Scream ★★★★★

The opening scene is the best slasher movie scene of all time. Not because it's winkingly self-aware, but because it's just absolutely perfectly done. The reason this was so effective, so successful it repopularized horror movies, which had been in the cultural ghetto for a dozen years, is that it's actually better than all the "classic" ones it's very consciously and openly an homage to.

Half the cast sucks, but in most slashers the whole cast sucks; here the good ones are spectacular. Matthew Lillard, Rose McGowan, Drew Barrymore, all iconically great in this, the roles I will always associate them with. The soundtrack is awful, in the very specific way that 1996 Major Label soundtracks are awful. The killer is great, absolutely amazing prop design, the perfect ratio of silly to spooky. The final twist/killer-reveal is unexpectedly transgressive and insane, one of the more indelible scenes of its type.

If you haven't seen this -- perhaps you are are a horror-movie-curious person? --it's the perfect gateway drug. It provides a nice and neat explicit encapsulation of what they're about and why they're good, even when they're bad. And you get a fair sampling of both qualities. It came out when I was 13 and the boys-friend-group and the girls-friend-group were just starting to hang out, I'm pretty sure I first saw it on VHS at a chaste platonic sleepover party. But I've watched it on many Halloweens since, and the good bits more than hold up. Deserving of its status as a classic.

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