(1996) ★★★★★

TCM: Friday 17 July, 9pm

High-school teenagers in the small town of Woodsboro are being stalked by a deranged killer in a screaming ghost mask. Wes Craven’s virtuoso horror comedy is a knowing piece of work, constantly calling attention to ‘the rules’ of the game as laid out in infamous predecessors – most notably John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween. Even though Craven plays fair by the constrictions of the genre, this is not a conventional pastiche. Continually undercutting clichés, he gleefully messes with audience expectations and has several characters commenting on the action – “Oh no Mr Ghost Face, please don’t kill me, I want to be in the sequel…” whimpers Rose McGowan – as if it were taking place in a horror film. But it isn’t, of course. It’s taking place in Woodsboro, the kind of picket-fence town which doesn’t really exist outside of the malicious imaginations of gifted film-makers, from Hitchcock’s depiction of small-town psychosis in Shadow of a Doubt to David Lynch’s sublimely subversive Blue Velvet. This is Craven’s most sophisticated film since The Serpent and the Rainbow and his scariest since the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s a scream. As were, to varying degrees, the three sequels. Which is more than can be claimed for MTV’s ill-advised 2015 TV series revival. Besides, Harper’s Island got there first.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 110min

Other Showings Time & Date
TCM Saturday, 18 July at 1:00AM