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Featured Blu-ray Review: Scream Trilogy

March 26th, 2011

Scream Trilogy - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon: Scream, Scream 2, and Scream 3

Back in 1996, Scream came out and really revitalized the teenage slasher genre by both embracing the conventions of the genre, as well as spoofing them. 15 years, and two sequels later, Scream 4 is about to hit theaters, so what better time to release the original trilogy on Blu-ray? But have these films aged well? And did the studio make sure they shine on Blu-ray?


The film starts with one of the best opening scences for the genre, which is great for viewers, but sucks for critics, because right away I'm bumping into unacceptable spoilers.

After the prologue, we meet the main cast, starting with Sydney. She's a high school girl who is dealing with the murder of her mother; its coming up on the one-year anniversary. She starts getting strange phone calls from a killer claiming the man she testified against didn't kill her mother, a theory also put forth by writer / reporter Gale. Scared, especially after the recent string of murders, she decides to hang out with her friend, Tatum. When school is shut down as a precaution, people decide to throw a party and Sydney and Tatum, as well as Billy, Sydney's boyfriend; Stu, Billy's obnoxious friend; Randy, the horror movie freak; Deputy Dewey, Tatum's sister; and Gale, looking for her next big scoop all show up.

But when the murders continue, it's clear one of these people has a big secret.

Like I said, this is a great movie that not only manages to embrace the conventions of the genre, but is also able to satirize them. It has an amazing cast, the mystery is extremely well done and even 15 years after it first came out, it still works.

The Extras

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray is shovelware with just the previously included extras. There are quite a few extras here, including an audio commentary track, interview featurette, making of featurette, etc. Technically speaking, the movie looks and sounds good, but not great. The film was made 15 years ago with a relatively low budget. It does show its age a few times, but not so much that it is a distraction. The audio is clear, but the surround sound speakers are underutilized. Finally, the price is... acceptable. $15 for shovelware is a little higher than I would like to pay, but not so much so that it's a deal-breaker.

Scream 2

Taking place a couple years after the events of the first film, is begins at the screening of the new movie, Stab, which is based on the events of the first film. As part of the promotion, the studio sent Ghostface outfits and fake knives for everyone in the audience. (Which seems tasteless, even by the worst of Hollywood's standards.) This allows the real killer to slip in, dispatch with a couple of victims and the plot begins anew.

We then meet up with Sydney, who is attending college with another of the survivors from the first film, whom I can't really name, as that would be a spoiler for the first movie. It's going to be nearly impossible to discuss this movie without getting into unacceptable spoilers. So we have from the first movie returning this time: Sydney, Gale, Randy, Dewey, and Cotton. New to the cast are Derek, Sydney's boyfriend; Mickey, Derek's obonoxious friend; Hallie, Sydney's roommate; and Debbie Salt, a Gale Weathers wannabe.

As the killings continue, Sydney tries to figure out who the killer is, with the help of friends, old and new, but she knows the killer is most likely someone she knows.

This film manages to walk a very fine line between balancing the old and the new, but it's tenuous at times. You definitely need to have seen the first film to fully appreciate this one, while at the same time watching them back-to-back is a little repetitive. It uses many of the same inside jokes, some of the same shock kills (like introducing a character played by a big name actor, only to kill them off early in the film). The number of false leads, miraculous recoveries, etc. do strain credibility at times, especially since they all happened in the first film as well, but overall it is still a great movie.

It's not as good as the first, but one of the better horror sequels out there.

The Extras

Again, the Blu-ray is shovelware with the same selection of extras that were on the DVD. These include an audio commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes, making of featurette, etc. The technical presentation is very similar with both the video and audio perhaps a little stronger than the first film. However, while the list price for both films are the same, the discount is not quite as good here, so the price is $18, which is a little more than I would want to spend on shovelware.

Scream 3

Oh boy. How am I going to get through this without spoilers?

Just the basics. The film starts with the usual early kills, then it moves onto the set of Stab 3 where the cast is being killed off in the same order they are in the movie itself. Someone's looking to find Sydney, whose gone into seclusion and killing the cast is their way of drawing her out. It works, and she heads off to Hollywood to meet a couple old friends, as well as new ones (director, producer, new, stars, etc.). And what we get is the same dance as before, only with celebrity cameos this time.

The law of declining marginal value hits and hits hard. What was original in the first film, but a little repetitive in the second film, becomes redundant in the third film. While they were pointing fun of teenage slasher cliches in the first two movies, they were reduced to using them in earnest in this film. It's not horrible, but feels so unnecessary.

I think the best way to illustrate the drop-off in quality is to describe how memorable this movie is compared to the first. I saw this movie when it first came out on DVD, but all I remembered when watching it on Blu-ray was the identity of the killer. When watching the first movie on Blu-ray, I remembered nearly everything, even though it had been a few years longer between seeing the movie the last time.

The Extras

Again, the Blu-ray is shovelware. And like the first two, the collection of extras is roughly the same. (I.E. audio commentary track, deleted / alternative scenes, outtakes, behind-the-scenes, etc.) The video is roughly the same as the previous two movies, but the audio is a noticeable improvement with the surround sound speakers getting a much bigger workout. The list price is the same as the previous two films, but the discount is only as good as the second. And with the drop-off in quality, I don't think it's worth it.

Final Verdict

To sum up the three Scream Blu-ray coming out this week, the Scream Blu-ray is worth the price, barely. Scream 2 is also worth owning, but I'd wait till the Blu-ray is a little cheaper. Finally, Scream 3 is only worth a rental, unless you are completist, or the Blu-ray is at a substantial discount (a buy two get the third for half price deal).

However, with Scream 4 coming out in a couple of weeks, and it is very likely when that film hits the home market, there will be a Blu-ray box set with all four movies. That box set might be worth waiting for.

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Filed under: Video Review, Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3