Scream VI: My Favorite References To Other Horror Movies And Franchises, From Stephen King To Twin Peaks
Loads of spoilers below for Scream VI, so tread very lightly if you haven’t yet watched Ghostface’s latest reign of terror!
The Scream franchise has always served as a reflective microcosm of the entire horror genre, with iconic director Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson initially honing in on slasher flicks. Scream VI filmmakers Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett continued expanding on that concept in the most meta ways possible, opening up a Pandora’s Box of far-reaching horror references and easter eggs, all while confidently weaving through Ghostface’s own Stab-tethered history to build out their latest gore-soaked whodunnit. This is not a movie to look away from for even the slightest second.
To name every single outside reference within Scream VI would take many more viewings (which would boost its franchise-topping weekend box office), and likely a ton of insight from everyone involved behind the scenes. So for now, we’ll have to settle with the selection of favorites laid out below while waiting on that next trip to the theater.
References Galore Part 1: Wes Craven
Considering 2022's Scream featured a full-on "For Wes" celebration scene, it stood to reason that the directors would find new ways to honor Wes Craven’s cinematic history in their latest feature. And boy howdy, were there a lot of nods, with most popping up at the subway station and within the trains. Obviously A Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger was on display, but keen-eyed fanatics likely also caught costumes based on Craven’s other work, including Shocker, The Last House on the Left, Deadly Friend, The People Under the Stairs and even Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett’s Vampire in Brooklyn characters made an appearance.
Inarguably the best Wes Craven winky-wink, though, is the name of the store that Samantha and Tara run into while being chased by Ghostface: Abe’s Snake Bodega. A suggestion that came from the singer of the band Ice Nine Kills, as explained by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin to Dread Central, Abe Snake refers to the one-off pseudonym that Craven used when he co-wrote, directed and produced the X-rated 1975 film The Fireworks Woman, which was crafted between Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. He also had a role in the porn flick as an otherworldly entity, but went uncredited for it.
The Addams Family Figures And Costumes
Before anyone involved with Scream VI could possibly know Jenna Ortega's Wednesday would go on to become one of Netflix's most successful original series, the crew slipped a pair of callbacks to the creepiest, kookiest clan around, the Addams Family. Not only was one of the frat party attendees dressed up as Wednesday, but Tara's psychologist Dr. Stone (Henry Czerny) had a collection of Addams Family figurines on a table in his office.
Invasion Of The Body Snatchers Footage
Speaking of Tara’s doc, he was busy watching the 1956 original Invasion of the Body Snatchers when Ghostface rudely interrupted with a knife to the face. This was a particularly fun and on-the-nose reference, as it was the scene in which Kevin McCarthy’s Dr. Miles Bennell is screaming “You’re next!” at the drivers whizzing by. Additional horror connection: the scene is also featured in Joe Dante’s Gremlins, while the 2011 film You’re Next was directed and written by Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, respectively, who both worked on V/H/S, which also boasted Scream VI’s directors as part of its creative collective. That last part is probably an incidental callback, but still worth bringing up.
Psycho 2 Praise
Anyone who celebrated the sight of the Psycho poster inside Samantha and Tara’s apartment was in for a bigger treat later in the film, as Mindy and Kirby’s horror movie convo taps into the idea that Richard Franklin’s surprise sequel Psycho II is a pretty damned great and underappreciated franchise offering. Norman Bates’ motherly obsessions clearly don’t have direct ties to Scream VI’s vengeful daddy twist, but I imagine Detective Bailey had some Bates-adjacent issues as a strapping young lad.
Appreciation For Friday The 13th Beyond The First Movie
Mindy and Kirby’s chat delivered another applause-worthy moment when the topic of Friday the 13th favorites was broached. Kirby noted the original, which is itself almost a nod to the question that got Drew Barrymore’s character killed in the first Scream’s cold open. But Mindy shared that she liked Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter the best for its Corey Feldman-ness, which is a barely-ever-expressed opinion in the world at large, much less within scripted worlds where the first two Friday films are the only ones to ever draw praise. Which isn’t to say I agree with Mindy on that front, but I love some variety, so I also applaud the use of Jason Takes Manhattan footage popping up early on as a fun welcome to New York City. (Not to mention the Jason costume on the subway train, and the early nods to Friday in one of the trailers.)
Twin Peaks Font
Richie’s fan movies, which played on the Ghostface shrine’s sheeted screen during the final sequence, wrapped with credits that used the same two-toned font as David Lynch’s Twin Peaks logo. He also used Scream and Stab’s signature needle drop, Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” as the accompanying tune, further proving Richie didn’t have a bone of originality in his body.
Flowery Midsommar Nods
Ari Aster's heady psychological horrors are on largely different wavelengths than the Scream films, but that didn't stop the directors from paying homage to the hyper-disturbing 2019 folk horror Midsommar. Not only was someone wearing a modified version of the flower dress worn by Florence Pugh's Dani, but the first time Jack Quaid's Richie appears via online picture, a similarly colorful flower crown was drawn around his head.
References Galore Part 2: Stephen King
Even though Stephen King doesn’t intrinsically have anything to do with the Scream-verse, it would be genre blasphemy to bring out this many visual easter eggs without at least a handful paying respect to the King of Horror and the plethora of adaptations he’s inspired. Viewers can see costumes paying homage to Carrie’s titular blood-covered teen, IT’s Pennywise and Georgie, The Shining’s Grady twins (which were exclusive to Stanley Kubrick’s film), and Children of the Corn characters. I believe The Black Phone’s Grabber mask also popped up at one point, with that film being adapted from the story by Joe Hill, King’s like-minded son.
A Nope Callback Just Eight Months After Its Release
Hollywood isn’t always great with timing and references, but in wisely paying homage to modern-day horror mastermind Jordan Peele, Scream VI managed to feature a character dressed as Keke Palmer’s character Em from Nope, despite releasing just eight months after the sci-fi thriller hit theaters. To be sure, the costume designers also deserve props for the characters donned in Us jumpsuits.
The Directors' Own V/H/S Short
For anyone who wondered why Jenna Ortega was dressed up as a pirate during Scream VI's frat party, that was one-third of a reference to Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin's aforementioned work on the found-footage anthology V/H/S. Their segment, titled "10/31/98," featured a foursome of friends who made a fatal mistake in seeking out a costume party, instead stumbling upon a cultish ritual. In the segment, the camera-holding Gillett was dressed in a teddy bear costume (which can also be seen at the frat party), while Bettinelli-Olpin was in pirate garb. EP Chad Villella appeared as the Unabomber in V/H/S, which was also meant to be represented in Scream VI, but that plan fell through.
Murder Party Costume
Arugably the least intuitive easter egg in Scream VI was delivered by Jack Champion's Ethan, who went to the frat party dressed as Chris Sharp's put-upon protagonist in the 2007 horror comedy Murder Party. That enjoyable (if not entirely wonderful) micro-budget feature was written and directed by Jeremy Saulnier, who went on to deliver the inarguably great and hard-hitting Blue Ruin and Green Room.
Criminally Rare In The Mouth Of Madness Sighting!
One of John Carpenter's least celebrated genre works, In the Mouth of Madness has earned a cult following in the years since its under-appreciated arrival in 1994, but still remains one of his least referenced flicks compared to such influential flicks as They Live, Escape from New York and The Thing (among others). So I think I can speak for Sutter Kane when showing appreciation for whoever chose to dress someone on the train up like Sam Neill's John Trent during the point when he's in the asylum and has drawn crosses all over himself.
While not a reference to movies or franchises, per se, Scream VI also gets props for giving a spotlight to the wide world of horror podcasts. The core apartment's living room features a big poster for The Last Podcast on the Left, which not only references Wes Craven's first horror flick in its title, but is also likely the horror/true crime podcast with the most brand awareness at this point, boasting various multimedia tie-ins. (One can only assume that the guys would have tackled the Woodsboro case at some point.) As well, one of the characters' bedrooms has a poster for the podcast We Hate Movies, which also isn't strictly about horror, but has covered a wide variety of genre efforts over the years, from The Prophecy to Halloween Ends.
Again, this wasn't a fully exhaustive and comprehensive list of all the references that popped up in Scream VI, but rather just the ones that I personally enjoyed the most. Not that I didn't also love seeing Pinhead, Chucky and Tiffany, the Babadook and more being represented. Now how long do we have to wait to see how all of this gets topped in Scream VII?