It’s rare for a filmmaker to helm all four installments in a movie franchise, but like Steven Spielberg did with the INDIANA JONES franchise, Wes Craven has matched that record with SCREAM.
SCREAM 4, the latest chapter, hits DVD and Blu-ray this week as it reunites the surviving cast members from the previous three movies – Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette as they confronts the nefarious Ghost Face killer one more time as he (or she or more) terrorizes the quaint small town of Woodsboro.
ASSIGNMENT X recently spoke with Wes Craven in this exclusive interview about the SCREAM franchise, deleted scenes and what he really thought about the A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake.
ASSIGNMENT X: Most of the times when you see deleted scenes, you kind of understand why they were deleted, but in the case of SCREAM 4, the one scene I felt should have been included was the cops investigating the crime after the first two deaths.
WES CRAVEN: That one is tossed on [executive producer] Bob Weinstein’s lap. For whatever reason he felt it wasn’t important or necessary. We argued a long time for it. Our working relationship is give and take. He technically has final cut. We kept a cordial relationship throughout the picture. He didn’t feel it was necessary. I wasn’t going to go to the ground to have it in. I did think it made a good cut. It did have echoes of the first SCREAM. It was kind of like “okay, if you think it’s unimportant” – but it’s a trade-off in a situation like that where you’ll give them that and you’ll take something else. My wife, Iya [Labunka] who produced the picture and my editor [Peter McNulty], we all thought that scene was nice and the image of what was so shocking and established the credentials that this was not fun and games here.
AX: With the SCREAM movies it’s all being careful not to tip your hat as to who the killer is and establishing all those elaborate red herrings – is that one of the more fun parts of making these movies?
CRAVEN: It’s something you forget that it’s a murder mystery and it’s one where the half dozen people of characters have to be the killer – or two of them. You have to make sure as a director or writer, you can go back and say “this is where this person was not at and was able to go away and do whatever he or she did.” I had a chart and list and everything else with us at all times to keep us from doing something where it wasn’t possible for a character to do something that wasn’t possible for he or she to have done. Even in so far if there’s a fight where Ghost Face falls down the stairs – you need to make sure it wasn’t something that was so violent or showed him being hurt in a way that you would have to show that on that character, unless their sleeve was longer. The writers, myself, my wife and also [co-producer] Carly Feingold who has one of those brains that remembers every single detail, watched it all the time to make sure we didn’t do some mistake that would turn around and bite us in the butt a month later. It’s funny, but it’s one of the trickier points of making the SCREAM series.
AX: How hard was it to get the original cast back?
CRAVEN: I think for the actors, putting aside things of scheduling, which is somewhat tricky – everyone wanted to make sure it was done at a level that wouldn’t make it an embarrassment. Then to make sure it was not something that was done, just because it could be made. I know all the actors wanted to know if I would be directing or not. Beyond that, it was the script. Was the script at the level we wanted it to be before we put our names on it? Since all the actors and myself got along extremely well – that was an important thing to know. It took Neve awhile, but once she heard I was going to do it, she came on. There was no more to it than that. We all had concerns about the script since parts were being written as we were shooting and that’s never fun. And beyond that, I think it went pretty smooth. Kevin [Williamson] was writing, I was directing and we had enough of a budget to do it right.
AX: For awhile, there was talk that this would be part of a new trilogy – do you still have plans to do the other two?
CRAVEN: Yes it was, from the very beginning, my first meeting with Kevin he had an idea for this script and also had ideas for two more. That’s my way as saying this was conceived as the start of a new trilogy.
AX: Considering almost everyone dies in SCREAM 4, that makes it hard to bring some of the new characters back.
CRAVEN: Some people who were killed were still moving. Hayden Panettiere, had it in her contract that her character could not be killed. And she kept moving on the ground. I knew I could wait ten minutes, but she would still be moving. She’s still there, beyond that, we killed off everybody and sometimes you wonder whether we should have left Jill [Emma Roberts] alive a little bit. That will all be figured out.
AX: So there will be more SCREAM movies?
CRAVEN: It will be down the road to an extent. The last time we had a conversation about it was around the release of the film and Bob said he was going to pursue going to the next script. From what I understand, that is his intentions and he’s talking to various writers. He might be talking to Kevin, but frankly I don’t know what’s going on between those two. It would be nice if Kevin came through. There’s a separate thing with Kevin is that he has those television shows [THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, THE SECRET CIRCLE] – and that does take him away at critical moments, so Bob might look for a writer who might be more available.
AX: At some point I had interviewed Jamie Kennedy, this is was before you started production, and he mentioned that somehow there was talks of a way to bring Randy back in SCREAM 4. Was there ever a script where Randy was in it?
CRAVEN: In any of the scripts I saw, there was none of that. We brought him back in SCREAM 3 in the tape he left behind. To go beyond that, it would be a bit ridiculous.
AX: How difficult is to come up with the opening to SCREAM 4?
CRAVEN: There was an original versions Kevin wrote, which I read on the first pages of anything that involved Neve having a dinner party with a few friends celebrating the publishing of her book. Everyone was killed and Neve was sorely wounded, but killed the killer. Then you advanced the rest of the picture three years later. Our feeling was we felt it would be smarter to have an opening with characters that were central to our younger audience, and also, all of us had been involved with films, including myself, that had big time jumps between the first and second act – and none of us felt that worked very well. I did it on MY SOUL TO TAKE and jumped many years later. It broke the momentum on it in a way that wasn’t good.
AX: What I really liked about SCREAM 4, for it being a genre film and a sequel – it commented successfully about media and fame. For a movie to do it right and not heavy-handed – I thought it was a really smart thing.
CRAVEN: It’s certainly a tricky mix. You never think that you’re being a preacher at them. That [speech] was one of the earliest things I read by Kevin – it was such an amazing thing for that young character to say. It was really compelling. And the fact she turned around and destroyed herself physically, I thought “this is going to be amazing” and it was.
AX: Do you have your next project lined up?
CRAVEN: We plan to take time off and relax and spend time with family – and rejoice the creative juices. I’m in the final stages of making a deal to do three comic books for a company that I will have the rights to make them into a movie or movies. It’s based on a concept that I had done. I’m also interested in doing a children’s book and will be bringing that. That’s what I’m doing creatively right now.
AX: Do you enjoy the process or comics or a children books since it’s so hard to raise funding for movies?
CRAVEN: Obviously you can’t make a horror movie for kids, but you can talk about scary things to kids in a children’s books. These are things I have found interesting in life. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is part of a genre of children’s books and I thought of doing one myself. Not to brag, I haven’t had much problem raising funds. I’ve always been a studio whore – studios coming to me with money to make it and in that way I’ve been extremely fortunate.
AX: Do you think the taste in horror movies are changing – I kind of feel we’re in another one of those transitory periods again.
CRAVEN: We even commented it in the film with Hayden’s character having to recount all the remakes with the quiz. There have been a tremendous amount of sequels and remakes in the last ten years. And some of things like torture porn or so called torture porn have become, in a way, a little obsolete, because of some potentials brought to bear. That has faded from the news. It’s time for something new. I don’t know if anyone knows what that will be. Someone will come along and bring horror back to make it vital. Before A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET [in 1984], there was a sense that horror was dead and no place to go. There is always some place new to go – but it just takes inspiration. It’s nothing you can sit down and intellectually do. An idea has to just come.
AX: Obviously you’ve lived through all the sequels to NIGHTMARE, but when that film was remade and you’re on the sideline, were you excited to see what they did or you just felt “let them go off and let them do what they want to do with it”?
CRAVEN: There was never any conversation between them and me – no one ever called. I never went to see it. I frankly felt kind of violated. On the other hand, I told myself “don’t be such a baby.” This is the one of those few films I did where I had to give up total ownership of it, because that was the only way to get money to be spent. That was the condition that [former New Line Cinemas president] Bob Shaye put on it. By now, that material is now owned by Warner Bros. so it was a group of people totally detached from me whatsoever and it was a property they were going to renew. It was a little painful to think about, but I don’t think they’ve replaced the original, so we’ll leave it at that.
The reason we remade LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and HILLS HAVE EYES, they were such early films, they were films that the rights came back to us after 30 years. The two separate producers from those two films realized we had the rights to do it as remakes and thought it would be fun to do a remake.
AX: It’s one thing where you can remake FRIDAY THE 13th since Jason wears a hockey mask or HALLOWEEN because it’s a mask too – but Robert England is still recent history, so I always felt that was weird with new ELM STREET since it was more recent history. Even though Jackie Earle Haley was a good choice, if you’re going to redo it, then you have to get rid of the sweater and everything and completely rethink it, otherwise it looks like someone in a Halloween mask pretending to be Robert England.
CRAVEN: It would have been smart to have Robert England.
AX: You’ve done so many movies, and let other people to do remakes of your own films, but are there any movies that you directed yourself would like to remake?
CRAVEN: I think I made a pact with myself that I would never do a remake. I think it’s important to keep moving forward and do fresh stuff otherwise you should retire before you end up like these 1960s or 1970s bands. That was the pleasure of doing MY SOUL TO TAKE and SCREAM 4 because it was fresh new material. I don’t think I’m going to be going back to doing any remakes.
Additional reporting by A.C. Ferrante
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Click on Link: Review of SCREAM – Blu-ray
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Click on Link: Review of SCREAM 3 – Blu-ray
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Article Source: Assignment X
Article: Exclusive Interview with Wes Craven on SCREAM 4 DVD