Background: I've never been a fan of most horror movies since the genre is replete with lame acting, low budgets, and all sorts of stupidity without the redeeming social value of porn. From the supernatural killers that terrorize dopey high school students to the psychotic madmen out for revenge, even the better efforts try my patience all too often; the genre seemingly designed to cater to those looking for a make out movie more than anything else. So, with this in mind, I have enjoyed the spoofing of such flicks a whole lot more fun to enjoy, one of the better efforts now released on Blu-Ray with Scary Movie (Blu-Ray).
Movie: Scary Movie (Blu-Ray) has been reviewed, discussed, and fussed about for years now, many people either hating it or loving it with little middle ground to speak of. Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans with the assistance of his brothers Marlon and Shawn, the movie makes fun of a great many Hollywood titles as well as poking fun at popular culture icons along the way. The majority of the movie is based on Scream with a masked killer stalking the protagonists, particularly "Cindy Campbell" (Anna Faris), for an accidental death caused the previous Halloween. What ensues is a rapid fire attack of lowbrow humor, virtually all of which goofs on the type of mainstay idiocy modern horror films promote; the rest of which picks apart the original lines of dialogue themselves. The Wayans Brothers are always able to offer up the goofiest of comedy and like so many other titles they have produced, directed, and acted in over the years, if you aren't keen on one joke, just wait a few seconds for the next one to try your funny bone.
With choice bits by Shannon Elizabeth as "Buffy Gilmore", Carmen Electra as "Drew Decker", and Faris as the straight laced girl, the Wayans know how to move between the wink at the camera action (such as Buffy in the locker room with the killer; outlining about two thirds of all horror flicks to date or when the handheld cameraman is spoken to directly) and the more conventional cultural observations they toss into their movies (like the Titanic turned Amistad trailer at the theatre or bitchy Regina Hall as the obnoxious black moviegoer unaware that most people don't act like a movie is not a participative experience at a theatre). The masked killer role was perhaps the most free form of all the changes as he is allowed to look directly at the camera, interact as needed, and defy the general dynamics of a character. Another outlandish departure was with Cheri Oteri, often the least liked character in any project involved with (how she landed a gig like SNL must have involved serious amounts of blow, the drug and the sexual act), as investigative reporter Gail Hailstorm; proving the Wayans' healthy dislike of the media and Oteri's willingness to play a role she was born to.
The jokes involved a lot of sexual humor, from innuendos to flat out nasty bits (a penis in the ear as a means of death is a new one even to me as was the ejaculation scene between Cindy and Bobby), fart jokes, drug jokes, and a wide range of other bits that may prove a bit weak to some but served well in this parody. No wonder the title spawned hordes of copycats and an extended series all its own. The Blue Ray format did not really add a lot to the experience for me but if you like horror, hate it as much as I do, or just like the many teen comedies knocked out on a whim, you will probably enjoy this one enough to merit rating it as Recommended too. I admit to liking the parody aspects of the genre enough to lean favorably for them in general but this was definitely one of the better early efforts that came across fresh when it was released and holds up to this day as the blueprint many more followed (less successfully) since it came out.
Picture: Scary Movie (Blu-Ray) was presented in the original 2.35:1 ratio widescreen color in 1080p high definition using the AVC/MPEG-4 codec (though some of the extras were in SD format). The bitrate varied substantially but typically hovered around the upper teens (17 Mbps or more not uncommon, even going into the mid 20's at times). The fleshtones were accurate, the level of detail better than the SD version of the movie, and the contrasts enhanced for a markedly improved visual look. That said, it was not all that much better looking in BR so if you already have the movie, the enhancements of the high definition format will be unlikely to merit a double (or triple) dip. On a lark, I tried to see if there was a big difference between the usual HDMI hook up I use with a component approach and did see a noticeable difference so make sure you have the appropriate equipment to view this at its best.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of options, my primary viewing done with the uncompressed 5.1 English track using 16 bit/48 Khz at 4.6 Mbps. It was crisp and clear, with all the vocals easily heard and the sound effects heard on the entire array of speakers. The rear speakers did not get a big workout here but they did interject some welcomed surround impact along with the booming bass that was fairly tight most of the time. The music all appeared to be the original tracks too, including the nods to pieces tied to the characters from other works (the Theme from Dawson's Creek for example). The movie itself was never really special in terms of the audio experience though and the Blue Ray version does little to alter that perception. The other tracks included the standard 5.1 Dolby Digital + (in English and French) and a 2.0 Spanish offering; the translations lacking some of the pizzazz of the original track for those who care. There were also optional subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Extras: One of the biggest problems with the recent influx of high definition titles is the lack of extras, especially original extras many of us rightfully expect when double dipping or shelling out the higher prices such titles currently command. Thankfully, this was one case where at least some of them appeared to be brought over, albeit without the high definition treatment, for the release, starting with a series of six deleted scenes. They did not last long and were in the MPEG-2 format but at least they were included. There was also a nearly 7 minute Behind the Scenes feature too but it was a fluff piece with nods to the cast goofing around on how the movie was made. There were also some trailers, most of them for newer projects (this title too) but they were at the front of the movie, the most obnoxious place for such things. Lastly, there was a movie showcase feature that allowed you to interact with the movie as it progressed, getting to see particular points of interest for the high definition experience.
Final Thoughts: Scary Movie (Blu-Ray) might not be the definitive release in the fledgling high definition format for newcomers to appreciate but it serves up a nice bit of entertaining fluff for fans of horror movies and teen comedy spoofs alike. The Wayans Brothers have long been able to balance the line between outrageous cultural nods and outright goofs on genres so it is no surprise that Scary Movie (Blu-Ray) did so well at the box office. I wish that a guide to some of the more obscure jokes had been included as this is certainly a case where many of the pop culture references will be lost over time but the industry of like minded titles it spawned, while often complained about by those who consider this genre to be somehow beneath them, still makes money and as one of the best examples of the genre, you can hardly go wrong here.