In 1996, director Wes Craven released Scream: watch who’s calling, a horror film that took up the tradition of the slasher, in which a murderer began a murder raid with young students as its main target.
And a project that did not have great aspirations became a success that made these kinds of stories fashionable again. But behind the film that started it all, there were several twists and turns, some rejections, and an idea that no one was betting too much on.
The screenwriter Kevin Williamson (future creator of Dawson’s Creek), like many horror fans, I was a big fan of Halloween, the John Carpenter film. That title had an enormous influence on many writers and directors, and Williamson was one of many who took inspiration from the piece to develop a story. And based on the 1990 case of a student killer (which the press dubbed The Gainesville Ripper), the scriptwriter thought of a project that he baptized as Scary movie.
Initially, the entire plot was to take place in a single act. But that scheme soon presented many difficulties, and Williamson he organized his story in a more conventional way. With the finished script, he offered it to different studios, and his surprise was greater when he saw that five distributors were interested in the idea. Finally, Dimension Films he kept the script for a sum of 400 thousand dollars.
At that moment, the search began to find the ideal director. One of the first names that arose was that of Wes craven. Director of Nightmare it was an ideal choice, but nevertheless, he was not interested. Around this time, Craven was preparing the remake of the horror comedy, The haunted mansion. Wasting no time, the producers tried to recruit Robert Rodriguez, Danny Boyle, George Romero and even Sam raimi, but for one reason or another, none of them were confirmed. Williamson felt that no one understood his idea, and that everyone thought that Scary movie it was a comedy, when in fact it was a story that reflected in a very self-conscious way, about gender structures to which it belonged.
Finally, Craven reappeared on the scene. As he once told, when he learned that Drew Barrymore was on board the project, He liked the possibility of working with her. But what mobilized him the most was the talk with a little ten year old fan, who accused him of having “softened” over the years, and that in his days of The last house on the left, his films were much more reckless. Thus, the director changed his mind and decided to make Williamson’s screenplay a film.
Craven knew that the secret of success depended on the charisma and impact he could achieve with the figure of the murderer. Taking into account that the director had created Freddy Krueger, it could be assured that he was someone who knew perfectly the importance of the villain. The filmmaker thought of the murderer through his voice, and with that goal in mind, he called Roger jackson. Craven said Jackson had a “smart and evil” tone, and in order to upset the rest of the cast, asked the actor not to interact in person with anyone, limiting himself to speaking to them on the phone during filming of the scenes that require it.
The appearance of the assassin was also an element of great importance. Originally, Ghostface was going to wear a white robe, to give it a ghost-like appearance. But members of the art department pointed out that that image referred to the Ku Klux Klan, and because of that they changed the white for the black. Regarding the mask, its design was a combination of the painting The Scream by Edvard Munch, the face of album The Wall, and the design of the ghosts according to the old cartoons of Betty boop. Once the famous mask was finished, costume designer Brigitte Sleiertin said that the expression gave the feeling of someone who seemed to be crying and screaming at the same time, and that it was “as horrible as it was frantic.”
Originally, Drew Barrymore was going to play the heroine of the story, Sidney Prescott. But the actress wanted to shock the audience, and somehow surprise with a twist that no one expected. In this way, he made the production a curious counter offer. She told them that instead of being the protagonist, she preferred to be the victim of the opening scene. In a trick that refers slightly to Psychosis ya Janet Leigh being killed in the middle of the story, the Barrymore sequence is not only surprising (because no one really expected to be killed that quickly), but it also serves to build an unbeatable prologue, which immerses the audience in the terrifying tone of the plot.
When the position of the protagonist was vacant, the production began to negotiate with other actresses, among whom were Melissa Joan Hart, Brittany Murphy Y Alicia witt. Kevin Williamson, a huge fan of The club of five, asked to be offered the role to Molly ringwald, but she rejected him because she did not consider that she could play a student, when she was just a few years from turning thirty. At that moment, Craven remembered the protagonist of the series Count on me, Neve Campbell. Initially the actress was not very interested, because his previous feature film, Young witchesIt was also a horror story. But eventually he changed his mind, and the possibility of working again with Skeet Ulrich, he finished convincing her.
For its part, the role of aggressive journalist Gale Weathers, should be left in the hands of Janeane garofalo. However, she rejected it, and everything indicated that her substitute was going to be Brooke shields. until Courteney Cox found out about the project, and contacted the production to apply. His interest was to impersonate a woman that he was on the opposite end of the nice Monica from Friends, and Gale Weathers was the ticket to show a new facet. And although that is precisely why Craven and the producers weren’t quite sure, Courteney he pushed them hard enough until he got the role.
After rename Scary movie to scream (based on the song by Michael and Janet Jackson), the director finished the film with the intention of releasing it at the Christmas 1996, a very juicy date for terror, taking into account the wide range of family films. But the committee in charge of classifying it, labeled it as “Prohibited for children under 17 years.” That qualification implied a commercial disaster, taking into account that the bulk of the audience they were targeting was precisely that of preadolescents. In the weeks that followed, the director presented nine slightly different versions, which softened some violent aspects, until finally managed to lower the rating.
Scream: watch who’s calling hit theaters in the United States on December 20, 1996. It would only arrive in our country the following year, on September 11, 1997. In both places, and practically in the rest of the world, the film became a phenomenon that exceeded the most optimistic expectations. From an investment of fifteen million, the feature film raised 175 million dollars, starting a franchise that lasted for several years. Williamson soon wrote the screenplay for Scream 2, which was released the following year, and was followed by a third and fourth part, released in 2000 and 2011 respectively.
And this success that has already caught the attention of several generations, come back next Thursday with a fifth installment, which will allow the public to meet again with Sidney Prescott, within the framework of a key saga in the history of horror cinema.