REVIEW: ‘Real Story’ investigates serial-killer case

Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel.

The Real Story on Smithsonian Channel looks at true stories and how they inspired Hollywood movies. The show jumps among different genres, including science fiction, horror and war films. One recent episode focuses on Wes Craven’s Scream, written by Kevin Williamson, who apparently based the slasher flick on a serial-killer case from Gainesville, Florida.

The resulting documentary, The Real Story: Scream, is now available on DVD from Public Media Distribution. The 45-minute program focuses more on the real-life case of the serial killer and his heinous acts near a college campus, and less on the movie itself. The actual connections to Scream, a horror film starring Neve Campbell, Matthew Lillard and Courtney Cox, are quite thin. There are some parallels, including the general terror that visited the town and the relative young age of the victims, but it appears Williamson made the movie script his own and did not follow the actual story word for word.

The documentary features a great deal of stock footage coupled with archival images, new interviews and commentary on Craven’s 1990s film. The best of these storytelling techniques are the interviews with police officials, journalists and local community members. They provide the necessary details and emotional reactions to place the sordid case of Danny Rolling into perspective. The commentary on how this case connects to Scream is less interesting and seems like a stretch.

By John Soltes / Publisher /

The Real Story: Scream is now available on DVD from Public Media Distribution.

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at, among other publications. E-mail him at

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