SCREAM is a psychological thriller directed by suspense master Wes Craven.
The story is set in Woodsboro, California, a small quiet town that's come under siege by a murderer who takes all his cues from the movies.
The young people he targets can only survive if they have the presence of mind to follow movie rules: Don't answer the door. Don't hide in the closet. Don't just stand there. Don't go back in the house. Don't trip. Don't answer the phone. Don't ask, "Who's there?" Don't have sex. Don't drink or do drugs. And never, ever, under any circumstances, SCREAM.
The cast of SCREAM features some of the brightest young stars of film and television. Neve Campbell, who stars as Sidney, currently appears as Julia Salinger on Fox Television's critically acclaimed series "Party of Five." TV's "Friends" star Courteney Cox, who portrays TV reporter Gale Weathers, has also appeared in the box-office success "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." Skeet Ulrich, who plays Billy, starred in "Boys," "The Craft", "Last Dance" and "Albino Alligator." Film veteran Drew Barrymore, who has appeared in "E.T.," "Guncrazy" and "Mad Love," portrays Casey. Rose McGowan, who plays Tatum, has earned a nomination for Best Debut Performance at this year's Independent Spirit Awards for her role in "The Doom Generation." A veteran of such independent films as "johns" and "Beautiful Girls," David Arquette stars as Deputy Dewey Riley.
"Scary Movie" was originally the first title for SCREAM. "When Miramax changed it to Scream, we all thought that was a really stupid title," recalls director Wes Craven. "But now, we all love SCREAM." Adds Jamie Kennedy: "[Scary Movie] was a cool title. I still, to this day, think it was a better title than Scream. Because it was like, 'Hey, do you want to go see Scary Movie?' And that was like a cool idea, right? It just fit with all that tongue-in-cheek [stuff]."
Wes Craven was actually not the first director asked to do SCREAM. Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax, first pitched the film to "From Dusk Till Dawn" director Robert Rodriguez, who apparently turned it down.
In the script, SCREAM writer Kevin Williamson only wrote of a ghost-mask worn by the killer. But nothing was said about the costume. Executive producer Marianne Maddalena suggested a black outfit because it was "scary". As for the infamous mask, Craven found the off-the-shelf item at a house where they were location scouting in California. The mask was originally created by Fun World.
When SCREAM producer Cary Woods was casting the lead in SCREAM, Drew Barrymore was the first person he talked to. After agreeing to play what later became Neve Campbell's role, she had second thoughts. Says Woods, "She called me up and said, 'I want to play Girl Number One.' And I said, 'Drew, Girl Number One gets gutted on page eighteen.' I thought, There goes my star; there goes my movie. And that's when she said, 'If you kill me at the beginning of the movie, the audience will think anything can happen. And I'll still support the movie as if I'm starring in it.'"
Freddie Prinze Jr. was one of the last contenders for the role of the comic-crazed Stuart Macher. "It was down to either Matt [Lillard] or me for that part," Prinze reveals. Although the part went to Lillard, Prinze got his chance to star in his own horror film in "I Know What You Did Last Summer," which was written by SCREAM writer Kevin Williamson.
The murder scene of Principal Himbry came as a result of Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of Miramax. Explains writer Kevin Williamson: "After he had bought the script, he felt that there was 30 pages where nothing happened. And he called me up and said, 'You gotta kill somebody, Kevin. Somebody's gotta die.' There is a thirty-minute gap where nobody's getting offed. He said, 'I don't care how you do it; just do it.'" Weinstein's idea also helped solve Williamson's problem in the script: "I didn't know how to get rid of all the partiers," says Williamson. "We wanted to isolate our core group and then once when Bob came up with the idea and said you had to kill somebody else - and that shows the principal - there was the answer. And in addition I got to carry on that hard-edge, cynical attitude that children have today."
The idea of putting the pet portal in the garage door in Tatum's death sequence actually came from Kevin Williamson's assistant. Originally when he wrote the scene, he just had Tatum getting into a fight with the killer and the garage door came down and crushed her neck.
Although a stuntman was used to play the killer in SCREAM, actor Skeet Ulrich got a chance to play Father Death during the sequence in which Jamie Kennedy is watching "Halloween (1978)."
When Randy is watching "Halloween (1978)," he says, "Jamie, look behind you!" He was commenting at Jamie Lee Curtis, but since the killer was behind him at the time, it might as well have been a comment to himself, since the actor who portrays Randy happens to have Jamie as his first name.
The sequence in which Sidney is trapped in the police car with the killer, actually existed in an abandoned script Kevin Williamson wrote in high school.
At the last second, while shooting the very end of SCREAM, Wes Craven decided to film one scene where Dewey is alive just in case the audiences loves him, and so that he would be eligable for sequel duty. Says David Arquette, "They threw me in an ambulance just as sort of a loose end."
Gale's report concluding the end of SCREAM was written minutes before the scene was shot. Kevin Williamson was there at dawn writing the speech, and Courteney Cox managed to do it in two takes.
For weeks, the crew of SCREAM tried to find a phone voice for the film and finally found Roger Jackson, who does a lot of narration and radio voices in San Francisco.
Kevin Patrick Walls, who makes a small appearance in SCREAM as Steve Orith, happened to be one of the last contenders for the part of Billy Loomis, which was given to Skeet Ulrich.
Joseph Whipp, who played a police officer in Wes Craven's "A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)," makes an appearance as Sheriff Burke.
Henry Winkler, best known as Fonzie from the TV-series "Happy Days (1974)," plays Principal Himbry. "Henry is represented by my agent," says Wes Craven. "We met about a year ago, and I was really astonished when he said he wanted to be in this film. He played it with a sort of a malicious glee, which I thought was really amazing."
Lisa Beach, the casting director of SCREAM, makes a cameo as a news reporter on television. She quotes, "Casey Becker and her boyfriend Steven Orith were found dead late last night by the girl's parents."
W. Earl Brown, who played a morgue attendant in "Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)" and a police officer in "A Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)," gained 20 pounds for the role of Kenny, the cameraman.
Linda Blair, who starred in "The Exorcist (1973)" and Wes Craven's TV-movie "Stranger in Our House (1978)," plays an obnoxious news reporter. She quotes, "How does it feel to be almost brutally butchered? How does it feel? People have a right to know!"
Entertainment Tonight's Lisa Canning appears as a television reporter holding the SCREAM mask. She quotes, "17-year-old Casey Becker and her boyfriend Steven Orith have already lost their lives. Who's next?"
SCREAM director Wes Craven makes a quick appearance as the school janitor Fred, wearing the original Freddy Krueger costume from "A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)."
Dean Farlow, who was a stuntman on the set of Wes Craven's "The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)," played Father Death mostly throughout the film.
Priscilla Pointer, who starred in "Carrie (1976)," makes a small appearance as Maureen Prescott.
The scene with the gutted-Casey dummy hanging from the tree was time compressed in the theatrical film release. But in the director's cut of SCREAM, it is 50% slower at normal speed.
In the director's cut of SCREAM, Tatum's head is flattened by the beam, following her confrontation with the killer in the garage. The scene was cut from the theatrical version because of the MPAA.
After Kenny the cameraman's throat is cut, he looks up at his killer. This scene was taken out due to the MPAA, but can be seen in the director's cut of SCREAM.
Shots of Billy clearly losing control as he delivers his final cuts to Stuart are included in the director's cut of SCREAM. It was not seen in the theatrical film release probably because of time restraints.
When Father Death chases Sidney upstairs to her bedroom, they filmed a shot where the killer gets hit in the head by a picture and falls down the stairs. But they decided not to put that in the final cut because it would make him seem more like a "clown".
On the computer, Sidney contacts 9-1-1 when the killer tries to get into her bedroom. A scene that was cut at that sequence due to time restraints, was Sidney typing in "34 Elm Street", a reference to Wes Craven's "A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)."
$6.354 million (US) - 1,413 screens
Miramax Film Corporation
A SCREAM TRIBUTE /2000. Information courtesy of Megan Anderson.