16 best Scream movie in-jokes

It's a Scream, baby

The trailer for MTV's upcoming Scream TV series landed online this week, and with its quip-y one-liners and eruptions of bloody gore, the show promises to be as knife-sharp (and self-referential) as the films that spawned it.

In the spirit of all things self-referential, here's a run down of the Scream Trilogy's funniest, cleverest and just all-round coolest in-jokes...

NOTE: Obviously, there are SPOILERS for the whole series all over the place.

Live By The Rules, Die By The Rules

The Film: Scream (1996)

The In-Joke: It's the crowning glory of the first Scream film, as Kevin Williamson outlines the rules of a slasher movie via Randy (Jamie Kennedy). There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie, he tells a party full of teens. For instance, number one: you can never have sex. But will the film break those rules? You bet it will.


The Film: Scream 2 (1997)

The In-Joke: It's the moment the Scream movies truly start eating themselves as a sly reference dropped in the first film about who'd play heroine Sidney (Neve Campbell) in the movie of her life (With my luck, they'd cast Tori Spelling, she joked) becomes reality. Because in Stab, the movie inspired by Gale Weathers' book inspired by the events of Scream (keep up), Tori Spelling plays a supremely drippy version of Sidney.


The Film: Scream 4 (2011)

The In-Joke: In one of the franchise's finest moments, movie nut Kirby (Hayden Panettiere) rattles off a breathless list of horror remakes in an attempt to outsmart the killer. Halloween, uh, Texas Chainsaw, Dawn Of The Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, Amityville Horror, uh, Last House On The Left, Friday The 13th, A Nightmare On Elm Street, My Bloody Valentine, When A Stranger Calls, Prom Night, Black Christmas, House Of Wax, The Fog, Piranha. It's one of those, right? Right? Cue endless round of applause.

Wes Who?

The Film: Scream (1996)

The In-Joke: You're starting to sound like some Wes Carpenter flick or something, scoffs Tatum (Rose McGowan), completely screwing up the names of two horror legends (obvs, Wes Craven and John Carpenter), one of whom even directed this film...

Sound Advice

The Film: Scream (1996)

The In-Joke: When Casey Becker's (Drew Barrymore) parents discover their house in disarray, Mr Becker advises his wife to Drive down to the Mackenzie's in order to fetch help. He must've seen Halloween, because that's exactly the same advice Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) gives young Tommy in John Carpenter's seminal slasher.

Mad World

The Film: Scream (1996)

The In-Joke: We all go a little mad sometimes, grins Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) at the climax of the first film, chillingly unmasking himself as one of Scream's killers. The line, of course, was once uttered by infamous psycho Norman Bates, making it entirely fitting clever and terrifying.

Killer Clue

The Film: Scream 2 (1997)

The In-Joke: Mrs. Voorhees was a terrific serial killer! enthuses Randy during film class. Yep, Scream 2 is so confident in its murder mystery that it drops a huge hint about who one of its killers will be right up front (the main murderer in the sequel turns out to be Billy's vengeful mum, in a nod to Friday The 13th). How's that for slasher movie kahunas?

Nudey Pics

The Film: Scream 2 (1997)

The In-Joke: Randy's always good for a laugh, and he cracks a particularly funny one at Gale's expense when he talks about the fake nude photos of her that turned up online. In yet another example of the series nodding to real life, the line's inspired by fake images of Courteney Cox that were posted online before filming started on the sequel. (Cox's gigglesome dig at Friends co-star Jennifer Aniston is also worth mentioning.)

Exorcist In The House?

The Film: Scream (1996)

The In-Joke: Mere moments after Billy (Skeet Ulrich) has dropped an Exorcist joke (he got bored watching it on TV because all the good stuff had been edited out), Sidney and co have their high school beset by news reporters, who've got wind of Casey Becker's butchering. Naturally, one of those reporters is played by Exorcist star Linda Blair.

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.