Plenty of movies from the past few decades are finding a new home on television – that is, the ones that aren’t being rebooted, remade, or reinvigorated on the big screen for new audiences, of course. MTV managed to find success by taking the premise of the 1985 cult comedy Teen Wolf and reinvisioning it with a slightly darker interpretation for a modern audience.
With Teen Wolf set to kick off its fifth season next week, MTV is also launching another television show based on a cult classic – this time from the ‘90s – in Wes Craven’s Scream. MTV’s Scream will debut on June 30 and according to an early report from TVLine, the adaptation will follow much of the same plot as the original, albeit with some technological advancements:
The pilot…kicks off with a YouTube video going viral, which will have adverse repercussions for teenager Audrey and seemingly serve as the “catalyst for a murder that opens up a window to [her] town’s troubled past.”
The short (and perhaps slightly outdated) synopsis may not compel fans of the original, or even casual TV-viewers, to watch the upcoming Scream show. But, as I briefly discussed in my “6 Most Anticipated New and Returning Shows Summer 2015” post, there are a few other reasons to get excited about this particular horror series.
Let’s start off with the simplest reason I’m particularly excited to watch Scream: the music. The fact that MTV evolved from a network that simply played music videos to one with original programming – both of the scripted and reality variety – has become a cultural in-joke. However, despite this truth, MTV does still have excellent insight into the best up-and-coming artists in the most popular genres of music.
I’ll be the first to admit that the pop-ups at the bottom of the screen during MTV shows, which display the artist and track name, are a little annoying, but there’s also a blog specifically for viewers who want to know after the fact which song was played during which scene. And besides, I’ve started listening to many new bands – Those Dancing Days, Sohn, Flight Facilities, Gallant, and RHODES to name a few – simply because of the MTV shows I watch.
If the Rilo Kiley song used in the “Killer Party” promo is any indication, Scream will also have a fantastic soundtrack and I’m excited to see what new bands will be featured.
A Real Horrorshow
MTV – like The CW – gets a bit of a bad reputation for catering to a younger audience. Although The CW is rectifying their reputation by widening their scope of appeal to include older audience members, MTV is still unabashedly a teen-geared network. As such, Scream has been written and produced for that age group, which, it should be said, does not include fans of the original Craven film.
Still, even though I fall between these two demographics (I was six when the Scream movie came out, and am now 25 for the debut of MTV’s Scream) I enjoy other horror series produced by the network. I’m an avid fan of Teen Wolf – despite its lackluster turn in recent seasons – and I am still disappointed by the cancellation of thriller/horror series Eye Candy after just one season. So, it’s likely I’ll also enjoy MTV’s next horror outing, Scream.
Besides, MTV shows are essentially the Young Adult novels of TV programming (along with series on networks like CW and ABC Family): just because they’re geared toward a younger audience doesn’t necessarily mean these shows aren’t good television. Although, that being said, Scream viewers should prepare themselves for some sort of love triangle situation – at least, in this case it will probably include murder!
Harper’s Island 2: The TV Slasher Sequel
In the spring and summer of 2009, CBS aired the special limited series Harper’s Island, which followed a typical slasher flick storyline: Abby Mills returns to her hometown of Harper’s Island seven years after a serial murderer killed her mother and five other people. She’s meant to attend the wedding of her best friend, but a killer begins whittling down the wedding party.
The similarities between the plot of Harper’s Island and that of the original Craven film caused some to compare the two. So, despite Scream’s Noah (John Karna) proclaiming in the first trailer that “you can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series,” it obviously can be done. Of course, Harper’s Island wasn’t necessarily a success in terms of ratings, but the show did receive middling-to-positive reviews and was generally enjoyed by viewers.
For those horror fans that did enjoy Harper’s Island (myself included), Scream may be worth checking out for the sake of seeing how a new show can adapt the slasher premise – and judge whether MTV’s take lives up to its television predecessor.
Behind the Scream-s
Initially, it was reported that original director Craven would return to the franchise to direct the pilot of MTV’s Scream. However, when he wasn’t able to do so because of scheduling conflicts, he remained involved in the series as an executive producer. Instead of Craven, MTV brought in Jamie Travis (who has worked on another of the network’s shows, Faking It) to direct the pilot.
As for the series’ showrunner, that responsibility falls to Jill Blotevogel who wrote the script for the Scream pilot and will serve as executive producer. Blotevogel has written for shows such as Ravenswood, Eureka, and – oh yeah – Harper’s Island, on which she additionally served as a producer.
So, with Craven involved and Blotevogel at the helm, Scream may have the best possible team behind its production.
How to Survive a Horror Movie & Other Lessons from Scream
MTV’s Scream has already made it clear that the show will be extremely self-referential to the horror genre, slasher flicks in particular, just as the film on which it’s based had been. The character of Noah seems to be the updated version of Randy Meeks (played by Jamie Kennedy) in the 1996 film – who is most famous for his rules on how to survive a horror movie. And Noah will impart his knowledge of the genre on the audience as well as fellow characters in Scream.
As for other archetypes horror, new videos depict the stars of the show discussing the five main character tropes in slasher flicks, which Scream characters fall into each category, and who has the most likelihood of making it out of the first season alive. Although these videos have more to do with the marketing of the series than what we’ll actually see once it premieres, those behind the scenes seem to know how to tap into Scream’s self-referential tone.
Of course, MTV’s Scream TV show won’t be exactly the same as Craven’s original film, but what truly defined the 1996 movie was its ability to, in the same scene, utilize and comment on established horror archetypes. If that is employed within the television show, then Scream will be a success in my book.