Scream's Marley Shelton Reminisces About A Spooky Phone Call With The Late, Great Wes Craven

When actress Marley Shelton ("Grindhouse," "Pleasantville") was added to the cast of 2011's "Scream 4" as Deputy Judy Hicks, and subsequently survived the ordeal, it was just assumed that her character was being set up for a role in sequels down the line. Sure enough, she popped up in yesterday's trailer for the fifth installment "Scream," and she is now Sheriff Judy Hicks. Judy watches over the town of Woodsboro, where she lives with a teenage son named Wes, played by Dylan Minnette.

Her son's name is most assuredly a tribute to "Scream" franchise filmmaker Wes Craven, who sadly passed away in 2015 from a brain tumor at age 76. Anyone in this business who ever met, worked with or (in my case) interviewed Craven was likely taken aback by how sweet and kind the man who made "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Last House on the Left" was in reality. Shelton had a similar experience with Craven that also eerily echoed the "Scream" movies, which she recalled for Bloody Disgusting:

"I was such a huge fan of his going into it that I was just incredibly humbled and excited to get to work with him. I remember the first day I got there, I had been traveling from Europe, and I was jet-lagged. I was in the hotel room, it was dark, and I got this phone call. I answered my phone, and the voice was, 'Hello, Marley.' It honestly sounded like a ghost. It was Wes Craven calling just to check in and see how I was doing. But it sounded like Ghostface to me, and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh. I have Ghostface on the line.' It just felt so real. Like life imitating art.

"Anyway. He was the coolest. He's so brilliant and personable. He has such a philosophy about the value of horror films. Psychologically, for audiences, he really believes that they're a cathartic healthy thing for our psyche. It was just awesome to participate in his vision, of course. I was a huge fan of the 'Scream' franchise, so I just felt honored."

Carrying on Wes' Legacy

Craven was, by all accounts, a solid dude who exercised his anxieties and fears onscreen for both his benefit and the audience's. Raised in a strict Baptist household as a child, Craven went on to earn a masters degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University before becoming a college professor. He then made the not-so-lateral career move of breaking into the porn industry, where he wrote, directed and edited a number of X-rated movies under pseudonyms. His twisted take on Bergman's "Virgin Spring," 1972's "The Last House on the Left," was intended to be another of these before it became a more mainstream revenge movie that spawned many imitators. 

"Last House" was the first of three times over the course of his career that Craven created a landmark that changed the horror genre forever, the second being 1984's "A Nightmare on Elm Street." In 1996 he did it again with "Scream," which ushered in the self-conscious meta age of horror, poking fun at the tropes and stock teen characters he himself had helped pioneer. 

The fifth film in the series, also titled "Scream," will be the first not helmed by Craven. Taking the mantle are directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett along with producer Chad Villella, the three of whom form the group known as Radio Silence ("Ready or Not"). Shelton told BD that the team was more than up to the task: 

"They did such a great job capturing that similar tone of being funny and scary at the same time, which is so unique to the Scream movies. What a perfect idea to have these guys direct this and infuse it obviously with their own style and creativity. But also carry on Wes' legacy. I jumped at the chance to be able to work with them. Jamie Vanderbilt wrote the script, who's a very acclaimed screenwriter. Kevin Williamson is still involved. This is a dream team. I thought the script, too, was fantastic and well thought out and captured that essence of the other Scream movies while also being its own new thing. I was like, 'Sign me up.'"

"Scream" will arrive in theaters on January 14, 2022.