There are a grand total of two of the “parody everything” films which are worth a damn – “Not Another Teen Movie” and this (that I enjoyed “Vampires Suck” while I had a fever doesn’t count, I think). “Shriek…” is not particularly clever, but it throws so much material at the wall, and has at least one genuinely brilliant moment, that I think it’s still worth a watch.
The plot is a loose amalgam of “Scream” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, but that’s really not important. A group of four high school students, the horny nerd, the cute goth, the slutty prom queen and the incredibly stupid jock, take new kid Dawson under their wing at the same time as a masked killer begins killing people. There’s a dumb security guard, a beautiful TV news reporter, The Artist Formerly Known As Principal, and so on. I can’t believe I was about to try and describe the plot of a parody movie. I’m sorry, readers.
Imagine if something was sort of well-known in the late 90s, because if it was it’ll be in this movie, no matter if it makes sense. There are several Dawson’s Creek references – remember Pacey having an affair with his teacher? Well, in this they’ve had a child, and the mother is played by the amazing Mink Stole, one of John Waters’ original group of actors.
There’s a decent cast here as well. Julie Benz, of “Buffy” and “Dexter” fame, plays a student, while Tiffani Thiessen of “Saved By The Bell” and “White Collar” fame plays the reporter (although Benz was 28 at the time this was filmed, Thiessen 26); Tom Arnold is the stupid “cop” and Coolio the principal – sorry, I said decent cast. BOOM! Majandra Delfino is fun as the cute goth, and it’s a shame her career didn’t do too much after “Roswell”.
Making up for some of the endless parade of awful “this room at the school has a class you wouldn’t expect!” jokes are a few great segments. There’s a “Pop Up Video” segment while the killer chases a couple of kids round the house; a Grease “Greased Lightning” parody which is amazing – the lyrics to the song are muffled enough to let them get away with insulting everybody; and best of all, there’s a segment mirroring the bit in “Scream” where they explain the rules of horror movies, but explaining the rules of parody movies. It’s clever and funny too.
There’s just so much which doesn’t work. I get the feeling they used every single joke they had submitted to them, and no-one involved in the making of it knew anything about quality control. Still, I enjoyed this the first time I saw it, and enjoyed it again last night. I’d suggest being in a good mood and being old enough to remember the stream of references, but all that being well, you’ll have a good time with this. It’s about on a level with the first “Scary Movie” and vastly superior to all the sequels, and much better than all the Setzer / Friedberg “films”, so there’s that.
Rating: thumbs up