Gruesome true story that inspired original Scream movie and will chill you to the bone

Scream might not be entirely fiction (Picture: Paramount)

Scream isn’t one of those horror movies that is preceded by the ominous title card: ‘Inspired by true events,’ like we’ve seen so many times before in flicks such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Conjuring. 

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However, there is one particular real life story that is widely believed to have inspired screenwriter Kevin Williamson to start writing the scary movie in the first place. 

The classic slasher is returning to the big screen this Friday when the fifth instalment hits cinemas, starring OG cast members Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, and a host of newbies, including Melissa Barrera and Jenny Ortega, trying to survive Ghostface. 

Despite the new faces, Scream 5 is expected to draw parallels to the 1996 movie where it all began. 

But where did it really begin? 

Williamson, who has penned several of the Scream movies, was an unsuccessful actor and aspiring filmmaker when he was called on to house sit at someone’s property in Westwood, Los Angeles in the 1990s. 

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One night, he switched on the TV and just happened to come across a special about the Gainesville murders. Williamson was reportedly so freaked out by the story that it triggered a creative switch and pushed him to put pen to paper for what would become Scream. 

The Gainesville murders features some of the most gruesome deaths you’ll find. 

*** Warning: Graphic details about murders *** 

The Florida town was rocked by a spate of murders that happened across just a few nights in August 1990 – not too long before notorious serial killer Ted Bundy was executed for his crimes. Sonja Larson, Christine Powell, Christa Hoyt, Tracey Paules and Manny Toboada were the victims, all brutally killed in their apartments. 

All were killed with a knife and their bodies posed in various positions on the bed – as an example of the brutality, one had her nipples sliced off and her severed head perched on a shelf in the bedroom. 

Kevin Williamson is the mastermind that brought us one of the greatest horror franchises (Picture: Getty Images)

Protesters cheered when Danny Rolling was executed (Picture: Getty Images)

One student at the University of Florida was so terrified that she told the Associated Press at the time that they ‘slept with steak knives’ the night after one of the murders. 

But suddenly, the murders stopped after Paules and Toboada. 

Days later, police announced they had arrested a suspect, an 18-year-old man named Edward Lee Humphrey. He had lived in the same apartment complex where Paules and Toboada lived and were murdered. 

A neighbour claimed Humphrey had developed a crush on Paules, saying: ‘He’d fall all over himself to be near her or to help her. He’d go and sit by the pool and watch when she’d come out.’ 

However, he wasn’t taken into custody for the murders, but for allegedly beating up his grandmother. Humphreys was later placed in a state mental institution after being deemed unfit to stand trial. 

Police then believed that another person, Danny Rolling, 36, was a viable suspect. 

Courteney Cox and David Arquette are back as Gale Weathers and Dewey Riley (Picture: Rex Features)

He was a suspect in the murder of Julie Grissom, who had been stabbed to death alongside her father Tom and son Sean, in similar fashion to the Gainsville murders. 

Rolling was eventually apprehended by police when he crashed his car trying to flee authorities. 

Following a trial, Rolling pleaded guilty to raping several of his victims, committing a triple homicide and attempting to murder his father. In total, he confessed to killing eight people and was sentenced to death for the five Gainesville murders. 

Rolling was executed in 2006. 

In a recent featurette for the first Scream, Williamson recalled the moment that inspired him to write that iconic opening scene with Drew Barrymore. 

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He said: ‘I was house-sitting for a friend of mine and I walk into the family room and I see that the window’s open, and I’m freaked out. 

‘So I go and I get a butcher knife and I start walking around the house and I call up my friend on the phone and [say] “I think someone’s in the house”.’ 

Scream, the fifth instalment, is out in cinemas on Friday.

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