Bonus Round: Use of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand”
Rule 8: No needle drop is “too on the nose”
Of all the needle drops in all the movies, this is the one they keeping coming back to.
Well, guess we gotta rank ’em.
6. Scream 4
Wait did he not use it this time? Come on, Wes, you let me down.
5. Scream 5, I’m done pretending it’s anything else
Playing on the radio as Ghostface stalks their second victim, also the victim with the least screen time, and the one I was most happy to see get got. The song’s just there for the nostalgia factor.
Turns up in two different transition cuts to establish an ominous tone. Effective, if less iconic and less foreshadowing than the acoustic cover of “Don’t Feel the Reaper” when Sidney and Billy first make out, or the “Whisper to a Scream” cover playing under the start of the credits.
3. Scream 2
Another partially diegetic one: “Red Right Hand” is playing under the title card for Stab, giving this rowdy and ultimately lethal film premiere a suitably ominous tone, then comes back when it becomes clear to our cast that a new Ghostface has definitely arrived.
2. Scream 3
Two uses: one as we cut from Sidney back to the Hollywood studio our new Ghostface is stalking, accomplishing the same basic purpose as the earlier movies, then playing under the start of the credits to solidify this song’s place in Scream canon. Craven didn’t take what he thought was his final bow on this franchise to “Red Right Hand” because he didn’t think it was significant.
1. Scream VI
After turning up to intro our Rules scene for the new installment, it’s basically our outro song, playing under the denouement, which honestly works well with Sam’s worrying that with some very grisly kills under her belt, being Ghostface might be in her DNA.
Bonus Round 2: Weird Cameos
A movie series as pop-culture self-aware as Scream is gonna have some cameos. Films-within-films, drop-ins, people who want to pop in for a day because they love the series, you’re gonna attract famous faces in brief appearances, and that’s not even counting people like Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alison Brie, Drew Barrymore, Omar Epps, and Samara Weaving who sign on to die in act one. Let’s rank ’em.
6. Scream 6
Okay so the issue is I don’t know if anything counts as a “cameo” here. Yes, Samara Weaving is arguably too famous and too good for this small a role but the cold open kills have featured Drew Barrymore, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Liev Schrieber, “too famous for the cold open” isn’t a thing in this franchise. It’s less likely that your opening scene doesn’t feature one of the bigger stars of the movie (the fifth one is cheating a little, Jenna Ortega became the biggest star of the movie after it was released). Certainly Mission: Impossible veteran Henry Czerny doesn’t count, he’s the “Do one scene then die” kill, and not everyone loves Henry Czerny as much as I do. Also in both cases, “did Ready Or Not with the new Scream directors” does not a cameo make. So I guess we don’t have one. I’m not mad, if there wasn’t room there wasn’t room, but that still puts them last.
5. Scream 3
If I hadn’t said anything about how this is the silliest one, and I’m aware that I’ve mentioned it a lot, I could still sum it up perfectly by saying that the big cameo of Scream 3 is literally Jay and Silent Bob. Not just Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith playing Jay and Silent Bob. This feels like a cameo exchange, given that Wes Craven turns up in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back as himself filming Scream 4 in the sequence where Jay and Bob are roaming the Miramax lot, as they are here.
4. Scream 2
Joshua Jackson is in Randy’s film class and no other scene. He’s just there talking sequels with two main characters and poor, doomed Sarah Michelle Gellar. That’s weird, right? It’s weird that Fringe star and Ocean’s 11 cameo Joshua Jackson is a one-scene rando while My Secret Identity and Kangaroo Jack star Jerry O’Connell is a main character. But I get it, the writer of the original movies also created Dawson’s Creek, so here we are. Also, of course, Heather Graham, Luke Wilson, and in a payoff to a joke from the first movie, Tori Spelling as the stars of Stab.
3. Scream 4
Some might say the cameo is Anthony Anderson (another Kangaroo Jack alumnus) and Adam Brody, both a little too famous for minor appearances as Dewey’s deputies, but no, gotta go with Lucy Hale, Anna Paquin, and Kristen Bell as our fake-out cold open victim/killers. Having a few notable names around really sells the extra-meta kick-off.
2. Scream 5, meet me in the parking lot if you want to call it something else
Original film stars Drew Barrymore and Matthew Lillard make vocal appearances, adding to the homages to Craven’s classic. Easy to miss but cool to know about.
Wes Craven as Fred the janitor, in a very familiar striped sweater and hat, was a fun little nod to Craven’s other iconic franchise. That one’s hard to beat, honestly, long may it reign.
Next Page: Final thoughts and final ranking