Do you remember spotting these cars?
When Wes Craven’s hit movie Scream hit theaters back in December of 1996, viewers were so freaked out by the movie caller ID use tripled afterward – at least that’s the urban legend. We wonder how many people also developed an irrational fear of garage doors. Anyway, being car nerds, when we re-watched the original trilogy recently to celebrate the Halloween season, we were absolutely smitten with the cars in all three Scream movies. Let’s just dive right in.
Tatum Riley drives a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle or Type 1 in the first movie. It’s the kind of car many high school kids had at the time because they were in high supply, cheap to buy, and simple to maintain. After Ghostface breaks into Sidney Prescott’s house, Tatum drives her friend to the safety of her house in the Beetle, but not before reporter Gale Weathers aggressively taps on the window and demands to know all the gory details of what happened.
One of the most iconic cars from the first movie is Dewey Riley’s 1984 Jeep Cherokee, a two-door model. It gets plenty of screen time with its rugged XJ looks, accentuated by tan paint and the light bar mounted to the roof. Many other Jeeps like this one served as law enforcement vehicles in countless communities across the United States in the 80s and 90s, so it’s really a slice of Americana gone by.
The Jeep XJ also is where Sidney Prescott flees from Ghostface toward the end of the film, activating the manual locks and cranking the driver’s window up (oh, the memories of not having power everything) to keep the killer out. She traps him outside, only to find he has the keys and her refuge in the law enforcement vehicle is only temporary.
The 1983 Ford Econoline news van from the first movie was key in several scenes, most notably in the climactic action where Ghostface kills Gale’s cameraman, almost kills her, and seemingly kills Dewey. In her attempt to escape the carnage, Gale drives with her cameraman’s body hanging off the roof and over the windshield, almost runs down Sidney, then crashes into a tree. In a testament to how solidly those things were built, she’s able to walk away from the wreck.
Sure, a news van isn’t sexy because it’s a thing of utilitarian function. Many vans just like this one roamed communities throughout the country back when Scream debuted, adding to the realistic feel of the movie.
There are plenty of cool background vehicles in the first movie, like a 1995 Dodge Ram, 1986 Buick Century Wagon, 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser, and a 1994 Ford Mustang. These help add the right period flavor to the movie since they’re not all brand new, plus it’s done right because the film wasn’t made today by people who weren’t alive back then.
Out of the three, Scream 2 is the least interesting when it comes to cars since most of the action takes place on a college campus. Still, there are a few good specimens.
When Sidney and her friend Hallie go into protective custody, two detectives load them into the back of a 1987 Chevrolet Caprice 9CI. That means the sedan has a cage between the rear and front seats, plus the back doors don’t open from inside – a key part in the scene after Ghostface gets the drop on the detectives, jumps into the driver’s seat, and takes off with one of them on the car. After the Chevy crashes, the police car is the setting for one of the most anxiety-inducing scenes in the movie as the girls have to crawl across the seemingly unconscious killer to get away.
During that action sequence with the detective hanging onto the Caprice’s hood, shooting into the cabin, Ghostface tries throwing him off by hitting different objects. One of those is a 1987 Ford Mustang GT, which makes sparks fly. Is that a metaphor? Sure, why not. Also, it has a black bra on it – remember those things everyone foolishly thought were great?
Scream 3 really dials things up on all levels, and that includes the cars. Released in 2000, the film does an excellent job of capturing the current automotive landscape.
The movie kicks off with Cotton Weary, who at that point is a successful and controversial talk show host in Hollywood, as he’s stuck in traffic behind the wheel of his 1999 GMC Suburban. After receiving a phone call from Ghostface threatening to kill his girlfriend, Cotton drives the big SUV likes it’s a performance car, ramming other vehicles out of the way, drifting through intersections, etc. We have to say, the stunt driver must’ve had a lot of fun filming that sequence.
With the film set in Hollywood at the turn of the century, SUVs are of course plentiful. We see everything from a Range Rover to a Jeep Grand Cherokee, Lincoln Navigator, and multiple Ford Explorers. After all, sport utilities were all the rage back then. Even Dewey drives a 1991 Ford Explorer XLT while he does consulting work for the third Stab movie.
Since the movie is set in Hollywood, we also get some flashy cars. Gale has moved up the journalism food chain and now has the trappings of her higher salary on full display with a 1998 Mercedes-Benz SL500. The gathering at an actress’ home shows off a pretty crowded driveway where we not only see Gale’s ride, but also a Porsche 996 Cabriolet and a Volkswagen New Beetle.
Sarah Darling, played by Jenny McCarthy, is a superficial, fun-loving blonde actress. No car from that time fits her personality better than the 2000 BMW Z3 she drives. Sadly, the only time we see her in it is just moments before she’s brutally murdered, in part because of her dumb decisions fueled by classic horror movie logic. At least she had a cool car.