For anyone living in blissful ignorance of the Wilhelm Scream, prepare to have your consciousness rogered by insidious movie trivia. But a little bit of knowledge never hurt anyone, right? WRONG! Becoming aware off the Scream is a curse, and once you spot the use of the most over-relied upon and annoying sound effect in cinematic history, there really is no escape.
The Wilhelm is most commonly found in actions films, usually at the point when some poor schmo is called upon to fall off or out of something from a great great height. It’s origins are still contested, but some claim the Scream made its debut in the 1951 film Distant Drums. Right or wrong, it took one of George Lucas’s Stormtroopers screaming like a little girl while tumbling down a bottomless chasm – for the Wilhelm to begin its short journey to inevitable overkill. Since then, it’s been used in… well actually, it’s easier to list the films it hasn’t appeared in. Ready?
No. 1: Er…
Yeah, that’s right, the Wilhelm Scream has appeared in EVERY FILM SINCE STAR WARS. Yeah it has.
OK, it hasn’t really, but the Scream has now appeared in more films than not, so it’s safer and more accurate to round up (probably).*
And as if calling it the Wilhelm wasn’t evidence enough of its ubiquity, here are just a few hundred of the millions and millions of films in which you’ll find it.
So why the overkill? Laziness? In joke? Homage? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that enough is enough. The sound of one more offed bad guy sounding like he’s being lowered balls first into ice water is one too many.
Unless of course, it’s Zac Effron…
*In no way accurate at the time of going to press. Or any other time.