Two years ago during the holiday season, my best friend and I got to relive our teen years and watch the original Scream (1996) movie in theaters. Not just any theater, but the Tampa Theatre. (If you haven’t heard of this theater, Google it and be impressed; seriously. It’s gorgeous and conveniently right in my hometown.) The last time she and I got to see it in theaters, was back in the 1990s, so you can imagine how giddy we were. What was even better? Teenagers who had never seen the film. Although that made me feel very old, it was still fun to see kids jump at scenes that I have seen hundreds of times and find nothing but humor in (well, humor in now; I was a total chicken in my teen years watching it as well).
Since 1996, they have made three more Scream films and most recently, a Scream TV series. In my own personal opinion, I enjoyed the first two films immensely; the third was okay. It felt somewhat forced and let’s face it (spoiler alert), with no Randy (Jamie Kennedy, Malibu’s Most Wanted ), it wasn’t as enjoyable. I may still be bitter… just a little. The fourth film? I can’t. I love Neve Campbell, and I thought if she came back it would all miraculously work, but it didn’t. However, the Scream TV series? Yes. All of the yeses. I really enjoy that show. Much more than I thought I would. John Karna, who plays Noah Foster, is the primary reason why. He’s hilarious and nerdy.
For the purposes of this article, I am going to touch upon just the first three Scream films and all of the fun facts that make me ever nostalgic for the simpler times of the 90s. Be forewarned, there may be spoilers ahead.
16. The Ending Party Scene Runs 42 Minutes Long
Do you remember the party at Stu’s house? The one where we learn about the “rules” for horror films via the movie buff Randy? Well, that scene runs 42 minutes long (I thought that third act was epically long). It took 21 days to shoot from the time the sun set to the time it rose. After the film wrapped, the crew had t-shirts made that said “I SURVIVED SCENE 118” (the scene name during shooting). Apparently, the cast and crew jokingly called it “The longest night in horror history.”
To be fair, that is a very long scene to film. Sun-down to sun-up? You have to wonder if any of the cast or crew was ever actually scared during filming. I know there are a ton of people on set, but at some point adrenaline would take over, right? In any case, that entire third act was one of my favorites in cinematic history to date.
15. Kevin Williamson Wrote The Script In Record Time
Kevin Williamson (writer for both Scream and Scream 2) wrote the script for Scream in just 30 days. Yes, you read that correctly.
Although the time line may be a little muddled, the idea for this film sparked from a young broke Williamson (also known for the Scream: TV series and The Vampire Diaries) watching a documentary called Turning Point about the real-life “Gainesville Ripper” (Gainesville, FL). This “ripper” raped and murdered a number of college girls on campus. It is said that Williamson wrote an original short shorty/script in the span of just three days, and quickly started working on a second and third as he originally thought it out to be a trilogy (however, Williamson’s script wasn’t used for the third film, which is probably why it was one of my least favorite).
14. Matthew Lillard Ad-Libbed One Of The Best Lines
Remember that third act we spoke about previously? Okay, great. During that stab fest between Billy and Stu (played by Lillard), which had a bleeding and beat-up Sidney witnessing their craziness along with their “well thought out” alibi, Stu ad-libbed one of the most memorable and funniest (in my humble opinion) lines of the film.
And that line would be: “My mom and dad are going to be so mad at me.” If you have seen the film, I will bet you read that line that same exact way Lillard said it. I was very sad to see that he was one of the killers, mainly because his character was so loveable and goofy, but you never really know people, do you? This ad-libbed line also made Wes Craven (may that brilliant man rest in peace) laugh heartily, so he opted to keep it in.
13. The High School Location Had To Be Changed
The scenes that were shot in the high school were originally supposed to be at Santa Rosa High School in California in the Santa Rosa District. However, very close to the date of shooting, the school board read the script and completely denied the film to be shot there; basically because of the violent nature, as they had been under the impression the film was a comedy. So, production was moved to Healdsburg, CA.
As a payback, in the end credits under the special thanks section, “NO THANKS WHATSOEVER TO THE SANTA ROSA CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT GOVERNING BOARD” was displayed as only Wes Craven can do.
12. The Films Halloween (1978) And Psycho (1960) Get A Shout Out
Because Halloween and Psycho are two wonderful horror movies, they deserve a tribute, right? Okay here is how they tie together: the boyfriend in Psycho is named Samuel Loomis. Samuel Loomis was also the name of the doctor in Halloween. In Scream, the teens are watching Halloween (that infamous third act we continue to refer to).
Also as a little other fun fact: in the film Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), the teens are watching Scream 2 (1997).
This little tidbit of ties makes the films self-acknowledging, showing that in the Halloween franchise, movies were made based off of the murders, and in the Scream franchise, the “Stab” films. It almost feels like Inception (2010), a movie within a movie within a movie. Yes? No?
11. Courteney Cox Had To Lobby Hard To Get Her Role
Courteney Cox, who will forever remain in my heart as “Monica Gellar”, had to lobby hard to play Gale Weathers. She approached the production herself to pursue this role because she wanted to offset her friendly character, Monica, to play a “bitch” character. I guess she wanted a different image then the one she was most well-known for.
The image that she had already garnered from her Friends character was why producers initially refused to consider Cox for the role. In true “Monica” fashion, she kept pursuing the studio to convince them that she could believably play Gale Weathers. Obviously she was successful.
I don’t know about you but I thought she rocked at playing a bitch. When Sidney (Neve Campbell) punched her in the face? I was rooting for Sid to do it 110%. And then of course the memorable lines from Tatum (Rose McGowan) in her bedroom with the stuffed rabbit: “I’ll send you a copy. Bam, the bitch went down.” So, so good.
10. The Cast Was Kept In The Dark About The Killer
It wasn’t until the last day of principal photography that the cast were informed of the identity of the killer. The cast also did not receive the last 10 pages of the shooting script until it was time to actually film those scenes, along with the fact that this shooting script was printed on gray paper to deter illicit duplication of them. To add even more secrecy, all cast members were required to sign confidentiality clauses as parts of their respective contracts which precluded them from discussing the outcome of the story and the killer’s identity.
Talk about heavy security, am I right?
Even with all of these drastic measures to security of the script, somehow the first forty (40) pages were leaked online and Kevin Williamson (writer) had no choice but to churn out some hasty rewrites. Basically, this meant that the film went into production without a completed script. Completed script or not, it still was one of the best sequels I’ve seen to date. As Randy says in the film about sequels: “By definition alone, they’re inferior films.”
9. The Original Ghostface Was Changed
Continuing on with script leaks leading to script changes. According to a rumor, the identity of Ghostface was changed after the original script was leaked online. The killers were supposed to be Derek (Jerry O’Connell) and Hallie (Elise Neal) in the original ending.
Let’s take a moment to think about that for a second. The killers were originally going to be her boyfriend (again) and her best friend/roommate? No. I’m much happier with the twist Williamson came up with for the new killers. That is, if these rumors are true. (Spoiler) The killers were actually Billy Loomis’ mom (Laurie Metcalf) and the weirdo film student, Mickey (Timothy Olyphant; which also fun fact was his first feature in a film).
8. Ghostface Was Always Around On Set
Typically, when making a motion picture and an actor is heard on screen (but not seen), such as a voice on a telephone, the actor records his part during post production (the third and final step in creation of film), which takes place after the completion of principal photography (the phase of film production in which the movie is filmed, with actors on set and cameras rolling). However, Wes Craven had Roger Jackson (the voice of Ghostface) on set and actually speaking to on-screen actors by practical, not merely prop, telephone. This was to create some realism and to instill a sense of fear for them.
When Jackson was actually on set, he was kept out of sight of the other actors so they could not put a friendly association to Ghostface. Jackson has said that the actors were intimidated by him and would not talk to him any more than was absolutely necessary. This was with the exception of Sarah Michelle Gellar, who would speak amiably with him on the telephone between takes. Because she’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I mean, honestly I expect nothing less from Sarah Michelle Gellar, guys.
7. The Audition For The Role Of Derek Required Singing
This is precisely why Derek couldn’t have been the killer. One of my absolute favorite scenes in Scream 2 was when Derek (O’Connell) sang “I Think I Love You” in the cafeteria getting a dollar bill stuffed in his pants. Although, it was no “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” (via Top Gun, ), it was still an epic scene. Actors who auditioned for the said role of Derek were asked to perform that very scene in the cafeteria—a cappella.
What a great part to have actors audition for. I would guess that if you are not a singer, it may have seemed a little intimidating, but not being able to sing is half the fun of that part. Derek was not supposed to be a “singer” per se, he was just confessing his love to dear old Sidney.
6. Many Of The Actors Were Filming Other Series At The Time
Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Jerry O’Connell were starring in their own television series at the time. This is turn allowed limited availability to schedule their involvement for production. Gellar in particular was in-between filming of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) and only recently had finished work on another Kevin Williamson written film—I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997). Basically Gellar was one of the hottest commodities circa 1997; and despite the hectic scheduling, she admitted in an interview that she signed on to perform in Scream 2 without ever having read the script, mainly because of the success of Scream.
Now I’m curious as to whether or not she would have accepted the role as “Cici Cooper” had she had time to read the script. My guess is probably, because I remember back then, she was another reason I was so psyched to see the movie. This was of course before the audience found out her fate.
5. Patrick Dempsey Was Hired Last Minute
Dempsey (who portrayed the role of Detective Mark Kincaid) was hired the day before shooting began. Essentially, he had one night to learn three big dialog-heavy scenes. Talk about professional. I would have never been able to guess that he didn’t have “proper” allotted time to get his lines rehearsed.
Is this normal in the acting business? Or was it perhaps that he really wanted a role and they found something for him last minute?
Detective Kincaid ended up being included in the climax at producers’ insistence. This was after they realized he disappeared before the third act and his arc went nowhere otherwise. I’m guessing this may be why he had last minute preparation? I could be completely wrong, though.
4. Halloween (1978) Is Also Influenced In This Film
The house in Scream 3, where most of the killing takes places (the climax), is the same house that was used as a school in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998).
I have to say that I am rather fond of the fact that the Scream movies payed subtle homage to other great works of horror. Not that I believe the 20 sequels to the Halloween franchise were great works, but the foundation of the original was.
My mind then drifts to questions like, did anything spooky happen on set? With movies based in the horror genre, I would speculate that something had to have happened to at least one of the cast or crew members whilst filming. I’ve heard rumors its happened on other film sets. Just sayin.
3. Matthew Lillard Wasn’t Supposed To Be Dead
Back in 2009, Lillard (who originally portray Stu Macher from the first film) in an interview claimed he had been contracted to reprise his role as the primary antagonist, after having survived his apparent death in Scream (1996). He would have been orchestrating new Ghostface attacks from prison on high school students and ultimately targeting Sidney (Neve Campbell).
However, following the Columbine High School massacre (which occurred shortly before production began) the script was scrapped and re-written without his character and this plot. Obviously to avoid development of a film which associated violence and murder with a high school setting. Didn’t mean to bring the mood down, but these are the facts.
2. Wes Craven Became Frustrated With People Blaming Movies For Violence
Speaking of Columbine. In the third installment of this series, Sidney Prescott (Campbell) argues with Roman Bridger (Scott Foley) about him refusing to take responsibility for his murders instead blaming others, and he refuses to listen. This is a representation of Wes Craven’s frustration with people who use horror films as scapegoats for murder motives, as the series has been plagued with people who blame violence in movies for violence in real life. Craven supplies direct nods to this in the first and second Scream films; when Mickey (Timothy Olyphant) says he wants to “blame the movies”, and when Billy (Skeet Ulrich) says that “movies don’t create psychos.”
It’s a slippery slope of conversation when it comes to violence and movies. So much in the years post Columbine have happened for the worse, but I choose to take these movies for precisely what they are: entertainment.
1. Wes Craven Is A Legend
Since we all know who the great Wes Craven is, it should also be noted that he directed all (four) Scream films. It’s a rarity when it happens in a slasher series, and has been the only movie since that this tidbit has rung true.
It should also be noted that before Scream, this hadn’t happened either (think Halloween). I’m not sure what happens when it comes to directing a series, but I can surmise that creative differences probably play a big role in why directors and writers leave. There are rules set in place, I’m sure, but when a director or writer works out? Let them play out their ideas, people.