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4 YEARS

Wes Craven Calls 'Scream' Franchise "the 'Star Wars' of Horror"

Heat Vision talks to the veteran director about the fourth film -– and the chances for a fifth installment.

Courteney Cox, Wes Craven, Neve Campbell, and Iya Labunka
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Wes Craven, second to left, with Courteney Cox and Neve Campbell

Scream 4 had its killer premiere Monday night at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with a swank afterparty at the Redbury Hotel.

The movie went through the gauntlet getting made, with a 38-day shoot turning into a 64-day slog, losing Scream creator Kevin Williamson due to in-fighting with Dimension head Bob Weinstein or Williamson’s TV schedule taking precedence (or both), Ehren Kruger (who wrote Scream 3) writing pages during production and actors facing a script that was well over 140 pages at one point.

Stringing this together was Wes Craven, the veteran and iconic suspense and horror maetro who has helmed all four Scream movies. The young cast was stoked work with the man. Actor Nico Tortorella described Craven as having two personalities: “One is the smartest person I’ve ever met, with this awesome vocabulary. The other is this little kid who loves horror moves.” Heat Vision cornered Craven to talk Scream.

Heat Vision: How is Scream different from your other movies?

Wes Craven: It was by far the biggest hit I’ve ever had. Nightmare on Elm Street wasn’t that big. Over a long period of time it did very well but this was different. Scream didn’t have a strong first weekend, and it went down the second, but then it kept going up.

Heat Vision: Why do you think it caught on?

Craven: I think there was nothing else like it out there. It was a combination of smarts, social commentary, scary and funny. And a murder mystery and soap opera wrapped up in one.

Heat Vision: Is that what you were trying to recapture with the fourth one?

Craven: You know, Bob Weinstein didn’t want to do anything like a fourth one for a long time. He told us way back after three that we weren’t going to do a fourth until sometime way in the future. We all felt like we had done a trilogy. People were saying it was one movie then two sequels but we maintained No, it’s trilogy. You’re following the same characters as they go from childhood to adulthood.

Heat Vision: It doesn’t happen that you get the same director, the same writer, more or less, and the main actors. It’s rare in movies like this ...

Craven: This is like the Star Wars of horror. It’s got characters that people really love, and they hold up. The format of the show allows for new characters to come in but at the same time, these old characters are there to anchor it. It’s not like a Friday-the-whatever with all new people. It’s the same core. And the characters change and mutate.

Heat Vision: So we’ll see a fifth one?

Craven: It’s a possibility. When I first met with Kevin, when Bob called me and said Kevin’s got an idea and we set up a dinner, he sketched out the idea for this and he said, "I have a way that we can get into two more." So we’d have two trilogies. So we’ll see. Nothing is written in stone.

Heat Vision: Scream 4 was a tough shoot ...

Craven: There was a lot of thing that were tough. We had two key people, Courteney [Cox] and Kevin, who were tied to [TV] shows. So both of them had to be out of our shoot at a predetermined time. The writing between Kevin and Bob – because I didn’t come on officially until I read the opening and another 15 pages when I said, Wow, this is amazing – but it went though a lot of changes, a lot of "Let’s go this way, let’s go that way."

We had a full draft, some revisions from Kevin. But his shows -- he was trying to have his people try to push the show back but the network basically said, "We’ll sue you." So we lost Kevin. And we brought Ehren Kruger in. And he did tremendous stuff. And I did some writing too. The Writer’s Guild looked at everything and it’s definitely Kevin’s story, frame, characters. You can feel it in the opening, which is pure Kevin.

Heat Vision: What did you add to it?

Craven: Some the action sequences. Additions to the parking garage scenes, the second half of the Aimee Teegarden scene.

Photo Gallery: Scream Stars: 15 Years Later