Scream 2

Scream 2 is currently available on instant Netflix.

Scream 2 (1997) – Rated R

“In the two years since the fateful events in Woodsboro, Gale has written a best-seller, which has been turned into a film. As the movie premiere looms closer, the mysterious deaths begin again. Dewey heads to Sidney’s college to protect her.”

“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate – more blood, more gore – *carnage candy*. And number three: never, ever, under any circumstances, assume the killer is dead. “

Props have to be given to Scream for setting the whole series up but Scream 2 has a better cast, better jokes, and is generally the better film. Director Wes Craven and writer Kevin Williamson’s cross of ironic humorous detachment and actual suspense gel here just as well as they did in Scream. Scream 2 is funny and suspenseful.

Craven assembles a fantastic cast here. Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette return as our heroes/victims Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Deputy Dewey. Jaime Kennedy also returns hilariously as film geek Randy Meeks to warn us of the dangers of being in a sequel.

Liev Schreiber plays the recently released from jail, Cotton Weary. Sarah Michelle Gellar, Rebecca Gayheart, and Portia de Rossi play sorority sisters. Joshua (Fringe) Jackson, Timothy (Justified) Olyphant, and Jerry (Piranha) O’ Connell are students. Laurie (Andy’s Mom in Toy Story) Metcalf is a reporter.

Acting as guest stars are Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps explaining why you don’t see people of color in this type of film. Heather Graham, Tori Spelling, and Luke Wilson cameo as Casey, Sidney, and Billy in the movie within a movie, Stab. As you can see, you might get whiplash just pointing out who’s who in Scream 2.

One of the problems with slasher films is that much of the runtime is just filler between kill scenes with a bunch of stock cardboard characters (the jock, the slut, the nerd, the comic relief, the rich guy, the virgin). Here that time is filled with many humorous asides and a number of fairly exciting chase sequences. Characters are fleshed out and feel real. Humor is not restricted to the comic relief or the killer.

While none of the killings have the visceral brutal quality of the opening of Scream, most are quite inventive. One of the killings is particularly shocking and the reveal is almost as good as the one in Scream. Naturally, as one character handily points out, the body count is higher and the deaths are bloodier and more elaborate.

People Watch: There are plenty of cameos here. Matthew Lillard has a cameo as guy at party. Wes Craven has a cameo as a doctor. Selma Blair is the voice on the phone talking to Cici. Kevin Williamson is Cotton’s interviewer.

Sequel-itis: Scream 3 (2000) suffers severely from Kevin Williamson not doing the script. His Scream and Scream 2 scripts tread the fine line between suspense and humor. Scream 3 falls from sly humor into farce and there is little suspense.

Kevin Williamson comes back as scriptwriter in Scream 4 (2011) and it shows. Unfortunately the first two Screams mined the idea for most of its potential. The opening of Scream 4 is inspired and fun, the ending and many of the ideas are nice but it is not the classic that Scream and Scream 2 are.

Invasion of the CW on Netflix Plus The Rockford Files

The torrent of television shows arriving on Netflix is showing no sign of letting up. The latest deluge is brought to you by the CW. These just arrived for viewing:

Ringer Season 1 (2011) – TV-14

“A young woman on the run from the mob poses as her wealthy twin sister to try and evade them, but soon discovers that her sister has a price on her head as well.”

Poor Sarah Michelle Gellar never found her footing after Buffy. Who would have thought that Allison Hannigan would have been the one to make it big from that show?

The Vampire Diaries Season 3

“Trapped in adolescent bodies, feuding vampire brothers Stefan and Damon vie for the affection of captivating teenager Elena, who attempts to unravel the many dark secrets of her hometown of Mystic Falls.”

I really enjoyed this show once I got past the first few episodes. Kevin Williamson’s writing is pretty snappy.

The Secret Circle Season 1 (2011) – Rated TV-14

“Six teenage witches form a coven in Chance Harbor, Washington.”

90210 Season 4

In this spinoff of the 1990s series, aspiring actress Annie and her adopted brother, Dixon, deal with nonstop drama at their exclusive new high school, where tumultuous friendships and roller coaster romances rule.

The Rockford Files (1974-1979) – Not Rated

“James Garner shines in this iconic 1970s series as Jim Rockford, a Los Angeles private eye with a trailer on the beach, a wisecrack on his lips and the intellect to crack every case. Not the usual loner, Rockford is hardboiled but never hard to like. Rockford’s biggest fans are his dad, Rocky (Noah Beery Jr.), and best friend, cop Dennis Becker (Joe Santos), who help him as he nabs bad guys on the dangerous but scenic streets of Los Angeles.”

Netflix has finally added more episodes of this iconic series.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

This recommendation may be a little biased as I’m a big Buffy fan. You also get to see Sarah Michelle Gellar’s spouse, Freddie Prinze Jr. Unlike the previous two posts (Scream and Interview with the Vampire), this pick is by no means a great film – just a fun one.

I Know What You Did Last Summer

WATCH: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – “When some North Carolina teens flatten a stranger with their car, they leave him for dead and try to get on with their lives. He returns to give ’em, uh, the hook (literally) — the gore is leavened by some much-needed laughs. The well-known cast includes Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe”

Based on a Lois Duncan novel (though she herself hates the adaptation), this slasher film has a much smarter than usual plot. The script also has some wit and panache thanks to Dawson’s Creek scribe Kevin Williamson, fresh off of Scream (though he had written the treatment prior to Scream) – check out Dawson’s beach. The four leads (Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillipe, and Freddie Prinze Jr. all acquit themselves well and the killer is urban legend-y enough to be creepy. Having written that, this film is not great – it doesn’t seem to know whether it wants to be a slasher or a mystery. The mystery portion isn’t deep or believable enough to work well and there isn’t enough of a body count to be a slasher. The direction is somewhat pedestrian – good but not flashy or substantive. Overall though this is an enjoyable semi-slasher pic.

People watchers: look for Anne Heche in a small role as Missy Egan

AVOID: I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998) – Where I Know What You Did Last Summer alternately followed and subverted standard slasher tropes, the sequel simply slaps the two remaining teens in a sub-standard slasher film with a bunch of cardboard cut-outs for victims. Jeffrey Combs has a guest-starring role, presumably to attract people who remember his brilliant turn in Re-Animator. He is largely wasted as most of the characters appear to be in this film.

People watchers: Jack Black has a small role (where – surprise – he’s wasted).