Plot: What’s it about?
The year was 1996 and I was at school in Manhattan, Kansas (Kansas State University to be exact). There’s not a lot to do in Manhattan unless it weighs 12oz. and has a foamy head. The other thing to do is watch movies (or occasionally study, I suppose) so when a friend of mine said “Hey, let’s go see ‘Scream'” I begrudgingly agreed. By the time I saw it in theaters, “Scream” was already somewhat of a sleeper hit. The movie somewhat re-invented the slasher/horror genre, but it did it by – get this – making fun of the slasher/horror movies of the past. The movie went onto inspire three sequels (the latest of which, “Scream 4” is hitting theaters this spring hence the new Blu-rays) and made stars out of the relatively unknown cast.
The movie opens as we meet Casey (Drew Barrymore) who’s home on a Friday night watching a movie. However she gets a phone call, one thing leads to another and she’s brutally stabbed to death by someone wearing a ghost mask. Naturally this sends shockwaves through the small town. Coincidentally this is the one year anniversary of the death of Sidney Prescott’s (Neve Campbell) mother. Sidney suspects that the two deaths might somehow be related and this gives local greedy reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) just the opportunity she’s looking for to get some new information for her book. The movie centers around a group of high schoolers who, as we might expect, get killed off one by one. Will Sidney be able to find the killer and bring them to justice or will they get her just like they got her mother?
What else can be said? “Scream” can now be considered a modern classic and, fifteen years after its initial release it’s still as good as it was the first time I saw it. Yes, it’s gory and graphic but it’s supposed to be. Most of what made the original so successful was the fact that they weren’t trying to create anything new. They were taking movies and mentioning them by name (“Friday the 13th”, “Prom Night”, “Halloween”) and giving us the “rules” of the horror movies. They were telling us what we already knew and we LOVED it! While I wasn’t too much of a fan of the later two installments, the first is certainly the best in my opinion. If, for some reason, you’ve never had the chance to see “Scream”, then by all means check it out.
Video: How does it look?
Back in 1997, a year after this movie came out, I was probably one of the few who owned a LaserDisc player and I rented the disc from a store in Kansas City to transfer the movie to VHS (remember that). What I’m getting at is that I’ve seen “Scream” in pretty much every available format and this new Blu-ray looks far beyond what I’d expected. The 2.35:1 VC-1 HD transfer isn’t perfect, but contrast has been improved and the black levels are spot on. The red of the blood looks rich and vivid and detail has been cranked up a few notches. Thankfully there’s no digital noise reduction to speak of, so we get a more natural-looking transfer. “Scream” has never looked better and it’s hard to believe that the movie is now 15 years old.
Audio: How does it sound?
The movie has been re-mastered with a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack that certainly does the film justice. Granted, the movie has never been one of the shining examples of dynamic audio as the front stage handles most of the action. Still, dialogue is clear and crisp and some of the surround effects do still sound pretty good (the knife slashing through the air comes to mind). This isn’t the best example of a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, but then again I wasn’t expecting it to be.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I was a bit perplexed when I saw a Lionsgate logo on the back of the box as the “Scream” titles have traditionally been handled by Disney (via Miramax). Evidently this is no longer the case and just as “Memento”, which was previously handled by Sony (Columbia/Tri-Star) is now under the Lionsgate umbrella. The good news is that all of the special features from the standard DVD are still present. We get the same audio commentary with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson (who went onto direct “I Know What You Did Last Summer”) who tell us of the shoot and the unexpected success of the film. A couple of featurettes are also included, one with some behind the scenes footage and another “On the ‘Scream’ Set” with some cast and crew interviews. The theatrical trailer is also included.