Horror’s Icons: Ghostface


In the mid-1990’s, the horror genre was in a decline. Most horror films that were released went straight to video and did not garner much attention. The only films that made it to theaters were sequels in long-running franchises such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. And while they were popular because of their own icons, these villains had really lost their ability to frighten audiences. Then, in 1996, Wes Craven changed all of this with a little movie named Scream.

Scream was released and gave fresh life to the horror world. With the release of this “teen horror”, the focus in horror shifted from a madman or creature going after others to a “whodunit” style mystery. No longer was the villain a super-human killer. Instead, it turned out to be another human in a costume. And with this change, all the rules that had previously been set in horror films were thrown out the window and even made well aware of. And films such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend, The Faculty, and Valentine replicated the plot that Scream made famous, none of these films had as affective a killer as Ghostface.


A Killer with No Emotions

A Killer with No Emotions

In the original film, we begin with a girl at home alone that gets a mysterious phone call. She soon realizes that the person on the other line is not calling just to talk and after a while, that person appears at her house. Dressed in a black robe and a “ghostface” mask, the killer stalks the girl down and stabs her to death. And it is here that Ghostface is introduced to the world.

We then move on and are introduced to Sidney, her boyfriend Billy, Tatum and her boyfriend Stu, and their friend Randy. They all go to the same high school as the girl that was just murdered and are dealing with a circus of reporters on campus, one of which is Gale Weathers, a reporter with a past with Sidney. But as time passes, the Ghostface killer continues to call and stalk the high schoolers. Not even with help from Deputy Dewey, Tatum’s brother, can help to prevent the killer from getting to Sidney and the others.

As the movie continues, we find out that Sidney’s mother was killed and she blamed the murder on a man that is in prison and that Weathers thinks is innocent. In the end, the killer has made an affect on the town and the high school closes. After this, the kids decide to throw a party which puts all the kids in one place. The killer soon attacks the kids at the party and we realize that both Stu and Billy have been wearing the costume of the killer. Billy tells Sidney that he decided to do this because her mom was sleeping with his father, causing his family to fall apart. It was not Cotton, the man that Sidney had believed was guilty but rather Billy. Stu joined Billy to help him and they used the plots of past horror movies to set up their story and reasoning. However, they fail in the end and are killed by Sidney, putting an end to their murdering spree.


He will gut you like a fish!

He will gut you like a fish!

A year later, Scream 2 was released and continued the story of the Ghostface killer trying to find and kill Sidney. Now, Sidney is in college and is trying to get past the events of the first film. Hollywood has decided to make a film of the Woodsboro murders from the first film and soon a real killer is hunting Sidney and her friends.

The movie follows the same pattern as the original and we once again discover there are two killers. One is a fellow college student that is obsessed with films and wants to be famous for their murderous rampage. The other is Billy’s mother. She wants revenge for her son being killed in the first film and wants Sidney dead. But, with help from Gale and Dewey, Sidney manages to survive their attacks.

It wouldn’t be until 2000 that Wes Craven would complete his trilogy with the release of Scream 3. In the third chapter, Sidney is now living in recluse, hiding from her past. But she soon arrives in Hollywood after Ghostface appears again, killing people involved in the making of “Stab 3”, the movie inside the movie. She decides to face her fears and try to settle this once and for all. But in a big twist ending, Ghostface ended up being one person: the film’s director Roman. But not only was he the director. He revealed himself to be Sidney’s half-brother. After being rejected by their mom, Roman became furious and convinced Billy to their mom, starting the events of all the films. But Roman snapped after all the attention Sidney got with the murders and decided to go after her himself. They begin to fight but Sidney eventually stabs him and then he is shot by Dewey to end the trilogy.


Guess who's back

Guess who’s back

In 2011, the Scream franchise reemerged with the fourth installment, 11 years after what was supposed to be a trilogy ended. Scream 4 saw the return of survivors Sidney, Dewey, and Gale. Sidney, now an author, is drawn back to the town of Woodsboro when a new Ghostface begins killing high school kids fifteen years after the events of the original film. With the help of Dewey and Gale, Sidney helps her cousin Jill and her friends as they now have to deal with this copycat killer. But as the body count rises, Sidney finally finds out that the Ghostface killer is now a kid named Charlie and her very own cousin Jill. While Charlie was basically used by Jill, she explains that she was jealous of Sidney’s fame and wanted that fame to herself. She eventually stabs Sidney, leaving her to die while also cutting herself up to stage her “survival”. But when Jill realizes that Sidney survived and they are both at the hospital, Jill attempts to kill Sidney for good but Sidney ends up killing her, finishing the film.


The tools of a killer

The tools of a killer

By the time that Scream 4 was released, the teen horror craze was well over. Films like Saw and Hostel had changed the face of horror and films like Scream just didn’t fit in. However, the fourth installment was decent and there are still chances for more sequels to come. Craven has been signed to direct another Scream if they choose to go forward with the film series. And sources claim that if they do, it will likely be another trilogy. But whether another Scream film gets released or not, it looks as though Ghostface will follow in the footsteps of Norman Bates and Hannibal and make his way into living rooms across the world.

MTV has made announcements for the production of a Scream TV series. While there is little known on what the series will revolve around, it is slated to debut mid-2014. And, with the recent series based off of horror movies, now seems like a better time than any to make a Scream series. The only worry I have is if MTV will find a way to ruin that like they do most things.


Why so sad?

Why so sad?

Let’s face it. When Scream was released in 1996, the Ghostface mask was everywhere. The costumes were immediately a hit for Halloween and everyone was trying to imitate the voice of the iconic killer. Even today in 2013, Ghostface costumes are available at every store when Halloween rolls around. The Ghostface costume instantly became as popular as other villains such as Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, and Michael Myers.

And as I said before, the success of Scream allowed for the mass rush of teen horror films that filled the horror genre in the late 1990’s. And while some, such as I Know What Did Last Summer and Urban Legend, were successful, many others were flops that ended up going straight to video. But even outside of the horror world, Scream was the primary influence for the hugely successful spoof comedy Scary Movie. Featuring a “killer” with a similar costume to Ghostface, the comedy movie made fun of the recent teen horrors and eventually spawned four sequels.


It is unknown whether we will ever see Ghostface again. But what is known is that Ghostface is one of the greatest horror villains of all-time, even with several people donning the infamous mask in four films. But as we move on from Ghostface we will shift our attention to another icon of horror. But we won’t look too far as we will look at a killer that was inspired by Ghostface himself.

Next week, we look at The Fisherman from I Know What You Did Last Summer and it’s sequels. And while I know that he may not be the greatest, The Fisherman is definitely the second best killer in the teen horror sub-genre and worthy of taking a look at. So, get ready for the man who knows what you did, um, next week on Horror’s Icons.


the D