TelevisionSeptember 16, 2016

‘What fresh hell is this?’ – A field guide to the popstar pulp of Scream Queens


With the new season arriving express from the US to Lightbox next week, Alex Casey tells you why you need to get up to speed with sorority slasher Scream Queens.

What’s the story?

Welcome to Wallace University campus: where everyone’s getting killed and the cops don’t matter. Exactly 20 years after the death of a Kappa House sorority member during childbirth (she was upstairs at a party and her friends wouldn’t help her because their favourite TLC song came on), a series of grisly murders begin to occur on campus. Could it be a coincidence that the baby born all these years ago has just enrolled? Who is the red devil mercilessly stalking college grounds? Why is every sorority member named Chanel?


All the while, Dean Cathy Munsch is declaring a war on sororities, demanding that Kappa open their prissy, pastel doors to every freak flag flying in the area. Enter a great slew of campy, definitely offensive caricatures including ‘deaf Taylor Swift’ and death-obsessed neck brace wearer. With one person per episode getting picked off like a piece of lint off a Chanel two-piece, Scream Queens is a deeply absurd whodunit that merges grisly murders, slapstick comedy and a passion for pop culture references.

As one character so elegantly puts it, “it’s like Friends, except someone is trying to kill all the friends.”

What’s the vibe?

From the pop-culture pickled, genre-bending mind of eternal golden age showrunner Ryan Murphy, Scream Queens strikes the perfect balance between two of his most enduring legacies: the macabre anthology American Horror Story and the sunny millennial singalong Glee. Pop both of these in a blender and you get a horror comedy packed with as much couture as celebrity, as many gruesome murders as Taylor Swift songs.


It’s like Scary Movie with more chill, Pretty Little Liars with more gore. Remember the VHS cover for that movie Serial Mom with Kathleen Turner grinning in pastels whilst holding scissors threateningly? It’s that. Hilarious, brutal, unnerving, campy and whip-smart. Plus it has ripped Nick Jonas in it.

Who do you need to know?

Did I mention ripped Nick Jonas already?


How about fellow pop sensation Ariana Grande as Chanel #2?


Queen of the teens Emma Roberts?


Jamie Lee Curtis, yogurt enthusiast, literal scream queen and horror’s own flesh and blood?


The star-studded cast doesn’t stop there, bathing in the blood of bright young TV talent. Joining Roberts and Grande are minions Abigail Breslin and Billie Catherine Lourd, playing the aptly-named Chanel #5 and Chanel #3.


Glee fans will rejoice at the return of Lea Michele, rocking a neck brace and some deeply dark thoughts. She even mentions Lorde in the second episode, which means she’s basically one of us.


What else to look out for?

Scream Queens is dotted with heaps of homages and nods for the nerdlingers out there. For example, Chanel #3 wears earmuffs in tribute to her famous mother Carrie Fisher (AKA PRINCESS LEIA). So many famous mums, so little time.


And the infamous lawnmower-cutting-off-heads scene is one for all you die-hard Heathers fans out there:


Beyond a million easter eggs for horror and film buffs alike, the show also has a truly bangin’ soundtrack. TLC. Backstreet Boys. Culture Club. Wham! Plus cool typically Murphy-esque opening credits, since shed from the show but still worth a look.

How to watch it?

Scream Queens season one is available in all its gory glory on Lightbox, with the new season arriving express from the US next week. Let me brew you a hot cup of telling-it-like-it-is: you only need 11 hours to slash though the entire season. Devilishly easy.


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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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