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'Scream 2': Horror's hippest hoot

Scenes from 'Scream 2' December 25, 1997
Web posted at: 8:05 p.m. EST (0105 GMT)

From Movie Reviewer Carol Buckland

(CNN) -- As millions of moviegoers already know, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson have done something special with "Scream 2."

They've made a horror movie sequel that doesn't suck.

No, I'm not dissing the picture with faint praise. I'm paying it major homage. Because as any serious student of cinematic history will tell you, the odds that a horror movie sequel will suck (or stink, depending on your choice of adjectives) are really high.

The original "Scream" was a smart-alecky gore fest for the self-referential '90s, effectively goofing on the genre to which it belonged.

"Scream 2" represents an incremental maturation. It actually manages to transcend a few of the silver screen traditions it sends up. While this isn't to suggest that budding auteurs study it in lieu of, say, shelling out mega-bucks to go to film school, the guys who made this movie definitely know their stuff.

"Scream 2" signals its sly intentions from the get-go by linking its first slaughter scene to a date involving the movie "Stab," which is a "fictionalized" version of the events in "Scream."

From there it picks up the trail(s) of the survivors of the first film -- including the pluckily heroic Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), the unjustly jailed Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), the sweetly geeky Dewey Riley (David Arquette) and the icy, anything-for-airtime TV reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox).

Newcomers to the killing fields, which have shifted from Woodsboro High School to Windsor College, include Sidney's sorority roommate Hallie (Elise Neal), Gale's nervous nellie cameraman Joel (David Martin), and a fashion-challenged broadcast snoop named Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf).

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Scenes from 'Scream 2'
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    Complete theatrical trailer

    One of TV's top kick-butt babes, Sarah Michelle Gellar, is on hand, too. Her experience as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" has taught her how to look extremely cute while facing mortal danger.

    The script, which is ultra sharp except for some preachy asides about what one character describes as "all the violence-in-cinema issues," will keep the audience guessing about the identity of the killer until the end.

    Just about everybody has a motive for murder. The possibility of a sequel to this sequel is left open, although the cast will require some serious repopulating if Craven and Williamson make a bid for a cinematic hat trick.

    While having seen the original will enhance your enjoyment of this sequel, it works well as a satirical stand-alone. "Scream 2" is a lethally entertaining piece of moviemaking that will have audiences shrieking ... with laughter.

    "Scream 2" runs 122 minutes. It's rated R. That's for violence (big surprise!) and profanity. For those seeking specifics, the murderous M.O.s depicted include stabbings, slashings and skewerings. There's some sexual innuendo (eyeballing, basically) but nothing explicit.


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