killer.


3. Scream 2

 In terms of pure fun, Scream 2 is a fantastic slasher sequel. It is well-written and brings us back into the world of our main trio without a hitch. The college setting is a natural progression of the story, and the cast is full of rising and current stars of the time (hello, Sarah Michelle Gellar!). It features a classically shocking Screamopening, an unhinged killer (hello, Laurie Metcalf!), the best chase sequence in the series in which Gale hides from Ghostface in a sound studio, and even the brutal death of our beloved Randy Meeks. So why isn’t this, at the very least, number two on my ranking? Well, it just doesn’t do anything new for the series other than be a surprisingly good sequel.

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The original constantly toyed with the idea of what it means to be in a horror movie, and Scream 4 took that a step further by asking if the starring role is worth the price of admission. While Scream 2 touches on the influence of movies and media on the American psyche through the lens of copycat killer Mickey’s motive, this point is sidelined by Mrs. Loomis’ revenge quest. Mickey is unceremoniously shot dead by Mrs. L, and she wants bloody vengeance for the death of her son Billy, plain and simple. The film’s reflection on the genre thus boils down to an expected discussion on sequels (and again, it does this well) rather than subverting our expectation of what should happen next. Also, I need a horror nerd vent session: Sarah Michelle Gellar’s chase scene in I Know What You Did Last Summer is far more suspenseful and tragic than what we get here; not to mention, running around a college theatre dodging foam cobblestones pales in comparison to the other Final Parties in the series (and yes, I get it, Sidney is staging her own finale this time). And finally, let’s be honest with ourselves here; no matter how cute you think it is, Jerry O’Connell’s cafeteria serenade is a moment that should be wiped from Scream canon. Sue me!

Gale’s Best Lewk: The sleeveless black dress with her red highlights is the best Gale has looked in the entire series. She’ll step on your neck AND get that story, sweetie!


4. Scream 3

This one is at the bottom of most rankings, and it isn’t just because of Gale’s hedge clipper bangs. Scream 3focused so much on ending the trilogy that it didn’t stop to think why it was doing so. Per the horror rules, the third film in a trilogy brings it all back to the beginning. As such, we get an underwhelming retcon of the original film. Roman, the director of Stab 3 and Ghostface himself, is revealed to be Sidney’s neglected half-brother and the director, if you will, behind Billy and Stu’s 1996 murder spree. While I’m not necessarily bothered by this revelation (although I understand why some feel it betrays the spark of the original), it felt contrived and rushed in its delivery. Sidney never even meets Roman until he takes off his mask during the big reveal; less “you’re the killer?” and more “who the hell are you?”. Add to this a series of underwhelming kills, pacing issues, and a cheesy ending that a series such as this should be satirizing rather than earnestly taking part in, and you get the weakest entry in the series. Randy would be horrified.

HOWEVER, this is still a Scream movie, and I cannot leave here only speaking poorly of the threequel. The cursed production of Stab 3 actually works as a logical setting for an entry in the series, and the script is genuinely funny. We are graced with the gloriously goofy Parker Posey as Jennifer Jolie, the Stab actor portraying Gale Weathers, and her buddy-cop pairing with the real Gale allows them to riff off one another in sublime fashion. The film’s comedy is truly the best thing about it. Another outstanding example is a set-piece involving Jennifer’s house and fax machine that exhibits almost I Love Lucy tier farce. Since Sidney is less of a focal point early on, actors Cox, Arquette, and Posey can really dive into their characters and shine. Sidney also undergoes some growth befitting the end of a trilogy, making important strides in overcoming her fears and isolation from the outside world. And lastly, setting the Final Party in an old Hollywood mansion complete with hidden passages and a basement filled with horror props is truly emblematic of the series. It’s just a shame that Scream 3 got bogged down in the trilogy trappings it should have been ripping apart.

Gale’s Best Lewk: The red leather pants, white turtleneck, hoodie, and “those bangs” that Gale wears to Jennifer Jolie’s house is an underrated gem. She is the millennium.

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Alex Warrick is a film lover and gaymer living the Los Angeles fantasy by way of an East Coast attitude. Interested in all things curious and silly, he was fearless until a fateful viewing of Poltergeist at a young age changed everything. That encounter nurtured a morbid fascination with all things horror that continues today. When not engrossed in a movie, show or game he can usually be found on a rollercoaster, at a drag show, or texting his friends about smurfs.

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It Came From Shudder: December Edition

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It’s the first Friday of December! You know what that means, it’s time to share a small selection of movies that we’ve watched, or are looking forward to watching on Shudder. Look, we get it, Shudder serves up tons of content and it’s constantly adding new stuff to its catalog. So we’re here to help you with a handful of recommendations.

What to watch on Shudder this Month

A Wounded Fawn
This trailer caught my eye from the start. From what I gather, it’s about a woman who goes on a weekend getaway with a man she’s been seeing who happens to be a serial killer. Starring Sarah Lind and Josh Ruben, this movie looks very suspenseful… and weird? I can’t wait to watch this and get to the bottom of all the weird visuals sprinkled into the trailer.

 

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Christmas Bloody Christmas
Directed by Joe Begos, this movie takes place on Christmas Eve and pits a record store owner against a violent homicidal robot Santa Claus. Yes, I know how that sounds, and yes, I’m sure it’s going to be awesome. The trailer looks so colorful, and it immediately transported me to my second most favorite time of the year, Christmas. Robo-Santa Plus looks brutal and over the top, two things I love in my horror. Christmas Bloody Christmas is available to stream on Shudder starting December 9th.

 

Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge
If you’re a fan of horror anthologies like we, then you’re going to love Scare Package 2: Rad Chad’s Revenge. The highly anticipated sequel to fan favorite Scare Package follows Rad Chad’s funeral, where attendees must survive death traps based on Chad’s favorite movies.

A Nightmare on Elm Street
Shudder outdid themselves this time. Bringing us not just A Nightmare on Elm Street, but the entire collection! Do yourself a favor and rewatch these movies immediately, because I can guarantee you it’s been too long since the last time you did. As a bonus make sure to give Scream, Queen! My Nightmare on Elm Street a watch. Seeing Nightmare on Elm Street 2 actor Mark Patton’s perspective and experience as a gay actor makes for some of the most touching, compelling TV in recent memory.

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Joe Bob’s Goultide Get-Together
Live streaming Friday, December 16th at 9 PM Eastern on Shudder TV. This holiday-themed episode will surely be filled with fun facts, awesome interviews, and a double feature that will have us all tweeting in excitement. As of now, we have no idea which movies will play and that’s half the fun! The other half? Guessing Darcy’s cosplays for the night. If you have never participated in a Joe Bob live stream, make sure you tune in on time and have Twitter ready to engage! It’s a good time. If you happen to miss the live stream, no worries! The episode will be available to stream later on in the weekend.

Next time you’re looking for something to watch on Shudder, make sure to stream these titles!

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There’s News Down in Newville: ‘The Mean One’ (Horror-Parody of ‘The Grinch’) Trailer Has Arrived

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As the release of The Grinch horror parody draws near, The Mean One trailer is finally here!

David Howard Thornton, who has recently skyrocketed in popularity due to his fantastic performance as Art the Clown in the Terrifier films, plays the titular “Mean One.” Given his previous success with making a monster that can be as entertaining as terrifying, he is a perfect match for the role of the antagonist in this Christmas horror comedy.

Directed by Steven Lamorte, the film follows a grown-up Cindy You-Know-Who (Krystle Martin) who witnessed her mother be murdered by the Christmas-hating green monster years prior. As the trailer shows Cindy arming herself with weapons, Krystle Martin’s character promises to make for a badass female lead.

One marked difference between this film and its source material is that it gives us a monster amongst humans rather than a creature amongst other creatures. Judging by the trailer, that will be far from the only difference offered by the horror parody of the Dr. Seuss Christmas favorite.

He may not stop Christmas from coming, but he will make it his own.

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Check out The Mean One in theaters on December 9th!

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