It’s a case of ‘Scream’ if you wanna go faster as it’s time to delve into bloody depths of cinematic history and relive the horror of Wes Craven’s Scream. Known as the horror maestro behind the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last House on the Left, and The Hills Have Eyes, Craven took a much more meta take on giving us nightmares with 1996’s Scream.
Sparking the craze of Ghostface and giving Neve Campbell probably her biggest break ever, Scream was like nothing horror hounds had ever seen before. If you’re ready, it’s time to ask “What’s your favourite scary movie?” as we uncover 13 frightening facts about Scream.
1. It was inspired by a real-life story
While writer Kevin Williamson didn’t quite go full Texas Chainsaw Massacre and pretend Ghostface was a real killer, Scream can find some of its story in actual history. The Woodsboro Murders were partly inspired by the crimes of Danny Harold Rolling, aka “The Gainesville Ripper”.
Rolling was convicted or murdering five students during a four-day killing spree in 1990. Although Scream was loosely inspired by Rolling’s crimes, Williamson also admits John Carpenter’s Halloween was also a bit influence.
2. Barrymore bowed out
After becoming something of a legend in Hollywood following her breakout performance in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Drew Barrymore was pretty famous by the time Scream rolled around. The movie’s marketing campaign brilliant pitched her as the final girl, which made her shock slaughter in the opening even more of a jaw-dropping twist.
Ironically, Barrymore was signed on to be Scream‘s lead but had to step away from playing Sidney Prescott due to prior commitments. She suggested she play the smaller role of Casey Becker just five weeks before shooting started.
The studio scrambled to offer the likes of Alicia Witt, Brittany Murphy, and even Reese Witherspoon the role of Sidney before settling on Campbell.
3. There was an actual bloodbath at the end
Even though the party at Stu Macher’s house became as iconic as Scream itself — mainly for Rose McGowan’s spectacular death — the finale was something of an ordeal for the cast and crew.
Filmed over 21 nights, the (now infamous) “Scene 118” could only be shot when the sun had set. In the movie, the party runs for an impressive 42 minutes, so it’s no wonder it took so long to bring together.
Everyone was so exhausted when the cameras stopped rolling, the crew even had T-shirts made with the slogan, “I SURVIVED SCENE 118”. It was definitely worth the slog, but that hasn’t stopped Scene 118 being named “the longest night in horror history.”
4. The Craven connection
In 2019, there’d probably be a whole host of horror Easter eggs in a remake of Scream, but back in 1996, directors were a little more subtle. Just before Henry Winkler’s Principal Himbry was diced and sliced, there was a tense moment where he stepped out into the halls of Woodsboro High School.
Although Wes Craven cameos in the first three Scream movies, it’s only in Scream his character gets a name. Here, he plays a school janitor called Fred. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the fedora and striped jumper as a homage to Freedy Krueger. Well played Mr. Craven, well played.
5. Ghostface’s racist connotations
Craven came across a potential Ghostface mask when scouting filming locations, but couldn’t use it due to not owning the rights. Deciding this was the look he wanted, Craven took picutres, sent them to Dimension Films, and asked the design department to make something similar.
Before the Ghostface we’ve come to know was born, the studio toyed with the idea of making the robes white. Execs were quick to spot how this could be a huge misfire because it made the movie’s big bad look like it was part of the Ku Klux Klan.
6. Showing Rose the door
Easily one of Scream‘s standout scenes is the death of Tatum Riley at the hands of Ghostface. Rose McGowan played Sid’s BFF with great gusto, even if we were *erm* a little distracted by her nipples.
Tatum met her maker in Stu’s garage, but not before she did her best to escape Ghostface’s clutches through a garage pet door. Even though Tatum got stuck, the slender McGowan discovered she could actually fit through the flap with ease. Talk about a party trick!
7. Love is in the air
Yes, Scream may have been jam-packed with gross-scenes of gore and guts, but that didn’t stop there being a sense of romance on the set. Despite locking horns in the first movie, Dewey and Gale were locking lips by the time the first Ghostface(s) has been unmasked.
Their relationship was worked into the various sequels as Gale and Dewey eventually tied the know before the events of Scream 4 rolled around. In real-life Courteney Cox and David Arquette also felt the shot of cupid’s bow.
You might remember those few seasons of Friends when her name was billed as Courteney Cox-Arquette. Sadly, the pair separated in 2010 and were officially divorced in 2013.
8. What if?
However, Gale and Dewey’s blossoming relationship was nearly snubbed out before it got a chance to bloom. Dewey was stabbed in the back and left for dead during the Macher mansion massacre, which was supposed to be the end of the line for the bumbling detective.
Early screenings of Scream didn’t bode well with critics, with audiences being pretty peeved that Dewey died. Arquette filmed a single scene confirming that Dewey was still alive — as simple as raising his hand as he’s raced out the house on a gurney — and was spared his frightening fate.
9. ‘Craven’ something different
Craven definitely put his stamp on Scream as he moved away from the horrors he’d become acclimatised to, but it turns out he didn’t want to do it at all. Despite being Dimension Films’ first choice, Craven was busy with other movies and wasn’t even sure if he wanted to return to horror.
The studio’s expanded shortlist included up-and-coming directors like Danny Boyle and Robert Rodriguez alongside horror legends like Sam Raimi and George Romero. Ironically, Rodriguez went on to direct Stab (the movie within a movie) for Scream 2.
10. What a Cox up!
It might be hard to imagine Scream without Gale Weathers, but in some sort of alternate reality, Cox didn’t land the part as the spunky journo. By the time Scream went into production, let’s remember Cox was starring in a pretty famous sitcom about twenty-somethings and a coffee shop.
Already known for playing the wholesome Monica Geller on Friends saw Cox being typecast as a ‘nice’ character. Execs were worried she couldn’t pull off Gale’s bitchy persona and wanted someone who was already known for that kind of role.
With Brooke Shields top pick for Gale, Cox championed herself as the cutthroat Ms. Weathers because she wanted to try something different. Thankfully, Cox blew everyone away with her audition and that’s the end of that chapter.
11. Bad Blood
California’s Santa Rosa High School was originally supposed to be the backdrop of Scream, however, the school board was unimpressed with the movie’s shocking content. After reading a few pages of Scream, the board pulled the plug on filming just days before cameras were due to start rolling.
Local papers criticised the movie and compared it to the kidnap and murder of 12-year-old Polly Klass a few years earlier. Students and parents rallied around Craven and saw the benefit of what the movie could do to the local economy.
Filming continued as scheduled and there was a mad dash to find somewhere new — leading to Woodsboro High becoming the Sonoma Community Center. In honour of the Santa Rosa scandal, Craven included a “Special Thanks” section with the message: “NO THANKS WHATSOEVER TO THE SANTA ROSA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD.”
12. Keep screaming
Williamson and Craven had grand plans for a sequel but were unsure how well Scream would do. Deciding to put in as little effort as possible, Williamson wrote a five-page treatment for Scream 2.
When the first movie was a runaway success and became the highest-grossing slasher of all time (until being toppled by 2018’s Halloween), Scream 2‘s tiny treatment exploded into a full-blown production. As they say, the rest is horror history.
Even though Scream 2 is VERY different to the first movie, it’s a close call on which is better. I mean, Drew Barrymore is all well and good, but does she compare to Sarah Michelle Gellar as Cici Cooper?
13. A real nightmare
Not that Wes Craven is salty or anything, but there’s a not-so-subtle jab at the Elm Street franchise hiding in plain sight. Before being strung from a tree by her own guts, Barrymore’s Casey played a game of cat and mouse with Ghostface.
As the killer(s) toyed with Casey’s horror movie knowledge, she memorably quipped that all the Elm Street sequels “sucked”. Although Craven was behind the first movie, he sold the rights to Freddy after 1984’s original.
This led to some pretty questionable sequels like the divisive A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. However, does Craven also include 1994’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in this slander?
Whether we’ll ever get to see another Scream remains to be seen. Scream 4 faltered at the box office, Craven tragically passed away in 2015, and we had the frankly dire third season of Scream — I called it the worst reboot of all time.
Still, with our hunger for horror not going anywhere, here’s hoping we’ll get to see Cox put on a lime green suit and get a blunt fringe one more time. Well, a boy can dream!
[Featured Image: Dimension Films]