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Scream Writer On Pushback From The MPAA For Violence, Including Drew Barrymore’s Iconic Opening

Drew Barrymore in Scream
(Image credit: Dimension Films)

Horror fans out there are currently re-watching their favorite movies to celebrate spooky season. And for many (including myself) that honor goes to Wes Craven’s 1996 classic Scream. We’re coming up on the movie’s 25th anniversary, and writer Kevin Williamson recently spoke to the pushback from the MPAA on violence, including Drew Barrymore’s iconic opening sequence.

In honor of Scream’s 25th Anniversary, the beloved slasher was re-released on 4k. The cast and crew have also been sharing memories from the set, including prolific screenwriter Kevin Williamson. When discussing the violence of the movie, he spoke about how the MPAA pushed back during the finale at Stu’s party. Specifically when the two killers stab each other in order to provide an alibi. Williamson recalled this give and take, saying:

There’s three or four stabs that you just hear. Those were on camera originally and they took them off because the MPAA were like, ‘There’s just too much.’ The Drew Barrymore slow motion sequence in the beginning was a big no-no. They hated that. They did not want her running in slow motion and being stabbed. They said it was just too brutal, but we won that one because we didn’t have any other footage. He shot it in slow motion. What you see is all there was. So, they let that one slide, and I think the tradeoff was the stabs at the end.

It’s wild to see how the sausage gets made. Scream was groundbreaking in a number of ways, including how Wes Craven shot the movie’s violence. Ultimately some compromises were made, while others like the death of Drew Barrymore’s Casey Becker were able to remain intact.

Kevin Williamson’s comments to THR come from a long oral history about Wes Craven’s original Scream movie. The violence and gore of the slasher are still chilling today, especially that opening sequence with Drew Barrymore. But it turns out the grisly party scene could have been way worse if the MPAA hadn’t pushed back against Craven and company.

After Billy and Stu reveal themselves as Ghostface in the original Scream, the two set the scene to ultimately get away with the massacre. By injuring themselves they’d pin the crimes on Sidney’s father, a strategy that was repeated in Scream 4. You can check out the sequence below, but know that it could have been way harder to watch.

Is anyone else also “feeling a little woozy here?” This scene from Scream plays out pretty gruesomely, particularly for Matthew Lillard’s Stu. I can only imagine the bloody footage that ultimately landed on the cutting room floor. 

Luckily for fans, the Scream franchise will soon return to theaters. The upcoming filth movie will arrive in January, and will mark the first installment not helmed by the late Wes Craven. But the original trio of heroes are returning: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette. You can re-watch the trailer here:

Scream is currently expected to arrive in theaters on January 14th, 2022, and the 4k re-master of Wes Craven’s original is out now. Be sure to check out the 2021 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.