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Tom Brook Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 06:42 GMT
Hollywood carries on screaming
Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette brave a third dose of fear
By BBC News Online's Tom Brook

The third instalment of the teen slasher film Scream has finally arrived at the US box office and its American distributors are hoping it will scare up the spectacular business enjoyed by its two predecessors.

The first two Scream films each grossed more than $100m (62m) establishing one of the most successful horror film franchises in recent times.
New Scream recruit: Ex-playboy bunny Jenny McCarthy
In the latest picture Scream veterans Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox Arquette and husband David Arquette are back in their familiar roles, together with several new faces, all under the leadership of director Wes Craven.

Scream 3 is set in Hollywood during the filming of a movie called Stab 3, Return to Woodsboro, which is basically a recreation of the story of the killings that took place in the original Scream film.

Creating a movie about a movie detailing killings that took place in an earlier movie is typical of the mind-boggling trickery that Scream fans have come to expect.

End of the line

Like its predecessors the new picture plays with horror film conventions, makes constant references to pop culture, and comes packed with countless frenzied images of the masked slasher at work.

But unlike the earlier films, Scream 3 is meant to be the finale - the very last act in a trilogy.

Scream veteran Campbell expects this film to be the last
Campbell, whose character Sidney Prescott has been stalked by the slasher in all three films declares, "I don't think there will be a (Scream) 4, we're all really happy with the fact that this will be the finish."

Craven says that, because this is the last Scream film, "you can expect a resolution to a lot of things, a kind of returning to the whole theme of the entire three movies and some shocking, surprising, almost explicatory revelations, about the whole story and the characters behind it."

When the first Scream picture burst upon cinema screens in 1996 it was strikingly original and refreshing.

It was so successful that it effectively revived the teen horror film genre which had been dormant for a number of years.

Something to prove

But since then there have been other innovative horror pictures like The Blair Witch Project, and The Sixth Sense, that have also dramatically changed the rules of making scary films.

As a result Scream 3 has arrived in American cinemas with the burden of having to prove that it still remains hip, up to date and fresh.
The first Scream kick started a new genre
While this new film will please Scream fans, my own impression is that once the initial euphoria fades away it will be seen as a pale imitation of its predecessors.

It is a tired film and contains a back-story so complicated that much of it will only make sense to Scream devotees.

Bringing this latest instalment to the screen has not been easy. The production lost the gifted screenwriter Kevin Williamson who wrote the first two screenplays.

He reportedly had to abandon Scream 3 because of other work commitments. Williamson was replaced by Ehren Kruger whose writing seems to lack the spark and humour that infused Scream and Scream 2.

Another problem facing Scream 3 is that the earlier films have been cited in various public forums as prime examples of the irresponsible violent Hollywood entertainment that helped foment last year's dramatic teen shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Market forces

Consequently the film-makers had to create Scream 3, a violent film, without including content that could be deemed gratuitous.
Scott Foley, of Dawson Creek fame, plays Roman Bridger
As a result Scream 3 has a lot of slashing, but there's not so much gore, which diminishes the overall impact and makes the picture less shocking.

Whatever happens with Scream 3, the legacy of the original film still remains impressive. Not only did Scream redefine the horror genre, it also alerted Hollywood to the presence of a vast underserved teen market.

As a result it gave birth to a whole new wave of teen movies which has yet to run its course.

Despite pronouncements of no more sequels if Scream 3 does become a big blockbuster, hunger for profits is bound to dictate that a new film will almost definitely be in the works.

After vowing not to make Scream 4, the creators may well save face by adopting that fashionable alternative and simply announcing that they are making a Scream prequel.

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