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How Scream saved the Slasher movie genre

As a new Scream opens in theaters, here’s how the original 1996 film brought the slasher horror subgenre back from untimely death.

With Halloween kills winning over $ 130 million at the global box office and a new Chainsaw Massacre film around the corner, the slasher sub-genre is indeed at the forefront of horror in the zeitgeist of contemporary pop culture. This contrasts with much of the ’90s, with the subgenre relegated to direct video releases as even the most established slasher franchises struggled to generate box office profits and had largely fallen into a sense of uninspired formula. . And as slasher movies quickly faded in terms of relevance, it was a new franchise launched in 1996 that completely revived the subgenre in the renewed importance it enjoys today: Scream.

Screenwriter Kevin Williamson was a longtime fan of the horror genre and slasher films and wrote the screenplay after hearing reports involving real-life Florida serial killer Gainesville Ripper. While Williamson was writing and going through the script for Scream, then titled Horror movie, Dimension Films has acquired the rights to Hellraiser and Halloween franchises, releasing sequels for each in 1995 and 1996, respectively. Both films suffered from troubled behind-the-scenes productions and underperformed at the box office, with Halloween: the curse of Michael Myers income $ 15.1 million while Hellraiser: Bloodline won $ 9.3 million. Dimension has quietly changed its exit strategy for the future Hellraiser films to go directly to personal video and planned for a similar strategy for others Halloween installments.

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In the meantime, Dimension bought the screenplay from Williamson in June 1995, hiring veteran horror filmmaker Wes Craven to lead the project due to Craven’s popularity. Freddy franchise successfully mixing horror and comedy. As Craven increasingly reconsidered continuing to direct slasher movies at the time, following the lackluster box office reception of the 1994s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, effectively putting the Nightmare on Elm Street series, he enjoyed the script and agreed to direct after his intention to remake The haunting have been canceled.

Starring a cast of relatively unknown actors, with its most famous star at the time Drew Barrymore having his character Casey Becker brutally murdered in the prologue, Scream boasted a meta-text commentary on the nature of slasher movies right from its opening scene. In addition to this gender-conscious approach, Scream also had the obvious advantage of being a truly scary movie; Craven, along with the cast and crew, knew when to turn up the heat and keep audiences on their toes as teenage Sidney Prescott and friends were threatened by serial killers wearing the iconic Ghostface mask before finding out who were the real culprits.

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Ghostface holding a bloody knife in Scream

A critical and commercial success when it was released in 1996, Scream received a 79% review score on the global reviewer site Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the film’s underhanded subversion of tropes and the genre’s formula for its benefit. Scream won $ 173 million at the global box office and spawned its own franchise, including the fifth installment of the film series in 2022. ScreamIts success led to a global renaissance of the slasher subgenre, with Dimension overturning its plans for the Halloween franchise and maintain its theatrical release strategy for new IP slasher in production. Among the most popular were the years 1997 i know what you did last summer, who won more $ 125 million At the box office.

After the success of Scream, it’s hard to go a year without at least one major slasher film making it to theaters as its striking masked killer has become part of the air of pop culture overnight. Many of the franchises that inspired Williamson would experience a rebirth of their own in the years that followed, while the slash subgenre itself received a late re-evaluation for its value in the larger horror lexicon. And while the Scream The film series itself started and ended in fits and starts in the years that followed, its impact on the horror genre cannot be underestimated.

To attend the franchise’s latest installment, Scream hits theaters on January 14.

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