They said a slasher movie as a TV series couldn’t be done, and yet MTV’s adaptation of Scream is heading into its second season, which premieres on Memorial Day. Like the delightfully bloody lovechild of The O.C. and Friday the 13th, Scream: The TV series honored director Wes Craven’s original movie by keeping the meta-snark, but also doing its own thing.
Some didn’t particularly like the new story about mysterious descendants of a disfigured mass murderer coming back to terrorize and plot revenge on the teens of the upper-class but shady town of Lakewood. But one of the things that can’t be denied is the art of the kills in the show. Each takes their artistic cues from some of the best horror classics of the genre, and should bring a loving tear to the eyes of horror aficionados who enjoy a more gruesome side to their entertainment.
So before Season 2 comes along to continue the saga of deranged killer Brandon James, otherwise known as Ghostface, let’s take a look at how Scream has offed its characters in the best way possible (Not counting the George Washington High School students that died in Brandon James’s original killing spree or those that happen off-screen).
Spoilers ahead for Season 1 of Scream.
6. Rachael Murray - Episode 2
Rachael’s death in ”Hello, Emma” is even more messed up when you realize that Audrey, who Rachael was romantically involved with for a little but, might have been an accomplice in Piper’s Ghostface murders. Hopefully we’ll get to see how this weighs on Audrey in Season 2, but for now, Rachael being thrown over her balcony and hanged from a strategically place noose is just straight-up wrong. Assuming Piper was the one wearing the Ghostface mask, it’s even more messed up that Piper lures Rachael to her death with some cell phone trickery that fooled Rachael into thinking Audrey was trying to call her to make up. Poor Rachael, all she ever wanted was to be loved. We hardly knew ‘ye.
5. Nina Patterson - Episode 1
The TV series’ version of the infamous Drew Barrymore opening from the movie, Nina Patterson (played with horror-victim aplomb by Bella Thorne) was only alive enough to be in the pilot and a flashback in “The Dance.” But her character was cruel and vindictive, and uploaded the video of Audrey and Rachael that basically kickstarted the whole Brandon James murders in the first place; she had to go. Her kill is arguably the most classically framed slasher movie murder in the entire show, with the cat and mouse between victim and killer straight out of the horror classics the show is trying to honor.
4. Riley Marra - Episode 3
You know a show is devious when it kills off one of the most sympathetic characters. And so it goes for Noah’s girlfriend Riley who just wanted to be friends with everybody, which was what made her a target for Ghostface. Weirdly enough, Emma and Brooke just kind of leave Riley hanging at the police station in the third episode, “Wanna Play a Game?” long enough for the killer to lure her away. Riley was expendable, and, unfortunately, stupid enough to meet who she thought might be the killer in an alley behind the station. It’s there that Ghostface stabs her multiple times in the back, and she eventually bleeds to death on the roof. This again is classic slasher stuff, but the show plays with the “don’t go upstairs” motif of horror movies and expands it out to one of the most heartbreaking deaths in the entire show. Noah, her boyfriend, however, doesn’t seem to care all that much a few episodes later. Kids these days.
3. Piper Shaw - Episode 10
The big bad as it were, who meets her demise in the season finale after a deathly fake-out. One of the best parts about the Scream TV series is how it cleverly co-opts pop culture just like director Wes Craven’s original film did. Sure, the TV series does have a habit of just rattling off lists of horror movies like Craven’s own A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th or what have you, but the best use of this is Piper’s faux Sarah Keonig schtick and Serial-esque podcast. Too bad it was all a ruse to get closer to her half sister Emma because Piper is a schizophrenic psychopath hellbent on a copycat killing spree to get revenge on her mother.
2. Sheriff Clark Hudson - Episode 10
Imagine if Sam Raimi had directed the poor Sheriff’s death scene? It’d be soundtracked to “Yakety Sax” and he’d probably do a few jump ropes with his entrails before shuffling off his mortal coil. But the show handles this potentially funny kill well, even if the sight of Maggie fumbling with his spilled intestines is a bit goofy when you think about it. The key to this kill is the switcheroo surprise of it all, with the incapacitated Sheriff trying to let Maggie know what’s happening in a pained hush but Maggie trying to keep her bedside manner in helping him get untied. Thanks for nothing, Maggie.
1. Will Belmont - Episode 7
Probably the most gruesome death to happen in a teen melodrama, Ghostface’s use of farm equipment to do away with Will right in front of Emma in “In the Trenches” is worthy of the most hard-R-rated horror flicks out there. Kudos to the episodes director Leigh Janiak on this one for teasing the audience with quick little insert shots to sneakily prolong the inevitable. It does a lot with a little, which is a hallmark of good horror. Janiak’s criminally under-seen first feature film, Honeymoon, pulls this same thing off with an Invasion of the Body Snatchers -like slant. But as for Scream, Wills untimely death ranks as the pinnacle of delightfully dreadful deaths for the series, at least until Season 2 tries to top it.