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WARNING! This article contains SPOILERS for Scream 6!Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 1994 song “Red Right Hand” is a staple of the Scream movies, as it’s played a total of nine times throughout all but one of the franchise’s installments. Alongside Peaky Blinders’ usage of the tune as its theme song, the Scream franchise has one of the most notorious inclusions of “Red Right Hand” in pop culture. The song, which was released two years before the original 1996 Scream movie, is particularly fitting for the franchise with its title, as the knife-wielding Ghostface killers always emerge with bloody red right (and left) hands.
“Red Right Hand” has become the unofficial theme song of Scream, playing in every movie except for 2011’s Scream 4. The usage of the song within Scream movies also cleverly intertwines with the franchise’s meta nature, particularly in Scream 2 and Scream 6. Not only does the song play non-diegetically on Scream’s soundtrack, but it also plays diegetically within the movies during the fictional Stab films or Scream characters’ fan-made Stab projects. With the song inevitably making a return in the next sequel, here’s a breakdown of all nine times “Red Right Hand” has appeared in the Scream movies.
9 Scream’s Establishing Shot Of Woodsboro
The first time that “Red Right Hand” plays in the original Scream movie is over an establishing shot of the town Woodsboro. This scene occurs right after Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is called by Ghostface on the phone at Tatum and Dewey’s house. “Red Right Hand” thus became Woodsboro’s own theme and was continually associated with the town. The instrumentals are quite ominous and suspenseful in the Nick Cave song, which seems to be a nod that the fictional town of Woodsboro must always be on its toes as Ghostface hunts its teenage residents. This moment also marked one of the best needle drops in ‘90s horror history, which four of the five following Scream movies would replicate.
8 Woodsboro Residents Follow Curfew In Scream
“Red Right Hand” is reprised later in Scream (1996) after more Ghostface killings have occurred and frightened the town. The song plays directly after Randy accuses Billy of being the killer, indicating that “Red Right Hand” could be a way to cleverly signal the identity of the real Ghostface. Nick Cave’s song continues to play over another shot of the town of Woodsboro as the residents begin to shut their windows and observe the new curfew.
7 Scream 2’s Stab Opening Scene
Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” returns early on in Scream 2, and it finally plays in a manner that reflects the franchise’s meta nature. When Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps’ characters enter the movie theater in Scream 2’s opening scene, “Red Right Hand” plays over the intro credits for the movie-within-a-movie Stab franchise film. Funny enough, the last time “Red Right Hand” played in Scream (1996), it occurred just after Billy, Stu, and Randy were talking about who would play them in a movie. In perfect Scream fashion, the song would next be heard in 1997’s Scream 2 over the movie based on themselves.
6 Scream 2’s Party Interruption
“Red Right Hand” played for a second time in Scream 2 following the first Ghostface attack at Windsor College. After the death of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Scream 2 character Cici, police break up the sorority and fraternity party that Sidney and her friends are attending. While the students begin to leave the party, the instrumentals of “Red Right Hand” are heard on the soundtrack, indicating Sidney is no longer safe despite leaving Woodsboro behind.
Scream 2’s second inclusion of Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” also references its reprisal from Scream (1996). Similar to how the song was heard in the original movie after Randy said Billy was the killer, the bell clang of the chorus of “Red Right Hand” is played right as Scream 2 cuts to Debbie Salt, AKA Nancy Loomis, who is secretly Billy’s mother and one of the 1997 sequel’s two Ghostface killers. This needle drop of “Red Right Hand” confirmed that the song serves as an Easter egg that gives viewers clues to Ghostface’s real identity.
5 Scream 3’s Stab 3 Set Introduction Scene
While “Red Right Hand” already exists as a soundtrack song for the fictional Stab movies, its first time playing in Scream 3 wasn’t diegetic. Rather, the song played over Scream 3’s soundtrack as the movie introduced the set of Stab 3, the third in the movie-within-a-movie franchise based on the events of Scream’s Ghostface killings. “Red Right Hand” continued to play as Scream 3 cut to movie producer John Milton and Stab 3 director Roman Bidger discussing the film’s production.
Since Roman Bridger turned out to be Scream 3’s sole Ghostface killer, the movie’s “Red Right Hand” inclusion was another clue to his nefarious plans. The needle drop of “Red Right Hand” in Scream 3 also continued the franchise’s meta premise by playing as it panned over the Stab 3 set designed to recreate Woodsboro. Not only is the song already associated with Woodsboro, but “Red Right Hand” playing over the set recreation of the town was meant to be a nod to the song’s first inclusion in Scream (1996) over an establishing shot of the real Woodsboro.
4 Scream 3’s End Credits
The second time that “Red Right Hand” plays in Scream 3 is over the film’s closing credits. After Roman is outed as the killer and Sidney returns home to watch a movie with her future husband Mark Kincaid, “Red Right Hand” closes the movie to seemingly indicate that Sidney’s battles with Ghostface are also at a close. Of course, this wouldn’t be the case when the franchise was revived for another sequel in 2011. By the time Scream 3 arrived in 2000, “Red Right Hand” had become associated with the franchise so much that artist Nick Cave wrote a new version of the track specifically for the trilogy-ending sequel.
3 Vince’s Scream 5 Death Scene
After the song was missing from Scream 4, “Red Right Hand” makes its return to the franchise in Scream (2022). The song plays diegetically right before Ghostface attacks Stu Macher’s nephew Vince Schneider, as the song was mysteriously coming from Vince’s car outside the bar. While the song nearly scored the Ghostface kill, Vince shut off the tune before the killer began attacking him. Amber was in the bar directly before the song started playing, which was another hint that she was one of Scream 5’s two Ghostfaces.
2 Ghostface Kills Sam’s Therapist In Scream 6
Similar to many of the other times that “Red Right Hand” first appears in a Scream movie, its initial needle drop in Scream 6 occurs directly after the death of Sam Carpenter’s therapist. The song continues to play as Scream 6 cuts to Mindy explaining the rules of surviving a franchise on campus, a conversation in which both Ethan and Quinn are present. Not only this, but the secret killers Ethan and Quinn are both raised as Ghostface suspects by Mindy, which calls back to Randy accusing Billy of being the killer right before the original movie’s “Red Right Hand” needle drop.
1 Richie’s Movie Ending In Scream 6
The second time that “Red Right Hand” plays in Scream 6 is about as meta as the franchise can get. The song returns on the soundtrack of Richie’s Stab fan movie that is playing on the projector in Ghostface’s movie theater shrine. Richie playing “Red Right Hand” over his movie’s credits is a reference to his love for the Stab franchise and their frequent inclusion of the song, which is, of course, also based on the Scream movies often using the Nick Cave track. The next time that “Red Right Hand” plays in a Scream sequel, the song will inevitably be tied to an even more self-referential scene.