Serial Thriller: Scream

Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

'Scream' at IMDb

Hex cast: 1996

Drew Barrymore in 'Scream'

Because Wimper didn’t go over as well with the test audience.

The charm: Following on the heels of his very-meta New Nightmare, horror veteran Wes Craven serves up a reflexive revival of the diluted and nigh-dead slasher subgenre. With Scream, he reinvigorated the conventions of horror even as he simultaneously skewered and savored them. With a knowing wink and an ironic sense of humor, Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson played with and preyed on the audience’s expectations and participation with each fright. Even when we knew what was coming, the man who invented Freddy still brought the scary.

Focal point: The horrifying opening sequence, wherein apparent star Drew Barrymore meets her grisly demise.

Entrancing trivia: Wes Craven’s cameo as a high school janitor with a penchant for Elm Street fashion.

Speak the words: “You’re starting to sound like some Wes Carpenter flick or something.”

Companion spell: April Fool’s Day (1986). At a time when slasher flicks were increasingly made on the cheap, this clever little whodunit displayed slick production value and a script more intelligent than the usual hedonism-meets-homocide horrors that preceded it. Turning horror tropes on their ear long before Scream came along, it didn’t have any real frights but it toyed with audience expectation and served up an unexpected twist.

Cursed by: Scream 4 (2011), which turned the series into the very thing it was trying to lampoon.