Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective (Blu-ray)
Directed by Ryan Turek
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Author's Note: Still Screaming is only available in Lionsgate’s Blu-ray box set, the contents of which also consist of the original Scream trilogy (review here), and Scream: The Inside Story (review here).
In Scream 4, excitable publicist Rebecca Walters (Allison Brie) tells Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), ”You were my 90s!”, implying that the fictitious iconic reporter defined that decade. Rebecca might as well have been talking about the Scream franchise on the whole as anyone growing up then can attest.
Wes Craven’s slasher opus was a staggering success and the two sequels that immediately followed felt more like “events” and less like tired installments in a worn out series. To this day, I’ve rarely had as memorable an experience as seeing both sequels on opening night in jam-packed and enthusiastic houses. So while the franchise hasn’t yet endured as long as other genre mainstays, Ghostface has already carved out his own spot in the genre lexicon. A retrospective documentary seemed inevitable and, actually, feels long overdue.
That’s where Still Screaming: The Ultimate Scary Movie Retrospective comes in. With an impressive assortment of participants, a candid approach to the material and some hilarious asides, it’s hard to imagine any Scream fan feeling slighted by the material assembled by writer/director Ryan Turek.
It’s true that the stuff surrounding the original Scream feels a bit more redundant than the rest, but that’s only because this ‘Scary Movie’s’ behind-the-scenes issues have been widely publicized at this point. We all know that Drew Barrymore was originally intended to star, and how Bob Weinstein helped Craven circumvent additional MPAA issues by convincing them the project was a comedy. This is an in-depth look at the franchise and, as such, this stuff needs to be covered. Besides, Turek finds plenty of ways to keep it feeling fresh and fun; interviews with the Ghostface mask manufacturers, a hilarious Henry Winkler anecdote and lots of general factoids really make this feel like an all-inclusive look at the Woodsboro Massacre.
Moving into Scream 2 is even more rewarding. Craven remains wonderfully wry, discussing the lure to come back and his approach to the material. He even takes the time to curse out those responsible for leaking the original sequel script online while part 2 was still shooting. Additionally, Jerry O’ Connell, Duane Martin, Laurie Metcalf and Elise Neal join the “surviving” participants – each with their own charming contributions. O’ Connell remembers his big cafeteria dance was largely unrehearsed, Neal remains good-natured yet bitter about Martin’s upstaging of an ad-lib while Jamie Kennedy laments the decision to kill Randy. The most memorable, though, has go to be Martin’s hilarious insistence that his character simply leave the film in a taxi cab rather than stick around to be killed. The challenges of upping the ante for a sequel are touched upon, as well as all the different endings that were considered along the way.
One of the best things about Still Screaming is how it gives equal time to Scream’s immediate follow-ups, rather than treating them like unwanted stepchildren. In some ways, Scream 3’s section offers the most fascinating stuff – presumably because the movie itself is a whopping mess. Nobody seems to have any illusions as to the quality of part 3, least of all Ehren Krueger. His interview is honest and compelling, opening up on what he was going for when writing the threequel. Parker Posey, Heather Matarazzo, Patrick Warburton and Scott Foley are all fun participants and there’s some really great stuff to be gleamed from their conversations. Most hilarious being Foley’s “in character” moment that resulted in Lance Henricksen being hurled to the ground.
Scream 4 is mentioned but never discussed – presumably because the Weinsteins didn’t want any information leaking out about the franchise’s latest installment beforehand. That doesn’t make Still Screaming feel any less complete, though. This documentary’s focus lies solely on that period of 90s horror that produced three Screams, and tacking the fourth one on the end might’ve made it feel more like an odd and unfocused addendum. Its inclusion is hardly missed and likely wouldn’t have been nearly as honest, considering how recently it was made.
Still Screaming offers no shortage of participants. From the aforementioned folks, to key crew members such as editor Patrick Lussier, composer Marco Beltrami, FX man Howard Berger and producer Cathy Konrad. Virtually no stone is unturned with regards to these productions, and that goes a long way toward making this feel like the franchise tell-all fans have been dying for. Sadly, as has been the case with most Scream-related content lately, Kevin Williamson is missing in action. Whether it’s a result of his own fatigue with the series, or that his schedule as “The Vampire Diaries” showrunner wouldn’t permit, remains to be seen – though it’s an absence worth noting.
Still Screaming is a lot of fun. It moves like a bullet and really had me waxing all kinds of nostalgic about that time when Scream was all the rage. While it’s true that Lionsgate relegated this film to their “Scream: Five Film Collection” Blu-ray box set, the price remains incredibly affordable – hovering just around $20 on Amazon since the day it was released. This makes it a definite no-brainer for fans of the series. With the holidays coming fast, what better stocking stuffer could there be for the slasher fan who has everything? Definitely recommended.
4 out of 5