Words: Will Stroude
Over the course of four stab-happy films, Wes Craven's iconic Scream franchise has managed to brutally off no fewer than 41 characters.
There have been shootings, stabbings, explosions, more than one disembowelling, and an unfortunate incident involving a garage door and a cat-flap, but which of the films' many death scenes have become the most memorable?
As we wait for the long-delayed third season of MTV's spin-off series to hit screens, take a look below as we count down the ten best death scenes the genre redefining series has given us over the years...
10. Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey) - Scream 3 (2000)
Yes, Parker Posey's death in 2000's Scream 3 involving a frustratingly strong one-way mirror wasn't the most satisfying or original, but as one of the installment's most likeable new additions, not least for her amazing repartee with Courtney Cox's Gale Weathers - "You know in the movies, I play you as being much smarter" - Jennifer Jolie's demise was definitely one of the most affecting.
9. Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts) - Scream 4 (2011)
Come on, who didn't sympathise on some level with Sidney's psychotic, fame-hungry cousin, who just wanted a bit of press attention for herself?
Admittedly it involved brutally murdering all her friends and even her own mother, but you've got to admire the gall of anyone who can take a defibrilator to the head and keep coming back for more (only to be finished off for good with a bullet to the chest) *high fives*.
8. Christine (Kelly Rutherford) – Scream 3
By the time Scream 3 came around in 2000, audiences were well aware of Ghostface’s modus operandi: We knew the rules, we knew the creepy voice at the end of the phone – which is why despite the third installment’s various faults and polarising moments, the Cotton Weary voice fakeout opener still packs a punch.
With the killer using a voice recorder enabling them to sound like any other character, it flipped the formula on its head and made Christine’s – and Cotton’s – deaths a gripping start to an otherwise checkered instalment.
7. Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) – Scream (1996)
“Watch a few movies, take a few notes. It was fun.” One half of the original movie’s killer duo alongside Sidney’s boyfriend Billy, Stu’s eventual demise at Sid’s hands still ranks as one of the best fist-pumping moments of the series.
Because frankly, what’s better – and more symbolic – than seeing a scary movie-obsessed, post-modern ‘90s child getting their head smashed in with a television set?
6. Rachel (Anna Paquin) - Scream 4
Okay, so this death was technically courtesy of Scream's movie-within-a-movie Stab film franchise, but really, who the hell cares? Scream 4's brilliantly meta opening sequence saw a variety of much-loved stars offed in cameo appearances, but none was done better than Kristen Bell's brutal stabbing of True Blood's Anna Paquin.
Show us someone who saw it coming and we'll show you a liar. "Now shut the f*ck up and watch the movie..."
5. Maureen Evans (Jada Pinkett Smith) – Scream 2 (1997)
With Wes Craven's penchant for bumping off his biggest stars as soon as the curtain rises, things never looked good for Jada Pinkett Smith's Maureen Evans.
After an inspired speech about the stereotypes surrounding black people in horror movies, Maureen's gloriously satirical death sees her stabbed in plain sight of a movie theater packed full of people dressed as Ghostface, who just assumed it was a publicity stunt for the movie.
To be honest though, Maureen's end should make the top 5 purely for providing us with the material one of Scary Movie's best ever parody sequences.
4. Kirby Reed (Hayden Panettiere) - Scream 4
Oh Kirby. It was just so unfair. Quickly proving herself a popular addition to the franchise as Scream 4's ‘Randy mark two’ movie buff, Hayden Panettiere was cruelly offed in an homage to the series’ first ever kill sequence – except this time she got all the questions right.
After reeling off the answers correctly and seemingly beating Ghostface at his own game she managed to save her bound and gagged classmate Charlie – only for him to turn out to be the killer and slaughter her anyway. We’re still not over this one.
3. CiCi Cooper (Sarah Michelle Gellar) – Scream 2
Come on, who didn’t want to see Buffy outwit Ghostface? Sadly it wasn’t meant to be, as Sarah Michelle Gellar – who cemented her scream queen status in 1997 following a turn in I Know What You Did Last Summer the same year – made every classic slasher movie mistake going: answering the phone, going back in the house and running up the stairs.
She did manage to get a few good hits in, courtesy of a well-placed plant pot and bicycle, before being unceremoniously hurled over a balcony - still, at least The Master would be pleased.
Fun trivia fact: the sorority sister on the other end of the phone was SMG’s soon-to-be Cruel Intentions co-star Selma Blair, with whom she shared that iconic kiss.
2. Tatum Riley (Rose McGowan) – Scream
Blonde-haired, big-breasted, dripping with disdainful sass? Rose McGowen’s days as Sidney’s high school sidekick Tatum were always going to be numbered, but at least her exit gave us one of the most iconic deaths in slasher history, thanks to some ill-timed body-dysmorphia and an electric garage door:
“No please don’t kill me Mr Ghostface, I wanna be in the sequel!”
1. Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) - Scream
It was never going to be anything else, was it? Almost two decades later, it's easy to forget just how much of a visceral shock Drew Barrymore's demise was to audiences at the time - and all before the opening titles had even played.
The then 21-year-old former child star was in the middle of a career resurgence, had been placed front and centre of the movie's promotional campaign and looked perfect 'last girl' material. Not so. One Friday the 13th-related slip-up later and it was bye-bye Drew and hello Neve Campbell.
With its tense horror movie trivia games, gripping house-bound chase and heart-breaking climax with Casey's parents just paces away, Scream's first death scene set the tone - and the bar - for all that came next.