Welcome to the Ghostface Glossary, a guide to every horror reference and nod throughout the first five films of the Scream franchise.
After a lot of pausing, rewinding, and zooming in, as well as researching, we’re catching all of the many horror-specific references Williamson, Craven, and Co. included in this beloved postmodern slasher franchise. If we’ve forgotten any glaring ones, kindly let us know.
This guide will exclude homages from previous Scream films and their respective sequels— we’re only looking at outside horror franchises and inspirations, because any red-blooded Ghostface fan is likely already aware of those. (Goes without saying that the beloved faux franchise ‘Stab’(s) 1-8 will also not be counted, since, even though our neon green ‘Stab’ t-shirts and mock VHS tapes feel very real, it’s still a very fake franchise). If we’ve forgotten any glaring ones, kindly let us know.
“You forgot the first rule of remakes, Jill: Don’t fuck with the original”
Fifteen years after its 1996 patriarchal film and more than a decade after Scream 3, Scream 4 (SCRE4M) was birthed into a weird era for slasher films. The horror movie landscape in 2011 had gone through significant changes since the Scream franchise made its mark on what would become the neo-slasher movement of the early 2000s– with remakes, “little ghost girl” movies, “torture porn,” and even more remakes taking charge of what horror fans spent their movie theater money on in the mid-aughts and early 2010s.
Because of that, 4 remains the least financially successful movie in the franchise to date, in spite of its razor-sharp wit and reward of the fan-favorite, diehard female horror fan Kirby, who actually knew her Cravens from her Carpenters. This millennial-generation sequel is spewing with horror homages, as nearly every frame feels like a very humorous dig to the tired barrage of “horror has run out of ideas” movies that gripped the late 2000s.
Saw IV (2007): In the opening meta sequence, Trudie says she saw this in theaters, before referring to it as “torture porn.” This line is also commenting on the parallels of the Scream franchise in its repetitive fourth installment.
Ringu (1998) and Ju-On: The Grudge (2002) and its remake The Grudge (2004): In the opening sequence, Chloe references movies (somewhat offensively) containing “little Asian ghost girls,” and why she considers ‘Stab’ scarier.
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964): Jenny explains the movie-within-a-movie opening in ‘Stab 7’ to Marnie, by comparing it to the iconic series. They debate on whether or not she’s overthinking it or if the filmmakers are “underthinking” it.
Final Destination (franchise): When making digs about Sidney, Olivia refers to her as the “Angel of Death” and says FD would make a more appropriate franchise for her over ‘Stab.’
An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954): Unsuspecting horror fan Jill’s bedroom wall boasts a few bangers– suggesting we perhaps should’ve been more suspicious of her from the start. After all, she apparently was the Ghostface who quizzes Kirby later on!
Shaun of the Dead (2004): Kirby and Jill are watching the film in Jill’s bedroom while they’re on the phone with Olivia– an interestingly original choice, considering most of the film exhaustively comments on remakes.
The Breed (2006): Next to Jill’s TV lies a DVD of this mid-aughts film in which a group of friends gets attacked by ravenous dogs on an island.
Rear Window (1954), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and Deep Red (1975): 1) The title is written on the classroom whiteboard at the Cinema Club’s meeting. 2) Kirby owns the poster. 3) When Kirby and Jill watch Olivia get murdered from the bedroom window next door, the scene is identical to the Hitchcockian classic that refreshingly isn’t Psycho, for a change. In regards to NOES, Nancy watching Glen get murdered amongst a fountain of blood is very reminiscent of Jill and Kirby watching Olivia’s demise, along with the absolute blood massacre that follows. In Deep Red, a woman gets pushed out of a window, just like Ghostface does to Olivia.
The Omen (1976): As Sidney’s assistant Rebecca falls to her death (or was she already dead?) from the roof of the parking garage, we’re reminded of a similar death in The Omen, in which a woman also falls onto a news van.
The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Wolf Creek (2005), Feast (2005), The Thing (1982), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Rob Zombie’s Halloween II (2009), Death Proof (2007), Critters 2: The Main Course (1988), Blood Simple (1984), King Kong (1933), The People Under the Stairs (1991), Vertigo (1958), Troll 2 (1990), Army of Darkness (1992), Panic Room (2002), Zombie Strippers (2008), Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008): All of these posters are adorning the walls of Woodsboro High’s Cinema Club– and there are still a ton of other non-genre posters featured, as well.
Halloween (franchise) and The Exorcist (1973) (amongst the many other horror films featuring Curtis and Blair): Charlie claims Sidney is a better get as a Cinema Club guest than even Jamie Lee Curtis or Linda Blair.
Saw (franchise): This may or may not be intentional, but a pig head is mounted on the wall while Gale arrives at the Stab-a-thon screening. Of course, a number of horror films feature ghastly pig heads (Motel Hell, anyone?) but a nod to Saw would make the most sense for the era.
Psycho (franchise): Anthony Anderson plays Deputy Perkins, named after you-know-who.
Se7en (1995): Hoss says to Perkins, “If you’re a rookie and just found out your wife is pregnant” when discussing movie cop tropes.
Suspiria (1977) and Don’t Look Now (1973): Color Charlie impressed– he points out these classics on Kirby’s DVD shelf.
Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974): Incel Charlie quizzes Kirby on Leatherface’s Gunnar Hansen to prove her horror cred, in a shock to no one.
Teeth (2007), Cabin Fever (2002), The Final Destination (2009): These aughts titles can be spotted in Kirby’s DVD collection. But where is Ginger Snaps?
Tremors (1990) and Nosferatu (1922): These posters are adorned on Kirby’s walls. The girl clearly has a range of tastes!
Friday the 13th (franchise): Ghostface gives Kirby a warm-up question regarding Jason’s weapon. She knows it’s a machete. Too easy.
Halloween franchise, Texas Chain Saw Massacre (franchise), A Nightmare on Elm Street (franchise): Ghostface grills Kirby yet again with the same weapon question as above, and of course she nails every answer: butcher knife (err, chef’s knife, technically); chainsaw; razor “hands.”
The Last House on the Left (1972) and Psycho (1960): Ghostface gives Kirby multi-choice options to his question. “None of the above!”
Peeping Tom (1960): This is the correct answer to which movie had started the slasher craze and “first movie to ever put the audience in the killer’s POV.” Kirby fumbled by answering “Psycho.”
The entirety of Kirby’s delightful 2000s remakes rant to Ghostface: “Halloween (2007), Texas Chainsaw (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Hills Have Eyes (2009), Amityville Horror (2005), Last House on the Left (2009), Friday the 13th (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), My Bloody Valentine (2009), When A Stranger Calls (2006), Prom Night (2008), Black Xmas (2006), House of Wax (2005), The Fog (2005), Piranha (2010).” It’s one of those, right?!
Black Xmas (2006): Just like Billy and Agnes try to kill final girl Kelly in a hospital scene, Jill also tries one last time to kill Sidney before going “clear”– never to be seen in a sequel again.
Halloween (franchise) again: A bitter Jill compares Sidney to “Michael fucking Myers” because she “just won’t die.” She’s a survivor.
Thanks to IMDb and the Zack Cherry YouTube channel for picking up a couple this writer had missed for this comprehensive guide.