This Bio Channel doc, running two hours and airing throughout the month in order to commence with the return of the Scream franchise to the big screen on the 15th, contains a wealth of brand new interviews with the cast and crew of the 1996 original film.
Taking a retrospective approach, and quite often with refreshing candor, this thorough special is definitely one to watch not for only existing fans but the newbies as well. Seeing as this is a TV show the casual channel surfer in mind and not a DVD extra for a captive audience, some unfamiliarity with the 1996 film is assumed at first. But once the introductions are out of the way, Craven and Co., let go with some juicy gems about salary struggles (Craven was almost out of the picture before it even started, when he asked for more money), 11th hour cast changes (Drew Barrymore was slated to play Sidney, not Neve Campbell), and late-in-the game firings (DP Mark Irwin departed, and Peter Denning stepped in).
Most of the musings focus on conception, pre-production, and the actual filming of the movie. There several interviews with fringe people associated with, but not directly involved with, the film — such as the faces behind the snarky end-credit: "No thanks whatsoever to the Santa Rosa City School District Governing Board." There's some back-story given on the Polly Klass murder, and some of the rationale behind opposition to the movie being shot in California. There's also an interview with Roger Jackson — who's shown only in silhouette, of course — also known as "The Voice" of Ghostface (and who, incidentally, continues his vocal trickery in Scream 4).
The then- mostly unknown cast — Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, and Rose McGowan — talk about how the surprising blockbuster success of Scream hurtled them into superstardom, and Courtney Cox describes what it was like to explore a character so far outside her character on the hit TV series, Friends.
Even a couple of actors who weren't in the movie, such as Robert Englund, who starred in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, pop in to discuss a few Scream fun facts. For instance, do you know which popular song prompted the film's original title change from Scary Movie to the Scream we know and love today? And how exactly did they get Rose McGowan into that doggy-door (it was a real one, she says). Why was Henry Winkler asked to go uncredited?
You'll learn the answers to all this — and the obligatory "and much more!" — if you happen to be channel-surfing the Bio Channel this month.
I know Daniel Farrands (he actually lets me call him "Dan" — fewer syllables are always a good thing, when it comes to my tongue-tied ways), and when I mentioned to him that I really liked the part in his doc about the high school, he responded,
"Ah, yes, Santa Rosa High School! Did you not know I graduated from that very school? Yep. And the weird irony was that a year prior to Wes coming to town to make Scream the local paper had written a huge 'Santa Rosa High School Grad Makes Good' about me when Halloween 6 [which he wrote] premiered. There were quotes from my former teachers saying how great it was and how they always knew I'd end up making horror movies for a living.
"Then suddenly it's like the Gestapo came to town when Wes made Scream.
"I remember an Dimension exec called me at the time and asked what the hell was going on with my high school and could I call up there and talk some sense into them. I tried. I failed. But luckily Wes had the last laugh -- not to mention Santa Rosa is very high on the Hollywood black list of places not to take your productions.
It was very interesting when I went up north to interview the school board members (and let me tell you how strange it was walking the very same hallways where I'd spent my formative years. When we got there, we were surrounded by SR Alumni people, former teachers of mine (who rolled out the red carpet and gave me a grand tour of the school, pulled out old yearbooks (yikes!) and basically treated us like we were guests of the palace! Apparently my name has more pull than Wes Craven's ever did (at least at Santa Rosa High!). Take THAT!
In the final ironic twist, the week before the show premiered I received the 'SR High Alumni Newsletter' ... and in it they dedicated a full page to the making of our documentary ... and yet another "Hometown Boy Makes Good" article ... about me."
Talk about last laughs. It's really fascinating how many things interconnect with these Scream films. You'll definitely see a lot of the "meta-isms" in Scream 4.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson
Check out the rest of our SCREAM coverage —