Scream: A Lyric Essay (Rest Well, Wes Craven)

I just got back from the hospital yesterday. My wife and I celebrated the birth of our son. Overtired and blissful, I decided it was time to focus on exploring a franchise loaded with meaning for me—SCREAM. I focused on the TV series and wrote this “Story Notes” post, but without Wes Craven creating and perfectly executing that legendary first film (and the sequels, which are tremendously enjoyable), we wouldn’t even have the Scream TV Series. I’d like to honor his passing.

I’m truly grateful for Craven’s horror and truly saddened by this loss, this horrible loss. His horror has given me so much that I’ll never be able to repay: the sweat, the masks upon masks. It wasn’t just watching Scream in the movie theater two times on opening night, just to feel those thrills and chills pulse through my teenage body–just not wanting to let that night fade. It wasn’t how many times I rented the VHS and couldn’t get enough of how things erupt. It wasn’t just being able to be a part of a slasher mythology that tears at your throat. No, it was all of this and more. It was all that came after I screamed. It was sitting at my computer years later to write and knowing deep down that I wanted to write slashers. It was knowing that, for me, so many films flowed from Scream, so many of my ideas couched in Craven’s genius, just trying to grip at those coattails and let a smidgen of his talent pass through the tips of my mind. It was being there at that party. At that video store. At that school. It was the fear of not knowing who or what was lurking behind the corner. It was being afraid to answer the phone. It was the inner experience of knowing that I would have to fight back against whatever horror was lurking around the corner—in the closet, outside the front door. It was summoning a strength I didn’t know I had in me. It was watching something so good, it felt medicinal. It was the traces of other films inside that one film. A constellation. A glimmering. It was being able to laugh and then scream and then check the locks on the door. It was the mystery housed within the horror. It was watching a dream you think you must have had, but thank God you don’t remember, because you’d never want to step in those Final Girl shoes. But they’re your shoes now. They’re our shoes, our blood, our turn. And Craven gave us a slasher to wear on the inside of our blood. And the TV series, it’s good. It’s got life flowing through it, because it’s drawing from the source of pure creativity. And I’m going to have to go back and let it all sink in. I’m going to have to try to remember that night in the theater and the rush of joy that meant so much to me, like forgetting about my small town and my small town problems and for a short amount of time, just being able to be mesmerized. Yes, Wes Craven, this is about how you were able to mesmerize me and millions of others, too. And though we’ve never met, I sure wish you well in your journey toward the unknown. Who knows, maybe this transmission of appreciation will reach you. Or already has. The phone is ringing. The popcorn’s popping. And I think there’s someone outside in the dark. Thank you.

Rest in Peace.

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