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Trimark Pictures presents
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DVD ReviewFor some unfathomable reason, Scary Movie was one of the biggest films of 2000. Despite the fact that it contains some of the most degrading, offensive, and disgusting "humor" ever captured on-screen, audiences ate up the teen-horror parody like a Backstreet Boys ballad. The MPAA once again totally validated claims that they have all the integrity and talent of Melissa Rivers (and with the same sense of great art!). They gave Scary Movie, which is devoid of artistic merit and any humor with substance or bite, a solid R rating, yet the dead-on satire and brilliant songwriting in South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut went through hell to earn anything but an NC-17.
Not only did the success of Scary Movie cause me to question the intelligence of my generation, it prompted Trimark Pictures to shelve a similarly-themed project, in development, as its Miramax-produced rival was opening in theaters across the country. That film, entitled Shriek if You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th, was produced on a much smaller budget and featured no stars of note. The producers wisely decided that the picture would die at the box office after the $140 million success of the all-too-similar Scary Movie. And they were right. Had it been released, Shriek... would have been greeted by abysmal reviews and an indifferent audience. It eventually premiered on cable, where bad movies go to die (except for Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, but that's neither here nor there).
As with most parodies, Shriek... doesn't have a plot as such. It loosely follows the story progression of Scream, but is basically just a string of brief sketches spoofing pop culture films and TV from recent years. Although the term "recent" perhaps doesn't apply here. Targets for derision include the obvious, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, but also relatively old stuff like Christine and Porky's. I guess those Matrix effects were too expensive or something.
The cast for this one is certainly unique; I'll give them that. Big name talent includes Tiffani-Amber Thiessen of 90210 fame. Hey Tiffani, I bet Saved By the Bell: The College Years is looking pretty good to you now, eh? Likewise Tom Arnold is slumming it as Doughy, the Faulknerian man-child played by David Arquette in Scream. Hey, Tom, I bet Roseanne is looking pretty good to you right now, eh? Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will immediately recognize Darla and Jonathan (Julie Benz and Danny Strong), both of whom have leading roles. Wow, you can't plan that kind of synergy! Of course, no cast list would be complete without a mention of Simon Rex, former MTV VJ and star on Jack and Jill. Hey, Simon, I bet Young, Hard, and Solo #3 is looking pretty good now, eh? Actually, no, it probably isn't.
Parody can certainly succeed on film (see Airplane). The jokes don't all have to hit the mark, but the pace has to be quick enough that by the time the audience loses interest in one, it has passed and something else is happening. Sadly, Shriek... doesn't adequately fulfill either stipulation. The teen horror genre is certainly ripe for attack, especially the smarmy, self-aware 1990s films like Scream. Unfortunately, when you are spoofing what is already a satire, you have to be smarter than the subject material. Shriek... isn't. The jokes are poorly written and obvious. Here and there an amusing line will pop up, but nothing that merits an entire "bit."
The direction is passable at best. None of the scenes look particularly interesting, and the editing flat out kills many of the jokes. For example, there is a repetition joke involving different aspects of an I Know What You Did Last Summer parody. The first two segments are moderately entertaining, but the last two destroy any sense of comedic timing by changing the formula and going in a different direction.
I didn't hate this film, but there is a reason it went straight to video. While the script is basically on par with Scary Movie in its parody (and actually far less objectionable when it comes to gratuitous and unfunny sex jokes), it lacks that picture's glossy production values (and injection of pure Wayans Brothers goodness). The actors work with what's there, but ultimately, Shriek... fails to illicit more than a chuckle.
Rating for Style: C-
Rating for Substance: D+
Image Transfer Review: Considering that Trimark often will put out releases in pan & scan, I was surprised to discover that not only is Shriek... widescreen, it has been anamorphically encoded as well! I have to say, I can't really find any major faults with the image either. Colors look nice, if a bit dull. Black level is very good, with, for the most part, nice, deep textures throughout. I noted a bit of aliasing in several scenes and a bit of artifacting on a plaid shirt, but nothing major. To nit-pick, the image alternated between looking a bit soft and looking nice and crisp. Still, nice job, Trimark.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: This is pretty much just a dialogue-based comedy, but I think some opportunities were missed that could've made this a much more dynamic track. Dialogue, at least is always clear, but it is anchored in the center channel—no directional effects here. The front carries the brunt of the information, with the surrounds kicking in only once, for a brief, unimpressive panning effect. Still, this 2.0 track serves the film reasonably well.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: Nuttin' but da' trailer, yo!
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsOh, if only Leslie Nielsen was alive, he could've been in this movie! What? He is? You're kidding. Well, it's still a valid point. Shriek If You Know... is nothing more than a third tier Leslie Nielsen-inspired parody. The laughs are few and far between and none of the humor is particularly intelligent or biting, but it is probably worth a rent, despite the low grade I gave it. I will say one thing, it is preferable to Scary Movie.
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