In the early 1990s, screenwriter Kevin Williamson was housesitting for a friend. While he was alone and watching the news one night — about the Gainesville Murders, no less — he heard a noise. As anyone who's ever seen a horror movie knows, this isn't a good sign. When Williamson searched the house, he discovered that one of the windows had been mysteriously opened. Not finding an intruder, he went to bed terrified. But he also went to bed with an idea. Specifically, a story idea for a movie referencing classic horror movie tropes.
This movie was Scream.
What began as an isolated moment of panic eventually evolved into a $600 million franchise. It has a TV spinoff, devoted fans, and more horror references than you can shake a stick at. But where it really shines is in its on-screen deaths. Funny, self-referential, and confidently meta, Scream is, above all else, a scary movie. So, if you want to see death done right (fictionally, of course), then check out the 17 Most Savage Ghostface Kills In The Scream Franchise, Ranked.
Trevor Sheldon (Nico Tortorella) is not a likable character. When he's first introduced in Scream 4, he's cocky, self-centered, and seemingly happy to be the town douchebag. Still, when all is said and done, he's by no means a killer (even though he may as well have the words Red Herring tattooed on his forehead).
Obnoxious though he may be, Trevor ends up surviving through most of the movie, only to meet his maker in the final act (well, the first final act, at least). Bound and gagged, Trevor is reminded that he cheated on one of the killers, Jill (Emma Roberts), and ends up paying the ultimate price. She shoots him in the groin with her pistol, and in the time it takes him to realize that he's just lost his family jewels, he takes a bullet in the forehead.
Trevor was no prize, but his behavior is by no means grounds for castration and death. That's low, even for a serial killer.
Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) had issues. He was spoiled, manic, and incapable of making his own decisions without the help of his equally troubled BFF, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich). To top things off, he was also one of the two serial killers in the original Scream. So, it's safe to say that his death was due.
If ever there was going to be a horror movie where the villain survives, it'd have been Scream — but that wasn't the case at all. In fact, by the time Stu is finally put to rest, he gets rough-housed to the extreme. He gets stabbed, sliced, and hit in the head with a vase, but not until "Final Girl" Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) smashes his face in and electrocutes him with his own TV does he bite the big one. For a killer who's inspired by movies and the media, that's some solid poetry right there.
Hollywood is certainly not the hero in Scream 3. When a series of murders start cropping up on the set of a movie-within-the-movie, Sidney discovers that the whole franchise she's leading is a result of her mother being abused by studio execs whom she hoped would jumpstart her career. Fast-forward a few decades, and the son she abandoned, Hollywood director Roman Bridger (as played by Scott Foley) puts into motion a seek-and-destroy scheme to kill his half-sister, Sidney.
This is where producer John Milton (Lance Henriksen) enters the picture. Having helped orchestrate the events that led to Mrs. Prescott abandoning her son, Roman finally holds him accountable (and ultimately bound and gagged). Desperate for his life, Milton offers Roman "final cut" on any project he could ever want, whereupon Roman appropriately responds by saying, "I already have it."
He had the world by the throat, but Milton ends up having his throat slit in the very room that started this whole mess in the first place.
Despite being a horror franchise, there are some truly pure characters in the series. Between Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy), Dewey Riley (David Arquette), and Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey), the Scream franchise is by no means soulless. But perhaps the purest of all the characters in all four movies is Derek Feldman (Jerry O'Connell). Sidney starts to suspect that he might be a killer, but when all is said and done, it's revealed that he couldn't be more of a good guy if he tried.
Sadly, however, he still doesn't it make it to the closing credits.
Hung on a stage prop and completely helpless, one of the killers, Mickey (Timothy Olyphant), toys with Sidney's head before finally shooting him in the chest, killing himself almost instantly. Not cool, Mickey.
Olivia Morris (Marielle Jaffe) did nothing to deserve the death she earned in Scream 4. She may have distracted her friend while she was driving, but that's hardly grounds for a savage death. The thing is, though, neither killers cared. Olivia simply fit into their plan of of recreating events from the first Stab film (that's the movie-within-the-movie), so she was as expendable as expendable characters come.
That said, her death was by no means throwaway. The killer attacks her in her own bedroom, and though her friends do their best to help, she ends up getting stabbed repeatedly (once in the hand, which was surprisingly gratuitous for this series), splattered in her own blood, and then gutted.
Scream tends to focus on mood over gore, but in this case, it was happy to break its own rules.
The beginning of Scream 4 is a doozy. While the Scream franchise is known for trying to wow audiences with its "opening kill," part 4 took that concept and ran with it. There isn't just one opening scene, nor are there just two, but three opening scenes — and they all do justice to the ultra-meta vibe that the franchise has been going for since day one.
In "Opening Scene #2," Rachel (Anna Paquin) and Chloe (Kristen Bell) are watching a movie. In fact, they're watching the same movie that real-life audiences had just sat through, and their characters use their brief time on screen to point out the importance of being quiet during a movie. Rachel refuses to do so, and and as a result, she earns the pointy end of a kitchen knife hilt-deep into her stomach.
Thanks for the cameo, ladies.
Horror movies are known for having stupid characters doing stupid things for stupid reasons. Audiences wants to yell at the screen (and sometimes they do) when characters take a wrong turn or make a questionable decision. With the amped up adrenaline, audiences are in survival mode when they're watching a horror movie — even though they are perfectly free to up and abandon the movie, while most of its characters are doomed no matter what.
In Scream 4, Rebecca Walters (Alison Brie) is one of those characters. Her nasty attitude is basically begging for death, but by the time her "chase sequence" begins, she makes choices that deserve every ounce of audience opposition that she gets. After being toyed with over the phone and (stupidly) leaving the safety of her locked vehicle, the killer stabs her in the stomach and then tosses her off the side of a parking garage, where she then crashes onto a news van several stories below.
Bad dates are unfortunately all too common, but it's hard to compete with the date at the beginning of Scream 2. Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith) obliges her testosterone-fueled boyfriend, Phil (Omar Epps), by accompanying him to an early screening of Stab. Not a fan of scary movies herself, this takes some pushing, but before she knows it, she ends up being just as engrossed in the movie as all the other fans are in the audience. Unfortunately, it's this excitement that ends up getting her killed...
The crowd is filled with people donning the black and white Ghostface costume, so by the time the real killer shows up, he blends in without even having to try. Maureen sadly ends up being all the worse for wear when the killer stabs her to death in the aggressive mass of a packed movie theater, and it's not until moviegoers begin to notice blood spraying through the air that it's clear something is obviously wrong.
When people die, they either go soundly into the night or they suffer. In Scream 4, Officer Perkins (as played by Anthony Anderson) suffers. He spends all of his screen time playing one half of a stereotypically dumb cop duo, and even makes it a point to reveal that he is well aware of horror movie tropes. He tells his partner that he'll "be right back," but quickly catches himself, knowing that saying this will only end up leading to his grisly demise.
Well, as it turns out, he was right. After doing away with his partner, the killer stabs his/her knife into Perkins' forehead, removes it, and then watches in a sort of dazed astonishment as Perkins stumbles out of the car, swinging his arms around, surprisingly still alive. It's one of the more unusual deaths in the series, but the fact that it was able to combine horror and comedy in such a seamless way earns it some deserved credit.
Henry Winkler is a national treasure. He was Fonzie on Happy Days and Barry Zuckerkorn on Arrested Development, but in Scream, he's the principal-turned-corpse of Woodsboro High.
At first glance, Principal Himbry's death isn't especially "savage." The killer corners him in his own office, stabs him a few times, and that's that. Audiences never see him again. They do, however, hear about him.
In the final act, the remaining guests at the party leave on account of discovering what has happened to their principal. According to the information Randy is given over the phone, Himbry "was gutted and hung from the goal post on the football field." It's an off-screen display, but it still goes to show what sort of work these killers were willing to put in just so they could secure a legacy that would do their favorite horror movies proud.
It's no wonder why Sidney would have personal protection in Scream 2. With everything that she's had to deal with in the previous film, as well as the copycat killer hell bent on stalking her in the sequel, some bodyguards might do her some good.
As it were, however, they actually don't. At all.
After Officer Richards (Chris Doyle) fails to drive Sidney and her friend Hallie (Elise Neal) to safety, the killer manages to manages to man the wheel of the cop car that's supposed to be keeping them safe. He then drives the car straight into Officer Richards, and though it might seem as though there might be a happy ending after all, the car crashes and a metal pipe slides through his head like butter.
You had one job, Richards!
Curiosity may kill the cat, but as Scream 2 has proven, it also kills the casual moviegoer. Such is the case with Phil Stevens after doing his business during a post-credits pee break (seriously, who waits until the movie starts?). He hears some questionable muttering in the stall adjacent to him, and after pressing his ear against the stall to hear it more clearly, the killer (of course it was the killer) stabs clean through the stall, piercing Phil through his ear and straight through his skull.
If you watch the theatrical cut of this movie, you'll see a single stab. However, if you watch the director's cut, then you'll bear witness to Phil getting stabbed not once, but three times, in the side of the head.
However, thanks to Scary Movie spoofing this scene by replacing the knife with a penis (keep in mind that this is very NSFW), the terror may have been lost a bit in the process. On its own, though, it still stands.
Say what you will about Jill Roberts, but the girl had moxie. Mind you, her focus might have been better suited in something less murderous, but such is life. Sometimes people are cray cray. In Scream 4, Jill is set up as the new heroine of the franchise, possibly replacing Sidney, or at the very least becoming her equal. However, that is far from what happens.
In the end, it's discovered that Jill is actually one of the killers (if not the mastermind of the pair), and she just about gets away with everything in a surprising turn of events. Were it not for the fact that Sidney Prescott is basically indestructible, however, Jill's clever plan is undermined and she ultimately fails. But not until Sidney presses a heavily charged defibrillator against both sides of her head, electrocuting her.
Per horror trope tradition, she does, in fact, survive this (it's a bullet to the head that does her in for good), but it's safe to say that the defibrillator still counts. Or it at least helped get the ball rolling...
When audiences first hear about Steve Orth (Kevin Patrick Walls), there is hope. Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) explains to the killer over the phone that if he doesn't leave her alone, he'll have to suffer the wrath of her boyfriend (who is on his way). Little does she and the audience now, however, that Steve is already there. The only problem is that the killers have already gotten to him.
It's safe to say that finding Steve bound and gagged on the pool patio came as a bit of a shock to audiences. But alas, that's exactly what happened. What's worse is that his life is in his girlfriend's hands. After answering the killer's question incorrectly, she seals her boyfriend's fate. Within moments, she hears the wet rip of a knife against her boyfriend's stomach, and is forced to stare at his bloody innards that have basically been put on display just for the sake of theatrics.
Eventually, the bad guys lose. The thing is, though, they don't usually lose at the hands of fellow bad guys. Well, unless they happen to be bad guys in the Scream franchise, that is.
In the original Scream, Billy and Stu are happy to stab each other repeatedly, and in Scream 2, Mrs. Loomis couldn't care less that she shot her own partner in the chest. But in Scream 4, all bets are off — as Detective Kincaid once said.
During their "villain reveals entire plot" scene, Jill and Charlie decide to recreate the events from the very first Stab/Scream. To do this, they of course need to stab each other, so as to appear to be innocent victims. Where this differs from the original is that Jill has no intention of having a partner. As she explains to Sidney, she wants to be the "sole survivor." So, in order to make that happen, she stabs Charlie in the chest. Right through the heart. This is savagery at its most personal, adding to the list of reasons why Jill Roberts is the most batsh*t-crazy character that Kevin Williamson has ever written.
The first scream that audiences ever hear in this franchise belongs to Drew Barrymore. She's playing a very-90s teenager who wants nothing more than to cuddle up with her boyfriend and watch a scary movie. However, while she's waiting for him to show up, she receives a call. This call is from a man who seems to want nothing more than to talk cinema, so even though it's a bit odd receiving conversational calls from strangers, she bites. She's intrigued. That is, until he finally reveals that all he wants to do is to see what her insides look like.
That about sends her over the edge.
However, being the opening scene in a horror movie, she never really had any hope at all. She is, according to Horror Movies 101, the "opening kill," and no matter how hard she fights or how fast she runs, there's simply no escaping that particular fate. The killer eventually catches up with her and kills her. Only, he doesn't just kill her. He destroys her.
Her parents discover her disemboweled corpse hanging from a tree in their front yard, and in that moment, Scream earns its status as the horror classic it's become.
Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan) was Sidney's best friend, Dewey's sister, and Stu's girlfriend. She was a connective character thread throughout the first film, but even a role as significant as that couldn't bet on survival in the Scream franchise. Playing one of the more defiant victims in the movie, Tatum ultimately meets her end in one of the most horrific ways possible: having her head crushed in by a garage door.
Aside from being gruesome, this death is also deeply humiliating. After fighting for her life, she ends up getting herself stuck in a cat flap, unable to do anything but wriggle her body and swing her legs. She literally watches as the thing that is seconds away from killing her inches closes and closer before crushing her head. It's gory, it puts things into perspective once Sidney happens upon her corpse mid-chase scene, and it's easily the most savage kill ever bequeathed to the devotedly macabre fans of the Scream franchise.
Think we missed a more savage kill from the Scream franchise? Let us know in the comments!