The Mt. Rushmore of Movie Killers: Ghostface
Halloween is just two weeks away. October is a notoriously fine time for horror movies. We decided to take a look at the four greatest killers in horror movies. Our arbitrary criteria includes influence, style and just general awesomeness.
Scream begins with a phone call. Drew Barrymoore, the actress at the heart of all posters and promotion, answers. The voice on the other end of the line sounds amused, confused, and harmless. She is understanding and hangs up. The phone rings again. She's a little irritated, but the voice on the other end of the line is charming and witty. They engage in witty banter until she hangs up. The phone rings again. The voice once again sounds harmless, maddeningly reasonable, they chat about horror movies and popcorn until he apparently slips up. "I want to know who I'm looking at." She is getting creeped out and hangs up. The phone rings again.
"Listen asshole!" Barrymoore shouts.
"No, you listen you little bitch, you hang up on me again and I'll gut you like a fish, understand?" The voice venomously shouts. Within five minutes, Barrymoore's character and her letterman jacket wearing boyfriend are dead. Her parents find her hanging from a tree.
The opening scene of the first Scream movie is one of the iconic scenes in horror movie history. We have seen villains play with their victims like a cat would play with its food before, Freddie Krueger, another horror movie legend, was famous for it. Yet the killer in Scream is not a violent spirit that kills people in their dreams. The voice on the other end of the telephone sounds like a normal person, it could be anyone, and the Scream series plays on that fear. Throughout the series, the killer is in fact, anyone.
Scream was a new type of horror movie. It was self aware in an industry that had run its course with the standard horror movie. Halloween 6 came out a year before Scream. It was a flop and a dreadful, dreary, formulaic disaster. Scream mocked horror movie convention, while also knowingly following horror movie tropes with a wink. Ghostface was funny, witty and killed simply. Ghostface didn't need fancy weapons or special powers, he had his knife and his brain, and that's all he needed.
Throughout the series Ghostface was played by seven different people, but, like Dr. Who or James Bond, Ghostface was an entity all its own. The Mike Shanahan of horror movies, Ghostface operated as a killer by committee, running a scheme of success.
Scream changed the landscape of horror movies for years. It was a decade before studios felt confident making truly serious horror films again. New horror films seem hell bent on avoiding all the campy, B movie nature of its pre-Scream predecessors. The modern horror film is gritty, humorless and often uncomfortably violent, each one hoping that it escapes the mocking eye of Scream.
In honor of the inimitable Joe Bob Briggs, here are the drive in totals for the legendary Ghostface:
Iconic Look: Run of the mill Halloween costume
Iconic Victim: Sydney Prescott
Weapon of Choice: Buck Knife
Body Count: 40
One dog door garage impalement
One poolside dismemberment
One knife through ear by whispering sweet nothings through a bathroom stall
One bludgeoning by frying pan
Two heaves off balconies
Four throat slashing