"Scream Queen" Jamie Lee Curtis - who turns 58 today - redefined the slasher film when she starred in John Carpenter's Halloween back in 1978. At the same time, she also broke the rules of horror movies as outlined in Wes Craven's self-referential slasher film Scream, which turns 20 this fall.
Diehard movie buffs know that characters in horror flicks are doomed the second they touch a joint. Although no one has ever died of a cannabis overdose in real life, marijuana is one of the top three leading causes of death in slasher flicks according to Scream.
"There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie," film geek Randy (Jamie Kennedy) declares while the cast of characters gather for a movie night. "Number one, you can never have sex... Sex equals death. Number two, you can never drink or do drugs... And number three, never ever under any circumstances say, 'I'll be right back.' "
There's only one problem with Randy's theory: it doesn't apply to Jamie Lee Curtis and Halloween, the most famous actress and film in the slasher subgenre. Although Curtis' character Laurie never has sex in Carpenter's flick, she does smoke a joint at the beginning of the film.
Now, the fact that she holds the joint with two hands and coughs after every puff suggests she's not exactly a seasoned toker. But the rules don't say that maniacs like Michael Myers only target regular cannabis consumers. They say never drink or do drugs. The horror movie equivalent of Nancy Reagan's Just Say No campaign. And just like the Reagan Administration's approach to the War on Drugs, the rules in Scream are flawed.
Or is the character Randy simply flawed? The irony of the scene is that he delivers "the rules" while watching Halloween, the very exception to those rules. And of course, it's not the only time that Randy fails to notice an important horror movie cliché.
So maybe Wes Craven was really trying to say that the real number one rule to surviving a horror movie is... don't let the following rules give you a false sense of security.
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