90s Slasher Films and the Impact of Scream

The 1990s became a new birthplace of slasher films primarily thanks to the success of Wes Craven’s 1996 film Scream. Scream is viewed as a novel slasher film for having characters who were mindful of the typical slasher tropes we saw in films throughout the late 1970s and 1980s.

What has since birthed five films, a television series, merchandise, and games, practically every person knows what Scream is. So, how did Scream impact the future of slashers for years to come? Let’s analyze how the film changed horror on top of the iconic nature of the franchise.

How Scream Changed Horror

The meta of Scream changed horror forever, causing many films not to be afraid to go deep into the murder mystery arc of the storyline with some camp along with it. It was no more extended characters running from a guy with a chainsaw, but rather a murder mystery style with a discussion of horror films in a horror film.

That level of meta was never genuinely grounded in a horror film to that degree, birthing a new style that so many films attempted to do shortly after. The idea alone of Casey Becker (Scream’s intro scene) having to answer a question about Friday the 13th; otherwise, her boyfriend would be killed is something we’ve never seen before.

A Horror Film Meant for Horror Fans

Scream’s meta alone is a representation that it was a horror film meant for horror films. Fans would line up and enjoy the discussion of horror films from a dialogue perspective instead of the typical straightforward approach of a character crying and running away before being subdued. It was a breath of fresh air.

Scream “Rip-Offs” and Analyzing Those through a different lens.

As tremendous and iconic as Scream is, critics likened practically every other slasher film released shortly after a “Scream Rip-Off.” Though there is some truth to studios’ fast-tracking slashers as a way to bank off the success of Scream, I think it’s unfair to lump most of the post-Scream slashers as rip-offs.

Obviously, most of these Scream “Rip-Offs” aren’t masterful in the slightest. However, I think they’re interesting to view through a different lens from today’s perspective. All of these films carry at least a few scenes that we can learn something about from a filmmaking perspective, even if it’s not executed perfectly. Here are a few worth checking out to either compare its influence from Scream or to look for something the film does well as a Slasher, even if it’s very minimal.

  • I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)
  • Campfire Tales (1997)
  • Urban Legend (1998)
  • Final Destination (2000)
  • The Faculty (1998)
  • Valentine (2001)
  • Cherry Falls (2000)

90s Slasher Films to Check Out Besides Scream

As iconic and extraordinary as Scream is, the films from the same time (some as a direct influence from Scream) are worth checking out, too, if you’re a fan of a slasher. Though most 90s Slasher films don’t hold up or feel too gimmicky by today’s standards, there are a few still worth viewing today.

None of the films listed below are perfect films, but I feel they each offer something, even if it’s a couple of scenes that are worth appreciating. A couple of these (The Faculty and I Know What You Did Last Summer) were lumped into that Scream “Rip-Off” mold. Still, I think they’re worth analyzing separate from that criticism.

Candyman (1992) – The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand, is accidentally summoned to reality by a skeptic grad student researching the monster’s myth.

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997) – Four young friends bound by a tragic accident are reunited when they find themselves being stalked by a hook-wielding maniac in their small seaside town.

The Faculty (1998) – When Casey Connor, Herrington High School’s newspaper photographer, witnesses the murder of a nurse and sees her alive again, he decides to investigate the bizarre happenings.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) – A demonic force has chosen Freddy Krueger as its portal to the real world. Can Heather Langenkamp play the part of Nancy one last time and trap the evil trying to enter our world?



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