In 1996, Wes Craven marked horror film fans with “Scream”. His opening scene, in particular, was fondly remembered. Paradoxically, it also almost cost the director his seat.
Scream : Slasher is back!
Before Scream, the slasher was not really on the rise in Hollywood anymore. Indeed, the sub-genre, popularized in the 1970s via Black Christmas and Halloween: the night of the masks, had lost of his breath during the following years. Blame it on the series of sagas that have become obsolete, not to say stupid (Friday the 13th, Halloween, Freddy). It was then that in 1996, Wes Craven arrived with his new baby: Scream.
The film which follows the macabre murders of the serial-killer Ghostface in the city of Woodsboro, manages to dust off the slasher by resuming its basic characteristics (a masked killer murders young people with knives) to better divert them, without however pour into parody like Scary Movie. Craven thus creates a kind of meta movie that appeals to many viewers. The success of Scream will not only launch several sequels, but will also raise from the ashes a new wave of slashers such as Remember last summer or even Urban legend.
When Scream 5 (renamed Scream) is eagerly awaited on the big screen, we must not forget the importance and the aura that this first part of the franchise always possesses. A first part which had a 5-star cast with Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette… and Drew Barrymore.
A studio not so fond of Craven’s work
Among the many sequences that Scream, only one returns regularly: that of its opening, during which the character played by Drew Barrymore loses his life under the stab wounds of Ghostface. At the time, the streak had literally shocked, because the actress was the best known and most famous of the cast. Therefore, no one could have imagined that she would die so quickly, especially early in the film.
To celebrate 25 years of Scream, The Hollywood Reporter delivered several interviews with some of the film crew. Thus, most of them relate that, despite his reputation as a figure in horror cinema, Wes Craven was almost fired from the film. The cause ? His intro that would not have pleased Dimensions Films (managed by the Weinstein brothers at the time), the studio that produced Scream. Editor Patrick Luissier remembers, in fact, that the studio had hated this sequence so much that it sent the director the rushes of their remake of The Night Watchman, advising him to look at them keenly, “because that was how we made a film”. A first tackle which therefore did not announce any good.
Kevin Williamson, emblematic screenwriter of the saga (and creator of the series Dawson,) also looks back on the day the director was informed of Dimensions Films’ anger when the production of the feature film had barely started :
Wes got a phone call from the studio, and I was sitting behind him in my chair. I just saw his back sag. He started to slide on the chair. They didn’t think it was good. They didn’t get his vision at all for that opening scene.
Harvey Weinstein not a fan of the mask
Another problem for Wes Craven: the killer of the film itself. Indeed, according to producers Cathy Konrad and Marianne Maddalena, Harvey Weinstein’s poor opinion of the opening scene also came from the fact that Harvey Weinstein was really not thrilled by the Ghostface mask. Finding it far from scary, however, he was much more accommodating when he discovered the final cut a little later.
A wise thing since Scream grossed $ 173 million at the studio (for a budget of 14 million). The proof that sometimes it is necessary to let the great artists work quietly.