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Is ‘Scream’ Based on a True Story?

Murders sometimes do inspire movies.

gale, randy, & sidney in Scream

There will never come a day where Scream (1996) becomes a boring horror topic. Whether it’s fans who experienced the movie during the 1990s (or well later), the original and the franchise are very well-loved.  And how many times have horror movies used the ‘based on a true story’ to intrigue people? Too many times to count—and not always very accurately. But, surprisingly, in Kevin Williamson’s case, Scream was actually lightly inspired by real-life events. Scared? Better not continue scrolling then. 

The true story behind ‘Scream’

Yes, Scream was inspired by real-life events—based on a real serial killer, the Gainsville Ripper (a.k.a. Danny Rolling).  Danny Rolling killed 5 students in Gainsville, Florida over the course of 4 days in August 1990. And then committed a triple homicide in Shreveport, Louisiana, as well as the attempted murder of his father. Rolling confessed to killing 8 people and was executed by lethal injection in 2006. 

The murders themselves were quite horrific. Even going so far as to pose the victims in disturbing positions to invoke reactions from those who found the deceased. His murder weapon of choice? A knife. Like many other serial killers, his childhood was messed up and he primarily murdered women who had attributes like his mother. While Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) didn’t only murder women who looked like the mother who abandoned him, he did blame Sidney (Neve Campbell)’s mother for ruining his life. Thus, leading him to murder her before going on the murder spree in Woodsboro.

While Scream is certainly not historically accurate to the actual events, you can definitely see the inspiration Williamson took from the tragedy.

(featured image: Dimension Films)

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Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a blerd writer and visual artist who loves horror, anime and all things strange. Her writing has appeared in Pink Advocate, Dread Central and more. For more, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theblackbuffy.