Scream: The story so far of the Ghostface slasher series

Refresh your memory before Scream VI is released

Scream: The story of the Ghostface killer so far. (Dimension Films/Paramount)
Scream: The story of the Ghostface killer so far. (Dimension Films/Paramount)

Scream shows no signs of giving up its title of the most successful slasher movie franchise in cinematic history, with its sixth instalment in cinemas now.

Inspired by the true-life horrors of the serial killer dubbed the Gainesville Ripper, the movie was written by Kevin Williamson and helmed by the legendary Wes Craven, becoming 1996's breakout hit and rebirthing the horror genre to what it is today.

While the movie featured already established stars such as Drew Barrymore and Courteney Cox, it catapulted rising actress Neve Campbell into superstardom — that too under the watchful eye of the never-ending carousel of Ghostface, the infamous masked serial killer who has since terrorised the fictional teens of Woodsboro while seeking vengeance on whoever wronged them.

Read more: The lost Scream twists that would have changed the series forever

The movie franchise has continuously reinvented itself for 27 years, sometimes taking years-long hiatuses. And while Neve decided to officially step away from the Scream universe for the upcoming sixth movie due to behind-the-scenes disagreements, she has left the screams and kills in good hands, thanks to a new crop of actors, such as Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera, who are determined to have their characters finally put Ghostface's brutalities to rest.

So if you want a little reminder of the history of the Scream movies, join us as we look back at the actors, storylines and trivia that put Scream on the very gory movie map.

Scream | 1996

Drew Barrymore appears in the famous opening sequence of 'Scream' in 1996. (Credit: Dimension Films)
Drew Barrymore appears in the famous opening sequence of Scream in 1996. (Dimension Films)

Box office (global): $173,046,640

Plot: A year has passed since high school student Sidney Prescott's mother was murdered, and she is doing her best to get on with her life in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California. However, when the town soon becomes the target of an evil, mysterious killer in a Halloween costume known as Ghostface, Sidney can't help but wonder if all the murders are connected with her mother's death. As she tries to get to the bottom of the mystery, she can't help but suspect everyone around her, leading to some very deadly consequences...

Who was Ghostface? Unfortunately for Sidney, her boyfriend Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and his best friend Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) were behind all the killings.

Murders by Ghostface: Four innocent lives were taken, including Steven Orth, Casey Becker, Principal Himbry, Tatum Riley, and Kenny.

A bloodied Stu was eventually electrocuted to death after Sidney dropped a TV on his head. Not long after, Billy was killed by Sidney and news reporter Gale Weathers.

Read more: Neve Campbell on Scream 6 exit: 'I couldn't walk on set' feeling 'undervalued'

Behind-the-scenes: We all know and love the cast of Scream, but the line-up may have unfolded entirely differently. Case in point: Drew Barrymore was initially supposed to play Sidney Prescott.

However, she convinced the team that she should play Casey Becker instead to throw the audience off and make it feel that none of the characters was safe. Scream's screenwriter Kevin Williamson loved the idea, telling The Ringer: "I wanted it to be this big, huge Janet Leigh [in Psycho] moment. And then when she dies, you're like, 'Wait a second. Wasn't she on the poster? Wait. What's going to happen next?'"

Also, Courteney Cox had to fight to play ruthless reporter Gale Weathers because she was known in the industry for being super sweet. At the same time, Matthew Lillard originally auditioned to play Billy Loomis.

Scream 2 | 1997

Neve Campbell Film: Scream 2 (USA 1997) Characters: Sidney Prescott  Director: Wes Craven 10 December 1997   **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of DIMENSION FILMS and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company and can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To DIMENSION FILMS is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company.
Neve Campbell as Sidney Prescott in 1997's Scream 2. (Dimension Films/Alamy)

Box office (global): $172,363,301

Plot: Two college students are murdered at a sneak preview of the movie "Stab", based on the event of the first film, and it's clear to Sidney, reporter Gale Weathers and Deputy Dewey Riley (David Arquette) that there is a copycat killer on the loose. They must race against time to stop the murderer before they all meet the same deadly fate.

Who was Ghostface? Debbie Loomis (Laurie Metcalf) was exacting revenge for the death of her serial killer son Billy Loomis. She even roped in Sidney's supposed new college friend Mickey Altieri (Timothy Olyphant) to help on the killing spree.

Murders by Ghostface: Eight people perished at the hands of Ghostface, including Phil Stevens, Maureen Evans, Casey Cooper (Cici), Randy Meeks, Officer Andrews, Officer Richards, Hallie McDaniel and Derek Feldman.

With the help of Cotton Weary and Gale, Sidney once again put an end to the murders, with evil Debbie and Micky eventually shot to death.

Behind-the-scenes: Jada Pinkett Smith's character Maureen Evans' murder during the open scene was arguably one of the most gruesome. But the surprising thing is that the Red Table Talk host actually requested Wes for an over-the-top kill.

"I remember saying to the director at the time, 'I want to die the most horrific death that has ever happened in a horror film," she told PeopleTV's Couch Surfing in 2018. "I want it to be long and excruciating,' And he's like, 'Cool.'"

Scream 3 | 2000

Parker Posey, Courteney Cox and David Arquette in 2000's Scream 3. (Dimension Films/Alamy)
Parker Posey, Courteney Cox and David Arquette in 2000's Scream 3. (Dimension Films/Alamy)

Box office (global): $161,838,076

Plot: Hollywood comes calling in the third instalment of the movie franchise, where Gale and Dewey are on the set of the new movie Stab 3 as advisors to actress Jennifer Jolie. However, the murderous rampage begins again as Ghostface returns to kill all the cast in the order of the screenplay. The only person left is Sidney, who the killer is determined to get their hands on finally...

Who was Ghostface? It was Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), the son of Sidney's late mother Maureen Prescott, who wanted nothing to do with him. That also made him Sidney's half-brother. Talk about sibling rivalry!

Murders by Ghostface: The nine victims included Christine Hamilton, Cotton Weary, Sarah Darling, Steven Stone, Tom Prinze, Angelina Tyler, Tyson Fox, Jennifer Jolie and John Milton.

Roman met his match in the form of Dewey Riley who shot him in the head.

Behind-the-scenes: Filming for the third Scream movie commenced the year of the tragic Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. At the time, filmmakers were advised not to feature any on-screen violence and blood to be sensitive.

While Wes Craven fought against stripping the film of all on-screen cruelty, he did make some changes, including not using a high school as the backdrop of the murders and using only ten gallons of fake blood compared to fifty for the first movie and thirty for the second.

Scream 4 | 2011

Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin, Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell in 2011's Scream 4. (Dimension Films/Alamy)
Erik Knudsen, Rory Culkin, Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell in 2011's Scream 4. (Dimension Films/Alamy)

Box office (global): $95,989,590

Plot: Many years have passed since the horrifying spate of murders in Woodsboro, and in the meantime, Sidney has written a self-help book to process her trauma. Returning to Woodsboro for her book tour, she reconnects with Gale and Sheriff Dewey. Unfortunately, her arrival also sees the return of Ghostface, who isn't ready to hang up their mask just yet.

Who was Ghostface? Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts), the estranged cousin of Sidney, was behind the new batch of killings. Her reason for all the bloodshed? She was jealous of Sidney and craved all the attention she got, so she roped in her boyfriend, Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin), to make it seem as though she was also a surviving victim of an attack by Ghostface.

Murders by Ghostface: Scream 4 saw 14 characters killed by the hands of Ghostface, which was the most of any movie in the franchise. The victims included Trudie Harold, Sherrie Marconi, Rachel Barnes, Marnie Cooper, Jenny Randall, Olivia Morris, Rebecca Walters, Officer Hoss, Officer Perkins, Kate Roberts, Robbie Mercer, Kirby Reed, Trevor Sheldon and Charlie Walker.

Read more: Why it's time for Scream to leave Sidney Prescott behind

Eventually, Charlie was stabbed in the heart and stomach by Jill, who was later shot dead in the chest by Sidney.

Behind-the-scenes: Scream 4 was the last film to be directed by Wes Craven before his passing in 2015. Unfortunately, the movie was a bit of a tough cookie for Wes to direct as there were plenty of setbacks, including pushing filming back a few times as actress Courteney [Cox] was filming for the show Cougar Town at the time, while writer Kevin [Williamson] was busy with the series The Secret Circle.

Additionally, there was awkwardness between Cox and David Arquette as they were going through a divorce at the time, but they handled filming together as professionally as they could.

Scream | 2022

Ghostface and Jenna Ortega in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's
Ghostface and Jenna Ortega in 2022's Scream. (Paramount Pictures/Spyglass Media Group)

Box office (global): $138,874,789

Plot: In Scream 5, directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, it has been twenty-five years since the quiet Californian town of Woodsboro was first rocked by its long streak of murders. But old habits die hard, and a new killer begins targeting a group of innocent teenagers, resurrecting deadly secrets from the town's cursed past.

Who was Ghostface? Amber Freeman (Mikey Madison) — who was supposedly the lead protagonist Tara's friend — was behind the murders. Growing up in original Scream killer Stu Macher's old house and obsessed with the Stab movie franchise, she became inspired to bring terror to Woodsboro once again. Oh, but she wasn't alone, as she indulged in the killings with Richie (Jack Quaid), who was thought to be Sam's loyal boyfriend, but instead met Amber on a subreddit account dedicated to all things Stab.

Watch the trailer for Scream

Murders by Ghostface: The five murders included Vince Schneider, Judy Hicks, Wes Hicks, Liv McKenzie, and, very controversially, Sheriff Dewey Riley, who succumbed to Ghostface's terror after surviving all the movies so far.

The culprits were stabbed and shot to death by a fierce tag team of sisters Sam and Tara, as well as Sidney and Gale.

Behind-the-scenes: Neve Campbell was so well versed with the Scream franchise that she came up with the iconic line: "I'm Sidney f***ing Prescott — of course, I have a gun" when Dewey calls her about her safety.

Meanwhile, as well as the original crop of actors, Scream 5 introduced a new crop of talented actors into the Woodsboro scene, such as Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera, the latter who is so talented that she got the gig without an audition. Australian actor Samara Weaving was also meant to appear in the movie, but due to conflicting schedules, it didn't happen. But fear not, as she has finally joined the Scream universe for the sixth instalment.

Scream VI | 2023

Ghostface in Paramount Pictures and Spyglass Media Group's
Ghostface in on the loose again in Scream VI. (Paramount Pictures/Spyglass Media Group)

Box office (global): N/A

Plot: The mayhem moves to the East coast as the four surviving teens of the fifth instalment take to New York for a fresh start. But wherever they go, Ghostface goes, and they must once again fight for their lives as the killer embarks on a bloody rampage.

Who was Ghostface? Unknown

Murders by Ghostface: Unknown

Behind-the-scenes: Scream stalwart Neve Campbell is not returning for the sixth offering due to salary issues. "I did not feel that what I was being offered equated to the value that I bring to this franchise and have brought to this franchise," the 49-year-old actor told People.

Read more: The best horror movies of 2022

"And as a woman in this business, I think it's really important for us to be valued and to fight to be valued. I honestly don't believe that if I were a man and had done five instalments of a huge blockbuster franchise over 25 years, that the number that I was offered would be the number that would be offered to a man. And in my soul, I just couldn't do that.

"I couldn't walk on set feeling that – feeling undervalued and feeling the unfairness, or lack of fairness, around that."

Scream VI is in cinemas now. Watch a trailer below.