Writer Kevin Williamson had created a five-page outline for two sequels to Scream when selling his original script, hoping that one film could become a franchise. Ehren Kruger, who wrote the American versions of The Ring threw out most of those notes. He’d finish script pages the day they were shot, which led to Wes Craven rewriting them so that the characters would at least resemble who they were in the first two films.
This being a Wes Craven movie, it’s at this point of the write-up that I discuss that “production was troubled with script rewrites, occasions when pages were only ready on the day of filming, and scheduling difficulties.” Did Wes ever have a movie go smoothly?
Following the Columbine High School massacre and increase worry about the impact of violent media, the script kept getting toned down. Supposedly, there was even a version where Matthew Lillard would return as Stu Macher, having survived the first film and using high schoolers to attack Sidney from prison. What they ended up with was a movie within a movie about Stab, the film version of the movie we watched in 1996.
Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) contacts Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) to discuss the murder of Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) and his girlfriend Christine (Kelly Rutherford, who while being known to many from Melrose Place also played a salesgirl in Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge when she was just starting her career). She decides to go to Hollywood to learn more about the story and visit the set of Stab 3, a film based on the Ghostface killings. It’s also where Dewey (David Arquette) is working as an adviser.
Sidney (Neve Campbell) is trying to hide out as a crisis counselor, but all the calls start again and she’s pulled back to the set where most of the cast of the movie — not Scream 3, Stab 3 — get killed, like Tom Prinze (Matt Keeslar, who left acting behind to teach urology), Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy), Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey), Angelina Tyler and Tyson Fox.
I do have to say, having Posey play Cox was a genius idea and one of the few bright spots to this film (she even wore the same green dress Cox wore in the first movie), along with the conceit that someone in Hollywood pushed the original murderers over the edge. The house where this film ends is the same domicile as Halloween H20.
The film never had a test screening, with the cast and crew seeing the movie for the first time at its premiere due to worries that spoilers would ruin the movie. Craven also shot three different endings, so they didn’t know how the movie would wrap up.
Roger Ebert would call out the reason why I disliked this movie so much. For a series that started as a smart send-up of slasher tropes, things really were rote by this point. He’d write, “The characters are so thin, they’re transparent. They function primarily to scream, split up when they should stick together, go alone into basements and dark rooms, and make ironic references to horror cliches and earlier movies in the series.”
That said, Wes Craven and Roger Corman show up, as does Lance Henriksen and Jay and Silent Bob, earning this movie a mention on our list of Ten Movie Crossovers.