Scream: LIVER ALONE, she’s pregnant

October 1996. Scream isn’t here yet, but it’s on it’s way. And as a slash hungry 12 year old, I have never been more hungry for anything. No video shop for this one. I forwent the sweet and sour chicken balls and the comfort of my own home, such was the level of importance. Written by the executive producer of Dawson’s Creek, and directed by the man responsible for everyone’s favourite melted kiddie fiddler Freddie Kruger, Just 17 favourite Skeet Ulrich, California Man’s Rose McGowan, and Matthew Lillard off Serial Mom were going to be in a high school horror film with blood, guts, gore, and a killer in a ridiculous mask. You’ll notice I didn’t mention Neve Campbell, well that’s because she’s terrible and Party of Five was a very difficult watch, thank you. I know you all have a soft spot for her since she snogged up Denise Richards in the swimming pool in whatever that film was you all found your dick on, but she’s rubbish. Regardless, hi, you looking for your demographic? Well you found her. Even though she’s 6 years away from being allowed to watch your film…

From the minute I saw the poster in the back of some American skate magazine I confused the local post office by insisting they order in once a month, I knew I had to find out everything I could about this film. In 1996, this was a hell of an ask. Between dial up internet – all information loading being potentially thwarted by cries of “GET OFF THE LINE I NEED TO USE THE PHONE!”, and my child’s pocket money not really covering the cost of a glossy publication such as Empire Magazine (nevermind the fact that it was often wrapped in plastic meaning there was no opportunity to check it even had the info I wanted before I purchased…) I had no chance. This only made the whole situation more desperate, and for the first time in my young life, I realised I would have to do something drastic if I didn’t want to wait a year to see the bastard thing.

There were girls in my year at school, taller, and with a grasp of how to apply their mum’s mascara, who would come into school on Monday and boast proudly of how they had seen a 15 certificate film at the weekend. Cursed with the small stature and roundest moon baby face in my class, this was too big of a risk for me, and I politely declined these invitations for fear of embarrassing us all and receiving a wallop from my mother when she would, my stupid little child brain imagined, have to come and collect me from PRISON. I’d never get a job, no one would love me, and I would be cursed to a life of crime, estranged from my ashamed family. All because I tried to watch Escape From L.A. No mate. I was okay with the video shop. But for this, something had to be done. I needed a plan.

Together, an equally enthusiastic friend and I, who shall remain nameless to protect her identity, made a pact that in May 1997, we would see this fucking film at the cinema. Maybe we’d never tell another soul if it meant staying out of the slammer, but we were going. Reflecting, I have no idea why I was so convinced I would end up in jail if I got caught trying to slip the net, but I’ve just now remembered those terrifying adverts for piracy on the beginning of every rental video and I guess maybe it’s not so baffling.

So, that’s how 6 months later, I came to be standing in front of the Pick n Mix counter at an unnamed cinema chain, hand in the small of my back like I’d seen them do on Casualty, and a customised pillow up my massive jumper. That’s right guys. After debating endlessly the ways to make me look older (mate was 5’ 10”, so didn’t really require much more than a few coats of war paint to make the grade), we decided to go with dressing me up as the one person that nobody in the customer service industry in 1997, today, or any other time in human history would argue with – a pregnant lady.

Yep. In a stroke of pre-teen genius, we had ripped open, half emptied, and re-stitched a £2 Primark pillow into a baby bump, strapped it on to me with a massive boob tube, and secured the whole situation with a tight vest, which I then covered in a baggy jumper and duffle coat. Pregnant Paddington Bear. No one looked at me twice. Not when we bought tickets. Not when we bought popcorn. Never. People even let me go before them in the toilet queue, and I got confused as to why. Then I remembered I was up the duff. And the film was starting in fifteen minutes, so I graciously accepted their offer, went and found my seat, and settled in. To date, this is still the most stupid/cool thing I’ve done probably, and my mother still has no idea. Very good.

Like this, but with far less time and effort put into it.

I’m not going to go too deep into the storyline, because if you’ve made it this far without seeing Scream, then I’ve got to assume that a) you don’t really care, and b) you don’t deserve me to hack into my word count with unnecessary plot dissection, you monster.

The film opens with what has to be, in my humble, possibly warped opinion, one of the best 12 minute sequences in any recent slasher film. Drew Barrymore is at home making popcorn in a blonde wig, and inexplicably huge jeans. After re-watching this the other day for the first time in a while, I have to tell you, they are even bigger than I remember. Anyway, her massive 90s house phone rings, and she answers. Creepy man voice on the other end has the wrong number. Then creepy voice calls back and wants to know her name. Then creepy voice calls back and wants to know if she has a boyfriend. Then creepy voice wants to know “who I’m looking at.” And you know, I know, we all knew – she’s fucked. The voice tells her that she wants to play a game, that he’s got her boyfriend tied to a chair on the patio, and that if she gets his scary movie based questions wrong – he’s gonna stab up her man. She gets them wrong, obvz, and boyfriend gets disembowelled. Then there’s the bonus round for her own life, and guess what? UHH URRRRR. So begins a man in mask chasing her around her house, and finally slitting her throat on her own front lawn as her parents walk straight past her and in the front door. Pretty soon after that, they find her gutted and hanging from a tree in the garden, and this is how you discover you can hold your breath for 12 minutes.

What an opener. What a time to be alive. Already this film is worth all the hard hours of stitching up the baby bump, and whatever prison sentence they give me when it falls out on the way to the car park after.

After that we’re introduced to a group of friends comprised of boring ass blinky Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), her moody, greasy, sexually frustrated boyfriend Billy (Skeet Ulrich), sassy Tatum (Rose McGowan), her bf funniest asshole Stu (Matthew Lillard), and trivia drenched movie nerd and all round virgin Randy (Jamie Kennedy). Sidney is understandably a little upset about all the murder talk, as just about a year before, her dear old Ma got stabbed to death and left in the town square, after spending the night with a man who was not her husband. He’s in prison, obviously saying he didn’t do it, and trying to help him prove his innocence, is everyone’s favourite journalistic nuisance, Gail Weathers, played by Courteney Cox. Courteney Cox, but with streaky highlights, some powerful shoulder pads, and a mouthful of profanity no one had expected to ever hear from Monica Geller.

Monica Weathers in her terrifying neon get up

The next night whilst waiting for her mate to pick her up for a sleepover, the masked murderer, now known to all as Ghostface, breaks into Sidney’s house after calling her up and insulting her dead mother. After a bit of a scuffle, which ends with Billy climbing in through her bedroom window JUST AS THE KILLER LEAVES, he’s gone, and Sidney fingers her own loverboy as the perpetrator. He’s out of the clink the next day and back at school, which let’s face it, is the last place you’d go if you were supposedly 17, still covered in last night, and your girlfriend thought you were probs a murderer. Regardless, there he is, making it awkward, and their Principle, played by The Fonz, decides they should probably all just go home until all this nasty murder business has blown over. It goes without saying, he gets murdered.

Like any good bunch of teenagers at a loose end and waiting to die, they throw a party, get hammered and watch horror films. Monica Geller steals her way into the shindig on the arm of Tatum’s brother, hapless Police Office Dewey, played by David Arquette. Tatum gets picked of in a fantastic death scene, and the only one I’d seen up to this point involving a cat flap. Excellent shout. She even put up a fight, which was a refreshing change from, as Sidney puts it in her one worthy line of the franchise “some big breasted girl who’s running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door”. Sure, she bites it, but not before she smashes the killer in the head with a fridge door and throws full glass beer bottles directly at his penis. You’re the one, Tatum. Whatever sort of name that is.

The tale of Tatum and the catflap.

At this point Randy is in the living room explaining the rule of a horror film to the thankless dregs who couldn’t be arsed with driving back to school to see Henry Winkler hanging dead and gutted from the football posts. You have sex, you die. You say “I’ll be right back”, you die. You know all this, and you don’t need me to tell you. Everyone makes fun of him, but he’s quite right, you know. Gail and Dewey have gone off to do their own pointless investigating, and Billy turns up at the party and manages to convince that pissing dickhead Sidney that even though literally 12 hours ago she was convinced he was a vicious murderer, and the current state of their relationship is average at best, she should definitely hand him her V plates. Especially at this weird morbid gathering full of strangers on the one year anniversary of the death of her mother. Even as a nearly 13 year old, I knew Sidney was a tosser. So much blinking and sobbing. No good.

Sidney about to snog her boyfriend, also the man who stabbed up her mum.

Just when they’re done and she’s putting her knickers back on, it becomes clear that she STILL doesn’t really believe he’s not involved, a most convincing argument if ever I saw one that women really do love a bad boy, and he asks her, like all good 90s pop songs, what he has to do to prove it to her. At this point, his question is answered by Ghostface busting in and stabbing him in the guts. Take that, Party of Five. So begins a healthy dose of Sidney running around inside the house, and Gail running around outside it. Billy’s stabbed, Dewey’s stabbed, Kenny the cameraman has his throat slit, and Gail’s presumed dead in the woods somewhere where she crashed Kenny’s van trying to outrun the masked murderer.

Randy and Stu come running up to the door at the same time each claiming the other is the killer, and Billy comes tumbling down the stairs covered in “blood”. Sidney tells them both to sod off and hands the gun over to her beloved Billy, who promptly uses it to shoot Randy, and then starts sucking his fingers, quoting lines from Psycho and talking about corn syrup. HE DID IT. HE DID IT WITH STU. THEY BOTH DID IT. AND THEY KILLED SIDNEY’S MUM TOO. They both did it because Sidney’s mum had an affair with Billy’s dad and his parents got divorced. Honestly, as a child whose parents separated before I could string a sentence together, I didn’t really see what a big deal it was, but sure Billy, if this sort of extremely deep, long game revenge is how you deem it necessary to get it out of your system, that’s cool. They break it all down for us, and then proceed to stab each other loads, to make it look like they’re the only two survivors, telling everyone left all the while about how they’re about to eat shit, and Sidney’s dad is getting framed up.

Obviously it doesn’t go too well for them. Stooby Doo gets a TV dropped on his head, but he was probably going to die from blood loss anyway, because Billy stabs him far too many times, and Billy finally gets shot in the head by his own girlfriend, proof that you should trust your guts ladies. I mean, don’t shoot lads you think are sketchy in the head, but if you think they murdered your mum, then…they might have?

I walked from that cinema a changed woman. A changed woman wearing a pillow up my jumper. I was hungry for more, and Scream delivered. Not only did it deliver it’s own sequels, but it delivered a teen high school slasher trend in horror that I had been waiting for all my life. It also delivered Scary Movie, which is the least of what of I am here for, but it didn’t really matter, because I Know What You Did Last Summer, I STILL Know What You Did Last Summer, I’LL ALWAYS KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, Urban Legend and it’s eight thousand sequels, Final Destination(s), Valentine, Wrong Turn, leading into endless remakes starring all your favourite sitcom actors – House of Wax, The Hills Have Eyes, Texas Chainsaw, The Last House On The Left, countless unnecessary sequels which suddenly seemed very necessary – Halloween H20, Jason X, Freddie vs. Jason starring her out of Destiny’s Child! Almost all of these films involve one member of the cast of either Dawson’s Creek or Buffy The Vampire Slayer dying in an increasingly creative fashion, and that, friends, is and has always been absolutely what I am here for. Happy Halloween from 1997.

 

1 thought on “Scream: LIVER ALONE, she’s pregnant

  1. heh your get into scream costume beats my one, a mullet, coal chamber or korn hockey shirt and bum fluff was my ticket to the big house….

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