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 can’t just reboot a franchise from scratch anymore. The fans won’t stand for it.”
Nearly seven years after Wes Craven’s passing and eleven years after his final, lowest-performing entry into the franchise, Scream 4, Ready or Not’s Radio Silence filled in the massive shoes of hitting all the checkmarks for a modern Scream film: new, engaging Woodsboro High School characters, self-aware humor, discourse on what’s been happening in the horror movie market, and a couple of … killer new Ghostfaces with specific motives to hack things up once again.
This first sequel of the new 2020 decade and under Radio Silence’s direction updates and pokes fun at everything about contemporary horror that we hate to love and love to hate— including us very modern, very “online” horror fans, ourselves. In Ghostface 2022 voice, it’s an honor to present all of the horror references for Scream (2022) in their respective order of occurrence.
Halloween (2018) and Candyman (2021): The title in itself, simply Scream, which already exists in form of the original 1996 film, is a commentary on this recent trend of “requels” in which franchises name the newest film (many of which eliminate previous other sequels from their storylines) after the original film. In the finale, Amber argues, “Can’t have a bona fide Halloween without Jamie Lee!” (a jab at ignoring the other “shittier” sequels to bring back the legacy characters.)
The Babadook (2014): When Ghostface calls Tara, she cites The Babadook as “an amazing meditation on motherhood and grief.” As Ghostface mocks Tara for loving “elevated horror,” she lists this film as an example. “Not just some schlocky, cheeseball nonsense,” she claims. Additionally, Tara will later proclaim that she “still prefers The Babadook” over this real-life slasher movie that she’s living in.
It Follows (2014), Hereditary (2018) and The Witch (2016): When taunted by Ghostface to answer ‘Stab’ trivia, Tara insists she’s more knowledgeable about these movies, instead. After the franchise being MIA for so long, the filmmakers had no choice but to comment on this “fancy pants” brand of A24 (and the like) horror.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984): 1) Tara correctly answers a question about ‘Stab’ protagonist Sidney living on “Elm.” 2) Deputy Hicks’ astutely prepared teenage son Wes is named after you-know-who.
Halloween (1978): 1) When Sam describes the ‘Stab’ franchise to alleged non-fan Richie, he says it sounds “a lot like Halloween.” 2) Of course, Sam and Tara’s last name is also Carpenter, after JC himself. (Technically, they’re actual last name is Loomis, which, again, still fits under this umbrella, Dr. Loomis.) 3) Chad also refers to Vince as “uglier Michael Myers.” 4) “There’s no Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees to keep coming back,” Amber says, as she later explains why her and Richie chose to “save” the ‘Stab’ franchise.
Friday the 13th (franchise): Richie jokes, “That Jason guy— he’s got some pretty solid ideas.” As we find out later, he apparently wasn’t just joking…
Christine (1982): Ghostface goads Vince with his own car, revving the engine and shining the lights in his face while blaring Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” before stabbing him. These menacing shots of Vince’s 1971 Dodge Charger give Christine a run for her money.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), The Last House on the Left (1972): As a tribute to Wes Craven, a framed picture of the Grand Lake theater marquee containing these three titles sits amongst Randy’s memorial home theatre.
The Skull (1965), The Blob (1958), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Vertigo (1958), and Psycho (1960): All posters featured on the Meeks-Martin family wall, which may or may not have been passed down by their late Uncle Randy’s collection. (The massive Blu-ray collection on the shelves also undoubtedly contains a ton of horror titles but is too difficult to see with the naked eye— unless any of you 4K owners can spot them…)
Knives Out (2019): The maligned ‘Stab 8’— which becomes Richie and Amber’s primary source of toxicity and anger towards the Stab franchise—is revealed to have been directed by Rian Johnson, aka the “Knives Out guy.” (Murder mystery is horror-adjacent enough.)
Get Out (2017) and Us (2019): “What’s wrong with elevated horror?” Amber asks. “Jordan Peele fucking rules.” No argument there.
Black Christmas (2019), Child’s Play (2019), Flatliners (2017): Mindy lists these movies when describing the recent late 2010s trend of divisive, same-title requels that “didn’t work.”
Halloween (2018) again, Saw (franchise), Terminator Dark Fate (2019), Jurassic World (2015), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021): Mindy insists these movies thrive on legacy characters. “It always, always goes back to the original!” When Mindy mentions Saw, it’s unclear if she’s referring to Jigsaw (2017) or Spiral (2021).
Psycho (1960) once again: Ghostface taunts to Deputy Hicks, “Ever seen the movie Psycho?” as the film cuts to her son Wes getting ready to shower— even though Wes doesn’t actually get stabbed in the shower.
The Craft (1996) This is likely a stretch, but the mad speed chase to the Woodsboro Community Hospital between Sam and Dewey, running through red lights, may be a subtle nod to this other Neve Campbell movie, in which the four witches speed through lights in Nancy Downs’ new convertible.
Halloween II (1981): A crippled Tara seething in a hospital gown, as well as Dewey’s unfortunate takedown within an unrealistically quiet, abandoned hospital setting is all too inspired by the fictional events that transpired at Haddonfield Memorial Hospital on October 31, 1978. Purists may also make the same argument for Halloween Kills (2021), which is unlikely, as the film was only released mere months before Scream.
Rawhead Rex (1986): When Chad decides to go after girlfriend Liv after admitting he’s not entirely sure she’s not the killer, Mindy insists he grab a weapon, to which Chad grabs a candlestick. While this candlestick is clearly a nod to Scream 3, in which Sidney fought off big bro Roman with a candlestick, perhaps the Radio Silence guys are secret fans of this ‘80s B-movie classic in which protagonist Howard uses a candlestick to retrieve a weapon in his fight against Rawhead, as well.
Blood Trails (2006): After Sam gets away from Richie and Amber, Richie notes the high usage of blood trails in slasher movies. While this could just serve as a general nod to the subgenre, viewers shouldn’t put this mid-aughts German slasher past psycho slasher fanatic Richie.
A Nightmare on Elm Street, again (1984): “Time to pass the torch!” One last major nod to this Craven classic is Gale’s revenge for Dewey’s death, when she shoots Amber into a burning stove, and her face melts into a Freddy K boiled face, for one last scare.
Thanks to IMDb and the Zack Cherry YouTube channel for picking up a couple this writer had missed for this comprehensive guide.