Why the First Scream is Always the Best Scream

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Welcome back to Scream week here on the randomness! I went through the Scream series as a whole yesterday, but I’m sure you noticed something important. I was kind of leaning towards the first Scream than the last installment.  This is because I am a fan of the first three (the ones from my teenage years) than the fourth movie and television series (my late twenties). The last two aren’t the worst or the best, I just never got around to checking them out. I figured it wasn’t the best since most movie marathons for Scream leave out the fourth installment. Same goes for the television show. I’m too old for MTV (I’m pushing it watching Catfish each week) and it wasn’t loved by fans.

Long disclaimer. Sorry. So, I will be giving three reasons why the original is the best Scream.  Why three reasons? I can talk about this all day but no one has time for that.

Let us begin!

Characters

Each of the characters in Scream does fill a certain requirement. We have the promiscuous one; we have the innocent (final girl), sweet boyfriend, nerd, and jock. What I do like about these characters are that they are more than that label. They are highly aware of where they stand, but they had more going on than just fulfilling a stereotype.

As an example. The innocent or final girl Sydney is more than just the final survivor (even though she technically isn’t…shhh).  From the beginning, she was resourceful and knew more about the world than people expected. She does not trust her instincts in the beginning, but she sure does by the end. She is not just someone we can root for she is someone we can watch grow. She learns how to trust herself and her instincts.

I will not lie. Randy (the nerd) is my favorite character. He is the one to go through the horror rules and spells out where we, the audience, are in the horror movie formula.  I think I like him the most because that was me as a teenager. I was (ok..am) a movie nerd.  Trying to find the pattern in my life and relate it to movies. I do not do that anymore…yeah…oh god.

Building of the Plot

The plot is not something to write home about. It centers about teenagers paying for their parents past mistakes. The final kills and revels happen at a teenage house party. What does truly do love about the plot is the suspense. After the first kill in the movie, it slows down. It introduces the characters and slowly builds the tension. There are little outlets of pressure let out here and there but by the time you get to the final house party scenes, the tension explodes in spectacular ways. You, as a viewer, are moving through the story with the characters instead of the killer. You are just as confused and lost as they are. When they get a new piece of information, you do. You are along for the ride with them. When the tension builds in that small town and within the characters, you feel it. I LOVE that. One complaint I have about many horror films is the lack of tension. There is tension being built in scenes where the killer is not even around. In other horror films, the tension only shows up when you hear a noise or see the victim through the killer’s eyes.

Scream does more than that.

Different Horror Generation

Much like other Wes Craven films and Kevin Williamson’s writings, there is an underlining commentary in their work. This time, it is about how teenagers are more aware of their world than adults think they are. They are sarcastic and engulfed in pop culture. The ‘in jokes’ on horror are funny but in real life that is how my friends and I talked. Even now I will make references to movies when something weird happens in my life.

The movie is also a commentary on how desensitized we are to violence now. Compared to the heyday of horror, people are not as grossed out or as easily scared. It takes a long time for many of the characters to become scared. There is a character named Tatum that mocks the killer. It was meant to be slightly tongue and cheek, but it shows that it will take a lot more to scare us as an audience. Is that a good thing or is that the worst thing that could have happened to us in society? The movie obviously doesn’t answer that, but I like to think about that question when something horrible happens.

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That is why Scream is one of my favorites in the series.  I won’t lie, the second and third aren’t bad but nothing beats the original run of Sydney and the Ghost-face killer.

Stick around because next week we will be talking about some real horror.

The Investigation Discovery Channel.

Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

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Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street Dream Warriors

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Welcome back! This month I will be talking about the horror movies that I watched growing up and loved to this day. Yes, even me, someone who was scared of Chuckie from Child’s Play, have favorite horror film franchises. First up?

Freddy Krueger and the Elm Street Dream Warriors

If you do not know about The Nightmare on Elm Street series, here is a general overview. Groups of friends keep having nightmares about a man who is burned, wearing a green/red sweater and claw glove. Soon, those dreams are becoming a reality, and slowly each kid starts to die in their sleep. This man was Freddy Krueger, and this group of kids was only the beginning.

I saw the first movie of this franchise when I was 12 years old.  I had a slumber party, and someone brought the film with them. That was a requirement when you came to my house. Must bring one movie of your choosing. The movie scared the crap out of me, but it stayed with me.  Even though I was scared, I went looking for the other movies to watch on my own time. There are a few movies that I have not seen since my original watch through, Nightmare 2: Freddy’s Revenge comes to mind. Some I look at every year in October like a favorite Christmas movie, Nightmare 1,3 and 7 for instance.  This series has stayed with me because it aged well enough that I now pick up on the issues being discussed. Makes this series go from being just scary for kids and teenagers to a look at societies woes as an adult.

Let me preface this by saying that I am talking about the Wes Craven/Nancy run of movies. I’m not a fan of the series when it killed off the last of the Elm Street kids.  Like Wes Craven said in the documentary Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, there is no coherent storyline when it comes to this series. Too many hands in the pot. So, I will be talking about my love for the movies where I feel Freddy was dealing with a true nemesis or hero of the story, Nancy Thompson.

Why do you like this series so much?

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I think the reason I love this series so much is that it was not just some slasher flick. So many slasher flicks out there have a killer just killing for the hell of it. This set of movies had a purpose and a message for each film.  The production team did not rely on the typical morality tale that is throughout most 80’s slasher films. You know, the virgin is the final girl while the ‘slut’ falls on nothing and is dead instantly. It is dehumanizing actually. I love that all the characters in this series are flawed in little ways. Even Freddy’s true nemesis, Nancy has flaws that usually would make her dead meat in any other film.

Nancy and Freddy: Heaven and Hell Personified

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Speaking of Nancy Thompson, she is one of my favorite final girls. Yes, I know she dies in the third movie but let’s not kid ourselves. In my head, even in death, she tormented Freddy Krueger. Without that, New Nightmare would not have had the impact it had on fans of the series (more on that soon).  I think she is truly my favorite final girl because of how she ultimately dismisses Freddy in the first film. It was a stabbing or shotgun blast to the head. No. It was a speech about how she takes all the power she ever gave to him away. Without that fear for him to feed off of he has no authority to hurt her in her real or dream life.  It doesn’t end violently she just walks away, and he is gone. If this were the only movie to exist with this villain, I would have been satisfied. Nancy as a character was relatable and was the only one to try to make a plan. She did her research, she figured out what the parents of Elm Street did and came up with a scheme to end the madness. While her friends/boyfriend just dismissed the notion of a dream killer, she knew better. It was nice seeing a final girl have some gumption and earn the final girl spot. She didn’t stumble into it because she obtained from sex. Please. That is a stupid requirement.

Continuing with characters there is a reason Freddy Krueger is one of my favorite horror movie icons. He is truly terrifying. He isn’t a physical force. He is in your head. He is in your dreams. That is truly screwed up. Freddy Krueger isn’t just running around attacking in the dead of night. Freddy is in your dreams and can attack you when you fall asleep. Your most vulnerable. That includes the brightest hours of the day. Even worse, Freddy knows all your deepest darkest fears. The things that you place deep down into your subconscious Freddy will bring to light. While being chased by a knife-wielding maniac with nothing to lose is scary so is someone who will never truly go away presenting your deepest fears to you. Freddy is already dead.  There is no real way of getting rid of him. That is a lot scarier to me as a kid because I had some gnarly nightmares growing up. If I can have that scary of nightmares, who knows if it wasn’t a mysterious force directing them? It felt more plausible than a scary knife-wielding maniac. Though, now, it is possible that I die at the hands of a manic the way the world is today.

The Ideas and Issues That Run Through Elm Street

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I guess what I am saying is these films have staying power because the ideas behind them never age. They do not get laughable with age like all the 80’s clothing and pop culture tidbits that are scattered around. The idea that sometimes to end the nightmare you need to stop giving power to the person or situation. Easier said than done. I noticed issues like the generational gap between child and parent, eating disorders, abortion, alcoholism and teenage fads and consumerism. Freddy and the various character react to these issues that were plaguing the 80’s, and I can guarantee they still plague this current generation as well. The movies were not coming right out with it, but these ideas and issues were in the Elm Street movies and did jump out at me once I was much older.

So, my gushing is getting out of hand here. I think I will always hold this series or franchise in high regard.  It has so much going for it than just some slasher film (not that I hate the typical slasher film…more on that soon).  It had strong messages that went beyond just appealing to the 80’s mindset. Even today, a lot of the issues and ideas presented in these films get people thinking and debating. That is the mark of a good movie in my book.

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Stick around because coming up I will be defending my absolute favorite installment in the Nightmare series. I feel it is underrated and deserves more credit.  Tomorrow I will be supporting New Nightmare or Nightmare 7.

Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.

Tales from my Childhood: The Chuckie Diaries or Why I Stopped Being Worried by Horror Films and Now Enjoy Them

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Welcome back to the randomness my dear friends! I want to tell you a story.

I was about six years old. One of my favorite things to do was go to Blockbuster to rent some movies with my family. I would be completely overwhelmed by all the choices and all the movies that I haven’t seen yet. I would wander the aisle in amazement of the choices. However, one fateful trip to Blockbuster put me face to face with an evil I have never seen before.

Chuckie. Blockbuster, back in the 90s, would put posters up around the store. At some point in October, they put up a Childs Play poster that faced the doors. I walked in with my family like normal and my eyes went right to it. That doll face scared and his smile skewed with an emotion I have never felt before. The poster was simple, but something about it scared me to my core. I refused to go into the store, my mom sitting in the car with me while my dad rented movies for the weekend. I refused to go into that store until they took down the poster for the Christmas holidays.

Since then I have seen the Child’s Play movies and laugh at my weird reaction to that poster. Those movies are terrible. They aren’t scary, but something about that poster evoked a feeling I didn’t understand or want to understand. Something about that poster brought out something that even humanity doesn’t want to think about.

Horror films do that to us. Well, most of us. Some are just weird and find horror movies (even the genuine dark horror) funny. Regardless, horror movies make us face something that we don’t want to. The dark side of humanity. When something goes wrong with the human race.

I didn’t want to face that feeling at the tender age of six but as I got older, I got less afraid of embracing that feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a big scary cat when it comes to horror films. It is easier for me to analyze a horror film than just sit and enjoy. I have to rationalize the story to truly enjoy it.

I guess that is one reason why I have started to like horror. Some just enjoy looking at that side of humanity. Some just enjoy horror ironically. Some actually look at the story as a morality tale. There are a lot of documentaries on the subject that look deeply into horror films with the people who made the genre famous.  Never Sleep Again and Fall to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film come to mind and are available online.

Either way, we as a society enjoy watching horror play out in front of us. Maybe because we know it is fake. We know that the likelihood of that happening to us is very slim (unless you are a fan of the Investigation Discovery channel like me). Maybe we just like to feel scared.

For the next month, I will be looking at my favorite horror film franchises, why they are truly great at making us scared and defending a few films from those franchises. I WILL make all of you love Halloween 3: Season of the Witch if it kills me.

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Until then, the randomness has ended. Hope you enjoyed.