Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Every Kill In The First Scream Movie, Ranked

Wes Craven is an icon within the horror genre. One of the primary architects of the slasher film, Craven got his start with films like "The Last House on the Left" (1972), "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977), and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984). Already held in high regard for his work in the genre, Wes Craven returned to horror in the 1990s when he began work on the wildly popular "Scream" franchise. Before this, he nearly quit horror altogether

"Scream" is a highly referential work, and every film in the series explicitly draws from horror films of the past. The well-known tropes of slasher films — many of which Craven himself helped create — are frequently referenced in the "Scream" films, making them the most meta-horror films of all time. The "final girl" trope, the black character dying first, sex being the kiss of death — such ideas are all touched upon in Craven's iconic horror series, endearing the films especially to the horror nerds among us.

Going back to the very first film in the series, which was released in 1996, it's easy to see why it became an instant classic. With a shocking opening sequence starring Drew Barrymore, excellent performances from Neve Campbell and her costars, and witty dialogue from writer Kevin Williamson, it's hard to find much to criticize in the film. Plus, even though it's partially satirical, the horror elements are still top-notch and quite gory when they need to be. For all you horror lovers out there, here's our list of every kill in the first "Scream" movie, ranked worst to best by shock value and inventiveness.

7. Principal Himbry

Supposedly, the death of Principal Himbry was added because the studio thought the period between kills was too long, so they had screenwriter Kevin Williamson add another murder. While there really aren't any bad or poorly done kills in "Scream" — it's a straight-up masterpiece — Principal Himbry's death isn't particularly impactful.

The main thing that makes his death shocking is the fact Principal Himbry is played by the actor Henry Winkler, most known for playing Fonzie in "Happy Days." (As a nod to this, the leather jacket Fonzie often wore is hanging in the closet in Principal Himbry's office.) Despite his "Happy Days" fame, Himbry is actually only featured in three scenes in the movie, one of them being his death.

One afternoon in his office, Ghostface attacks Himbry with a knife. (The scene is immediately preceded by a Wes Craven cameo, where he briefly plays a janitor dressed like Freddy Krueger.) Ghostface stabs Himbry numerous times in the chest, and Winkler does his very best "I'm getting stabbed" face. The most artistically inventive part of an otherwise fairly basic kill scene is the last sequence, where we see Ghostface finishing the job in the reflection of Himbry's eye. Otherwise, the scene's not one to write home about.

6. Kenny Jones

Poor Kenny, we barely even get to know you. Kenny's death comes more than halfway through the film, shortly before the final reveal in Stu's house. After finding Tatum's body hanging from the garage door, Sidney runs away, screaming for help. The only one nearby is Kenny, Gale Weathers' long-suffering cameraman. (Earlier in the film, Gale berates him for his sluggishness and tells him to "move his fat tub-of-lard a**.")

After Sidney jumps in the TV van to hide from the killer, Ghostface follows her there and unceremoniously slits poor Kenny's throat. Sidney somehow escapes through a trap door in the back of the van, but Kenny dies right then and there. If there's one positive about Kenny's death, it's that it leads to a rather humorous moment shortly after. Trying to escape Ghostface herself, Gale tries to drive away in the van only to be distracted by Kenny's blood pouring down the windshield and then Kenny himself sliding off the roof of the van. Perhaps one could argue that Kenny at least died for a good cause — so that Sidney could escape — but his death really isn't that shocking or dramatic in the grand scheme of things.

5. Billy Loomis

In the last act of the film, it's revealed that Billy Loomis and Stu Macher are the Ghostface killers. They killed Sidney's mom, Maureen, and everyone after that. After revealing themselves to be the culprits, Billy and Stu begin stabbing each other in order to look like they were the victims, with the intention of pinning the killings on Sidney's father.

Sidney's not having any of this, though, and she taunts them with phone calls before dressing up as Ghostface herself. In one of the most fun sequences in the last act, Sidney, dressed as Ghostface, repeatedly stabs Billy with an umbrella. Unfortunately, this doesn't actually kill him (if it did, Billy's death would be higher up on the list). After forgetting to switch off the safety of her gun the first time she tries to kill Billy, Gale finally succeeds in shooting him after regaining consciousness on the front porch. Ever-helpful Randy reminds Gale and Sidney that "this is the moment when the supposedly dead killer comes back to life, for one last scare." Billy — in what honestly isn't a very smart move — then chooses to open his eyes and try to sit up, only to have Sidney shoot him in the head, finally killing him.

Frankly, it's a pretty basic kill as far as kills go (especially in the "Scream" universe), so we can't really put it much higher up on the list than this. Though it's certainly satisfying that Sidney, Gale, and Randy all get away, in the end, Billy's death is fairly anti-climactic. Which might be the point — he's only human, after all — but it does mean there are several more exciting kills that precede his.

4. Steve Orth

Though Steve's death isn't nearly as drawn-out as the likes of Billy and Casey, his death is nonetheless an impactful moment in the film. His girlfriend Casey has a sexy-turned-scary phone conversation with Ghostface, and she name-drops Steve, her football player boyfriend, in order to scare Ghostface away. Little does she know, Steve already experienced his own horrors in the backyard. 

Steve is already dead, and it was Ghostface who killed him. Only minutes into the film, we see Steve, tied up and bloody, sitting on Casey's back patio. Moments later, when Casey turns back to check on Steve, she sees that he's been disemboweled, shocking her even further. Though not technically the first kill committed by Ghostface (Maureen Prescott was killed first), Steve's death is the first we see in the film and is what really gets the ball rolling.

We know next-to-nothing about Steve, but his disembowelment is pretty shocking. (Though not as shocking as it could have been because the film wanted to stay away from an NC-17 rating.) Though often overlooked, Steve's death is the preamble to Casey's legendary death scene, which is itself a part of the film's extremely iconic opening sequence — one of the very best in any "Scream" film. Thus, we've got to give Steve credit for the brief but gruesome role he plays.

3. Stu Macher

Though clearly not the brains of the operation — that would be Billy Loomis — Stu is one of the most entertaining characters in any "Scream" movie, and it's no surprise his death is similarly fun. Leading up to his death scene, Matthew Lillard gives what is arguably the best performance in the film. After Billy stabs him a bit too hard, he starts to lose his mind a little bit. "I'm feeling a little woozy here," he complains before worrying about how "Mom and Dad are gonna be so mad at me."

After attacking Billy with the umbrella, Sidney and Stu wind up wrestling on the floor, with Sidney finally subduing him with a vase to the head. Moments later, she eventually kills him by dropping a TV on his face, but not without squashing the crush Stu apparently had on her. "In your dreams," she tells him. This is a fitting death for Stu — and pretty on-the-nose, like many moments in the franchise — who has been so heavily influenced by movies and television. (As has nearly every character in the "Scream" movies.) Plus, it's a pretty inventive way to kill someone, even if it's not particularly gory. And, as always, it gives Sidney the last word.

2. Casey Becker

Casey Becker's death in "Scream" is certainly the most iconic one in the film, even if it's not the very best. One of the greatest things about Casey's death is the actress that plays her: Drew Barrymore. While speaking "Hot Ones" host Sean Evans, Barrymore said she was offered the lead role in "Scream" but turned it down in order to surprise the audience by being one of the first characters to be killed. Barrymore has said that her "biggest pet peeve" is that the audience always knows the main character will survive in the end, and she wanted to take this comfort away from audiences. So, when Barrymore — who viewers assumed was the main character because of how she was positioned on the poster — dies only 12 minutes into the film, audiences were understandably shocked.

The opening sequence itself is also extremely well done and echoes another famous horror film, "When a Stranger Calls." When Casey receives a phone call from a mysterious stranger, at first, she thinks it's sexy, but she very quickly becomes creeped out. After she watches Steve disemboweled on the patio, she runs through the house and tries to get away from the killer. She sees her parents driving up the road but doesn't get to them fast enough, and Ghostface catches her. Although eventually escapes his clutches, having just been choked, she can't scream to her parents for help, and Ghostface finishes the job. Moments later, her parents find her strung up on a tree and disemboweled, just like Steve.

The scene is effective not only because of Barrymore's presence but also because of the thrilling and suspenseful action. Casey's parents coming home just as she's about to be killed is gutting (no pun intended) and leaves the audience hoping against hope that she will survive, only to have their hopes dashed at the last moment. It's a masterclass in suspense, but one moment in "Scream" outshines them all.

1. Tatum Riley

Though Casey's death scene is drawn-out and brilliant, there's another scene in "Scream" that's short, to the point, and incredibly effective. After the killings, a curfew has been placed on the town of Woodsboro, so naturally, Stu decides to host a party. During said party, Stu tells his girlfriend, Tatum (who is also Sidney's best friend and Dewey's little sister), to grab some more beer, so she ventures into the garage to get some.

When Tatum tries to leave, she realizes the door back to the house is locked and thinks it's Stu or someone else playing a trick on her. She presses the garage door opener to get out that way instead, only to find that when she moves toward the door, it starts closing again. When she turns around, she sees Ghostface standing on the stairs. Thinking it's Randy joking around, she's not immediately concerned. Tatum then delivers an incredibly underrated line: "What movie is this from, 'I Spit on Your Garage'?" Still thinking it's just Randy, she plays along and pretends to be a helpless victim. She finally realizes he's not playing a game when he cuts her arm with a knife. The door is still locked, so she starts throwing beer bottles at him, which is a pretty creative defense. She even has an impressive move where he lunges at her, and she ducks, causing him to roll right off her back and into the stairs.

But, alas, Tatum's defenses are not enough, and as she tries to escape through the doggy door in the garage, she finally meets her fate. When she gets stuck in the doggy door, Ghostface takes this opportunity to open the garage, and Tatum is slowly pulled to her death, eventually becoming brutally squished in the jaws of the garage. It's great not just because the kill itself is quite inventive but also because Tatum is such a funny and charming character who you really want to survive. For being her quirky self and being the first person ever to die while being trapped in a doggy door, Tatum secures herself the top spot on this list.