23 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Scary Movie’ on Its 23rd Anniversary
The year was 2000. The world had just survived the big Y2K scare, movies like The Beach and American Psycho were messing with people’s heads and horror was having a fun moment with both Final Destination and the underrated Scream 3 dropping well before the summer season. The Scream franchise, in general, was doing surprisingly well, with Wes Craven reimagining the slasher genre as a fun way of satirizing both filmmaking and horror tropes involving young folks getting killed because they want to boink.
Of course, with great success comes great parody, and so the Scary Movie franchise was born from the minds of the Wayan Brothers, Keenen Ivory Wayans (director), and Marlon and Shawn Wayans (writers and stars). Taking on the hilariously inept Ghostface as well as every popular 1990s comedy and/or horror movie — including I Know What You Did Last Summer, The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense and even American Pie — Scary Movie was stacked with so many parodies (of all genres) that each scene felt like a meta whiplash.
So before any of you run up the stairs yelling, “What are you waiting for?,” let’s dive into some not-so-scary trivia about the film that mocked everything, even Dawson’s Creek...
It Launched Anna Faris and Regina Hall’s Careers
While Scary Movie wasn’t Faris’ first feature, it ended up being the one that would propel her career. “I don’t think I even had a headshot. I didn’t have an agent,” Faris remembers about getting cast as Cindy Campbell. “I remember feeling this odd combination of total elation, dizziness and loneliness. Like, ‘Has my life just completely shifted?’”
Alicia Silverstone Turned It Down
The Clueless star reportedly passed on the opportunity to play the lead in Scary Movie, which seems wild since she did agree to star in Batman & Robin.
The Studio Didn’t Want to Cast Carmen Electra
Keenan Ivory Wayans once revealed that he kept pushing the opening scene with Carmen Electra’s character, Drew Decker, toward the end of production because Miramax kept saying no to Electra playing the Drew Barrymore role. “They didn’t think she could do it,” he said. “They thought she was cheesy because — and this is no disrespect to Carmen — she was one of the first celebrities to be known more for who they were than for what they’d done. But what they didn’t like about Carmen was what made her perfect, and that’s what I kept trying to explain.”
Wayans kept pressuring the studio to at least let him film the scene with her in it, and they eventually caved.
The Ridiculous Working Title
Jamie Lee Curtis Almost Had a Cameo
Given that the movie also spoofed classic horror films, including Friday the 13th and The Shining, it would’ve been the ultimate gag to have someone like Curtis from Halloween fame pop up. That was actually the initial plan per the original script, and it would’ve seen the actress hiding in a closet just like her character, the OG final girl Laurie Strode, did in Halloween.
Scary Movie did, however, still directly reference the 1978 John Carpenter classic in the scene where Cindy looks out the classroom window and spots Ghostface.
The scene parodies Laurie seeing Michael Myers through the window at school, only for him to disappear moments later.
It Broke a Box-Office Record
Not only did Scary Movie top the box office, breaking the record for an R-rated opening weekend, but it also went on to gross a whopping $157 million, making it the then highest-grossing film by a Black director. It remains the highest-grossing horror spoof ever and, after Ghostbusters, the second-highest-grossing comedy horror movie of all time. All on a $19 million budget.
The Producers Initially Wanted Aaliyah to Play Brenda
The late singer and actor revealed during an MTV2 interview that she got sent an early script of Scary Movie that was fairly different. For one thing, the Brenda character was a spoof of fellow singer/actor Brandy. “They wanted me to play Brandy and kind of do a parody of her,” Aaliyah explained. “I actually liked the script, I thought it was really funny, but I didn’t want anybody to take it like I was disrespecting her in any way. So, I actually didn’t do it, and it turned out to be a really funny movie.”
Wayans Allowed the Actors to Improvise
As goes with many productions during filming, tweaks were constantly being made to the script, but director Keenen Ivory Wayans also allowed the actors to bring what they wanted to their scenes. “Keenen was all about, ‘What do you have? What can you bring? Just do it!’” Lochlyn Munro (who played Greg Phillippe) told Entertainment Weekly. “He made it comfortable for us to let loose and not worry about making a fool of ourselves. If we fell on our faces, he would just kind of chuckle from behind the monitor.”
“Keenen said, ‘I want to shoot what’s on the page, and then I’m going to let you guys do anything you want. At the end of the day, I’m going to use whatever’s the funniest and the best, and I, as the director, will get credit for it,’” Shannon Elizabeth (Buffy Gilmore) added. “I absolutely loved him for that.”
Dave Sheridan Didn’t Break Character When He Auditioned
“I met Keenen as the character, I did not break,” the actor who played Doofy (the killer) once told Variety. “I was in the waiting room as the character, and then I walked in and did the scenes, but messed it all up on purpose. Literally, walking up to him with my hands in his face like, ‘High five!’ So then, I left, and I got a call about 10 minutes later, and I had to pull over and go find a pay booth, and they said, ‘You’ve gotta go back right now; they’re freaking out. They think we sent in a guy that had learning disabilities. You need to go back and show them who you really are.’”
Carmen Electra Auditioned for Parts Other Than Drew Decker
“I actually auditioned for two parts — I want to say the Shannon Elizabeth role (Buffy Gilmore) and, oh gosh, I can’t remember,” Electra once told EW. “I just thought, ‘Oh my God, this is a great script. This is gonna be really funny,’ and I really wanted the job, I wanted that job really bad, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t get a call, I didn’t hear anything, and I remember I had an offer to go to Italy to shoot a movie, so I took off. I was there for two weeks, and literally the second week, my management called and said, ‘They want you for Scary Movie.’ And I said, ‘What?!’ And they said, ‘Yeah, you’re going to have to fly straight from Italy to Canada.’”
Regina Hall Auditioned Four Times
The actor also said that a producer told her not to do the movie because she might get stuck playing “the loud Black girl.” Hall said that was exactly why she wanted to play “the stereotypical Black girl they have in every horror movie.”
The Director’s Cameo
Keenen Ivory Wayans stars in the fake Amistad 2 trailer that plays in the theater where Brenda gets stabbed.
Marlon Wayans’ Character Was Based on a Friend
Marlon Wayans based his character, Shorty Meeks, on a guy he knew who threatened to sue him — for the wrong character. “Shorty was based on a friend of mine who was a weedhead named Shorty,” Wayans explained. “He actually was mad at me. He didn’t see Scary Movie, so he thought I did him dirty. He was like, ‘Son, I’m suing you for character defecation.’ I said, ‘You mean defamation.’ ‘Nah, son, defecation because you shitted on me.’ And he’s like, ‘I saw Requiem for a Dream.’ I said, ‘I didn’t do you in Requiem for a Dream; I did you in Scary Movie.’” His friend eventually watched the spoof and thought it was hilarious.
Dave Sheridan Based Doofy on Chip, His Comedy Character
The actor and comedian based Sheriff Doofy on a character he used to do on stage called Chip.
There Were Many, Many Drafts of the Script
“We developed so many different versions of this movie,” Marlon Wayans once said, estimating that there were at least 10 drafts before they settled on a script. “We worked with our brother Keenen, and we wrote a Black draft, a white draft, a high school draft and a college draft. It wasn’t until we really saw I Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream that it just kind of clicked for us.”
The Spoof Writers
A total of six writers worked on the script of Scary Movie, including Marlon and Shawn Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman and Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. Marlon would go on to write a couple of other spoofs (A Haunted House 1 and 2 and Fifty Shades of Black), and Friedberg and Seltzer would team up to deliver a string of derided parody movies, including Epic Movie, Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, The Starving Games and Vampires Suck.
Keenen Ivory Wayans Was Willing to Cut the So-Called ‘Jizz Cannon’ Scene
He said that Faris was nervous about filming the scene where her character gets blasted onto the ceiling during a sex scene. According to the director, he took Faris for a stroll and told her, “I will not be the one to decide whether this stays in the movie. The audience is gonna decide. If they’re laughing, then you will have nothing to be embarrassed about. If they’re groaning, I give you my word, I’ll cut it out of the movie.” Wayans said that she committed to the agreement “100 percent, and the rest is history.”
The Deleted Scene in the Opening Sequence
The scene in question (that you can watch below) sees Electra’s character running away from Ghostface. Only, she’s actually just running on a treadmill. It’s an okay gag, but seeing the masked slasher then trying out the exercise machine himself is pretty funny.
Roger Ebert Gave It Three Stars
While the movie’s scores on Rotten Tomatoes remain meek and mid, Ebert seemed to have liked it more than most. The late film critic wrote that he laughed watching it and that while it was no Airplane!, “which had the advantage of breaking new ground,” it was also “not a tired wheeze like some of the lesser and later Leslie Nielsen films.” Nielsen would, coincidentally, later show up in Scary Movie 3, which only got two stars from Ebert.
The ‘Candyman’ Reference
While most viewers would easily spot references to The Matrix and Scream, the movie’s Candyman shoutout might be lesser known as the 1992 horror film remains a cult classic. It comes as a subtle nod in a line that Ray throws at Cindy when her boyfriend, Bobby, is released from jail. Watch it below from the 1:36 mark onward.
Faris’ Mom Filmed Her Audition
“I started the audition with my mom recording me on one of those big, old VHS cameras hoisted on her shoulder,” the actress remembers. “And then with the second scene, I went to my neighbors, and I was like, ‘My mom can’t do this audition with me because it’s way too raunchy. Can you film it for me?’ So I sent it in, and they asked me to come down. I packed a tiny bag and stayed on a friend’s couch in Burbank and bummed rides to go down for these auditions. They kept asking me to stay, so eventually I had to go buy some new clothes, which at the time it felt like, ‘I can’t even afford a cab, I certainly can’t afford new clothes.’”
The Filmmakers Wanted Jared Leto to Play the Boyfriend
Before Jon Abrahams signed on to play Cindy’s boyfriend, Bobby, Jared Leto was reportedly up for the part. Which, you know, given the character and Leto being a real weirdo about his method acting was probably a bullet dodged.
The ‘Wazzup’ Scene Was A Late Addition
The now iconic and arguably most famous scene of the movie was based on a 1990s Budweiser commercial that was hot at the time. The scene in Scary Movie was filmed after the previews had come out because the guys just knew they had to have the reference in there. “The budget was $19 million, and I think because it was testing so well, Keenen wanted to put in a pop-culture joke of the moment, which was the Budweiser commercial, so then he went to put that in,” producer Bo Zenga said. “At that point, we went from being the redheaded stepchild to the movie that’s maybe going to do really well.”