REVIEW: SANTA CLARITA DIET – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Drew Barrymore (Charlies Angels)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Liv Hewson (Before I Fall)
Skyler Gisondo (The Amazing Spider-Man)

RECURRING / BOTABLE GUEST CAST

Ricardo Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Masterminds)
Richard T. Jones (Terminator: TSCC)
Joy Osmanski (Samantha Who?)
Natalie Morales  (Wall Street 2)
Thomas Lennon (Balls of Fury)
Grace Zabriskie (Drop Zone)
DeObia Oparei (Moulin Rouge!)
Portia de Rossi (Scream 2)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Andy Richter (Elf)
Patton Oswalt (Agents of S.H.i.e.l.d.)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls0
Derek Waters (hall Pass)
Ravi Patel (Grandfathered)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)

Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix is an odd and yet oddly simple series. Its creator, Victor Fresco, made his name with Better Off Ted, which played fast and loose with the conventions of the office comedy. In Santa Clarita, he attacks the family sitcom with the same stylized absurdity and mock naïveté. And zombies. Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant star as Sheila and Joel, married real estate agents with a teenage daughter, Abby (Liv Hewson). That changes when Sheila dies after an epic fit of vomiting and comes back to life full of energy, sexually supercharged and very, very hungry for human flesh.
drew-barrymore-timothy-olyphant-santa-clarita-dietIt’s a clever idea — zombification as the route to midlife rejuvenation. Rather than grow bitter and have affairs, Sheila sips human smoothies and gets happier. Her new joie de mourir even recharges her marriage with Joel, a former jock who has receded into a suburban ineffectualness symbolized by the flip-flops he wears around the cul-de-sac.
santa-clarita-diet-staffel-1-01-rcm992x0The first few episodes of “Santa Clarita Diet” do have a good amount of gore and the last third of the season fills out as the mystery and thriller. But there’s a stretch in the middle where Mr. Fresco and his writers have a lot of fun subverting the formulas of the suburban comedy. Family dinners require finesse (because Mom eats people). Abby is angry that her parents keep secrets (because Mom eats people). When told that a pedophile has moved in down the street, Sheila perks up, because she’s on the lookout for undesirable people she won’t feel guilty about eating.screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-10-05-38-amA funny premise and appealing performances take Santa Clarita Diet far. There are enough laughs to make this show bingeable.

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REVIEW: SCREAM 1,2,3 & 4

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Skeet Ulrich (As Good as it Gets)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Drew Barrymore (Charles Angels)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker)
W. Earl brown (Bates Motel)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Joseph Whipp (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Linda Blair (The Exorcist)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

Sidney Prescott isn’t your typical hometown girl… at least, not anymore. She’s been trying to cope with the brutal rape and murder of her mother for almost a year now, but the town of Woodsboro just isn’t willing to let her move on. It’s a small town where hardly anything of interest ever happens, so it didn’t even take a heartbeat’s notice for a small time reporter, Gale Weathers, to start spreading tabloid propaganda about Sid’s mom. More or less, she pegged Mrs. Prescott as the town bicycle that everyone got a chance to ride, and unfortunately, this ongoing story has made it very difficult for Sidney to find peace with the biggest tragedy she’s ever had to face. Not that you can blame the poor girl, what with her mom’s good name and reputation constantly being soured and all. To top things off, her father is always away on business, and she’s catching some flak from her boyfriend for being intimately distant. Sid’s nightmare is about to get worse however, as a killer in a generic five-and-dime Ghostface costume has gutted two of her classmates. It isn’t long before Sid realizes that the timing of the latest deaths in Woodsboro (leading up to the one year anniversary of her mother’s death) isn’t a coincidence. After being put into protective custody by local Deputy Dewey, everyone close to Sidney starts dropping like flies, making it painfully clear that she’s at the center of the killer’s murderous rampage. Finding the killer will unfortunately be no easy feat however, as everyone is seemingly a suspect.
The plot’s implementation in Scream is what really allowed Wes Craven to once again change the face of the genre. Unlike any horror film before its time, the characters in Scream are completely self aware. That is, thanks to the Ghostface killer pretending like he’s the star in some slasher flick, everyone knows they’re playing by the rules of a horror movie – If you don’t want to die, don’t say something to foreshadow your own demise like ‘I’ll be right back’, don’t drink or do drugs, and above all else, you better hope to God that you’re a virgin.

Of course, despite the fact everyone is actually aware of the ‘horror movie as life’ analogy at play, most people dismiss the genre clichés that could potentially save their lives, and inevitably end up meeting their maker anyway. By taking the bold step to often times put the main characters in the very situations they’re attempting to satire. So, without question, Craven and Williamson revitalized the horror scene in 1996 with this film. Not only because it was actually able to deliver legitimate scares and keep the audience guessing who the killer was until the very end, but because it’s genuinely entertaining throughout its entirety.

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Jada Pinkett Smith (Gotham)
Laurie Metcalf (The Big Bang Theory)
Omar Epps (House)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Sarah Michelle Gellar (Gruel Intentions)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Joshua Jackson (Cursed)
Heather Graham (Killing Me Softly)
Duane Martin (Any Given Sunday)
Rebecca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Portia de Rossi (Stigmata)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Rebecca McFarland (Two and A Half Men)
Elise Neal (Hustle & Flow)
Lewis Arquette (Tango & CAsh)
Marisol Nichols (Riverdale)
Tori Spelling (Scary Movie 2)
Luke Wilson (That 70s Show)
David Warner (Tenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2)
Selma Blair (Hellboy)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)

Scream 2 is a surprising success as a film and a sequel, instead of simply trying to play around the rules from the first film, Scream 2 builds a separate story while acknowledging the Rules of Sequels. Again, Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson have teamed up to create an entertaining, suspenseful horror film that rises to a cerebral level unparalleled by all the films in the genre except its predecessor.While the film contains an exchange between Dewey (David Arquette) and Randy (Jamie Kennedy) the film’s slasher-fan movie geek about the rules of sequels, an even more impressive exchange is a classroom discussion of sequels and whether they are inherently inferior or if there are sequels which can actually outdo their predecessors. The discussion is an accurate and realistic one that real people, especially film students would have, mentioning such great sequels as “Aliens,” “Terminator 2,” and the Oscar-winning “The Godfather, Part II.”.Another great plot device in the film is the movie within the movie- “Stab”. Based on the events of the first film and starring  Tori Spelling, the film is basically a typical horror flick without ambition or originality. It also brings up the interesting issue of what relationship films, particularly violent films, have with the violence perpetrated by its viewers. Neither “Scream” nor “Scream 2” gets overly preachy on the subject, however, and Craven seems to ultimately reject any direct link.Scream 2 updates the story of Sydney Prescott, now in college and trying to get past her traumatic experiences, who once again hears a familiar voice on the telephone and soon finds her friends and acquaintances turning into victims of a familiar ghost-mask wearing killer. Once again, there are many “red herrings” throughout the film, as the audience must once again figure out who the mysterious killer might be, and Craven does cause the viewer to keep guessing throughout the film. As in Scream, the film is driven by an all-star cast, including the return of most of the principals from Scream, as well as Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laurie Metcalf, Jerry O’Connell and Omar Epps.Although Craven did a great job building suspense in the first film, he does manage to improve upon his efforts in the second film. While some of the killings are shockingly abrupt, the suspense in the film is quite impressive. While Scream will be revered for years as a modern horror classic, “Scream 2” is a worthy successor. While likely not destined to be a classic on its own, it is clear that Williamson and Craven did not rest on their laurels and truly put an impressive effort into this film, which pays off well, and helps to establish the whole trilogy as a landmark in the horror film genre.

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Kelly Rutherford (Gossip Girl)
Heather Matarazzo (The Princvess Diaries)
Beth Toussaint (Red Eye)
Richamond Arquette (Zodiac)
Patrick Dempsey (Transformers 3)
Scott Foley (Felicity)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men)
Emily Mortimer (Hugo)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Kevin Smith (Mallrats)
Jason Mewes (Dogma)

Scream 3 is a fitting end to the Scream trilogy. It contains much of what made the first two films great, lots of frights, a few laughs, a good cast, a few great cameos and a self-awareness of both the horror genre and the first Scream film expressed this time in the filming of “Stab 3” throughout much of the first half of the movie.


Because each of the three movies focuses in large part on who the killer is and there are references to the earlier culprits in this film, one should definitely watch the films in order and not watch Scream 3 first. Those who have seen the first two films however, will enjoy the subtle references made throughout the film to earlier events, particularly those in the original film.


Like the other two films before it, Scream 3 has an enjoyable cast, featuring returning cast members Courtney Cox Arquette, David Arquette, Neve Campbell and Jamie Kennedy and featuring new cast members Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Jenny McCarthy, Parker Posey, Emily Mortimer and Patrick Dempsey who does a surprisingly good job as a cop with more than a passing interest in the plight of Sydney Prescott, Neve Campbell’s character as the people she knows and the people playing the people she knows find themselves in grave danger. Also extremely enjoyable in the film are the cameos of Carrie Fisher, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, and in a larger role, Patrick Warburton, (“Puddy” from Seinfeld) Warburton’s use of the word “Aight” is a true high point in the film.


The suspense of the film is quite good and the audience is continually left guessing who the murderer might be. The killing scenes are at times graphic but will often leave viewers on the edge of their seats. Wes Craven unquestionably proves his mettle as a master of horror and suspense and does a good job of crowning off the trilogy with a good film. While many other horror franchises, including Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street have gone on to boast a series of eight or more films, Craven deserves a great amount of credit for making the film into a trilogy and settling there. This film does have a number of parallels with “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” the first horror film in the genre to truly deconstruct the genre from within, but even for those who have seen “New Nightmare,” Scream 3 is still a very enjoyable film

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)
Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars)
Shenae Grimes-Beech (90210)
Anna Paquin (X-Men)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle)
Alison Brie (The Lego Movie)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Hayden Panettiere (Heroes)
Marley Shelton (Sin City)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Rory Culkin (Mean Creek)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Adam Brody (The OC)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)

Scream 4 arrived in 2011 promising new rules for a new decade, suggesting innovation and inspiration provided by the Asian remake craze, torture porn, and reboots. Instead, the best thing about the new film is its insistence on preserving the formula that made it popular in the first place. As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Once again, the film reunites survivors Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox), and Dewey Riley (David Arquette) in the town of Woodsboro. It’s the last stop on a nationwide tour promoting Sidney’s book about her experiences, but before she can sign a single copy, dead bodies start turning up and all-too-familiar feelings start flooding back. Among the targets: Sidney’s cousin Jill (Emma Roberts), her friends Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) and Olivia (Marielle Jaffe), and local film nerds Robbie (Erik Knudsen) and Charlie (Rory Culkin).

It’s a relief to discover that the screenplay by original writer Kevin Williamson is pointedly focused on Sidney, Gail, and Dewey, and remains refreshingly faithful to the tone and style of the original films. There’s one swipe at torture porn and an even better jab at remakes, but Williamson doesn’t seem that interested in what’s been going on in the genre since Ghostface last graced the silver screen. The script is careful to tread the line between heightened and over-the-top: any horror that has changed as a reaction to older trends is inherently meta, and it’d be easy for looping back even further to become obnoxious. Instead, Williamson saves his poison pen for a wicked, inspired ending.

In terms of direction, Craven brings his A-game. The original Scream made waves for its violence, which holds up even today as excruciatingly brutal. Scream is bloody, no doubt about it, but it’s less the splatter and more the almost sadistic glee with which Craven pummels some of its victims that keeps the original shocking. This new sequel never climbs to the same level of ferociousness, but Craven isn’t pulling his punches, either, splattering bedroom walls with a ridiculous amount of blood.Scream 4 is not only one of the best in the series, but also one of the best slasher movies in at least a decade.