In honor of the 25th Anniversary, take a stab at the brand-new 4K UHD edition of “Scream 2.”

In its history, horror has covered a wide range of styles, formats, and tones. It was only a matter of time before the genre would turn inward to look at itself, which it did with aplomb in 1996’s Wes Craven-directed Kevin Williamson-written Scream. With the surprise success of this meta-horror teen slasher, a sequel was fast-tracked, bringing back as much of the original cast as possible. It’s a film which smartly expands the mythos of the original tale, balancing its meta narrative with thoughtful ideas about sequels, horror, and their place in global culture. Now, 25 years later, in celebration of original release, Paramount Pictures is releasing a first-time 4K UHD edition in regular and special edition steelbook packaging, as well as all the previous legacy features.

scrm2stillks00020

L-R: Omar Epps as Phil and Jada Pinkett Smith as Maureen in SCREAM 2. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

It’s been two years since the Woodsboro murders that saw Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and her friends stalked by a mysterious masked killer, dubbed Ghostface, that ended up being her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and their friend Stu (Mathew Lillard). In that time, Sidney and fellow survivor Randy (Jamie Kennedy) have enrolled in Windsor College, Deputy Dewey (David Arquette) continues to patrol the streets of Woodsboro, and reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) continues to ride the success of both her coverage of Woodsboro and the book she wrote that’s responsible for the upcoming cinematic adaptation Stab. Amid the calm, something festers in the background, making itself known when two Windsor students, Maureen and Phil (Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps), are murdered during a sneak preview of Stab. Is this a copycat killer? Is it connected to Sidney? As more bodies drop, these questions and their answers are the difference between life and death.

When it comes to sequels, Scream 2 addresses audience concerns via a scene in which legacy nerd Randy states, “… by definition alone they’re inferior films.” The line serves to address, in the franchise’s signature style, how audiences may view the film which will inevitability be stacked upon against the first outing and will almost surely fall short. Cleverly, this scene is the introduction to, what we come to realize, are three major players in this tale whose parts carry weight. Randy is our legacy character whose declarations from the previous film gave the first story much of its meta-narrative. Timothy Olyphant as Mickey Altieri, the film student who matches Randy for his film knowledge and obsessiveness, is ultimately revealed to be the darker Randy, the Stu of Scream 2. Then there’s Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Cici Cooper, a character who gave audiences a female character who can hold her own with the other film nerds, who defies the role of stereotypical sorority girl, and whose death was fated to happen by virtue of her name (her real name’s Casey, as the in the Drew Barrymore character from Scream 1). This film put its cards out on the table for us to see in this scene, placing two victims in close proximity to one of the killers, telling us immediately why Randy couldn’t be Ghostface and why Mickey absolutely is (he’s pro-sequels as superior). Of course, then the film trots out a new reporter to undermine Gale, someone who challenges Gale’s lack of ethics for fame (something which became integral to her relationship with Dewey through the series), that just so happens to also be Billy’s mom? (Not a reach either as a scene with Dewey and Randy reminds us of Mrs. Vorhees as the killer in the original Friday the 13th (1980)). The point, if I may, is that unlike the first film, Scream 2 puts everything out in front of us, keeps telling us over and over who we should be wary of, yet the script is such that we still aren’t sure who to believe or trust. 25 years later, the tension continues to hold true.

scrm2stillks00001

L-R: Jerry O’Connell as Derek Feldman, Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott, Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, and Liev Schreiber as Cotton Weary in SCREAM 2. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Speaking of resonance across time, the cold open of Scream 2 remains the cruelest of them all. There’s no question that the death of Casey is brutal emotionally and psychologically, setting the tone for what’s to come. Looking back, each of the cold opens has always had a direct connection to the story proper and has always had a connection to the killer. The only exception is Scream 2’s Maureen and Phil. As we come to learn, the killer’s first victims share name similarities of the Woodsboro victims. Jada’s Maureen Evans for Maureen Prescott, the original victim, and Epps’s Phil Stevens for Steven Orth, Casey’s boyfriend and the first on-screen murder of the franchise. Their deaths are sacrifices, entirely needless except in the service of the chaos Mickey wants to sow. But before we learn the why, the how continues to shake me. Phil’s death is shocking and intimate in the quiet of a bathroom, but comes quickly. For Maureen, though, her’s is slow, deliberate, and happens in a crowd. A crowd of audience-goers dressed as Ghostface, taking delight in the murder that’s to come via Stab because horror offers up macabre delights with the silver screen as protective barrier. There’s nothing to protect Maureen and no one jumps in to save her. The scream Pinkett Smith lets out is deep like a howl, conveying a mixture of rage, pain, and disappointment as everyone around her can’t see what’s happening and, when recognizing the violence done to her, do little more than stand there. It’s positively heart-wrenching. Much later, upon learning that the play Sidney’s performing in is part of the Oresteia trilogy which focuses on Cassandra, a character in Greek mythology destined to speak the truth and be ignored no matter what she does, one discovers a stronger connection between Maureen and the themes of the film. Consider how the tragedy of Cassandra better describes Maureen than Sidney (though the trilogy does focus on a heroine trying to survive, how expectedly meta of Williamson), making the opening of Scream 2 feel particularly painful in retrospect. Casey’s death was purposeful in the mindset of the original killers, a bit of a revenge killing for breaking up with Stu. The double murder that opens Scream 2 is a painful warning of what’s to come, making Maureen’s unanswered howl before her demise all the more heartbreaking.

Now on to the restoration.

There’s no indication in the press materials nor is there anything included with the release to identify how the 4K UHD edition was created. From my perspective, however they made it, this is a solid 4K release with the picture clear and lacking the visible grain one would expect from a film this old. Particularly given how much of the film takes place during daylight compared to the first, there’s some strong color definition, especially noticeable with the white and tans of the costumes. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a new audio mix, but the balance remains in the 5.1 Dolby track so that the dialogue, score, and ambient noise comes through nicely. This isn’t a film that requires immersion in noise, but the mix is so good that you won’t notice.

Regarding the packaging, as mentioned there are two options: standard and limited edition steelbook. Kindly, the review copy sent by Paramount Home Entertainment is of the steelbook variety, which takes great advantage of the original cover art on the inside (Maureen’s and Sidney’s faces agape in fear) with a nice design on the front and back with Ghostface references. Oddly, the review copy sent over came dented on the bottom cover to the point that it can’t be secured, rendering the case pretty but fairly useless in preserving the discs. This is the first-time I’ve run into this issue with any steelbook, review copy or not, so be advised that this is a risk one takes with selecting this version. I suspect this is less of a concern with buyers of the standard version because you can always replace the case, but if you’re getting the steelbook, be ready for the issue.

scream24kuhd3dbty

Even without a special case or new audio mix, one thing that would really make this anniversary edition great is some sort of new material, even a featurette, from the cast of the film. Imagine if you could hear from one-time cast members Timothy Olyphant (Mickey Altieri), Laurie Metcalf (Mrs. Loomis), Jerry O’Connell (Derek Feldman), Sarah Michelle Gellar (Casey “Cici” Cooper), Pinkett Smith, Epps, or any of the special guests who appeared as members of the Stab cast discuss what they think of being attached to this long-running franchise. There’s gotta be some stories, and it’d be the kind of thing that would make revisiting the already excellent follow-up even more enticing.

scrm2stillks00023

L-R: David Arquette as Dwight ‘Dewey’ Riley, Jamie Kennedy as Randy Meeks, and Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers in SCREAM 2. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

This may be a contrarian take, but none of the Scream films are bad. In fact, my favorite thing about these films is how they try to take the piss out of themselves in the process of telling their stories. While the original Scream remains the favorite (the blueprint for all which follow or imitate), the sequel is what kicks off the aspect that makes these films so great to me: the sins of the mother. None of Scream 2 happens if Sidney’s mom hadn’t had an affair with Billy’s Dad and none of Scream would’ve happened at all if not for Sidney’s youthful past (explored in Scream 3 (2000)), which is what started Scream as we know it. Where Scream 4 and Scream 5 divert to other areas to justify their version of Ghostface, with Scream 2, Williamson and Craven built a legacy of pain that makes every trial Sidney survives another bit of redemption for a mother’s broken past and makes the films far deeper than one would expect without sacrificing what makes this so damned entertaining.

Scream 2 Legacy Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Director Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena and Editor Patrick Lussier
  • Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Director Wes Craven, Producer Marianne Maddalena and Editor Patrick Lussier)
  • Outtakes
  • Featurette
  • Music Videos: Master P – “Scream” and Kottonmouth Kings – “Suburban Life”
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

Available on 4K UHD Blu-ray and digital October 4th, 2022.



Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Recommendation

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. I never watched these films because I wasn’t a horror buff but now that I know more about horror and how it is made I might just watch these.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: