As some avid readers of my blog know 1990s slasher horror films are my forte, but they are a bit formulaic, especially when iconic moments from one film, informed the others. In the year 2000, after the explosive popularity of these genre films, noted comedians the Wayans examined those trends and brought an extra can of silliness to the slashings, as those films got a spoofing in Scary Movie.
In a marvellous send up to both the Scream Franchise and I Know What You Did Last Summer, highschooler Drew was brutally killed by a masked figure, the killing sends shockwaves through the school; especially to Cindy Campbell and her chums. Cindy notes this is the first anniversary of the time they got drunk and killed a guy, drunk driving. Now the gang is paying with their blood, as this Ghostface is picking them off one by one. Can Cindy et al. get to the bottom of this deranged killing spree, or will they die from more than laughter?
Those who have had the pleasure of watching the original Scream might notice some similarities with the plot. Scary Movie opts for an almost scene-by-scene parody, even roping in Carmen Electra to recreate the classic opening. But it is Anna Farris who manages to pivot one of her earliest roles here to certified stardom. In the words of the hit Smash Mouth song, Cindy is not the smartest tool in the shed, but neither are her friends, such as Greg Phillipe who takes his ultra-aggressiveness to the point of comic absurdity. Yet it has to be Ghostface, who takes the crown for his abject goofiness, outside the iconic Wassup scene, he can have you in stitches by trying to comically blend into a scene. Suffice to say, he’s not the smartest villain, but he doesn’t have to be when his prey is these teens.
The bulk of films that Scary Movie parody is to be expected with a title like Scary Movie, the recent crop of teenage slashers is prime for the pasquinade. Being a Miramax Production their films are also picked apart, with the likes of Shakespeare in Love getting a subtle spoofing, doubly so since Scream is one of their properties. The soundtrack is also a fine selection, but that feels like it is to be expected when examining the territory they are parodying. Fountains of Wayne, The Bloodhound Gang, and more, all give the highschoolers a then-appropriate youthful feel straight out of the late 90s.
In four years a lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same, while it would have been fascinating to see Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer shelved attempt at this premise, the Wayans should be proud. Scary Movie captures the feeling it is going for in spades; Goofy to the nth degree, with a reverence for the horror films it parodies that would make Ghostface proud, and a comic sensibility that makes rewatching cultural lampoon a blast. Much like the continued success, brought their Final Girls back in the path of danger. Scary Movie feels like the start of a beautiful franchise.
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