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Scream character
Ghostscream
Ghostface
Development Information
First appeared Scream
Created by Wes Craven
Kevin Williamson
Portrayed by Skeet Ulrich
Matthew Lillard
Laurie Metcalf
Timothy Olyphant
Scott Foley
Emma Roberts
Rory Culkin
Voiced by Roger L. Jackson
In-story information
Classification Mass Murderer
Signature weapon Hunting Knife
M.O. Taunting victims by phone
Stabbing murders
Location Woodsboro, California
Windsor College, Ohio
Hollywood, California
Aliases The Icon of Halloween
Father Death
Ghostface Killer
What's your favourite scary movie?

Ghostface is a fictional identity adopted by the primary antagonist's in the Scream series of slasher films. The character is voiced by Roger L. Jackson regardless of who is behind the mask. The character first appeared in Scream (1996) as a disguise used by teenagers Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) and Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) during their killing spree in the fictional town of Woodsboro. Ghostface was created by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson.

The character is used primarily as a disguise for the antagonist of each film to conceal their identity while conducting serial murders and as such has been portrayed by several actors. In Scream, the identity is temporarily adopted by the killers' target, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), using it against them. In the Scream universe, the costume is not unique and easily obtainable allowing others to wear a similar outfit. Ghostface often calls its targets to taunt or threaten them while using a voice changer that hides their true identity. In Scream 3, this is taken further by Roman Bridger who uses a device that enables him to sound like several other characters in order to manipulate targets.

The changing identity of the person beneath the mask means that Ghostface has no definite motivation, ranging from revenge and seeking fame to "peer pressure", though each killer shares the common goal of killing Sidney Prescott due to a chain of events indirectly caused by her mother Maureen Prescott. Initially, Billy Loomis created the identity with Stu Macher in order to kill Sidney because of her mothers affair with Billy's father which caused Billy's mother to 'abandon' him.

The Ghostface persona remains the same throughout the Scream series, featuring a black hood and cloak with a jagged base and a white rubber-mask resembling a ghost with a screaming expression. Though each iteration of Ghostface is human, they often exhibit extreme durability against physical harm, high levels of physical strength and an almost supernatural stealth ability, able to appear and disappear in seemingly impossible situations.

The mask is based on The Scream painting by Edvard Munch and was created and designed by FunWorld employee Brigitte Sleiertin.

Appearances

Ghostface first appears in the opening scene of Scream. The character (voiced by Roger L. Jackson) calls and taunts teenager Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore) with horror clichés and trivia questions, murdering her boyfriend Steve in front of her before she herself is killed. The identity has been adopted by the primary antagonists of each successive film to conceal their identity prior to being revealed in each films final act.

Films

Psycotic Bloody psycos wispering

From left to right; Stu Macher (Matthew Lillard) and Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), the first Ghostface killers.

Ghostface's first cinematic appearance was in Scream (1996) where the identity was used by a killer stalking the fictional town of Woodsboro. After the killing spree begins, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) begins receiving taunting and threatening phone calls from Ghostface who claims knowledge of her mothers brutal rape and murder one year prior to the events of the film, a murder that was blamed on Cotton Weary. The Ghostface disguise allows suspicion to fall on many people including Sidney's boyfriend Billy Loomis, her father Neil Prescott, her friend Randy Meeks, Stu Macher and town Deputy, Dewey Riley. Ghostface is revealed in the finale as both Billy Loomis and Stu Macher who reveal that they murdered Sidney's mother and framed Cotton. Billy cites his motivation as abandonment by his mother brought about by his father's affair with her mother Maureen while Stu cites only "peer pressure". Sidney is able to gain an advantage against Billy and Stu, temporarily adopting the Ghostface persona herself to taunt them before killing Stu. Gale Weathers shoots Billy to stop him killing Sidney who then finishes Billy off with a bullet to the head.

Ghostface's second appearance was in Scream 2 (1997) where it was again used as a disguise by the main antagonists. A series of murders occur at Windsor College, Sidney's current location, with the initial victims sharing names with Billy and Stu's victims from Scream. The killers again taunt Sidney and attempt to kill her and later kill her friend Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy). The Ghostface disguise allows suspicion to fall on several characters before Mickey, a friend of Sidney's boyfriend Derek, reveals himself as the killer, seeking fame for his exploits. Mickey's accomplice is revealed to be Mrs. Loomis (Laurie Metcalf), Billy Loomis' mother, who is seeking revenge against Sidney for her son's death. Mrs. Loomis kills Mickey, claiming to have indulged his desire for fame only to enlist his help in enacting her revenge and tries to kill Sidney. With help from the exonerated Cotton Weary, Sidney survives and Mrs. Loomis is killed.

The story continued in Scream 3 (2000) where the identity was used to murder Cotton Weary in an attempt to discover the now-hidden Sidney's location. The killer leaves images of Maureen Prescott at his crime scenes to draw Sidney out of seclusion as he begins murdering the cast of Stab 3, the film within a film based on Sidney and her experiences with Ghostface. Ghostface is revealed as Sidney's half-brother Roman Bridger (Scott Foley), born to their mother Maureen during a two-year period when she moved to Hollywood to become an actress under the name Rina Reynolds. After being gang-raped and impregnated at a party, she gave Roman up for adoption who, as an adult, sought her out, only to be rejected, denying she had ever been Rina. Roman began stalking Maureen and filming her adulterous liaisons with other men including Billy Loomis' father Hank. He used this footage to reveal to Billy why his mother had "abandoned" him before convincing him to kill Maureen, sparking the chain of events in Scream and Scream 2. Sidney manages to kill Roman, ending the series of murders based on his revenge against Maureen.

In Scream 4 (2011), another Ghostface killer emerges in Woodsboro on the fifteen-year anniversary of the massacre conducted by Billy Loomis and Stu Macher, the new killer recreating events from the incident but also filming the murders. Ghostface kills several teenagers and police officers before being unmasked as Sidney's cousin Jill Roberts (Emma Roberts) and her friend Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) who intend to kill Sidney, frame Jill's ex-boyfriend Trevor Shelton and become the current generation's "Sidney" and "Randy Meeks", with the accompanying fame of being the "survivors" of the massacre. Charlie also did it because of his love for Jill. Jill betrays Charlie and stabs him through the heart and stomach and then seemingly kills Sidney before purposely injuring and stabbing herself to make herself appear a victim of Ghostface. After being taken to hospital, Sheriff Dewey Riley informs her that Sidney has survived and Jill attempts to end her life but is stopped by Dewey, Gale and Judy Hicks (Marley Shelton) long enough for Sidney to shoot her through the heart, killing her.

Concept and creation

Design

Ghostfacemasks

The Ghostface masks as seen in (top left-bottom right) Scream, Scream 2, Scream 3 and Scream 4.

The Ghostface costume is the outfit worn by the main antagonists of the Scream franchise, consisting of a rubber white mask with black eyes, nose and mouth and a black, cloth-like material, hooded-robe with faux-tatters draping from the arms and a spiked-trim to the base of the outfit. In the movie, the costume is considered common and easily purchasable making identifying the buyers difficult and creating the possibility for anyone to be the killer. Despite its appearance as a solid piece of material, the robe is put on like a jacket, fastening with velcro-attachments down the front of the torso.

The Ghostface mask was first developed for novelty stores during the Halloween season between 1991 and 1992 by FunWorld employee Brigitte Sleiertin as part of a series entitled 'Fantastic Faces' the mask itself known as 'The Peanut-Eyed Ghost'. The final design was approved by FunWorld vice-president Allan Geller. Director Wes Craven discovered the mask while visiting friends during the Halloween holiday, when he viewed a child wearing the FunWorld mask that would come to be known as Ghostface. FunWorld Licensing Director R.J. Torbert joined FunWorld in 1996 and was given the task of naming the mask prior to its film debut, deciding on GhostFace with the blessing of FunWorld owners Stanley and Allan Geller. Torbert felt it looked like a "ghost in pain", believing it to be a unique design. The Ghostface design and title are owned by FunWorld.

The design of the mask bears reference to Edvard Munch's painting The Scream, the cover of the Pink Floyd album The Wall and the ghostly characters that appeared in the 1930s Betty Boop cartoon. The mask is stark white and depicts a caracature of someone screaming and crying at the same time. Designer Sleiertin stated that the mask displayed different emotions, "It's a horrible look, it's a sorry look, it's a frantic look". Since the appearance of Ghostface in Scream, the costume has become worn and sold costume for Halloween in the United States.

The initial script labeled the main antagonist as "masked killer" with no specifications to their appearance, forcing Wes Craven and his staff to produce the costume eventually worn by Ghostface as they were shooting. Craven asked Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger of design company KNB Effects to produce a mask specifically for the film based on the FunWorld design but did not like the final result. After FunWorld and Dimension Films were able to complete an agreement for the use of the Ghostface mask, Craven was able to use the original design as he wanted. The custom mask made by KNB Effects still appears in the scenes involving the murder of Casey Becker and Principal Himbry as filming of these scenes completed prior to the finalization of the deal between FunWorld and Dimension Films.

"We came with an assortment of masks that had the ghostface look. Of the entire assortment, that face was the strongest one. The design definitely had something that made it outstanding from the others."

—Brigitte Sleiertin on choosing the final design for what became Ghostface.

The 1991-92 'Fantastic Faces' edition of the mask used in Scream is made of thin, white rubber with blackened eyes, nose and mouth. Despite being portrayed by Skeet Ulrich and Matthew Lillard, the costume is mostly worn by uncredited stuntmen, by Wes Craven during the opening murder scene and once by Ulrich. Despite the character Stu Macher wearing the costume in the film, actor Lillard never actually wore the outfit. Scream 2 features a slightly redesigned version of the mask from the 'Fearsome Faces' line, possessing slightly-altered eyes and an indented chin. Following Scream 2, the Ghostface mask became part of the 'Ghostface' line of masks featuring several variations of the design including glow-in-the-dark models. The plain, white version of the Ghostface line mask is used in Scream 3 by the character Roman Bridger.

Another edition of the mask was developed dubbed The Deluxe Edition Mask that is to be used by the Ghostface of Scream 4, again similar to the original Ghostface design but constructed of thicker rubber with a pearlescent finish. Two additional mask designs were shipped to the set of Scream 4 labeled Zombie Ghostface and Ghostface Scarecrow. The Zombie variation features the normal design but with the white coloring replaced with a dull-yellow coloration with visible veins and decay detailing while the Scarecrow variation replaces the familiar white rubber and black shroud with brown, burlap-like cloth. Though these variations were delivered to the Scream 4 set, it is unknown if they will appear in the film though they are set to appear in figurine form.

The cloak itself had to be custom-made for the film as the Father Death outfit identified in Scream as that of the killers did not really exist, the FunWorld mask being sold as a stand-alone item. The cloak entered into retail markets only following the release of Scream. Each cloak was estimated to cost $700 to hand-produce by a seamstress and was made of a heavy, thick, black material with reflective threads woven throughout, creating a subtle glimmer. The cloak was created to help conceal the identity of the killers by covering most of their visible body as it was believed that otherwise audiences would be able to guess which character was involved by their clothing and body-shape.

The knife used by Ghostface in the films is a custom prop knife based on the Buck 120 Hunting Knife that has since been discontinued by Buck. The knife blades are made of aluminum or chrome-paint-coated plastic with a rubber handle depending on the scenario for which they are needed. The handle is black with a silver, metal-appearance for the tip. The Buck 120 knife was chosen as the model for the Ghostface weapon because of the large blade it features, though the Buck 120 itself was discontinued due to customer complaints that the blade length was deemed "too big" for gutting animals.

Characteristics

Ghostface has been depicted as a mute character in costume, people wearing the costume normally remain mute except for grunts and groans when they are injured or struck. The voice given to the character, provided by Roger L. Jackson is used when talking to another character over the phone or to display the use of the 'voice changer' when the killer reveals themself. Despite this disconnection between voice and body, they both share similar personalities and interactions with their victims, regardless of who is wearing the costume or speaking to a target.

"I can't imagine Scream without Ghostface...Roger Jackson's voice is very remarkable, it's got an evil sophistication"

—Wes Craven on returning to Scream 4.

Ghostface is often shown to taunt his targets, initially representing himself as charming and even flirtatious when speaking, his conversations turn confrontational and intimidating, using his knowledge of other characters or graphically describing his intentions before appearing to the target physically. Craven considers Jackson's voice performance as Ghostface to have "evil sophistication". When confronting his intended victim, Ghostface is portrayed in varying ways, sometimes quick and efficient and other times clumsy, falling or colliding with objects that hinder his pursuit, a characteristic that varies based upon who is wearing the costume. All of the characters that use the Ghostface disguise share the trait of taunting their victims and prolonging a kill when they appear to have an advantage. The Billy Loomis/Stu Macher Ghostface would gut their victims after killing them; This was not performed on Tatum Riley who was killed in a mechanical garage door. This Ghostface in particular would ask their victim questions about horror films and employ the tropes of the genre in their attacks, displaying an detachment from their reality and aligned with the same self awareness of the film itself which toys with the expectations of the horror genre. The second Ghostface, created by Mickey and Mrs. Loomis would simply stab their victim to death but often in a public place or with witnesses. The third Ghostface, created by Roman Bridger used theatricality and movie props to attack his victims, using a voice changer that allowed him to sound like many other people, casting suspicion and doubt on other characters. In addition, he would use images and the synthesized voice of Maureen Prescott to specifically taunt Sidney, even shrouding himself in a bloodied, crime scene cover, alluding to the murder of Maureen, to fool Sidney into believing that she was losing her sanity.

The motivations for Ghostface's killing vary in each film and are respective to each killer wearing the costume. Billy Loomis claimed to have been driven to insanity by his mothers abandonment, an incident he blamed on Maureen Prescott, and after taking his revenge on her chose to continue his spree, leading towards her daughter Sidney while Stu Macher lists "peer pressure" as his motivation. In Scream 2, Billy's mother cites her motivation as simple revenge against the person she holds responsible for her son's death while Mickey desires the fame that his involvement in the killings will garner when he is caught. Scream 3' antagonist Roman seeks revenge for what he sees as his mother's rejection and abandonment by engineering Maureen's death and trying to kill Sidney, seeing her as having the family-life he was denied.

In costume, Ghostface is depicted as possessing superhuman physical traits. Each Ghostface is capable of almost supernatural stealth, able to enter into premises such as homes without being discovered, move silently and appear and disappear even in open spaces where no obstacle exists to conceal their movements. Additionally, Ghostface has been shown to display strength that allows him to physically overpower a victim, in Scream 2 overcoming two trained detectives single-handedly. Ghostface is shown to be able to sustain and even ignore severe levels of physical damage, surviving blunt trauma, stab wounds and gunshots. Billy Loomis, Mickey and Roman Bridger all had to be shot through the head to kill them despite having been shot and/or sustained severe injuries prior.

In costume, the Ghostfaces share a ritualistic mannerism of gripping the blade of their knife between thumb and forefinger and wiping it clean of any blood following a murder by drawing their hand from handle to the tip of the knife. This characteristic was given to the character by stuntman Dane Farwell who wore the costume for many of its scenes in Scream.

Abilities

In costume, Ghostface is depicted as possessing almost superhuman physical traits. Unlike supernatural characters, such as Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees, Ghostface is human, but has several skills of a deadly killer. Ghostface is skilled in spying and stealth, allowing him to hide in unexpected places and be able to enter into premises such as homes without being discovered. Also, he is able move silently, appear and disappear even in open spaces where no obstacle exists to conceal their movements. He even exhibits extreme durability against physical harm and has high levels of physical strength.

Additionally, Ghostface has been shown to display strength that allows him to physically overpower a victim, in Scream 2 overcoming two trained detectives single-handedly. Ghostface is shown to be able to sustain and even ignore severe levels of physical damage, surviving blunt trauma, stab wounds and gunshots. Billy Loomis, Mickey and Roman Bridger all had to be shot through the head to kill them despite having been shot and/or sustained severe injuries prior.

Ghostface is strong enough to lift a person and to stun his victims with punches. He can endure several damages like having a beer bottle thrown on his face and surviving some stab or bullet wounds. Ghostface is very skillful in wielding his knife, and has enough strength to puncture through doors with it. Ghostface kills his victims by stabbing them on vital points or slitting their throats. He is also fast enough to catch most of his victims.

In popular culture

NECA-Ghostface-Figure

The 2011 rendering of a Ghostface figurine by NECA toys for Scream 4.

McFarlane Toys produced a 6-inch figurine of Ghostface in 1999 for the second series of Movie Maniacs horror and sci-fi inspired line of character models. A series of figures are to be produced by NECA for the upcoming 2011 film Scream 4 featuring the standard mask and black cowl plus variations such as Zombie Ghostface with a decayed appearance on the mask and Scarecrow Ghostface with brown, cloth-material used for the mask and clothing.

Ghostface has been parodied and referenced numerous times in media following his appearance in the Scream series of slasher films, most prominently in the parody film Scary Movie (2000) where a killer dressed as Ghostface commits a series of murders and is later revealed to be several people as in Scream. In the parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The Thirteenth (2000), a killer wearing a Jason Voorhees-style hockey mask is set on fire, his mask melting to resemble that of Ghostface. The film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) features Ghostface as Shannen Doherty and Wes Craven provide cameos as themselves making the then non-existent Scream 4, but Doherty objects when Ghostface turns out to be played by the orangutan, Suzann.

As in film, Ghostface has been referenced repeatedly in various television programs and commercials. In the same year as the release of Scream 3, the mask made an appearance on Beverly Hills 90210 and the Nickelodeon series Cousin Skeeter. It was also used as an ornament in the bedroom of the character Dawson in Dawson's Creek, a show created by Scream writer, Kevin Williamson.

The character appears in a 1999 episode of Celebrity Deathmatch entitled The Unknown Murderer, where he threatens to kill a scream queen every round, murdering Drew Barrymore, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jennifer Love Hewitt before planting his cell phone on a Platypus to frame him, causing Neve Campbell and Sarah Michelle Gellar to fight it. The mask was later used in The Sopranos episode Fortunate Son where it is worn by the character Christopher to commit a robbery.

The costume is referenced in an episode of the television series Boomtown entitled All Hallow's Eve (2002) where a police officer uses the costume to frighten a bully who has been terrorizing other kids. In the Japanese anime FLCL episode Marquis de Cabras (2003), protagonist Naota's face changes to resemble that of Ghostface frequently during a scene where he and his family are eating spicy curry.

The character makes a cameo in Tripping the Rift in the episode The Devil and a Guy Named Webster (2004) as the judge when Chode sells his soul to the devil and finds a way to sue him. He also appears in a 2004 advert for Trivial Pursuit: 90's Edition representing iconic characters of the 1990s along side Dennis Rodman and the character Rose from the 1997 film Titanic. A parody of Ghostface appears in the television series All Grown Up! episode Interview with a Campfire (2004) where Lil DeVille is taunted by phone and stalked by a character wearing an Easter Bunny mask.

The character appears briefly in The Simpsons episode Home Away from Homer where Homer Simpson suggests him as a babysitter for his daughter Maggie. Roger L. Jackson lends his voice to Ghostface in the Robot Chicken episode "That Hurts Me." (2005) alongside other famous film killers in a show that parodies Big Brother, launching a prank war against Pinhead and Freddy Krueger before giving a speech to save himself from elimination from the show. He is referenced by Kenny Powers, the main character of Eastbound & Down who requests to wear the mask while having sex.

Impact

In his book Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, Adam Rockoff opined that Ghostface's mask was a "striking, surreal and downright terrifying presence". Calling the mask a "hyperbolic rendering" of Edvard Munch's The Scream, Rockoff wrote that the 'face' is "twisted in an exaggerated, almost mocking grin, as if reflecting the look of terror and surprise on his victims' faces."

Tony Magistrale also discussed the similarities between Ghostface's mask and The Scream in his book Abject Terrors: Surveying the Modern and Postmodern Horror Film, stating that the painting, "an apt representation of the degree of alienation from other people, inspires the killers' murderous agenda". The mask of Ghostface is widely renowned for its major appearance on Halloween night. It has been one of the most common movie-inspired costumes on Halloween since the launch of it. There are many variations such as a mask where it can produce fake blood, and as of 2010, scarecrow and zombie versions of the mask. There are even masks from the Scary Movie version like the two wazups and the stoner, plus emotional versions; i.e. Surprise, Smiley, Angry and more.

Gallery

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