Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) and the ubiquitous Scream franchise made slasher flicks more than a pop culture phenomenon, it started a movement in horror cinema that added a new kind of depth, post-modernism, and humor to the genre. Here we will check out some of those hidden easter eggs throughout the film that helped define it as such an important horror movie in the mid-90s.
Wait, starting to sound like a “Wes Carpenter” flick?
Let’s start with an easy one. Did anyone catch the name of the horror director Tatum references when talking to Sidney? “Wes Carpenter” is a mash up of Wes Craven (Scream‘s director) and fellow horror director John Carpenter (who directed Halloween, The Fog, and The Thing among many others).
And what about those “The MacKenzies”?
When things start getting real in Halloween and Laurie Strode and her babysitting charges are under attack from The Boogeyman himself, Michael Myers, Laurie tries to protect the children by telling them to run down the street to a neighbor’s house and have them call the police. In Scream, Casey Becker’s father has this same protective urge and the same line is used. He tells his wife to drive down the road to “the MacKenzies” to get help while he continues to search the ransacked house for their daughter.
Regan from The Exorcist makes an appearance.
Linda Blair, who played the possessed little girl Regan in The Exorcist makes a fun little cameo in the scene where Sidney and Tatum arrive at school the morning after Sidney is first attacked by Ghostface. Blair had previously worked with director Wes Craven on the television horror film Stranger in Our House. Her appearance is uncredited.
Just one scene earlier Billy Loomis references Blair’s scream queen status when he drops this romantic line telling Sidney watching The Exorcist made him think about her.
Drew Barrymore is Janet Leigh.
Since Scream is a hugely popular franchise, most of us know that Drew Barrymore dies in the cold open. But, before the movie was released, people assumed that such a big star was going to be the main character and her quick death was shocking. This was a trick Alfred Hitchcock famously used in Psycho, killing the film’s star Janet Leigh before it was half over.
The inspiration for the script is shown.
Alone in her bedroom before she ever hears about murdered classmates Sidney Prescott hears a noise outside her window. Glancing over, she sees the window is open and peers out. Here’s how this scene mirrors the script’s origin story:
Writer Kevin Williamson (who would go on to write Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries, I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Faculty, The Following, and Tell Me A Story) caught an episode of the news magazine show Turning Point in which the subject was the serial killer Danny Rolling, known as the Gainesville Ripper. The next day, Williamson returned home and noticed an open window he didn’t remember leaving open. Inspired by his own fear of a home invasion and the news story of a serial killer targeting college students, Williamson wrote the script for what was then titled Scary Movie. He was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Writing for his script.
Wes Craven makes an appearance in Freddy Krueger cosplay.
In Principal Himbry’s death scene we see him go out into the school’s hallway only to find it empty except for the school’s janitor. Wes Craven plays the “role” of the janitor named Fred who shares an occupation (and a love for striped sweaters) with Craven’s creation Freddy Krueger. Craven snuck himself into many of his own films and appears in every Scream movie.
There’s even a Stephen King reference.
Blink and you’ll miss it. When the party guests leave Stu Macher’s house to go get a peak at dead Principal Himbry hanging from the goalposts on the football field, one of them says “Hi Ho Silver!” This line is uttered many times by Bill Denbrough, the protagonist of Stephen King’s It in reference to his silver bicycle. In Scream, it refers to a silver car.
Basically, everything comes back to horror movies.
Billy Loomis’ name was given to him in honor of Dr. Samuel Loomis, the secondary protagonist (behind Laurie Strode) in Halloween. This character’s name was cribbed from yet another horror movie, Psycho, after the character of Sam Loomis. In Psycho, Sam Loomis is also the secondary protagonist and the main character’s boyfriend. Wes Craven has also said that he cast Skeet Ulrich in the role of Billy because Skeet reminded him of Johnny Depp, who Craven famously discovered by giving him a role in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Finally, Joseph Whipp plays a police officer in Nightmare and was brought in the play Sheriff Burke.