This film kicked off an era of slasher obsession. I was in about sixth grade at the time, so it would be a while before I was allowed to see this movie or any of the others that cashed in on the genre. But everyone at school was talking about it. I think it was just the thought of seeing this brutal bloody murders on the big screen that jazzed everyone. That kinda thing didn't happen often at that point in time. Even if the films this parodied were full of gore, it was brighter and more full on. Also, for most of my generation, this was the first time we saw that.
Here's what I find absolutely brilliant about Scream. It's a parody or commentary of the genre, while still being a part of it. So rather than going the Scary Movie comedy route, it goes meta. The whole time they're trying to figure out who the killer is, they do so by pointing out the rules of killer movies. Some rules are followed. Others are broken. It all makes sense when you realize that it's directed by Wes Craven, a Master of Horror with a specialization in slasher. Specifically due to his responsability for the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, one of many touched on here.
We've also got a wonderful 90s-tastic cast. Neve Cambell, Matthew Lillard (I miss him being relevant), Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich (where did he disappear to?), Rose McGowan, Jamie Kennedy, Liev Schriber (before he become a legit serious actor) and Drew Barrymore. Killing off Drew so quick was quite the scandal. Maybe not to the same level as Janet Leigh in Psycho, but similar effect. Losing your biggest name so quickly tells you that no one's safe. Anything goes.
The sequels got progressively less good, but I am partial to Scream 2. Jerry O'Connell might be a big part of why. 3 was just dumb. Some of the groove came back for 4, but the final act felt forced. It also starts to feel contrived that yet another person wants to kill Neve's Sidney. But at the same time, I suppose you need someone to hold the franchise together. That's a luxury most of the copycats weren't afforded.
Oh yay Red Right Hand, the Scream theme song. Totally forgot about that.
The first Scream also gets the pacing perfect. The first hour is all the set up. A few one off murders here and there. The second hour is the big house party. Things are just pretty non-stop once we get there. Sure, there's some deus ex machina and other coincidences that help speed things along. But we're covered by the aforementioned parody/commentary, so it make sense that they take shortcuts and get away with it.