Rated R - Running Time: 1:28 - Released 7/7/00

Horror parodies have probably been around as long as traditional horror movies; I suppose it is an irresistable temptation, since real "scary movies" are so laughable, to make fun of the stupid characters who inevitably inhabit them. The Wayans brothers' Scary Movie, however, has the dubious distinction of being the first horror spoof to be made in the era of the gross-out comedy inaugurated by There's Something About Mary and continuing in force through such recent titles as American Pie, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, and most recently Me, Myself, & Irene. Since Mary broke the so-called "semen barrier," there seems to be no bodily function or substance too disgusting to portray on film for the purpose of getting laughs. So, in keeping with this new tradition, director/producer Keenen Ivory Wayans and his writing brothers Shawn and Marlon (with the help of several other writers) have included many such jokes in their takeoff on the new generation of horror films. A dubious distinction it is.

Scary Movie (which, incidentally, was the working title for the original Scream) makes fun mostly of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, but also contains references to The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, The Matrix, and several others. I daresay the first scene, based on the Drew Barrymore opener from Scream, is the funniest. One of its best moments is when the girl (Carmen Electra) is being pursued out of her house by the knife-wielding killer. She comes upon a pair of road signs, side by side. One says "Safety," with an arrow to the left; the other says, "Death," with an arrow to the right. She stops momentarily, considers the signs, and then dashes off to the right. Unfortunately, this kind of humor gives way to the more disgusting type in short order, and only occasionally taps into the fertile ground of humor already present in slasher flicks. Besides the gross stuff, there's also a fair amount of marijuana humor that would seem more at home in an old '70s Cheech & Chong movie.

After the murder of the aforementioned girl by the masked, hooded killer, Cindy (Anna Faris), her ever-horny boyfriend Bobby (Jon Abrahams), and four other friends fear that the killer might be the man they ran over last year and left for dead (for those who don't know, this is the scenario of I Know What You Did Last Summer). And sure enough, he begins working his way through the six of them, slashing, beheading, and eviscerating them one by one, using either a hook or a knife, and panicking the student population at "B. A. Corpse High School." The remaining friends are pursued not only by the killer but by ambitious newswoman Gail Hailstorm (Cheri Oteri), who will go to any lengths to get the story, and protected by a drooling, mentally retarded cop named Doofy (Dave Sheridan), who uses the bathroom in his pants and provides various other gross/stupid humor. Among the supporting cast are a stuck-up beauty queen (Shannon Elizabeth), a latent homosexual (Shawn Wayans), a pot-smoking homeboy (Marlon Wayans), and a transvestite girls' coach named Miss Mann.

This film is definitely meant for those who frequent horror movies, because if you didn't see at least Scream and I Know, you won't get most of the jokes. I appreciate the intentions of Wayans & company; there is much material for making fun of in these movies. But their approach, incorporating the crude humor that has become so popular of late, generates an unfortunate digression from the point. On the other hand, "the point" may be to make money from moviegoing teenagers, and that they will most certainly do. ***

Copyright 2000 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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