Scary Movie 5 is coming April 12, 2013. So let’s countdown the days by taking a look back at the four that came before! And away we go…
In the beginning, there was Scream (1996). And Scream begat a slew of 90s teen-slasher movies that included I Know What Your Did Last Summer (1997) among others and their respective sequels. It was only a matter of time as the film market was saturated with teen horror flick after teen horror flick that something would have to give.
A spoof of the genre was needed. And the Wayans Brothers answered the call and gave us Scary Movie. The Weinsteins and Dimension Films already had the Scream and the I Know What You Did Last Summer franchises, why not make more money by spoofing their own properties?
For the most part, teens never seemed to be the target audience for spoof movies up until this point. They seemed to be skewed more toward and adult audience with a juvenile sensibility. Prior to 2000 when Scary Movie was released, the only two noteworthy spoofs to hit the big screen close to the turn of the century were Wrongfully Accused (1998) and Jane Austen’s Mafia! (1998) starring Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges, respectively. Neither one was a box office or critical success, thus it appeared the genre was on its way out.
While Scream was a satire of the horror genre, Scary Movie (which was the original title of Scream) is a flat-out, balls-to-the-wall parody of the teen horror and pop culture in general. From its opening sequence featuring Carmen Electra, Scary Movie grabbed audiences by the funny bone and refused to let go until the final frame.
I feel the original works best because it pretty much follows the storyline of Scream. Much like Airplane! (1980) is a direct spoof of Zero Hour! (1957), Scary Movie utilizes Scream’s structure and tosses a wide range of vulgar gags, gross-out jokes, and slapstick comedy into the mix. The result is a pretty solid spoof movie that is still fun to watch 13 years after its release.
A lot of the credit goes to the talented cast, which includes newcomer Anna Faris. This was Faris’s first major film role and it helped make her the star she has become. Her timing is fantastic, her facial expressions hilarious, and her innocence and naïveté and Cindy Campbell make us root for her as much as we rooted for Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) in the Scream movies.
Credit must also be given to Regina Hall, who – aside for Faris – is the only actor/character to appear in the first four Scary Movie films. Hall’s character, Brenda Meeks, is hilarious and is a great balance to Cindy Campbell’s daftness. Her scenes with Shawn Wayans are equally funny and outrageous.
Speaking of the Wayanses…these guy molded and shaped this movie into comic gold. Scary Movie is a film that helped to bring new life into a dying genre – for better or worse – and attract a larger audience to this type of film. Keenan Ivory Wayans brilliantly directs scenes that often appear to be shot-for-shot copies of the original, which only makes the comedy work that much better. He helped raise the spoof movie bar, and there are few movies in the genre since that have come close to being as good as Scary Movie.
Shawn and Marlon Wayans (who also co-wrote the film) play Ray and Shorty. Their roles are over-the-top and their scenes supply some of the films craziest moments. The Wayans Brothers had previously collaborated o the underrated spoof Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996), which is a brilliant film that pokes fun at popular urban drama films of the time. The genius shown in their work on this film surely helped pave the way for them becoming the masterminds behind Scary Movie.
I also truly believe that if the Wayans had not had a hand in this project that it would not have been as good or as successful as it was. Why do I think that? Two reasons: Jason Freidberg and Aaron Setzer.
Yes, that’s right. These two at some point wrote a draft of the script that I’m assuming the Wayans got ahold of and made better. Who are these two? They are the ones responsible for the rancid parodies Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, and Vampires Suck that have come out since Scary Movie. Without the Wayans stepping in, this movie probably would have been wholly unfunny and unwatchable.
Scary Movie didn’t shy away from being outrageous, and gleefully enjoys its R-rating to the fullest. I believe that if it had been pared down to a PG-13 it would not have been as successful or as well-received. I think that there are times when you do need to cross the line in comedy and Scary Movie is a perfect example.
While there are a few dated jokes, Scary Movie has a timeless quality thanks to its independence from using pop culture gags as its primary source of comedy. That’s not to say that it doesn’t do jokes about commercials, series, and events younger audiences would be clueless about, but it mainly embraces the genre that its spoofing. And this helps make it an enduring classic in the genre.
Scary Movie raked in $278 million worldwide, which is more than any off its sequels achieved. It has the second-best domestic opening for the franchise with $42.3 million (Scary Movie 3 opened with $48 million), and money-wise the original is ranked as the third highest-grossing spoof of all-time behind Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and Austin Powers in Goldmember. However, I don’t think these numbers are adjusted for inflation, so I would be curious to see a chart with those numbers.
It holds a 53% on RottenTomatoes, which seems low, but I feel is quite good for a spoof film. It also is the highest Tomato-Meter rating of the series.
So, if you haven’t seen it yet, watch Scary Movie this week! And if you have, watch it again! You’re sure to get a laugh or two, and it’s a fun way to spend an evening.
Tomorrow we will delve into the world of Scary Movie 2 as our Countdown to Scary Movie 5 continues all week long!
What’s your favorite Scary Movie moment? Love/Hate the movie? Leave a comment and let us know!
Check out the rest of the retrospective below: