Is Scream Based on A True Story?

credit: Scream

Taking it all the way back to 1996 is the original Scream movie. It was an instant hit. To follow the lives of a bunch of teens who are being threatened, murdered, and chased by a serial killer wearing a terrifying mask was too good. A hint of Drew Barrymore in the opening scene. The talented Neve Campbell, the real-life romance budding between Courtney Cox and David Arquette…what wasn’t to love about this movie? It was filled with people who know and recognize it, and it wasn’t the cheesiest scary movie ever introduced. It’s been many years – and many additional Scream Movies – since this movie first came out. And just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about Scream, we are hitting you with a new piece of information. Is Scream based on a true story?

Is Scream Based on a True Story?

It is, yes. But only to an extent. Kevin Williamson wrote the movie. You know him because he’s the man behind so many amazing projects. He was inspired to write this serial killer movie based on a real-life situation in a small college town in Florida. Gainesville, Florida, is home to the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and the smaller Santa Fe College. Both colleges in one town mean it’s a packed place. Apartment complexes are everywhere. There is always a party. There are always people out and about on campus and downtown Gainesville at all hours, and things are just crazy in Gainesville.

The home of the Florida Gators – who are a talented SEC football team – is a big football town. Fall days are spent at the Swamp tailgating and watching the UF Gators play football, and people are always out and about. Most of them are drinking, and many of them have a little too much. When you combine all of those things, it’s not a mystery why someone would choose Gainesville to see out their horrible thoughts, and that’s exactly what happened.

credit: Scream

The Gainesville Ripper

No one likes to put a name to a killer. It gives the killer fame and notoriety, and no one wants that. However, this is precisely what happened in 1989 and 1990 when Danny Rolling – a man born and raised in Louisiana – decided to take life into his own hands and murder several college students. During the months that Rolling raped and murdered at least eight college students, he did so under the pretense that he didn’t know right from wrong – or a movie from fiction, per his defense attorney. Five of the students he raped and murdered lived in Gainesville, and the entire city was on edge.

Everyone was worried. For four long days in 1990, he raped and killed five young women in one town. The world was on edge watching what was unfolding in Gainesville. Parents wanted their kids home with them. College students were terrified to be alone, and no one felt safe doing anything in Gainesville. Rolling broke into the homes of college girls and did terrible things. He was caught, and he confessed to all of it. Rolling was killed in Florida by lethal injection in 2006. He was sentenced to death because the jury knew that he was guilty of these heinous crimes. No one was upset when he was sentenced to death, and no one was upset when he was lethally injected.

Williamson Was Inspired

The story inspired Williamson to write about the Ghostface killer in the movie Scream. He did it, and Wes Craven made a few changes to the script when he chose to make the movie. Things went well for the production after the movie was so well-received. The money made was impressive. The fame and notoriety of the movie were good, and everyone was coming into theaters to see it.

credit: Scream

In short, Scream is loosely based on the real-life killings that occurred in Gainesville, Florida, during the early semester of 1990. In fact, this was a time when everyone who lived anywhere near Gainesville was terrified. I wasn’t quite 10 at the time, but I remember watching the news stories. I remember my parents worried about my aunt, who lived and went to school in Gainesville at the time all of this was going on. While this murder spree was short-lived, it was horrifying. Five young people – four young women and the young man who shared an apartment with another – were killed simply because this man wanted to steal their belongings and take their lives. It was not a good time.

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