*This article contains spoilers and violence that may not be suitable for everyone.
The year was 1996, Yes, it was a long time ago! but it also happened to be the year that Wes Craven brought us the movie Scream. At that time it was a horror movie that crossed over into the mainstream, something that a lot of horror movies generally didn’t do. It went on to make 3 sequels and create one of the most famous killers in movie history.
Scream was released on December 20, 1996. It was based on a screenplay by screenwriter Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. In an interview Kevin Williamson explains how he got the inspiration for the movie:
“I was watching this Barbara Walters special on the Gainesville (Florida) murders,” Williamson told CNN back in 1998. “And I was getting so spooked. I was being scared out of my mind. During the commercial break, I heard a noise. And I had to go search the house. And I went into the living room and a window was open. And I’d been in this house for two days. I’d never noticed the window open. So I got really scared. So I went to the kitchen, got a butcher knife, got the mobile phone. I called a buddy of mine.”
That friend started asking him about scary movies, I guess just in case Kevin wasn’t already creeped out enough! Later that night, Kevin went to bed still spooked out about the whole thing. Before long he started having nightmares, so he woke up at 3 or 4 in the morning and began writing what would become the opening scene in the movie.
That opening scene in the movie begins with high school student Casey Becker played by Drew Barrymore. Casey receives a phone call from an “unknown caller”, the caller seems very friendly and almost flirty towards her. He then asks her, “What’s your favorite scary movie?”. Casey doesn’t really take the question seriously and treats it more as a joke which causes the caller to loses his flirty tone and become mean and threating. He then reveals that he has her boyfriend Steve tied up and he is being held hostage unless she answers questions about horror films. Casey, despite the terror she is being put threw manages to answer most of the questions right. However, it is when she does get one wrong, she watches as Steve is murdered. When Casey refuses to answer more questions, she is then murdered as well by a masked killer. Her parents return home to find her dead body hanging from a tree.
The next day, local and out of town news media surround the town and a police investigation begins. Meanwhile, the main character Sidney Prescott who is played by Neve Campbell starts to get plagued with memories of her own mother’s murder. The first anniversary of her mother’s murder by Cotton Weary is approaching and the new murder is making it even harder for Sidney.
While waiting at home for her friend, Tatum Riley played by Rose McGowan, Sidney receives a phone call that she takes as a prank. The voice of the caller sounds just like the one who had called Casey the night before. However, due to the caller using a voice changer it hard to know for sure. The call disturbs her a bit due to the threats of the caller. After Sidney hangs up she is attacked by the same masked killer who killed Casey but manages to escape not before she messaged 911 on her computer. Sidney’s boyfriend, Billy Loomis who is played by Skeet Ulrich arrives shortly after. As he is comforting her, he drops his cell phone, this causes Sidney to suspect him of making the call and she runs away only to be saved by Deputy Dewey played by David Arquette who is at her front door. Billy is arrested and Sidney spends the night at Tatum’s house.
The next day Billy is released due to the fact that the calls had been traced and were made from Sidney’s father, Neil Prescott’s phone. The school’s principal Himbry decides to close the school in wake of the murders. Not long after his decision and all the students have left, the principal is stabbed to death in his office, once again by the masked killer. Stu Macher who is played by Matthew Lillard and Tatum’s boyfriend throws a party to celebrate the school’s closure. Sidney and her friend Randy played by Jeremy Kennedy are among serval of the party goers. Courtney Cox plays big-time news reporter Gale Weathers also attends uninvited to cover the situation, as she thinks the killer will strike again at the party. Gale and Sidney do not get along due to the fact that Gale reported all about her mother’s murder and her belief that Cotton Wery who was charged with the murder is not the real murderer. Tatum’s brother who is deputy sheriff Dewey Riley also shows up to keep a lookout for the murderer. Tatum is asked upon to do a beer run by her boyfriend Stu and goes out to the garage to do so. It is then she is killed by the masked killer by having her head crushed by the garage door.
Around this time Billy arrives wanting to speak to Sidney privately. Sidney feels bad about accusing him earlier, so she agrees and the two go upstairs. One thing leads to another and the two “you know”, which is something Billy has been after Sidney to do for a while. While Sidney and Billy’s were having their “talk”, Gale and Dewey take a walk and they are almost run over by one of the many attendees leaving the party after getting word about their principal death and the fact that he is apparently hanging from a goal post. It is then they discover an abandoned car on the side of the road. It was also during that time that movie buff Randy was going over the rules one must abide in order to survive a horror movie. Those rules of course are :
- You may not survive the movie if you have sex.
- You may not survive the movie if you drink or do drugs.
- You may not survive the movie if you say “I’ll be right back”, “Hello?” or “Who’s there?
Back up in the bedroom Sidney and Billy are attacked by the killer, who murders Billy. Sidney barely escapes the house and finds Kenny, Gale’s cameraman out in the news van. Before Kenny is able to get Sidney into the van the killer kills him. Sidney then flees again. Gale and Dewey, having discovered that the car they found belongs to Neil Prescott, return to the house. Now it is believed that Neil is the killer and has come to the party to continue his spree. Gale tries to leave in her van to go get help but drives off the road and crashes to avoid hitting Sidney. While Dewey is in the house investigating he is stabbed in the back, he collapses right out the front door where Sidney finds him and takes his gun. Suddenly Stu and Randy appear and accuse each other of being the killer. Sidney doesn’t know who to believe or trust anymore, so she goes into the house slamming the door on them both. Inside she finds Billy still alive but wounded and making his way down the stairs. Feeling safe she gives Billy the gun; Billy opens the door and lets Randy into the house and shoots him. Billy then reveals that he faked his injuries using corn syrup which he gladly tells her is the same stuff they used for pigs blood in the movie Carrie. Sidney know realizes that Billy is actually the killer, and Stu is his accomplice.
Billy and Stu discuss their plan to kill Sidney and then frame her father who they have taken hostage for the murder spree. The two then reveal to Sidney that Cotton Weary didn’t actually murder her mother but they did. Sidney’s mother was having an affair with Billy’s father and the affair drove Billy’s mother away. Gale, who survived the crash, intervenes, and Sidney is able to use this to turn the tables on the boys. Sidney kills Stu and is surprised by Randy who is revealed to be wounded but alive. Billy attacks Sidney but she is able to stab him with an umbrella. Gale, Sidney, and Randy look down upon Billy’s body when Randy with the horror movie rules in his head tells Sidney to be careful since it’s always when you think the killer is dead that he comes alive for one last scare, this, of course, does happen and a startled Sidney shoots him through the head. Just to make sure he is dead for real this time!
The three now realize it is the next day as the sun is beginning to rise. The police begin to arrive, and it is revealed that Dewey is not dead but badly injured and he is taken away by ambulance. The final scene is of Gale as she makes a news report about the night’s events.
Scream was one of the highest grossing films in 1996 and became and remains the highest grossing Slasher film in the world. A reason Scream was such a successful movie was that it took a unique approach to the Slasher films. The Slasher films at the time were beginning to fade out and they were becoming an almost disappearing genre altogether. Every movie seemed to have the same storyline and kind of villain. Scream came out and changed that all up. It starred more well-known actors and actresses where a lot of the others had unknown ones. It had characters that were self-aware who watched horror movies and knew all about the genre and cliches. Those characters used that knowledge to elude the killer at times and to survive. Since in every other there seemed to be a set of certain things one did that, in turn, got them killed. It also had humor, a clever plot, and included twists that make the story so much better. It is a movie that will always be remembered and in my opinion one of the best movies of all time!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read and please check out the other great articles here on The Game of Nerds. I will leave you with some cool facts about Scream that you may or may not know.
Facts about Scream
* The mask that is used in the movie is based on The Scream painting by Edvard Munch. It was created and designed by a Fun World costume employee Brigitte Sleiertin for a Halloween costume and originally named “The Peanut-Eyed Ghost“. The mask was found inside a house during a location scouting by producer Marianne Maddalena who then showed it to Wes Craven. In 1996, Licensing Director R.J. Torbert who worked at Fun World gave the mask the name “Ghostface”. In the meantime, Wes Craven was trying to get the rights to the mask. While doing that, he asked KNB Effects to produce a mask based on the Fun World design that would be specifically for the film. Unfortunately, Wes did not like the final result but luckily Fun World had come to an agreement on the use of the “Ghostface” mask and he was able to use that one instead. There is two scene though where the custom mask from KNB was used due to the finalization of the deal with Fun World had not been made yet. Those two scenes are the ones involving Casey Becker and Principal Himbry’s deaths.
* The movie was originally going to be called Scary Movie. It was actually changed just before filming had ended to Scream. Dimension decided to hang onto the original name and in 2000, gave it to the Wayans Brothers. The Brothers had created their own spoof style movie where Scream was the main movie parodied.
* Near the end of the movie in a scene where the phone slips out of Billy’s hand and hits Stu’s in the head, it was completely unintentional. However, Wes Craven kept it in because of Stu’s realistic reaction. Also in the same scene, Matthew Lillard who plays Stu ad-libbed the line “My Mom and Dad are going to be so mad at me” which Wes also loved and kept in the film.
* After the success of Scream, there was a big increase in the sale of Caller Ids. The sales report from that time showed that sales more than tripled in the months after the movie was released.
* At the beginning of the movie when Casey’s parents come home to find something is wrong, her father tells her mother to “go to the McKenzie’s,” which is the same thing Laurie tells Lindsey and Tommy to go and do in the 1978 movie Halloween.
* Linda Blair who played Regan in the Exorcist makes a cameo as a reporter in the movie. She is the reporter who yells “People have a right to know” at Sidney.
* In the scene where the principal opens his office only to see Fred, the janitor, the janitor is actual Wes Craven. He’s wearing a red and green shirt, just like Freddy Krueger. They are also the actual clothes from the movie.
* When Rose McGowan found out that she was cast as Sidney’s friend Tatum, she dyed her hair blonde to contrast Neve Campbell’s dark hair.
* The party scene at the end of the movie plays out to be about 42 mins. However, it actually took 2 and a half weeks to film. It is the longest movie scene Wes Craven has ever directed.
* Brittany Murphy, Alicia Witt and Reese Witherspoon were all asked to play the part of Sidney before Neve Campbell was eventually cast. Freddie Prince Jr also auditioned for the role of Billy Loomis and Joaquin Pheonix turned it down.
* Roger L Jackson is the voice of Ghostface. Besides Scream he has done tons of voice work for video games, TV and Movies. Such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Final Fantasy x to name a few games. He is most known for Scream but also well known as the voice of RowdyRuff Boy Butch and Mojo Jojo from the PowerPuff Girls and is the voice of The Dark Fury in the Chronicles of Riddick. On the set of Scream Wes Craven kept him separated from the actors and had him actually talk to them over the phone while filming to make their reactions feel more genuine
* Even though Billy and Stu are the killers in the movie, the Ghostface mask and costume was always worn by a stuntman. Skeet Ulrich wanted to know what it was like to wear it, so he is seen wearing it in the scene where the killer is raising his knife behind Randy who unknowingly lies on the couch, the killer is then distracted and runs off. Besides Skeet’s one time, the only other time Ghostface is anyone other than the stuntman is in the opening scene, where it is Wes Craven, the man himself donning the mask and costume.