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Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Wes Craven

Oh, the horror: Wes Craven's 'Scream 4' ambivalent about many genre movies, including itself

April 12, 2011 |  1:33 pm

What do you do if you've made a horror movie that references previous horror movies, watched as competitors borrowed generously from you -- and now have to reboot your original horror movie?

That's the dilemma that genre maestro Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson face with "Scream 4," the Dimension Films reprise of the 15-year-old franchise that opens Friday after holding its Hollywood premiere Monday night.

Or maybe meta-dilemma, since there is -- in this horror comedy about a suburban slasher on the loose that brings back Neve Campbell's Sidney Prescott and Courteney Cox's Gale Weathers amid a set of new characters -- more self-reference than Kim Kardashian's Twitter page. There are references to the original "Scream" (which exists as a franchise within the franchise called "Stab"); references to the wave of seemingly endless genre fare that's been churned out in the decade since the last "Scream" film  ("they keep recycling the same ...," one character says, offering a profanity); references, even, to making a meta movie within the meta movie. Is your head hurting yet?

(Incidentally, all of this also poses a marketing challenge since, with all its jabs at torture-porn, this is a movie that takes shots at the very films favored by its core audience.)

By now, "Scream 4's" production issues are well-known (this Entertainment Weekly interview with Williamson offers a revealing account of the writer's battle with Dimension's Bob Weinstein). Anytime you roll out all this meta-ness, the road is bound to get bumpy. The original "Scream" series had to contend with all the successful horror franchises that came before it. "Scream 4" has to contend with itself.

Craven says he knew he had a bit of a creative challenge on his hands in making this movie. "I think it was just making sure it was fresh and new and not just some sort of a remake or a reboot or something like that," he told my colleague Amy Kaufman on the red carpet (video below).

In fact, the director seems to take issue with the very concept of a reboot. That becomes clear in the film, when Campbell's Prescott, a kind of on-screen representation of the first "Scream" movie, is given a big applause line after she makes a big kill and lets out a "Don't ... with the original." So it's a reboot that doesn't like reboots. How meta.

-- Steven Zeitchik



Photo: Never Campbell in "Scream 4." Credit: Dimension Films

'Last House on the Left' director looks to set up a new home

October 28, 2010 |  1:20 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Fans of the supernatural should be keen on this one: The man who brought a Wes Craven classic back to the big screen and a veteran of television hit "Ghost Whisperer" are poised to team up on a new horror picture.

Dennis Iliadis, who remade Craven's seminal 1972 film, "The Last House on the Left," last year, is negotiating to direct a new film called "The Demonologists," say several sources familiar with the project. The film is written by Teddy Tenenbaum, a screenwriter who also has numerous credits on the Jennifer Love Hewitt series "Ghost Whisperer."

"Demonologists," from "Sherlock Holmes" producer Silver Pictures, concerns a family of veteran ghost hunters who get more than they bargained for when they are called in to face what they soon realize is not a routine ghost job but a demon infestation. The film shares some thematic similarities with "House," which looked at what happens when a decent family is driven to violent acts.

Iliadis, incidentally, is an up-and-coming horror director who has also been considered for the remake of the Hitchcock classic "The Birds."

"Demonologists" continues a mini-trend of films about people battling evil supernatural forces. "The Last Exorcism" proved a niche hit this summer, while the Anthony Hopkins-starring exorcism movie "The Rite" is due out in January.

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from "The Last House on the Left." Credit: Rogue Pictures.


Dimension confirms it will again scream with Craven

March 23, 2010 |  1:17 pm

Last month, our colleagues over at Hero Complex broke the story that Wes Craven would be back to direct "Scream 4," a reboot of sorts that would bring Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox back from the original and pair them with a group of new actors.

Craven later tweeted that nothing was finalized on the project, but today, Dimension Films confirms that there will be a movie, that Craven will shoot it beginning in May, and that it will be based on a script from Kevin Williamson, the wunderkind who of course penned the original. "Kevin is right on his game with the new script -- the characters and story crackle with energy and originality -- to say nothing of some of the most hair-raising scares I've seen in a script since... well, since the original 'Scream' series," Craven, who directed the first three, said in a statement.

The movie is expected to be a reboot of sorts that could potentially spawn a new trilogy. The most recent 'Scream' came out in 2000, and despite the potential for box office to drop as a franchise fades, 'Scream' stayed remarkably consistent over its life from 1996 to 2000. All three movies earned between $150 million and $175 million worldwide.

Dimension said it is slating the new movie for an April 15, 2011, release, though Weinstein Co. release dates get offed as often as the virgin dies in a horror film, so maybe don't book that babysitter just yet.

One interesting side note: The announcement comes as a remake of another meta-horror comedy, "Fright Night," dubbed by some the original "Scream," moves closer to production with the hiring of director Craig Gillespie. That could create a race to production that would have both parties moving faster than if they saw, well, a hooded slasher.

--Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox in "Scream." Credit: Kimberly Wright


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