Last Friday (June 5), legions of horror fans were introduced to their next nightmare: a brand new "Scream" mask, designed to terrify the teenage residents of a sleepy town called Lakewood. Of course, this meant saying goodbye to the old iconic Ghostface garb that terrified the community of Woodsboro back in the day -- which, according to executive producers Jill Blotevogel and Jamie Paglia, is necessary if they want this reboot (which premieres June 30 on MTV) to succeed.
"The 'Scream' mask is so iconic with the film franchise, to the point where even in the movies, the 'Stab' movies within the world, the mask was so iconic and so associated with those characters," Paglia told MTV News over the phone. "It felt like if we were going to do a show -- Jill created these characters, and this new mythology and backstory that we have for the series that doesn’t follow any of our original characters -- that one of the most iconic things about the series should also change, just to let everybody know this is an updated story line that’s going to have its own world, its own characters, and we’re not going to be beholden to any of those threads from feature films."
One way that MTV's "Scream" will assert its independence, Blotevogel continued, is by making the mask part of the killer's mystery, instead of "a $1.99 costume the killer grabs in a costume shop and threw on just to be anonymous, or to scare people."
"TV has to expand upon the 90 minutes of a movie," she explained. "We’ve got to find a bigger mystery so that we have things to dig in to. Our mask had to have more meaning than just a scary disguise that the killer puts on... I always compare it to how the Cylons had to be updated for 'Battlestar Galactica. You’ve got to be able to take some creative license to create a bigger mystery because as it says in the pilot, you can’t do a slasher movie as a TV series... unless you make it more, unless you start to care about the characters, unless you have a bigger mystery behind what’s going on, and that’s what we needed to do to the mask."
Blotevogel also pointed out that, over the years, the "Scary Movie" parody franchise has watered down some of the OG Ghostface mask's appeal -- which hopefully shouldn't happen with the new mask, as it's a crucial part of the killer's identity, and again, not a store-bought costume.
"That mask humanizes him and demonizes him at the same time," she said. "We get to learn why he was wearing it, and that it was a part of trying to fix what actually made him a monster, but the actually fact of wearing it makes him look like a monster -- so it’s interesting how it bridges that idea."
The "him" in question, per Paglia, is (was?) a local outcast, whose backstory would make even Billy Loomis feel a little bit grateful for his upbringing.
"In terms of the misshapen qualities of the face... it ties into the backstory of our killer," Paglia explained. "20 years ago the original killer was this teenage boy named Brandon James who had Proteus syndrome, which is very similar to Elephant Man syndrome, and it was part of why he was this outcast and lived at home. The lore [is] that he was growing up in a shed behind his parents’ house -- he was an outcast and demonized by everybody. The mask was part of his backstory in terms of trying to repair the face of this kid."
However, as far off from Billy Loomis and Stu Macher Brandon's story is, Paglia and Blotevogel still wanted the "Scream" series to draw in fans of the original.
"Ultimately we wanted to have the DNA be there enough so that, if you were to see that up there on a billboard, anybody who was ever a lover of the 'Scream' franchise would know that’s a 'Scream' mask, but it’s new and it’s for our series," Paglia explained. "I think what the TV series does is it keeps the DNA of the franchise and its level of self-referential humor, and the meta-quality of how we are in some ways having fun with horror tropes while we’re acknowledging them the way that the original movies did."
"Scream" premieres on MTV on June 30.