When I watch a movie, there are two of me sitting in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs, stuff that explodes, monsters, axe-maniacs, and the occasional light saber, rarely stopping to deeply consider what he’s seeing. We call the kind of movies that guy likes POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who tends to tag along with him, usually uninvited. This guy might like some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. He tends to prefer foreign movies and has an eye for cinematography, thematic motifs, and character development. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life. [youtube https://youtu.be/2aQG0EhW218] CINEMA: What the hell’s going on in here?? I’ve been listening to screams for hours now. POPCORN: You heard screaming for hours and just now came in to check on me? CINEMA: Well, I figured you had a girlfriend over. POPCORN: No, I been watching all these movies. Check it out, man. Swear it’s, like, the same dude hollerin’ in every one of ’em. CINEMA: Which movies are you – holy crap! All of those??? Omigod, how long have you been in here? POPCORN: Since Tuesday. CINEMA: I really think you need a job. POPCORN: Oh, I got one of those. This was more important. CINEMA: What do we have here? THE WILD BUNCH. Hmm, nice beginning. RESERVOIR DOGS. BATMAN RETURNS. MAN OF STEEL. Meh. 30 DAYS OF NIGHT . . . POPCORN: Dude, I really think I’m onto somethin’ here. Could you hand me that copy of ZOMBIE STRIPPERS? Thanks, bro – CINEMA: . . . MACHETE. MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS, really? KILL BILL, Volume One. POPCORN: – and that copy of THE LITTLE MERMAID II. Thanks, dude – CINEMA: THE GREEN BERETS. POLTERGEIST. TITANIC. Looks like . . . every STAR WARS movie, including the HOLIDAY SPECIAL. I didn’t even know that you had all of these movies. POPCORN: I don’t, dude. Lot of these are yours – CINEMA: What? POPCORN: – and if you get anything back with, like, weird stains on it, I apologize right now. Careful where you walk too, dude. Been in here a while. Just sayin’. CINEMA: Come on, man. POPCORN: It’s alright. This is, like, research or something. People are gonna be writin’ about this shit. Check out these academics – CINEMA: Yeah, zombie strippers. POPCORN: Wait, dude. Here’s the part – Television: Arrrghhh! CINEMA: Okay. A zombie stripper throws someone into a wall. POPCORN: Wait, wait, and now this . . . CINEMA: Little Mermaid. Television: Arrrghhh! CINEMA: Some crew member leaps from the ship just before an iceberg falls on it. POPCORN: Hey – iceberg! Dude, can you grab TITANIC over there? I think it’s under that stack with LETHAL WEAPON 4 . . . CINEMA: I think I see where this is going. POPCORN: Listen to this dude when the water hits him . . . Television: Arrrghhh! POPCORN: Same scream. Cool, huh? How ’bout you hand me season 3 of MAVERICK . . . CINEMA: Maybe I can save you some time. POPCORN: Oh, you seen this? There’s, like, three different episodes – CINEMA: The same scream, I know. POPCORN: I was watching STAR WARS after we talked about it last week. There was that scene on the Death Star where Luke and Leia smooch, then swing across that big gap. Just before they start swingin’ Luke shoots a stormtrooper. When the trooper falls, he’s all like, arrrghhh!, and I was thinkin’, damn that sounds familiar – CINEMA: I know. POPCORN: – so I put in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and this rebel dude gets blasted in the Hoth battle. A little later, Chewie knocks another stormtrooper off another platform in the carbon freeze chamber. Same movie, same freakin’ scream, man – CINEMA: I know. POPCORN: – and then it was in RETURN OF THE JEDI, and in every movie in the series! There was even a stormtrooper falling off the Chewbacca family treehouse in that Holiday special – CINEMA: I know. POPCORN: – so then I started watchin’ all these damn movies, dude. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. KUNG FU PANDA. SPIDER-MAN. HOWARD THE DUCK. In every last one – CINEMA: The same scream, I know. POPCORN: Swear, man. I watched about two hundred movies – CINEMA: Just last night, apparently. POPCORN: Dude, I’m, like, a cinematic genius. They’re gonna make YouTube videos about this. Gonna name it after me. Like, the Popcorn Scream or something. I’m gonna be famous. CINEMA: It already has a name. It’s called the Wilhelm Scream. POPCORN: It does? The what? That’s kinda stupid. Oh well. Doesn’t matter, cuz this Wilhelm dude’s gotta be gettin’ really old by now. Here’s the other thing I came up with. Old Wilhelm can retire, and I can get a bus ticket out to Hollywood – CINEMA: Hold on. POPCORN: – and I can be the new scream dude. Even been practicing. Check this out – CINEMA: Hold on. POPCORN: Arrrghhh! CINEMA: Ouch. Wow, yeah, that’s not bad. There’s only one problem – POPCORN: Bus tickets ain’t cheap, dude. I know. That’s where I thought we could have a big huge garage sale, put all these movies out there – CINEMA: Old Wilhelm is already dead. POPCORN: Sweet. I mean, no offence to him and his family. But they need a new dude now. I know most of these movies are yours, but maybe we could work out a deal. You know, if we sell them. I could do the dishes all next month, wash the car – CINEMA: The man most likely responsible for the Wilhelm died of leukemia in Nashville, Tennessee, back in 2003. His name was Sheb Wooley, and he was best known – POPCORN: – for that ‘Purple People Eater’ tune. Yeah, dude, I know the tune. But what’s that got to do with all these screams? CINEMA: Seriously, you’ve never heard of this? Never even seen the compilation video that went viral, like, ten years ago? POPCORN: Dude, I don’t remember breakfast. CINEMA: In 1951, Warner Brothers made a film called DISTANT DRUMS, starring Gary Cooper as an army captain leading a group of soldiers against Seminole Indians who had taken some civilians hostage. It was set during the Seminole War, 1835 – 1847 . . . it was America’s bloodiest Indian war . . . POPCORN: We loved to kill those dudes in movies. Even more than Nazis. CINEMA: We loved to kill anything in movies that wasn’t just like us. For some reason, most of the Seminoles in this movie were played by real Seminole Indians. The plot was fairly ridiculous, nothing more than a vehicle for Cooper, and the wardrobe was essentially made up of whatever old army clothes could be found on mothballs at the studio. POPCORN: Is there, like, a point here, dude? I got research to do. CINEMA: Cooper and his soldiers destroy the fort being held by the Indians, retreating into the Everglades with the survivors. “Fish and turtles! Nothing but fish and turtles! I’m about to grow gills!” Heh-heh. Television: Arrrghhh! POPCORN: Dude . . . SWAMP THING. CINEMA: Uh, yeah. During a scene in which the soldiers are wading through the swamp, one of them is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator. The famous scream, in this case, is somehow heard after the guy is already under the water. Anyway, as it frequently happens in film production, the scream was recorded after everything had already been filmed. A variety of screams were recorded and slated as “man getting bit by alligator, and he screams” – POPCORN: And here in A STAR IS BORN, the one with Judy Garland. Television: Arrrghhh! CINEMA: You watched a Judy Garland movie that didn’t have flying monkeys in it? POPCORN: Don’t hate, bro. I like variety. CINEMA: Anyway . . . your Purple People Eater frequently played small roles in films at the time. He was one of the gunslingers after Gary Cooper in HIGH NOON, and he was in GIANT, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, and even SILVERADO. Of course, there was his recurring role in RAWHIDE. He had an uncredited part as Private Jessup in DISTANT DRUMS. The guy was known for his vocal tricks, such as laughter, dying sounds . . . and screams. He was one of the few cast members they rounded up to record vocal elements for this one. POPCORN: So he’s the guy? Even in this episode of X-FILES? Television: Arrrghhh! CINEMA: Yeah, that was him, most likely. The DISTANT DRUMS scream was added to the Warner Brothers sound effects archive, frequently being used in numerous movies up until the mid-1970s. Then it was discovered by sound designer Ben Burtt in a movie called THE CHARGE AT FEATHER RIVER. This movie was originally released in 3-D . . . and it featured a character named Private Wilhelm, who takes an arrow in the leg – POPCORN: That was the flick playing in the theater in the STAR IS BORN flick. CINEMA: Well, Ben Burtt was the guy who did the sound for STAR WARS, and then a ton of other movies. RAIDERS. WILLOW. MORE AMERICAN GRAFFITI. He more or less adopted the scream as his personal signature, putting it in just about everything he worked on. In RETURN OF THE JEDI, Burtt even makes a cameo. He gets knocked over a ledge by Han Solo and perfectly imitates the Wilhelm Scream. It basically became a private joke between him and his buddies, though the entire world knows about it now. POPCORN: The whole world. Huh. So I didn’t discover it? Damn, dude. CINEMA: So sorry to enlighten you. POPCORN: Well, I guess there’s always the back-up plan. CINEMA: I’m sure I’m going to regret this, but what’s the back-up plan? POPCORN: Yooouarrrgggahhh!!! CINEMA: What the hell is that??? POPCORN: I was planning ahead. Just in case Old Wilhelm didn’t wanna give up his cozy gig, I was workin’ out a new scream. It sounds a little bit like a TIE Fighter. Honestly, dude, I think it’s way better than that boring-ass Wilhelm thing anyway. Wanna hear it again? CINEMA: Not really, and I hate to tell you, but – POPCORN: Yooouarrrgggahhh!!! CINEMA: – but . . . they call that one the Howie Scream. POPCORN: Come on, man. CINEMA: Also known as “Man, gut-wrenching scream and fall into distance.” Its nickname comes from Howie Long’s death in BROKEN ARROW, when his character is kicked through the wall of a train car and falls to his death from the side of a cliff. It originally appeared in THE NINTH CONFIGURATION – POPCORN: Come ON. CINEMA: – a film from 1980, where a biker is holding a glass when his hand is crushed. You might’ve heard it in a Mountain Dew commercial, or when the roller coaster is going up in FINAL DESTINATION 3. Maybe in TROPIC THUNDER. Lots of video games. POPCORN: Naw, dude. For real? CINEMA: Yeah, for real . . . and, just in case you’re thinking about it, they don’t need anyone to voice the Goofy Holler. POPCORN: What’s the Goofy Holler? CINEMA: Yaaa-hoo-hoo-hooey!! POPCORN: How ’bout that sound when somebody falls off a cliff – CINEMA: Endless movies. American Gladiators. The 1997 GOLDENEYE video game, or when a player dies in the PSX version of DOOM. POPCORN: Aaaielalialiaaah!!! CINEMA: They’ve got it covered. POPCORN: – or when one of the Peanuts kids goes Aaughh!! CINEMA: All taken care of. POPCORN: SpongeBob – CINEMA: When some kind of ruckus happens and you hear someone in the crowd exclaim “My leg!” POPCORN: Yeah. CINEMA: No, don’t need it. POPCORN: Or Tom – CINEMA: – and Jerry? POPCORN: – when Tom goes OOO-ooo-OOO-Haa-Haa-Hoo-HOO!! CINEMA: Tom’s signature sound. No, voiced by Bill Hanna himself, way back. And if there’s another King Kong movie in the works, they’ve used the same Fay Wray scream for both the 1976 and 2005 remakes. Don’t need you there either. POPCORN: Dude . . . CINEMA: Don’t even think about making the sound of a red-tailed hawk screeching. They’ve been using the same recording from the early 1950s. There also is no need for the werewolf howl, squeaking doors, footsteps, whistling winds, thunderstorms, train horns, cable cars, wheels screeching, windshield wipers, the salami-breaking-over-the-back-of-a-chair sound of a punch in the face, a telephone ringing, heavy breathing, an eye-poke, a heartbeat, guns blazing, flatulence, crying, devilish laughter, or the mournful refrain of a lonely cricket chirping. POPCORN: How about porn sounds? CINEMA: <sighs heavily> POPCORN: Not bad, dude. But you got no passion. I been practicing. Check it out, dude, check it out. You gotta hear this . . . Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.