The Scream Trilogy Primer

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 22nd, 2011 at 7:51 pm,

Scream Movie Spoilers The Scream Trilogy Primer

We have our Scream 4 review here, but right here we’re taking a look back at the original Scream films.

In this latest addition to the franchise, Wes Craven revisits Woodsboro, CA eleven years after the conclusion of Scream 3 - and today we’ve put together a quick summary of the original trilogy  to help moviegoers get caught-up before coming face-to-face with Ghostface again.

In the interest of keeping things simple (and useful with respect to the series going forward), we’ll be focusing the series summary on characters and events that factor into the events portrayed in Scream 4.

While we’ll save the Scream 4 talk for our soon-to-be-posted Scream 4 Spoilers Discussion, it goes without saying that if you haven’t seen Scream 1-3 and do not want to be spoiled on the original trilogy, you should read ahead with extreme caution since we’ll be laying out the bigger plot-points in the films – specifically who killed whom and why.


Scream 1 – 3 SPOILERS Below!!!


Scream (1996)

Scream Spoilers The Scream Trilogy Primer

Set in the town of Woodsboro, CA, the original Scream trilogy centered around High School student Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) one year after her mother was allegedly raped and murdered by Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber). At the same time, news reporter Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) arrives in Woodsboro to cover the murder of two local teens by the Ghostface killer, as well as follow-up on an expose of Sidney’s mother – leading her to Sidney, as well as local deputy sheriff Dewey Riley (David Arquette), who is investigating the case. Evidence in the investigation implicates Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) but he’s released after Sidney receives another phone call from the killer while Billy is in jail. Subsequently, a few primary characters (as well as members of the supporting cast) are killed-off with the remainder emerging as potential suspects – including goofball Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) and movie-buff Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy).

Stu throws a party to celebrate the suspension of classes (in the wake of the Ghostface murders), but the party quickly turns into a bloodbath as the killer claims several more victims. After Stu and Billy are critically wounded in the attacks, the pair reveal that, together, they are responsible for the murders – as well as the murder of Sidney’s mother (who, prior to her death, was having an affair with both Cotton Weary and Billy’s father). As the pair layout their plan to kill Sidney and frame her father for the murders, Gale distracts the killers, allowing Sidney to smash Stu over the head with a TV and critically wound Billy.

Notable Survivors: Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley, Cotton Weary, and Randy Meeks.


Scream 2 (1997)

Scream 2 Spoilers The Scream Trilogy Primer

In the second film, Sidney Prescott – along with Randy Meeks – is attending Windsor College when a new string of Ghostface murders begin. Dewey Riley arrives on campus to help protect Sidney and, as one of the survivors of the prior murders, Gale Weathers returns to further her notoriety by covering the new series of killings. A string of Ghostface attacks result in Randy’s death and Dewey being seriously injured – with Sidney and her new boyfriend Derek (Jerry O’Connell) narrowly escaping. Prior Ghostface suspect Cotton Weary, now out of jail (following the events of Scream), is spotted by Gale with blood on his hands – which she divulges to local journalist Debbie Salt (Laurie Metcalf).

After several other supporting characters bite the dust, Derek’s best friend Mickey (Timothy Olyphant) reveals himself as the killer, wishing to be immortalized in the media for his part in the killings, and shoots Derek in the chest. Moments later, Gale Weathers emerges on the scene, held hostage by Debbie Salt, the Ghostface accomplice. Debbie is revealed to be Mrs. Loomis, the mother of Billy Loomis (the first Ghostface) and former wife to Frank Loomis (one of the men Sidney’s mother slept with). She admits that she met Mickey online and coordinated the killings as revenge for her son’s death and then she shoots Mickey (to tie-up loose ends). During a series of back-and-forth attacks, Cotton Weary appears on the scene and executes Mrs. Loomis. Mickey, still alive, lunges at Gale and Sidney but the pair shoot and kill him.

Notable Survivors: Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, Dewey Riley, Cotton Weary.


Scream 3 (2000)

Scream 3 Spoilers The Scream Trilogy Primer

In the final installment of the original trilogy, Cotton Weary and his girlfriend are killed after refusing to give up Sidney Prescott’s location (since she’s living in seclusion). Soon a new string of Ghosftface murders begin, this time centered around the script of the upcoming Stab 3 (the film series based on the Woodsboro murders). The killer tracks Sidney down, but she abandons her home prior to his arrival and reunites with Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley, who have been investigating the murders and are in the process of warning the Stab 3 filmmakers and cast of the impending danger. After another murder, the producer of Stab 3 holds a party at his mansion for the remaining cast members, as well as the film’s director Roman Bridger (Scott Foley). Dewey and Gale are taken hostage by the killer after he successfully murders the director and most of the cast.

Ghostface lures Sidney to the mansion and reveals himself to be Roman, who faked his own death, asserting that he is not only Sidney’s half-brother (according to him, his father raped her mother prior to Sidney’s birth) but also served as Billy Loomis’ mentor and inspiration in the original Woodsboro killings (by showing him tapes of Frank Loomis cheating with Sidney’s mom). Roman reveals that he attempted to reunite with his mother, but because of Sidney he was turned away and (as punishment for her having the life he wanted) he intends to frame Sidney as the killer – and emerge the sole survivor. The two struggle until Sidney manages to stab Roman 3 times (Stab 3, get it?) until he collapses on the floor. Gale and Dewey break into the room right as Roman jumps up – and Dewey shoots him in the head, killing him.

In an epilogue, Dewey proposes to Gale and Sidney is shown at home – no longer afraid that Ghostface will return.

Notable Survivors: Sidney Prescott, Gale Weathers, and Dewey Riley.


Now that you’re all caught up, make sure to check out our Scream 4 news coverage – until our review and spoilers discussion get posted later today.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant and let us know your favorite Scream series moment.

Scream 4 is now playing in theaters.

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  1. The first Scream is the best of the bunch. Unpredictable, scary and fun. I had more fun with Scream 2 especially with the shocking death of Randy, but the ending ruined it for me as I found the killers too be too predictable. Scream 3 is easily the worst of the bunch as it focuses too much on humor and doesn’t have any of the fun of the first 2. Parker Posey was the best thing in the film. Hope Scream 4 is as good as the first 2 installments.

    • i agree scream 3 was the worse and im glad to say Scream 4 is a lot better with a great villain twist

  2. The Scream trilogy is good. It got a little old by the third. I’ll check out this 4th movie. I heard it had a lot more killings than the previous movies. Gore fans should be happy.

  3. The sad thing about part 3 was that it was a movie that the original poked fun at. I thought the story of Sydneys half brother being the one who motivated Billy and Stu in the original was pretty clever. But everything that led up to that was pretty ridiculous. The most notable being the Jenny McCarthey killing. And I still can’t imagine who thought Jay and Silent Bob popping up would be funny???

  4. Can anyone who has seen Scream 4 tell me if its as good as the first 2 Screams and tell me how you would rank all of the films best to worst in your opinion? Debating whether to see it this weekend or wait until next weekend.

    • exactly

  5. I can’t wait for this saturday. My wife and I are hosting a Scream party with some friends, playing the first 3 movies and then heading to the theater to see the 4th movie.

  6. Scream 4 is a great movie and a good homage to the first. Scream 1 Scream 4 Scream 2 and Scream 3 in order of best to worst in my opinion. The only bad part of Scream 4 is when the killer talks to sidney about what she did to the town and what it done to her relatives and loved one’s makes the killers identity jump out and reveal itself. Great movie A-

  7. it’s good this film

  8. The Scream Trilogy Primer is good for me

  9. I’m sorry but I thought that the 4th Scream was way worse than the 2nd and 3rd. I was very much looking forward to being scared again…I wasn’t and neither were either of my sister, all of us being huge Scream fans. The killer wasn’t even that surprising…it was just like oh here’s the killer…oohhh! I was seriously, seriously disappointed!! I really hope they don’t ruin everything with a 5th movie, like I’ve heard they might.