The Ghost On The Cell: 20 Facts About Wes Craven's 'Scream' You Need To Survive!
Constantly referenced or parodied, as well as spawning three sequels and its own spin-off TV series, the legend of Scream lives on two decades later.
"What's your favorite scary movie?" That's one pop quiz no one wants to find themselves in, but one of cinema's most infamous quotes. It has been 20 years since Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson brought Scream to our screens, and we have been "screaming" for more ever since. Held up as one of cinema's modern horror greats, Scream was original, intelligent, and delivered that gut-slashing "two killers twist."
Referencing everything from The Evil Dead, to Halloween, and Psycho, while Scream itself went on to be an icon of its own. Constantly referenced or parodied, as well as spawning three sequels and its own spin-off TV series, the legend of Scream lives on two decades later. So, if you think you are the ultimate Scream fan and could survive Ghostface's questioning, here are 20 facts that every fan of the original really should know.
1. A Scary 'Scary Movie'
We have all seen Anna Faris clomp around as Cindy Campbell in Scary Movie, but would Scream have been as terrifying if that had been its name? Kevin Williamson had developed the script under the name "Scary Movie," but it didn't sit with The Weinstein Company. Randomly, it was listening to Michael Jackson's 1995 song "Scream" that prompted the Weinstein brothers to change the name to Scream, and the rest was history.
2. The Only Man For The Job
Horror legend Wes Craven took Williamson's script from page to screen, so it is hard to imagine anyone else doing it so well. Everyone from Danny Boyle, to Robert Rodriguez, and Sam Raimi were approached. However, sticking to his horror roots, Wes was the only one who didn't see the film as a comedy, so nabbed the role. Rodriguez did later return to the franchise to direct the Stab films, creating that whole film within a film shtick. Also, unlike many horror franchises, Craven stayed on to direct all four of the films, and the series, until his death in 2015.
3. What's In A Name?
Scream did remain a parody of sorts, referencing the great and the good of horror films with some amazing Easter Eggs. When Drew Barrymore's Casey is found gutted, her father tells his wife to run to the Mackenzie's house down the road -- a mirror of what Jamie Lee Curtis tells the kids at the end of Halloween. However, the most obvious horror nod is the name of killer Billy Loomis. As well as Loomis being the name of the boyfriend in Psycho (Billy was Sidney's boyfriend), the surname is also shared by Donald Pleasence's Dr. Samuel Loomis in John Carpenter's Halloween.
4. Drew Gotta Be Kidding Me?
We all remember the first Scream mainly for Drew Barrymore, going from final girl to morgue in a matter of minutes. She had been in early talks to play a much bigger role, which may explain why the promotional material literally put Barrymore front and center as the face of the poster. We were shocked when she had an early bloodbath in the first scene, but it was an amazing twist. It turned out that Barrymore had originally signed on to play Neve Campbell's Sidney, but dropped out due to schedule conflicts. Craven wanted her back, so that iconic demise was created.
5. Scare Tactics
The legendary "Ghostface" voice came courtesy of Roger L. Jackson, who was present at all times on set. Craven wanted to keep the mystery, so never allowed Jackson to meet the cast. The voice actor spoke to the cast through the actual phones they were using when acting, and Craven didn't want them to associate the horror with someone in particular.
6. Blair With Me
While Scream 3 had a big ol' cameo from Carrie Fisher, the original Scream tops that with the appearance of horror favorite Linda Blair. Although she definitely wasn't reprising her role as Regan from The Exorcist, Blair can be seen as a news reporter trying to get some words out of Sidney. It was a blink-and-you'll miss it part, but on the DVD commentary, Craven admits it was a deliberate homage to her days spouting pea soup.
7. Blondes Have More Fun
Rose McGowan goes down in history for having the film's best death with the "doggy door" scene, and seeing the blonde Tatum hanging out a garage door haunted me as a young viewer. However, McGowan isn't a natural blonde but wanted a contrast from Campbell's brunette lead. In pre-production she reportedly had a conversation with producer Cathy Konrad:
“Cathy, I really want to make my hair blond. Who’s your colorist?” And it was like a light bulb went on over their head. I was shuttled off to Cathy’s colorist, and I got a nice shade of Middle American blond. I hated that color. It was perfect for the role."
She may have hated the color, but it certainly made Tatum stand out, well, that and that teeny turtleneck jumper.
8. Don't Sweat-er It
Firstly, yes they really are her nipples, that garage was notoriously cold. That sweater also came in handy for helping out with Tatum's death. The waif-like McGowan was reportedly too small for the doggy door and kept falling out. While filming, they nailed her sweater to the inside of the flap to keep her in place:
"I’ve since learned that I can fit into almost any dog door. And because I’m thin enough, I kept falling out of it...That’s my takeaway from Scream: I know I can fit in dog doors. You have to jimmy your body in a certain position and really hope you’re not wearing something super fancy."
McGowan now says that it is her preferred method of getting into her house if she was ever locked out.
9. No Pain, No Gain
The film used several convincing methods to get the look of real danger, these included collapsible blade knives and an umbrella with a retracting tip. For the finale, Skeet Ulrich (Billy Loomis) wore a stab vest to protect against the umbrella jab, but the stuntwoman missed with the second jab and got him in a wound from open heart surgery. The pain you see on Ulrich's face is real, so typically Craven decided to keep it in the final cut.
10. One, Two, Freddy's Coming For You
Craven continued the meta web of Scream by not only nodding to his film A Nightmare on Elm Street, but by actually appearing himself. You may remember Henry Winkler's Principal Himbry coming across a disgruntled janitor in a red and green striped sweater. It was in fact Craven, playing "Fred the janitor," sharing a name and that infamous sweater with Elm Street's killer Freddy Krueger.
11. E.T. Throw Phone
Craven did actually have one more cameo in Scream, although you would struggle to spot it. In Barrymore's opening as doomed Casey, it is Craven behind the Ghostface mask, but it was the only time he played the part. This means that when Barrymore hurls that classically '90s undersized phone, it is Craven who takes it to the cranium.
12. Obeying The Rules
Scream became synonymous with its rules for surviving a horror film. Poking fun at your typical gutted teen, we were warned that there was a set of rules you must follow:
1. You will not survive if you have sex.
2. You will not survive if you drink or do drugs.
3. You will not survive if you say "I'll be right back."
4. Everyone is a suspect.
The killer then added two more:
5. You will not survive if you ask "Who's there?"
6. You will not survive if you go out to investigate a strange noise.
It is ironic then that Courteney Cox's Gale Weathers says "I'll be right back" to her cameraman and then goes on to survive the entire franchise.
13. Getting It Write
Suicide Squad reportedly had just weeks to write its script, but how about writing a whole screenplay in just three days? Kevin Williamson woke up in the middle of the night to write his treatment for Scream, which also included two five-page inserts for sequel films. After the success of Scream, Williamson's treatment for Scream 2 was immediately put into production. But, was there something that inspired the slasher flick?
14. Art Imitating Life
Sadly, Williamson's inspiration comes from real life. In 1990 there was a wave of crimes under "The Gainesville Ripper." University of Florida students Sonja Larson and Christina Powell were raped and murdered in their rooms then posed in sexual positions, while Santa Fe Community College student Christa Hoyt had her decapitated head placed on a bookshelf. Two more victims were discovered, hundreds of students fled Gainesville, and all the stores sold out of guns. A schizophrenic UoF student was arrested, but the police later caught the real killer, Danny Harold Rolling. Rolling confessed to the murders and was sentenced to death in 1994, receiving the lethal injection in 2006.
15. Bloody Hell
Craven's films are known for their gratuitous use of blood, like Johnny Depp's bed scene in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream was no exception. Toward the end of the film, Billy Loomis says that blood is corn syrup dyed red, just like they used on the set of Carrie. Ironically, that is exactly what the Scream crew used -- 50 gallons of the stuff to be correct!
16. Thanks To...
Scream filmed all the high school scenes at Sonoma Community Center in California. It was originally set for Santa Rosa High School, but the district pulled out last minute after reading the script, thinking the film would be a comedy. Clearly still angered by the decision, Craven left a suitably subtle note for the school in the credits for the film:
NO THANKS WHATSOEVER TO THE SANTA ROSA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD.
17. Winkle, Winkle, Little Star
Craven originally wanted Henry Winkler to go uncredited for his role, for fear that having such a famous name would detract from the younger stars. However, Winkler stayed, even though his character didn't. Winker was only killed because Bob Weinstein noticed there were about 30 pages of the script where no one died. Principal Himbry was murdered in his office as a plot device to have the majority of the students leave Stu and Tatum's party, leaving the main cast for a grisly showdown.
18. A Prolonged Death
The "party scene" that closes the film runs for a blood-splattering 42 minutes and was shot over 21 days. After it wrapped, the crew were given shirts that said " I SURVIVED SCENE 118" and jokingly called it the "longest night in horror history." It was definitely worth the blood, sweat, and tears, as it produced one of the most dramatic horror finales out there -- two-killers, two-killers!
19. Stranger Danger
The film made a big deal about anonymous callers scaring the bejesus out of the characters. By the time we got to Scream 2 it had become a running joke that Sidney had caller ID installed to track down any wannabe Ghostfaces, however, it looks like the first film had effects on the real world too. It is reported that after Scream, the use of caller ID in the US increased threefold.
20. The Face Of Horror
Finally, where would Scream be without the killer's disguise? That Ghostface mask may look like it took its origins from Edvard Munch's "Scream," but the actual credit goes to a company called Fun World. When scouting locations, Marianne Maddalena discovered the Fun World mask hanging in a house that had previously been used for the film Shadow of a Doubt. Craven loved the mask, but to avoid copyright issues, asked KNB Effects to create their own version. There were several designs, none of which worked, so Craven eventually relented and had to negotiate with Fun World to use theirs. The mask has since gone on to be one of the most famous Halloween costumes out there.
The sequel films had varying degrees of success, but there is no denying that the Scream franchise always kept the blood dripping and the audience guessing. While a fifth films looks exceedingly unlikely and our dreams are slashed, at least we can go back to the 1996 film and give it a rewatch. Remember the rules, everyone is a suspect: unplug the phone, lock the door, and get the Jiffy Pop on. Scream really is on the "gut-it" list for true horror fans, so what better way to celebrate the anniversary and the work of Craven?