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''Scream 2'' is giving nothing away

Wes Craven’s new flick has plenty of gore

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Talk about a killer party. Those fun-loving girls from Delta Lambda Zeta have turned the swankiest mansion on the campus of Windsor College into kegger central. Pledge paddles are being put to work on errant behinds. And there’s already a boisterous line forming at the SnackWells and Doritos buffet.

Oh, yeah, and Neve Campbell is out by the barbecue grill, screaming her lungs out.

It’s midnight on the Pasadena set of Wes Craven’s Scream 2, and the slashing and impaling are well under way. One sorority sister’s already been Ginsued, and Campbell’s character, Sidney Prescott, wants to keep mean Mr. Ghost Mask from pulling his Benihana routine again.

Meanwhile, all Craven can do is laugh.

”Maybe it’s the tension,” the 58-year-old director says, watching Campbell shriek away on his playback monitor. ”I just think this stuff is hilarious sometimes.”

He’s not the only one. With its cutting one-liners and to-die-for cast, last year’s Scream spoofed its way to the top of the teen horror movie list. Its $103 million box office take puts it right up there with The Silence of the Lambs and The Exorcist. Now Miramax has an ambitious plan to put Scream 2 on more than 3,000 movie screens Dec. 12. Spending $15-20 million on promotion alone — roughly the entire budget of the original — the studio is betting that a traditionally fickle teen audience will again part with their allowance simply to be terrified.

The sequel takes place two years after that wacko in a ghost mask pulled an Edward Scissorhands on the made-up town of Woodsboro. Some of the survivors are enrolled at Windsor College, a fictitious Midwestern university where this generation of all-star coeds — including Party of Five‘s Campbell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Sarah Michelle Gellar, The Nutty Professor‘s Jada Pinkett, Jerry Maguire‘s Jerry O’Connell, and Boogie Nights‘ Heather Graham — are majoring, it seems, in Having Great Agents and Looking Really Cute.

And this, we’re afraid, is about all Miramax wants you to know about that matter of national security — the plot of Scream 2. In an age when early script drafts surface on the Internet almost as soon as they hit the desks of studio executives, the studio has left nothing to chance. ”When I first got the script,” says O’Connell, 23, who plays Campbell’s devoted boyfriend, ”two men with Uzis delivered it and stayed with me until I was done reading it.”

There is nothing hush-hush about Campbell, though. Back at the barbecue grill, she’s still screaming like Kathie Lee Gifford with the latest edition of the National Enquirer. The scene goes perfectly. ”My first job was in [a 1988 Toronto production of] Phantom of the Opera,” she explains. ”I did 800 shows of it and every day I had to scream, so this is no problem.”

No problem, huh? What about Halloween 5? A Nightmare on Elm Street 6? Friday the 13th parts VII, VIII, and, if we must remind you, part nine?