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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 2/4/00



Scream

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits


Scream

Scream
1996 (1998) - Dimension (Buena Vista)

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/B-

Specs and Features:

111 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, commentary track with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson, theatrical trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned




Scream: Dimension Collector's Series

Scream: Dimension Collector's Series
1996 (1998) - Dimension (Buena Vista)

Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A/A

Specs and Features:

111 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, dual-layered (layer switch at 1:12:16, in chapter 10), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary with director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson, 2 theatrical trailers, 7 TV spots, production featurette, behind-the-scenes footage on the set with Drew Barrymore, 2 Q&As with the cast and crew, special effects photo gallery, cast and crew bios, trivia, film-themed menu screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, Closed Captioned

As much as I love horror films, I've never really watched the Scream series before. Maybe it's BECAUSE I love horror films so much that I've stayed away. But recent years have been quite good to everyone's favorite ghost-faced killer.

This first entry in the trilogy deals with a pack of high school teens, that spout horror movie trivia while stepping over slick pools of blood. Sidney (Neve Campbell) is an unhappy girl who's mother has recently been savagely raped and murdered. Suddenly, her friends start dropping like flies, and she's being stalked by a black-clad specter wearing a garden-variety Halloween ghost mask. The writing here is surprisingly sharp, the murders are well conceived and choreographed, and the actors are all fun to watch. Wes Craven, a filmmaker known for his past trend-breaking horror films, leads the film expertly. It's easy to see how these films took off as cult hits, both in theaters and on video.

There are two DVDs versions of the original Scream - an earlier, quasi-special edition and a newer, more packed special edition. The earlier edition is a good looking and sounding disc. The transfer is soft in spots and you can see a little bit of NTSC noise and artifacting if you look closely. But even with those minor complaints, it looks damn good. The special edition looks even better though, because it's dual-layered (which means the disc's mastered at a higher video bit rate). Thus, the artifacts on the earlier edition are gone. There's still a bit of NTSC shimmer (probably because this was mastered as a laserdisc transfer), but again, it still looks pretty good. Both discs would have benefitted from anamorphic widescreen however, which is sadly missing. On the sound side, both DVDs pretty much rock. Both feature a great Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, which kicks off right from the start and pushes your sub hard with a nice heartbeat-like thump-thump-thumping.

The earlier disc features a conversational audio commentary track with Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson. It's interesting because at this point, Williamson's career was just starting to really take off, and he still sounds pretty humble and fanboyish about the whole thing. I'm sure he hasn't lost that part of himself, but it's interesting to listen to anyway, considering this track was recorded before they shot Scream 2. You'll learn a lot about the production and how different aspects of the film were influenced by different movies. The best bits come from Craven, as he recounts his battles with the MPAA. Along with the commentary, the earlier edition also has an R rated (or "red band") trailer.

The newer, Collector's Series edition packs much more muscle. You get both the commentary and the red band trailer from the earlier release, PLUS a lot more. Included are the toned-down "green band" trailer, an electronic press kit-style documentary, some behind-the-scenes stuff, trivia, cast and crew information, TV spots and (best of all) a special effects gallery. It's basically sketches of concepts for the opening murder, along with some preliminary mask designs for the killer done by KNB Effects. All of this stuff looks really cool, and if you look hard enough, you might see a little of Sam Raimi's Deadite influence in some of them (KNB did the effects for Army of Darkness as well). The Collector's Series DVD is a very nice package for fans of the film, and is well worth picking up. It's one of Buena Vista's few DVD special editions, and it's very thorough.

You don't have to be a crazy killer to enjoy DVD, but DVD definitely helps you enjoy your favorite crazy killers on film. Light or heavy, these two DVD editions of Scream will please any moderate fan of horror. And for you classic horror fans that are still inclined to stay away, take it from me... these films are not as bad as the purists claim. You might even enjoy yourselves.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com


Scream


Scream: Collector's Series


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