Ghostface takes Manhattan in Scream VI, the latest installment in the slasher franchise. The home video release includes an informative audio commentary with directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, writers James Vanderbilt and Guy Busick, and executive producer Chad Villella.
Here are 12 things I learned from the Scream VI Blu-ray commentary…
1. Samara Weaving was the first and only choice for the opening scene.
Samara Weaving, who starred in Radio Silence’s Ready or Not, was the first and only choice to play Laura, the ill-fated film studies professor that serves as the opening kill. The actress has stated it’s the closest character to herself she’s ever played.
Gillett says, “We were walking to dinner in Montreal when we were like, ‘Let’s just call her and see if she’s game.’” They did so, and “she was super, super game to come and hang out with us for a few days.”
The photo that appears on her character’s phone is Weaving’s real-life husband (and Cocaine Bear writer), Jimmy Warden, and their dog, Muzzy.
Prior to production, Weaving sent audio files to the filmmakers featuring her reading the lines with and without her natural Australian accent. They ultimately decided to go with the accent to make the character more unique.
2. Roger L. Jackson originally lent his voice to the opening scene.
The opening scene originally had Roger L. Jackson’s unmistakable Ghostface voice speaking to Laura on the phone. It made it as far as test screenings before being replaced by Tony Revolori as Jason.
Vanderbilt explains, “It was sort of a situation where it felt like you were hearing Roger for too long a period. He’s so wonderful that by the time we got to [Ghostface’s call with Jason], you felt like the punch of ‘Oh, my God, Roger’s on the phone’ had kind of come out of it a little bit.”
Ghostface’s call with Jason originally featured a joke about Marvel movies — written before Spider-Man franchise actor Revolori was cast — but it was cut for being too meta.
3. Hasta El Fuego is a reference to Bad Boys for Life.
Horror references are a cornerstone of the Scream franchise, but Scream VI also has an unexpected nod to Bad Boys for Life. Hasta El Fuego, the name of the restaurant from the opening scene, originates from the 2020 Will Smith/Martin Lawrence sequel, although it has taken on new meaning among the filmmakers.
Vanderbilt explains, “It started during the pandemic because we couldn’t all hang out and see each other, so we would talk about movies we all wanted to watch and then discuss on the text chain. Then the text chain became Hasta El Fuego, and then the restaurant became Hasta El Fuego.”
“Really these movies are just a collection of dumb jokes taken too far, right?” chuckles Bettinelli-Olpin.
4. The head in the fridge belongs to Thom Newell.
The carved-up body of Jason’s partner in crime inside their fridge was added after the original shoot to amplify the intensity. The head belongs to Thom Newell, who the Radio Silence team met on Southbound. He attended the photo session on his lunch break then had to return to work covered in fake blood.
In addition to serving as post-production supervisor on Southbound, Newell has worked on American Horror Story, Godzilla vs. Kong, You’re Next, V/H/S/2, and Chucky, among others, in various capacities.
The character’s name, Greg Bruckner, is a nod to filmmaker David Bruckner (Hellraiser, The Ritual), with whom Radio Silence collaborated on V/H/S and Southbound.
5. Blackmore University’s name is an in-joke.
The name of the college that the characters attend in New York, Blackmore University, is another in-joke among the filmmakers. As Vanderbilt explains, it originated with casting director Rich Delia during the making of Scream 5.
“Rich Delia, when he sent out sides for Sam in Scream, there was a monologue about ‘I’m the daughter of Billy Loomis,’ but we really wanted to protect that secret. So he instead inserted the name, ‘My father was John Blackmore.’ So you have all these incredibly talented actresses sobbing in their auditions, reading the revelation that their father is, in fact, John Blackmore, which we found hilarious. And then when we started working on this movie, we gave it the code name Blackmore.’
After failing to come up with a satisfactory fake college name, someone suggested using Blackmore for that as well, to which everyone agreed.
6. Sam and Tara’s apartment was repurposed for another scene.
The set for the apartment that Sam, Tara, and Liana share was repurposed and redecorated for Jason and Greg’s apartment in the beginning of the movie, which was shot toward the end of production. Bettinelli-Olpin points out:
“Jason and Greg’s apartment is the same set as the Carpenter sisters’ apartment with a handful of walls moved and the entrance moved to the other side. So this was a set that was essentially tweaked and recycled because we were shooting this so late in production.”
7. Frat party costumes include Murder Party, Hot Rod, and I Think You Should Leave.
The filmmakers shout-out some of the costumes that appear in the frat party scene, including Ethan’s cardboard knight from Murder Party, Wednesday Addams, Hot Rod, and a Dan Flashes shirt from I Think You Should Leave (whose co-creator/star Tim Robinson makes a voice cameo as Quinn’s hook-up).
Gillett recalls, “It was so fun to show up on set and only know, I’d say, what 50% of the costumes were gonna be, because we had conversations with Avery [Plewes, costume designer] about them. And showing up and being just so surprised and thrilled with all of the fun Easter eggs. It was like being in a funhouse.”
In the subway scene, the film was allowed to use masks of horror icons like Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Pinhead, and Chucky as long as they didn’t do anything the respective characters are famous for.
8. The writers originally wanted Kirby in Scream 5.
Vanderbilt and Busick originally considered bring Hayden Panettiere back as Kirby in Scream 5 before deciding to feature her as an Easter egg. They revisited the idea for Scream VI.
“We wanted to include her in [Scream] 5, and it was just so overstuffed as it was,” Busick notes. “There was no room, but here, it’s like we have the real estate, I think. When we landed on the FBI thing, it was like ‘Ta-da!’”
“We never wrote any other versions for her. We definitely had a couple conversations. Weirdly, we had conversations about who she could be before we came up with what [Scream] VI was,” says Vanderbilt. “The idea that what happened in Scream 4 would change her to the extent that she would go on this path in her life seemed really kind of interesting and cool and unexpected.”
9. The Ghostface shrine was originally in a warehouse.
The original script called for the Ghostface shine to be in a warehouse, but the chance discovery of a movie theater while location scouting changed that.
“It was always sort of a warehouse because we were like, ‘Where can we set a final sequence that’s really cool that hasn’t been done before?’ That was a big thing for us,” says Vanderbilt. “And then I remember you guys were scouting and you were like, ‘So, we found a movie theater.’ And I remember thinking to myself, ‘Oh, no. It’s Scream 2.’”
“We were reticent because of Scream 2,” adds Busick. “But then Jim and I went there to check out the location so we could kind of retrofit the script to it, saw this place and we’re like, ‘This isn’t going to feel anything like it. This is going to feel very different.’”
They landed on a happy medium between the two, Gillett explains, “I think the idea of bringing that warehouse feel to this space, making it feel like a museum and not necessarily like a theater, was such a cool hand-off between those two ideas.”
While the interior is loaded with Scream franchise Easter eggs — many of which are detailed here — the dilapidated theater marquee out front advertises The Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings and a Jennifer Jolie retrospective, a reference to Parker Posey’s Scream 3 character.
10. Richie’s Stab fan film features Jack Quaid’s voice and a Twin Peaks homage.
Richie’s Stab fan film that plays in the shrine was shot by Radio Silence’s assistant, Adam Sand, and executive producer Ron Lynch’s assistant, Adriana King, after hours. Jack Quaid provided the voice of Ghostface, and the font used for the end credits is from Twin Peaks.
11. Chad was originally stabbed 14 times.
One of the most common criticisms about Scream VI is the Core Four’s inability to be killed despite sustaining seemingly fatal injuries, particularly Chad. The creatives address this:
“So we like to stab Chad. I feel like as a group we sort of need to own that,” Vanderbilt jokes. “I just remember through the editing process people going, ‘He can’t live,’ to the point where we digitally removed stabs.”
“We VFX-ed a bunch of stabs,” interjects Gillett. “I think it was 14 stabs in the original, and now it’s down to like seven.”
“Guy and I had discussions early whether or not he would survive that; not practically, but just narratively,” notes Vanderbilt. Gillett adds, “I remember us talking about that at the end, like who comes back, who’s there. I love that we all agreed that this one should make you feel happy.”
12. Liana’s return was inspired by Agatha Christie.
Liana fake death was inspired by Agatha Christie’s influential 1939 murder-mystery novel, And Then There Were None. Vanderbilt divulges:
“Liana surviving, being dead and coming back, was one of my favorite things. My favorite murder-mystery of all time is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, and that’s the trick of that story; there’s a character you think is dead who’s sort of orchestrating it.
“That’s why we’re able to have the characters group together much more during the movie. Usually in a Scream movie everyone’s off doing some other thing. Four people have to be missing for it to work. So we loved this idea of underneath it all, they’re all together all the time, so how is this occurring?”