Friday Favourites: Willhelm Scream appearances

By Rosie Stephen

Posted on June 10, 2016 in Friday Favourites with tags

I was inspired to write this after stumbling across this audio database of screams during a late night voyage into the weirder side of the internet. I was idly clicking through them when I came to across the ‘Wilhelm Scream’.

I’ve always loved a good cinematic in-joke. And the Wilhelm Scream is arguably the longest running of them all. Named after the character Will Helm in the 1953 film ‘Feather River’, it is a stock sound effect scream that has since popped up all over, in the most unexpected of places.

It’s one of those things that once you’ve heard once, you hear everywhere. And I mean everywhere. So, for your listening and reading pleasure, I have come up with my top five favourite examples of the Wilhelm Scream.

Distant Drums (1951)

Despite its namesake, the scream actually first appeared in Distant Drums (1951) as the soundtrack to a man being eaten by an alligator. And let’s be real, the original is always the best.


Backstage (2000)

According to On the Media’s podcast on the Wilhelm Scream, sound engineer Stephen Altobello is one of its biggest fans. He’s tried to sneak it into a number of films over the years, but nothing quite compares to its appearance in the Jay Z tour documentary ‘Backstage’ (2000). I haven’t managed to find the exact moment it’s played, but even the thought is pretty fantastic.


A Star is Born (1954)

Halfway through Judy Garland’s rendition of ‘Somewhere there’s a someone’ in the 1954 film ‘A Star is Born’. Incredibly unsubtle, very satisfying.

Willhelm Scream’ by James Blake

James Blake’s Wilhelm Scream. I’ll admit I shared the disappointment felt in the comment section of the music video to find that the Wilhelm Scream didn’t actually feature in this song. However, the eeriness of the melody and the repetition of the lyrics make it the perfect musical representation of the Wilhelm Scream. (Ok so I cheated a little bit, sorry, but it is a very good song. Promise.)


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

George Lucas was one of the screams biggest fans. So it seems only right that I include one of its most recent occurrences, a nod to the cult classics in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.


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