In the early 2000s, parody films were not popular. So the Wayans made 'Scary Movie' (2023)

Many filmmakers could claim to be the king of horror movies (John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Dario Argento), but there's not much competition when it comes to the master of Halloween comedies. One of the most popular movies on Netflix right now isThe Curse of Bridge Hollow, an action/horror/family comedy movie in which a father and daughter have to fight some Halloween decorations that come to life. The film stars Marlon Wayans, who has done his share of dramatic roles but is probably best known for being partially responsible for breathing new life into the parody film. Specifically, he was one of the masterminds ofHorror Movie, the surprise hit of the summer of 2000. This film launched a franchise and re-popularized parody films in aPlane!world. By today's standards, its humor is sometimes offensive, but back then the film was a sensation. Or as executive producer Bo Zengaonce put it, "I don't know if you could stick an erect penis through the wall and kill someone today."

The 1990s saw the rise of the Wayans brothers, led by actor and director Keenen Ivory Wayans and comedian Damon Wayans. In the late 1980s, Keenen made his directorial debut withI will give you a blowjob, a parody of 1970s blaxploitation films, while Damon had been hired (and fired)saturday night live, the two men later teamed up to createin bright colors, a comedy show on the then-new Fox network. bolder thanSNL, and with a more diverse cast,in bright colorsit felt modern but also more goofy, which was understandable considering the show featured a young comedian named Jim Carrey, whose rubbery face and outlandish prints made him a breakout star.

Marlon, the youngest of 10 brothers, appeared on thein bright colorswith his older brothers and sister Kim, but soon he and his brother Shawn (born about 17 months before him) got their own WB sitcom,The Wayan brothers.At the same time, Marlon and Shawn worked on a script that eventually became 1996.Don't be a threat to South Central while sipping your juice in the neighborhood🇧🇷 As the title might suggest, it was a parody of so-called urban dramas of the late 1980s and early 1990s, such asThreat of Society II,Juiceykids in the neighborhood🇧🇷 Poking fun at these films for their speeches and their own importance, in it, Keenen plays a supporting character who shouts "Message!" every time someone is serious -don't be a threatshowed the disparate energies of Marlon and Shawn, with Marlon playing the stereotypical unhinged gangster character and Shawn playing the level-headed protagonist who is trying to make a better life for himself.

Reviews were poor, but the low-budget film was a success and demonstrated two things: (1) there was an underserved black audience that Hollywood was ignoring; and (2) parody films had a future. at the time ofdon't be a threat, the parody genre apparently ran out of fuel. Nearly 20 years earlier, the comedy film crew of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, aka ZAZ, made a name for themselves by poking fun at movie stereotypes by playing them bluntly.Plane!,Top secret!and the short-lived sitcomPolice squad!(which served as inspiration fora new weapon) were structured like serious dramas, except that the characters were ridiculous and the situations exaggerated.

These films' commitment to deadpan performances made them incredibly funny and helped create a cottage industry for these types of films. But inevitably those who tried to follow in ZAZ's footsteps weren't as successful, which is why in the 1990s we had failed comedies likeloaded gun 1,spy hardywrongly accused, which copied the formula of satirizing a popular film or cinematic genre. The Spoof Industrial Complex was so anemic at the time ofdon't be a threatthat comedy legendmelBrooks, whose classic films likehot saddleswere parodies, he was reduced to making anemic parodies likeDracula: dead and worshiping.

don't be a threatIt wasn't big, but it contained a youthful energy that those old masters no longer possessed. And so, Marlon and Shawn set to work on another spoof script, struggling to find the right cinematic goal. “We developed so many different versions of,” Marlonsaid in 2020🇧🇷 “We worked with our brother Keenen and wrote a black draft, a white draft, a high school draft, and a college draft. It wasn't until we really sawI know what you did last summeryShout outIt just clicked for us."

The late 1990s was a renaissance for horror films, which, like spoof films, had gone out of fashion. But whenShout out, a horror film that deftly dissected horror film conventions while being a riveting horror film in its own right, became a box office hit by Christmas 1996, the genre no longer seemed so moribund. Less than a year later,I know what you did last summerhits theaters, missShout outit's a self-reflective nod, but it proves to be a huge success. Both were written by Kevin Williamson, a hungry young writer hoping to break into the industry. “Horror movies died a little beforeShout outturned around, "helater remembered🇧🇷 “That was one of the reasons I wrote it. I wanted to write something that wasn't being done right now." After these back-to-back hits, horror came back into fashion, a sentiment that was only intensified by the Oscar-nominated 1999 classic.The sixth Sense. And so, Marlon and Shawn crafted a story that combined elements from both Willamson films and also included many references to other horror films.

But the two brothers weren't the only ones who thought a horror parody could be profitable. Enter Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, a writing duo who were responsible for thespy hardroad map. His slasher parody script, titledShout out if you know what I did last Halloween, was acquired by Dimension Films, the same company that releasedShout out🇧🇷 Dimension was run by Bob Weinstein, brother of then-powerful producer Harvey Weinstein, who along with Bob oversaw Miramax. Why would Miramax finance a movie that mocked one of their biggest hits? zenga laterguessed, "I guess they didn't want someone else cannibalizing their movie." Finally,scream if you know what i didand the Wayans script were merged, with Keenen directing.

Thick and salacious, full of sexual humor and lewd jokes,Horror Moviewas like nothing else in the comedy firmament at the time, except maybeAustin Powers: The Spy Who Had Sex With Me, the grand sequel to the 1997 original, a loving homage to a specific genre. Initial commercial expectations were relatively modest, and critics were not always pleased with the film's juvenile antics.usa todayde Susan Wloszczynasaying, "Maybe I'm too old to appreciate the incredible sight of a phallus stuck in someone's ear", while Dana Stevenswrote inLos New York Times, "If you're amused by jokes about male genitalia, female pubic hair, flatulence and dismemberment, it should be a huge hit."

As it turns out, large audiences were amused by these very things: On its opening weekend in July 2000,Horror Movie raised about $42 million, a record at the time for an R-rated film. The film's massive success helped make relatively unknown stars like Anna Faris and Regina Hall, who played characters from the group of friends who accidentally kill someone. ButHorror Movieof The impact was cultural and financial. “It was great to have an African-American director open an R-rated comedy that was so huge,” Hallsaid later🇧🇷 “He broke the ceiling of what was possible. It was a film that had a very diverse cast and we saw that young audiences gravitated towards that."

But where an earlier iteration of fake movies was serious and deadpan,Horror Movieit was proudly shrill and shocking. The rousing vulgar humor was there from the start: as Friedbergput in 2014, "Imagine we played, 'He pulls her panties down and her giant bush fills the whole frame and he takes a weed beater to knock it down.' He actually made the movie, but in tonal form it looks ridiculous." Some jokes were homophobic, others poked fun at things like sexual assault, but as Marlon said in that 2020 interview, “People were literally in the halls and you could hear laughter outside the theater. Like most of our films, it was panned by critics. It always happens, but you know, comedy is subjective. And that's not to say the critics are right or wrong, but that's just not his type of humor."

In quick succession, the film spawned a franchise, although the Wayans were not asked to return after 2001.horror movie 2🇧🇷 (Ironically, David Zucker was hired to direct the third and fourth installments, with Zucker and former ZAZ associate Pat Proft penning the 2013 film.)Scary Movie 5, directed by Malcolm D. Lee.) The Wayans were angry at being cast out of their own film series, but they haven't looked back: Keenen directed Marlon and Shawn in the equally ravishing 2004 film.white girls, another great success, and from 2006Little man, which did not do so well commercially. Then, in 2013, Marlon created another horror spoof, teaming up with director Michael Tiddes to makea haunted house, a film removal found asparanormal activity🇧🇷 They released a sequel, following it up withfifty shades of black(You can probably guess what a parody is.)

ButHorror MovieNot only did this help cement Marlon's career on the big screen: Friedberg and Seltzer made low-budget spoofs their specialty, churning out a series of devious, childish, but (for a while at least) profitable spoofs with unimaginative names likemovie date,epic movieymeet the spartans🇧🇷 “We like to work”, Seltzeronce saidgrantabout his ability to knock out one spoof movie after another. “And I know how difficult it is to make a film. So if you have a movie that worked financially, studios are much more likely to do that again than something more original.”

That may be true, but these things tend to be cyclical. In 2022, spoof movies are down again, whatHorror Moviethe series is no longer the zeitgeist phenomenon it once was. (As for the more recent Friedberg and Seltzer parody, the 2015Super quick!, a shipment fromfast and furiousfranchise, crashed and burned at the box office). Marlon Wayans still laughs uproariously from time to time, likesextuplosbut these days you'll probably see him in dramas likeWith iceor the Aretha Franklin biopicRespect.

However, for a brief moment, he and his family were doing the most brazen and gross comedy there is, reaching an audience hungry for something extremely naive. The jokes haven't aged well, the immaturity often feels petty, but really, the films' inappropriateness only makes them more noticeable now. It's only been 22 years sinceHorror MovieIt's over, but it feels like several lifetimes ago. You couldn't come today. It's amazing they got away with it back then.

Related:The (dark) origin of all those awful spoof movies

In the early 2000s, parody films were not popular. So the Wayans made 'Scary Movie' (1)

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