In the early '90s, Kevin Williamson wasn’t yet known for self referential teen dramas like Dawson’s Creek and The Vampire Diaries. Wes Craven had taken a step back from the horror genre. When the two came together, they took slasher flicks in a whole new direction with Scream.
Released in 1996 under the production of Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Scream landed small at the box office before word of mouth saw it climb. It spawned three sequels and a television series. Scream had everyone asking, “what’s your favorite scary movie?”
With a script that gave audiences both a meta take on the genre (listing all of the rules of horror movies) and references to movies they already loved (Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street), Scream became an iconic chapter in horror.
Wes Craven stuck with the franchise until his demise from brain cancer, directing all four movies and maintaining an executive producer credit on MTV’s series. Kevin Williamson provided scripts for most of the movies - and outlines for the plot of those he wasn’t able to write.
The movies also did something the horror genre usually doesn’t do - kept its main trio of actors in tact for all of its movies. Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette starred in all four films, becoming scream queens (and a king) by the time they wrapped.
Despite the popularity of the movies, there are a lot of things that went on behind the scenes that fans don’t know. That’s why we’ve rounded up these 30 Wild Details Behind The Making Of Scream.
30 The Mask Was From Someone’s Attic
When making a movie, sometimes circumstances just work out the way they’re supposed to. Finding the now iconic Ghostface mask was one of those. According to a Vanity Fair piece on the Weinstein brothers, the mask wasn’t created by the costume department. Instead, while producers were out on a location scout, trying to find a suitable house to film in, they found the mask in a woman’s attic.
The mask reminded them of the famous painting, Edvard Munch’s The Scream.
It was a perfect fit for their villain. Bob Weinstein didn’t like the mask initially, but after seeing the opening sequence of the movie, he came around.
29 Neve Campbell Wasn’t Always Sidney
Neve Campbell became the face of the franchise. She wasn’t the first choice for the role. Several actresses were approached about playing the part, but Drew Barrymore actually landed the part of Sidney first.
Before filming began, Barrymore signed on to other projects and decided it would be better for her to play the opening character, Casey Becker, instead. The opening sequence became iconic. Featured in the movie poster and all of the trailers, no one expected Barrymore’s character to expire in the first act. Funnily enough, Kevin Patrick Walls, the actor who became Casey’s boyfriend, was also in the running to play Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis.
28 Wes Craven Was Ghostface
A few different actors took on the role of Ghostface. Roger L. Jackson voiced the character on the phone while stunt performers physically played the character. Then, of course, there are the scenes that feature the reveals of who Ghostface actually is. Only once did Wes Craven play the villain.
During the opening sequence, Ghostface tormented Casey and her boyfriend. As he chased her around her house, she managed to land a hit on him with her phone. That hit? That’s the one time Wes Craven was behind the mask. He revealed that tidbit during the DVD commentary.
27 Real Life Events Inspired The Movie
Kevin Williamson has long been fascinated by slasher stories. In addition to Scream, he’s got I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, and even a spooky episode of Dawson’s Creek under his belt. For Scream, he found inspiration from reality. CNN produced a feature on Williamson in 1998 and revealed just how the script came to be.
Williamson watched coverage of the “Gainesville Ripper” case. Home alone, he found himself a little creeped out, and called a friend.
Rather than calming him, the conversation only amped him up as they began discussing favorite scary movies. The news coverage combined with that phone call gave Williamson the idea for the story of survival.
26 An Autograph Signing Inspired Wes Craven
When the script for Scream, then title Scary Movie, landed in front of Wes Craven, he turned down any involvement. At the time, Craven was trying to stay away from the horror genre. He was known for practically creating the genre, and he wanted to branch out.
He explained to Entertainment Weekly that a “little kid” at a convention can be credited with changing his mind. The child approached Craven after an autograph signing to tell him that his movies were “too soft.” Being called “soft” didn’t sit well with the horror legend, so he changed his mind. In fact, he called Bob Weinstein right after the conversation happened to accept directing duties.
25 Skeet Ulrich’s Look Sealed The Deal
If casting directors were unsure about Skeet Ulrich at all, he had a couple of things working in his favor. Before he starred in Scream as Billy Loomis, he’d also appeared in The Craft with Neve Campbell. The two already knew one another well enough to have a comfortable working relationship, which was good to sell the chemistry between their characters.
The documentary Scream: The Inside Story also revealed a more superficial reason for his casting: his look. At the time, Ulrich bore a striking resemblance to a younger Johnny Depp. Specifically, he looked like Johnny Depp when he appeared in A Nightmare On Elm Street, giving producers a link to the classic horror they wanted.
24 Scream Includes The Longest Night In Horror
Most horror movies take place over a condensed amount of time to begin with. Fans watch, especially in slasher flicks, as a group sees their numbers dwindle over the course of a few days. In Scream, though, the bulk of the action takes place in a single night.
Forty-two minutes of the movie takes place at the high school party fans see in the climax. That’s nearly half of the movie.
Known as the “longest night in horror” at the time, the party sequence was a grueling shoot. For 21 days, the crew could only film at night. They even had tee shirts made to commemorate the event that said “I survived Scene 118.”
23 Williamson Had Sequels Planned Before Filming
Once inspiration struck for Williamson, he penned the first draft of his script very quickly. According to the writer himself, it took about three days in total to create the story of Sidney and Ghostface. He didn’t only pen a script in those three days, though. He also planned out the sequels.
Included with the draft of the script he pitched to studios were outlines for two sequels. While he didn’t have every detail worked out, he had the bare bones of his stories completed so he could offer up a trilogy to movie studios.
22 Rose McGowan Was Nailed To The Door
One of the most memorable sequences in a horror movie full of memorable moments was Rose McGowan’s Tatum confronted with Ghostface. When Tatum didn’t initially take the encounter seriously, she paid the price via a garage door.
21 Scream Has A Halloween Connection
Beyond the obvious (slasher flicks where the villain has a history with the protagonist), the Halloween and Scream franchises share a few connections. During Scream’s party sequence, the teens aren’t just drinking and dancing - they’re also indulging in a few horror movies in honor of the events going on.
One of those horror movies, and the one that gets the most attention, is Halloween.
In Halloween H20, set on the 20th anniversary of the original movie, the teens return the favor. The foursome watch a little Scream 2 in their downtime. The school in Halloween H20 also happens to be the house used for the climax in Scream 3.
20 Tori Spelling’s Cameo
If you’re a horror fan with copies of the Scream DVDs, you might want to watch them with the commentary track. You’ll find out all kinds of interesting information, such as the reason why Tori Spelling cameoed in Scream 2.
Scream 2 opened with footage of the in-universe movie about the events in Woodsboro. Spelling played the version of Sidney that appeared in the fictional movie. She was approached about playing the role because a single throw-away line from the first movie. When Sidney and Billy discuss movies, Sidney remarks sarcastically, “with my luck, they’d cast Tori Spelling,” in regards to a movie about her life. Spelling found it funny and agreed to play the role.
19 The Scream 2 Script Leaked
Leaks from movie sets are common in the social media age. In the late '90s, it was much less common. The Scream 2 script was one of the first to leak to the internet. The draft made it clear that Sidney’s boyfriend and best friend were the culprits. When fans saw the movie, there was a different ending. This led to rumors about fevered rewrites happening on set.
While some scenes were rewritten, according to Kevin Williamson in 2017, that wasn’t because of the leak. In fact, the creator of the franchise revealed he made four different drafts so no one involved in the production would know who the villains were.
18 Sarah Michelle Gellar Never Read The Script
At the time that Scream 2 went into production, Sarah Michelle Gellar was in demand. She was the star of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and had just finished I Know What You Did Last Summer. Not afraid of being typecast as the horror girl, she signed on to appear in Scream 2. She also signed on without ever looking at the script.
According to the Behind The Scream documentary, Gellar enjoyed Williamson’s work so much, she just wanted a part in the movie.
During her sequence, one of Gellar’s Cruel Intentions costars even cameoed. The woman she’s on the phone with before the Ghostface caller? That would be Selma Blair.
17 Matthew Lillard Appears In Scream 2
Despite his character meeting a gory end in the first film, Matthew Lillard made a brief appearance in the sequel. If you blink, you might miss him. Eagle eyed fans can catch him in the background of a party scene. He walks through and hugs someone, and that’s about all you can see.
How Lillard ended up as an extra is something of a mystery, but he was dating Neve Campbell at the time, and was friends with many of the cast members. He likely dropped by the set for a visit, and stuck around during filming.
16 Scream Queen Cameos
Fans of the horror genre know the Scream movies love to reference the past. In addition to having the teens watch Halloween in the first movie, Tatum sports the same top as Johnny Depp in A Nightmare On Elm Street. There are also quite a few cameos.
Wes Craven appears as the high school janitor in the first movie. The Exorcist’s Linda Blair also makes an appearance as a reporter. In Scream 2, Carrie Fisher appears in a role with a meta nod to George Lucas. Rumor has it that scene would have been different if the first actress offered it took the role. Allegedly, Jamie Lee Curtis of Halloween fame was offered the part.
15 Scream 3’s Plans Became A TV Series
Because Williamson outlined stories for sequels, he was the ideal candidate to write the script for Scream 3. Unfortunately commitments to Dawson’s Creek and Teaching Mrs. Tingle meant he couldn't. Instead, Ehren Kruger became the writer. Though Kruger only had a handful of credits at the time, he went on to pen scripts for The Ring, The Brothers Grimm, and a trio of Transformers movies. He also worked on Scream 4.
Much of what Williamson planned for Scream 3 didn’t make it into the movie.
Chief among his ideas was a group of fans being the villains. That idea of a cult following provided the inspiration for Williamson’s TV series The Following.
14 Kate Hudson Was Cast In Scream 3
Once upon a time, Kate Hudson wasn’t well known for romantic comedies and Almost Famous. In 1999, she landed a role in Scream 3. If you’re struggling to remember who she played, that’s because she never actually made it into the movie. While no one knows what role she snagged, the part ended up being recast or cut.
Fans only know casting directors initially wanted her in the film because of a credit listed behind her name on another project. The VHS copy of Desert Blue contained Hudson’s credits at the time. It’s likely the VHS was distributed long before Hudson was cut from Scream 3.
13 Scream 4 Had An Unfinished Script
By all accounts from cast members, the first movie of the franchise was the easiest to film. That’s chiefly because it was the only movie of the four to have a completely finished script (or no hidden pages).
When Scream 4 began shooting, Kevin Williamson was pulling double duty as the writer and executive producer for The Vampire Diaries. Wanting to bring scrapped elements of Scream 3 into the movie, he wrote a rough script. Changes continued right up until the days of filming some scenes. Director Wes Craven called shooting Scream 4 “stressful,” explaining to Entertainment Weekly that he couldn’t determine what scenes to shoot until the day of with pages still being drafted.
12 Kevin Williamson Was Never Fired
Though Williamson and the Weinsteins had some disagreements during the preparations for Scream 4, the former was never fired from the project. Rumors swirled that he was when news of a difficult shoot surfaced.
In reality, Williamson’s television series The Vampire Diaries had first position in his contract. This meant he had to fulfill his duties to the series before he could devote time to Scream 4.
Ehren Kruger, who penned Scream 3, helped to fill in the gaps of the script. Wes Craven also rewrote some scenes himself. Rumors persist that some pages were given to the crew with notes that simply said, “Wes will do something to make it scary.”
11 Each Movie Ups The Body Count
Like any good series of horror films, the Scream franchise ups its body count each time. Every movie sees more victims than the last as the new version of Ghostface tries to outdo the previous. The first movie, despite seeing Ghostface on a high school campus and at a big party, only featured seven victims total. That’s not too bad for a slasher flick.
By the time the franchise reached movie number four, the body count became 13. That’s nearly double the number of people that perished in the first film. For those counting at home, Scream 4 actually boasts 15 victims, but two are possible survivors for the elusive fifth installment: Kirby and Jill.
10 Scream 4 Used Unique Audition Sides
Before a movie heads into production, a cast has to be assembled. Casting directors typically use sides to find the right actors for the parts. Sides might be scenes from the movie, but they also might be scenes created specifically for the casting process so as to prevent any leaks. Scream 4 employed neither of those types of sides.
Instead, Wes Craven revealed to Vulture that producers had a better idea to prevent leaks: use scenes that have already been shown. The actors auditioning for Scream 4 did it with scenes from the first film in the franchise. That might be why some performances seem so familiar to long time fans.
9 Scream 4 Had No Trouble Getting An R-Rating
Scream was initially too violent for an R-rating. It first earned an NC-17 instead. Producers had to figure out where to make cuts to create a slasher flick that was still accessible to audiences. They learned their lesson for the next two movies.
According to Craven, they actually edited in more violence than needed for Scream 2 and 3.
This allowed the filmmakers to ensure they could cut the bits they didn’t want to include in the first place, keeping the movie they wanted. In his Vulture interview, Craven revealed Scream 4 had no problem getting an R-rating at all, much to his surprise. He credited movies like Saw for making lighter horror more palatable.
8 Scares On The Scream 4 Set
As cast grow closer on movie and TV sets, there might be a lot of pranks pulled. On the set of Scream 4, some “pranks” weren’t pulled on purpose.
When Hayden Panettiere filmed a scene that involved her character checking for a stalker in a closet, there wasn’t supposed to be anyone inside. The first take went smoothly. On the second take, not so much. Inside was a member of the props team, who wasn’t actually supposed to be there, and she was momentarily terrified. The team member felt so bad, he avoided her for an entire day, telling her, “I wanted to come back, but I felt so bad. You were so scared.”
7 Emma Roberts Was Too Scared To Watch
These days, Emma Roberts is no stranger to horror. She starred in American Horror Story: Coven and Scream Queens. Scream 4 was one of her first forays into horror, and it was then she learned she was a bit of a scaredy cat. Once friends found out she snagged the role, many called her doing their best Ghostface impersonation. Though she knew it was a joke, she detailed during the press tour, she couldn’t help “looking over [her] shoulder.”
She also nearly couldn’t stomach watching the film, calling it “too scary." She comes by her fear honest though, as her mother had to leave the theater for a breather during more intense scenes.
6 Jason Blum Wants To Make Another Scream
Jason Blum has become synonymous with horror. His production company, Blumhouse, is responsible for The Purge franchise, Insidious, and Get Out, to name a few. Recently, the production company has become the force behind the Halloween franchise. It’s Blumhouse who brought Halloween back to theaters this year with a new story.
Both I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream were named as movies he’d like the chance to take on. Don’t get your hopes up too high though as Blumhouse doesn’t have the rights to either franchise just yet.
5 Bella Thorne Committed To A Single Take Sequence
When MTV created their a Scream television series, the show came with new characters and a whole new storyline. It was more of a spiritual successor.
In the opening sequence, former Disney star Bella Thorne took on the role of the well known face who didn’t last 15 minutes. Much of Thorne’s work in the scene was done alone as she hung out by her pool, texted on her phone, and walked through her house. A long sequence is a lot on an actor’s shoulders to begin with, but Thorne was proud for one reason: her character’s demise was shot in a single take. She called it something she truly "cherishes" in a chat with Collider.
4 Thorne Emulated Barrymore In More Ways Than One
Much was made out of Bella Thorne being the Scream series’ version of Drew Barrymore. What a lot of people didn’t know was that it wasn’t just in front of the camera.
Like Barrymore before her, Thorne was initially approached to play the lead. That would have made her Emma Duval, the small town girl whose family had a lot of creepy secrets. Thorne passed. Instead, she asked if she could be the first body that dropped in the series, loving the chance to get an iconic sequence like Barrymore’s. The lead eventually went to Willa Fitzgerald, who played the character for two seasons and a Halloween special. Thorne reprised her role for flashbacks.
3 Season 3 Will Reboot The Scream Series
Declining ratings and little publicity from MTV had fans worried Scream would be cancelled following season two. Instead, it got a Halloween special. It also got a season three renewal, but with a catch.
The third season of the series would take on a whole new story.
Being called a “reboot,” it would feature a whole new cast as well. Keke Palmer, RJ Cyler, Tyga, and Queen Latifah were all cast in the new series, and it filmed in late 2017 in Atlanta. The series was supposed to premiere in early 2018, but the scandal surrounding Harvey Weinstein saw it pushed back. It’s unclear when the series will finally make it to air.
2 Tyler Posey Never Auditioned
MTV's Teen Wolf alum Tyler Posey landed a spot in the third season of Scream. Unlike most of the other actors, he never had to audition. Posey was a fan before the invitation to join the cast. He explained in an interview promoting Truth Or Dare that watching the series cast at their first Comic Con felt like “passing the torch” to a new generation of actors on MTV.
Just two years later, he found out that one of the directors of photography for Teen Wolf worked on the third season of Scream. It was that old friend who told him the producers wanted him for a role on the show. Posey jumped at the chance.
1 Ghostface Returns
One problem longtime fans had with the MTV series was the absence of the iconic mask. MTV wasn’t able to secure the rights to the mask before they began filming so a new mask was used for the show. The reboot will change that.
Instead of the mask worn by characters in the first two seasons, the Ghostface mask returns to the villain in the rebooted series. That wasn’t all though. Roger L. Jackson also voices the villain, returning from the movies. Mike Vaughn voiced the character in the first two seasons. This news has made a lot of fans wonder if the rebooted season offers a larger connection to the movies.
Did you learn something new about the horror franchise? Or is there a behind-the-scenes secret about Scream you think we left out? Let us know in the comments!