The recent loss of horror icon Wes Craven has naturally resulted in widespread reassessment of the great director’s work - and for many, the name Wes Craven will always be synonymous with ‘Scream.’
Of course, many of Craven’s most celebrated films came earlier, notably ‘The Last House on the Left,’ ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ - but in some respects ‘Scream’ seems even more Craven’s signature series, given he directed all of the films. Indeed, 2011′s ‘Scream 4′ proved to be his final feature.
As anyone who was around at the time can tell you, horror had become a barren wasteland by 1996, and ‘Scream’ was just the shot in the arm that was needed.
Dusting off the tired slasher format with a hefty dose of knowing humour and self-reference, ‘Scream’ not only revitalised the genre but also gave a new generation of viewers, hitherto ignorant of 70s and 80s horror, a crash course in slasher film history.
Key to the film’s widespread appeal was its cast. Some of them were big names already, some of them became big names because of it - but how have their fates varied in the 19 years since? Let’s take a look…
Beware of ‘Scream’ series spoilers ahead.
Cox was two years into her decade-long run on ‘Friends,’ that comedy show one or two people used to watch, when she landed the part of ruthless TV news reporter Gale Weathers.
She subsequently reprised the role in all three ‘Scream’ sequels, but otherwise has largely kept to the small screen since, notably with the shows ‘Dirt’ and ‘Cougar Town.’ She’s also turned director with a dozen ‘Cougar Town’ episodes, and the 2014 movie ‘Just Before I Go.’
The four ‘Scream’ films also provide a curious framework for her relationship with one particular co-star:
Arquette (who starred as the bumbling Deputy Dewey Finn) met Cox on the first ‘Scream.’ The two were dating by the second film, married by the third, and divorced not long after the fourth.
Beyond the gossip columns, Arquette’s had an interesting career, notoriously including a brief dalliance as a wrestler with WCW. He too has turned director with 2006 horror ‘The Tripper’ and upcoming TV movie ‘Truck’d Up,’ and will soon be seen alongside Kurt Russell in western horror ‘Bone Tomahawk.’
The biggest name in the cast at the time (making her early murder a major shock), the former child star and legendary Hollywood survivor remains the biggest player among the ‘Scream’ alumnus to this day, forging fruitful careers both as an actress and producer, as well as directing 2009′s ‘Whip It.’
She will next be seen alongside Toni Collette in upcoming comedy drama ‘Miss You Already.’
As the one who delivers the famous speech breaking down the rules of surviving a horror movie, Kennedy’s awkward movie nerd Randy became exposition guy #1 in the ‘Scream’ series - so much so that they even found a sneaky way to bring him back for one scene in ‘Scream 3,’ after he was killed in the second one.
Kennedy’s career outside of these films has been variable. His TV comedy series ‘The Jamie Kennedy Experiment’ ran for five years, and he had a recurring role on ‘Ghost Whisperer,’ but taking the lead in the infamously awful ‘Son of the Mask’ didn’t do his movie career any favours.
He’ll next be seen in ‘Tremors 5: Bloodlines,’ going straight to DVD later this year.
Already known for his similarly high-energy turn in 1995′s ‘Hackers,’ Lillard’s manic performance as Stu - surprisingly revealed as one of the killers in the finale - was among the most memorable elements of ‘Scream.’ It also meant he tended to get stuck playing crazy guys.
He’s best known since for playing Shaggy in the two live action ‘Scooby Doo’ movies - a role he has carried over into the small screen, voicing the character on every ‘Scooby Doo’ cartoon and video game since 2010.
He recently took the lead in a TV movie remake of ‘Problem Child’ - and, on the more mature end of things, has had roles in TV’s ‘The Bridge’ and ‘State of Affairs.’
Like Cox, Campbell landed ‘Scream’ whilst two years into a successful TV series, ‘Party of Five,’ and already had some horror cred from her role in ‘The Craft,’ released earlier in 1996.
As series heroine Sydney, she would return for all three ‘Scream’ sequels, but outside of those she has largely avoided the mainstream since in favour of indie and arthouse films, and theatre work. She is now set to join the cast of Netflix series ‘House of Cards.’
While ‘Scream’ introduced a mass audience to McGowan, she quickly became a cult icon thanks to a series of edgy indie roles and a high profile relationship with Marilyn Manson. Then in 2001 she joined the cast of TV’s ‘Charmed,’ where she stayed until the show ended in 2006.
She returned to the limelight as the star of both films in Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s notorious box office flop (but cult sensation) ‘Grindhouse;’ further leading roles in ‘Barbarella’ and ‘Red Sonja’ were planned with Rodriguez, but the films failed to get made.
Most recently, McGowan made headlines by publicly shaming a sexist casting call on Twitter, for which she wound up losing her agent but gaining widespread respect online.
Like Campbell, Ulrich also came to ‘Scream’ fresh from ‘The Craft’ to take the role of Sydney’s dreamy boyfriend Billy - and stunned everyone by turning out to be one of the killers.
Despite this eye-catching breakthrough and subsequent roles in the Oscar-winning ‘As Good As It Gets’ and Ang Lee’s ‘Ride with the Devil,’ Ulrich’s movie career never quite took off. However, he has worked steadily in TV, and will soon be seen in comedy drama ‘Lost in Austin.’
Picture Credit: Dimension Films, WENN