Friday, 14 November 2014

MTV's SCREAM series won't involve Ghostface, so is it really SCREAM?

Friday, 14 November 2014
The good news? MTV recently ordered 10 episodes of a new television horror drama based on the successful SCREAM movie saga. I'm excited about this because I think the concept could work on television, and it's being developed by Jill Blotevogel (who wrote for Harper's Island, which was a very Scream-esque CBS drama from 2008 that only lasted a season).

The bad news? The Scream TV series won't debut until October 2015, despite the fact they started filming the pilot three months ago, so we still have a whole year to wait. (You wonder if this would be the case if it didn't make marketing sense to launch it around Halloween time.)

The really bad news? It was recently revealed that the iconic "Ghostface" mask, worn by the knife-wielding serial killer/s in all four of Wes Craven's original movies, won't appear in the TV series!

Why? Well, although The Weinstein Company own the rights to the Scream franchise, the Ghostface design's owned by novelty costume company Fun World. An employee called Brigitte Sleiertin actually created it in the early-1990s, basing her so-called "The Peanut-Eyed Ghost" design on Edvard Munch's painting The Scream. Fun World's Licensing Director, R.J Torbert, was involved during pre-production of Scream back in 1996 and officially renamed the costume "Ghostface" and licensed its use. Torbert is the person who dropped the news that Ghostface won't be appearing in the Scream TV series, but did say this could change in the future. One assumes Fun World are either asking MTV for an unreasonable sum of money, or don't want to be associated with a show that could be terrible.

But what use is a Scream TV series without Ghostface? Isn't that like making A Nightmare on Elm Street without Freddy Krueger?

While it's true Scream was primarily about tearing up the slasher movie "rulebook" of the 1980s and exposing the many clich├ęs, while giving the genre post-modern twists, you can't underestimate the appeal and power of the Ghostface design. The droopy-eyed phantom adorns every single Scream movie poster and has been the face of the franchise from the very beginning. (Oh, and long with Neve Campbell...)

If there's a TV series called Scream that doesn't involve a Ghostface costume, can we even call MTV's new show Scream? Isn't it just Harper's Town? And while that's no bad thing (I liked that CBS show, OKAY?), it does feel like misleading marketing. I imagine a lot of people will tune into the Scream show next autumn and get very upset and confused when Ghostface doesn't jump out at some point.

The whole show may even feel like a cheap knock-off if MTV are forced to use a slightly different costume that doesn't tread on copyright, but keep the other iconic part of the franchise intact: Ghostface's phone voice, delivered by actor Roger L. Jackson.

There are more important things for Scream: The Series to be worried about, sure, but it will be a shame if they produce a great show let down by a widely-perceived cheat with the marketing. Then again, Friday the 13th didn't star Jason Vorhees and Halloween III: Season of the Witch didn't involve Michael Myers, so there's a precedent for movie franchises having chapters that don't feature their famous boogiemen.

We can only hope the Fun World/Weinstein/MTV lawyers manage to come to an agreement, so Scream fans get to see their favourite slasher back in business.

But what do YOU think? Has this news soured your enthusiasm for MTV's Scream? Were you never excited to begin with? Do you suspect things will work out in the end? Could it actually be a blessing in disguise, forcing the writers to create a more unpredictable, scarier antagonist?