Iain Gray Freelance Writer

The scream that never ends

Have you ever heard about the Wilhelm Scream? Probably not, but the chances are that you have heard the scream itself. 

Thought to have been created in 1951 during the filming of “Distant Drums” by actor Sheb Wooley, the scream is a stock sound effect of a man yelling out in pain as he is attacked by an alligator.

It was then quickly used again by a sound engineer in The Charge at Feather River, at the point where a Private Wilhelm (hence the name) is shot with an arrow. Ludicrously, it still sounds like a man being eaten by an alligator.

However, after Ben Burtt used it in Star Wars (as a stormtrooper plummets to his death after being shot by Luke Skywalker) it became an in-joke amongst Hollywood sound designers, and has now made an appearance in over fifty films, including King Kong, Reservoir Dogs, Spider Man and Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

For a full list, click here.

Wilhelm’s still going strong today. Listen out for the world-famous cry during the hilarious Pixar short Lifted.


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