4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1&2) Drew Barrymore plays high school senior Casey, who received a series of threatening phone calls. (3) She finds her boyfriend, Steven (Kevin Patrick Walls) bleeding and tied up in a chair in the backyard.
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“SCREAM: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy; 1996; R for strong graphic horror violence, gore, and profanity; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “A Bloody Legacy: Scream 25 Years Later” featurette
LOOKING FOR a good scare? Wes Craven’s iconic horror thriller “Scream” has been remastered in 4K Ultra HD for its 25th anniversary.
The late writer/producer/director made a career scaring the heebie-jeebies out of moviegoers with the “Scream,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Hills Have Eyes” franchises, and “The Serpent and the Rainbow,” the best voodoo movie ever made. Craven says the horror genre is “a great release of tension” for audiences in the archive featurette, “Why are People so Fascinated by Horror Films?” “[Scary movies] take you on a roller coaster ride, and they kind of address fears you already have,” he says.
Screenwriter Kevin Williamson credits John Carpenter’s “Halloween” as the catalyst for “Scream.” “I wrote the script as my homage and a love letter to the film. It made me want to be in this business,” he says in the new featurette, “A Bloody Legacy: 'Scream' 25 Years Later.”
(1&2) Casey is attacked by the serial killer at her family home.
Williamson also describes how a house-sitting incident at a friend’s home was the biggest spark for his inventive script. Walking into his friend’s family room he noticed an open window, and began to freak out. He couldn’t remember if it had been open before or not. To protect himself, Williamson pulled a huge butcher knife from the rack and went room to room searching for a possible intruder.
Still paranoid, he called his friend, “I think someone’s in the house.” The homeowner must have known the window was already open and began teasing him saying, “Kill, kill, kill.” That only panicked Williamson more. The situation soon became a debate over which movie serial killer could be there. Was it a Michael Myers or Jason, and which slasher movie were the two killers associated with? His friend kept getting it wrong between “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th.” And that’s what inspired Williamson to write his first horror screenplay.
“Scream’s” storyline is set in the sleepy town of Woodsboro, California, where a group of teen horror-movie fans are preyed upon by a masked killer, who references slasher flicks. The first victim was a huge shock at the time.
Actress Melissa Barrera, who plays Sam Carpenter in the upcoming “Scream” reboot planned for 2022, considers “Scream’s” opening sequence a masterpiece – and it is. Drew Barrymore plays high school senior Casey, home alone and making popcorn, when a series of threatening calls begin. It sets the fast-paced tone for the rest of the film. “I think that’s what made a lot of people love the franchise,” Barrera says during the “Legacy” featurette.
(1&2) Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) gets a late-night visit in her bedroom from boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). (3) The next morning, tabloid TV reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) reports the double-murders of the Woodsboro High School students. (4) Principal Mr. Himbry (Henry Winkler) has Sidney come to the school office.
Many of the original cast members reunite for the new featurette. David Arquette, cast as bumbling deputy Dewey Riley, says, “It’s interesting to have become part of this history of horror.” Neve Campbell (student Sidney Prescott) recalls she and others “had no clue of the success the movie would have.” Her character also gets a call asking if she likes scary movies. Sidney responds, “What’s the point? They’re all the same. Some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can’t act, who’s always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door. It’s insulting.” Courtney Cox, as tabloid TV reporter Gale Weathers, gives a huge shout to Williamson whose script, “poked fun at the other horror films,” adding a “number of inside jokes.”
Craven says “Scream” goes from being funny “as you recognize classic film situations, to terrifying when you see that it’s really happening.” The mystery grows as the audience tries to guess the killer’s identity.
Co-stars include Henry Winkler as high school principal Mr. Himbry; Skeet Ulrich as a Johnny Depp look-alike, as Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis; Rose McGowan as Sid’s best friend Tatum, and Matthew Lillard as her boyfriend Stu.
“Scream’s” universal appeal among mystery and horror fans made it a huge success. Released the weekend before Christmas 1996, it finished with a U.S. box office topping $103 million, landing at No. 17 in top movies of 1997 between Mel Gibson’s “Conspiracy Theory” and Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Craven and Williamson provided a quick turnaround for “Scream 2,” released the following holiday season. A copycat killer arrives just as an original survivor leaves for college.
(1) Sidney tries calling the police as the masked killer approaches. (2) At the police station, she’s comforted by her best friend Tatum (Rose McGowan). (3&4) Sidney has a confrontation with TV reporter Gale Weathers. (5) Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) talks with Weathers. Arquette and Cox were married for 14 years. (6) Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) talks with fellow student Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) at the local video store.
The 4K disc also includes a commentary from Craven and Williamson originally recorded in 1997 during the first week of the sequel’s pre-production. The first five days of filming were at a big home with large windows on a 30-acre vineyard in Northern California, where Casey gets the first call. Craven says a bidding war ensued between a number of studios trying to option Williamson's script – originally titled “Scary Movie.” “I think over one weekend it was sold for a gigantic amount of money,” the director says.
They recall the killer’s trademark mask was found at a five-and-dime store, a common item sold during Halloween. Williamson says he changed one of the standard tropes in “Scream,” in which the “virgin [is] the heroine, the good girl, the girl who lives.” He wanted to test the waters with “[if she] went all the way,” would she live? Or would the audience expect her to die? “It was just one more way that I wanted to take the rules of the genre and sort of spin them,” he says. They go on to pinpoint the five-second cameo by Linda Blair (“The Exorcist”) as an obnoxious high school newspaper reporter.
The disc also includes five original featurettes taped on the sets in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, California.
The original 35mm negative (2.39:1 aspect ratio) was captured on Panavision cameras mounted with anamorphic lens and scanned in 4K for this new remaster from Paramount. The studio acquired the Miramax library of films in 2019. “Scream” is the first to get a 4K release. Cinematographer Mark Irwin (“Passenger 57,” “Kingpin”) framed most of the film with medium to tight shots, providing excellent facial detail. Wide shots also have plenty of clarity. Light, natural film grain is intact throughout.
The HDR10 grading adds a wider spectrum of contrast from shadows to bright highlights and everything in between. Color is natural and balanced, while overall brightness is slightly darker than previous HD versions. The resolution bump is obvious.
Audio is the same six-channel DTS-HD soundtrack featured on the previous 2014 Lionsgate version. It delivers first-rate fidelity in dialogue and thunder effects, with a stirring orchestral score from Marco Beltrami (“3:10 to Yuma,” and “Hurt Locker”).
If you’ve not seen “Scream” or haven’t watched it in some time, it still has plenty of good old-fashioned “gotcha moments" – inciting jumps and SCREAMs! Have fun!
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer
(1-3) Tatum is attacked by the killer during a party, while the other students watch “Halloween.” (4) Sidney takes aim.