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The “Scream” Warehouse

Oct 12th, 2017 | By | Category: Haunted Hollywood, Movie Locations

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There has been so much tragedy in the world as of late.  I’ve always avoided watching the news, but recently I feel like not even turning on my TV at all.  Between the heartbreaking massacre in Las Vegas, the multitude of hurricanes plummeting the Eastern seaboard, and the fires ravaging both Orange and Sonoma Counties, devastation seems to be everywhere.  My mom and I were actually in Santa Rosa visiting my aunt and uncle last year at this exact time.  Hearing reports of the blaze desolating the area has been particularly saddening as I can’t help but think of the incredibly happy time we spent there, traversing pretty much all of Wine Country to stalk film locations, mainly from my favorite scary movie Scream, which was shot in its entirety in the region.  (Thankfully, my aunt and uncle are both safe, as is their house.)  I have yet to blog about the vast majority of the locales we visited during that fabulous trip and thought covering one today would be especially poignant.

Scream is a bit of an anomaly in the motion picture world being that it was lensed almost exclusively at actual locations.  Very few sets were utilized in the shoot, which took place over the course of eight weeks beginning in April 1996.  During my visit to Northern California, I dragged my mom, aunt and uncle (as well as another uncle, my longtime BFF, Nat, and her boyfriend, Tony – there was literally an entire squad of us!) to every single site featured in the flick – every. single. one.  I was so fixated on being thorough that we even stalked the warehouse that served as a soundstage during the production.  Though the building is completely non-descript with absolutely no recognizable elements tying it to the film – not to mention it was either largely remodeled or demolished with a new structure now standing in its place (I’ll extrapolate on that a bit later in the post) – I was thrilled to be seeing it in person.

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As I detailed in last year’s post about the Sonoma Community Center, a portion of Scream was originally set to be shot at Santa Rosa High School.   The school board wound up vetoing the plan at the very last minute, though, leaving director Wes Craven and the rest of the production team scrambling to find a suitable replacement to mask as Woodsboro High.  Enter the Sonoma Community Center, whose then manager offered up the site for use.  Though the center did serve as a school up until 1948, it lacked several spaces detailed in the Scream script.  So a couple of sets were built at a Santa Rosa warehouse to accommodate for the missing spots.

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I learned of the warehouse’s existence and location thanks to my friend/Drew Barrymore aficionado Ashley, who runs The Drewseum website.  As I mentioned in my October 2016 post about the Shadow of a Doubt house (which also appeared in Scream), over the years Ashley has managed to get her hands on a few Scream call sheets and she was kind enough to share them with me.  Let me tell you, reading through them is like a dream!  I mean, the location information alone is enough to make my head spin!  One of the coveted pages details Day 9 of production (April 25th, 1996), during which several scenes taking place in Woodsboro High’s school office were lensed.  The sheet lists the location of the shoot as a “warehouse stage” at 2875 Santa Rosa Avenue.  Ashley also shared with me the image below (a screen capture from Scream: The Inside Story), which shows the office set as it existed inside of the warehouse.

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The Woodsboro High office set – which consisted of Principal Arthur Himbry’s (Henry Winkler) office, a small hallway and an anteroom – as it appeared in Scream can be seen below.

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I am fairly certain that the Woodsboro High School girls’ restroom, where Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) encountered the Ghostface killer for the second time, was also a set built at the warehouse.  Though I originally assumed the segment was shot at the Sonoma Community Center, when I stalked the building, I could not find a bathroom even remotely similar to the Scream bathroom anywhere.  I showed the employee who took us on a tour of the place the screen captures below and he informed me that he was fairly certain a restroom of that size and shape had never existed on the premises.  Upon arriving home, I contacted a Scream crew member who got back to me immediately saying that the bathroom was indeed a set.  Since crew member recollections are not always reliable, though, I wanted more confirmation.  So I reached out to Leonora Scelfo and Nancy Anne Ridder, the two actresses who appeared alongside Neve in the scene.  They both could not have been nicer, but had different memories of where filming took place.  Leonora recalled shooting the bathroom scene on location at “the school” (I’m assuming she means the community center), while Nancy informed me that the bit was lensed on a set.  As I said, cast and crew recollections can’t always be trusted.  I am fairly certain, though, that Nancy was correct and that the Woodsboro High girls’ restroom was a set that existed inside of the Santa Rosa warehouse.

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Ashley also has a hunch that a very tiny portion of the infamous opening scene was lensed at the warehouse, as well, though she is not certain of that fact.  Scream’s opening, which took place at the residence of Casey Becker (Drew Barrymore), was actually the first part of the movie to be shot.  At the time, Craven had not yet secured the rights from Fun World for the use of their “Peanut-Eyed Ghost” mask, which executive producer Marianne Maddalena had spotted while scouting the home that was ultimately used as Tatum Riley’s (Rose McGowan) in the flick and which Wes wanted to utilize to shroud Ghostface.  Time running out, Craven had KNB EFX Group re-create the mask with just enough subtle changes so as not to infringe upon Fun World’s copyrighted design.  KNB’s re-creation was used in the first two segments of Scream that were shot – the opening and the scenes in the Woodsboro High School office.  After those bits were lensed, the rights to the Fun World mask were secured and for the rest of the shoot, the Peanut-Eyed Ghost was used.  Both masks are pictured below.  As you’ll notice, the differences between them are rather inconspicuous.  The KNB version has a much sharper triangular nose than its Fun World counterpart.  The KNB mouth boasts an upside-down tear-drop shape, while the Fun World mouth is more of an oval.  And the eyes of the KNB ghost are thinner and more symmetrical than that of Fun World.  Other than those small differences, though, it is pretty hard to tell them apart.

KNB vs Fun World Scream Mask

At some point after the rights were secured, Wes decided to reshoot the brief portion of the opening in which Ghostface is seen through Casey’s back window using the Fun World mask.  Ashley has an inkling that the reshoot (stills of which are pictured below) was done at the warehouse and I think she’s right.  That is just a hunch, though.  While it makes sense that filming of the short, tightly-shot segment would have taken place at the warehouse, it is also entirely possibly producers constructed a tiny window set to shoot the bit at one of the other locales utilized in the production.

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  If you watch the Scream opening carefully, the two different masks are apparent.  The sharp nose of the KNB version (which is pictured in the caps below) is the most noticeable giveaway.

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I also have a hunch that the window portion of Sidney’s bedroom may have been a set.  Though Craven states in Scream’s DVD commentary that filming of the bedroom scenes took place at the actual Santa Rosa residence utilized as Sidney’s in the shoot, as you can see in the image of the warehouse below, some sort of set boasting three single-hung windows is visible to the right of the high school office set.

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Those windows are a darn close match to Sidney’s.  Even her white lace curtains seem to be visible.  In Scream, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) climbs through Sidney’s window, located on the Prescott home’s second floor, on two different occasions.  To quote Bruce Willis, it seems doubtful, due to liability issues, that Wes would have Skeet clambering onto a roof and through a second-story window not once, but twice during production.  It is much more likely that a small portion of the bedroom with more accessible windows was re-created at the warehouse for the scenes.  Who knows, though?

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When I arrived at 2875 Santa Rosa Avenue last October, I was shocked to find a strip mall that looked to be of rather new construction standing on the premises.  Walking around the center, which is home to a flooring store, a La-Z-Boy outpost and a sports shop, among others, I started to have doubts that the Scream warehouse was still standing.

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Upon arriving home, I looked into the matter further and was dismayed at what I found.  In comparing the 1993 overhead view of the site to the 2009 view via Historic Aerials, it is clear that the warehouse was either razed and completely rebuilt at some point during the interim or remodeled and expanded extensively before being transformed into the strip mall it is now.  My guess is the former, which would mean that the Scream warehouse is no longer.  Try as I might, though, I could not find any confirmation of my hunch or any information on the warehouse or the strip mall whatsoever.  Even searching Santa Rosa building permits provided no clarification.  Regardless, to me the site will always be hallowed ground and I was thrilled that I got to stalk it.

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For more stalking fun, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Los Angeles magazine and Discover Los Angeles.

Big THANK YOU to Ashley, from The Drewseum, for telling me about this location and for providing so much of the information included in this post!  Smile

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: The Scream warehouse is/was located at 2875 Santa Rosa Avenue in Santa Rosa.

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2 comments

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  1. Ashley says:

    It was SO much fun analyzing and obsessing over this together 🙂 Love how it all came together and that I possibly learned something new about the filming of our fave flick thanks to the Sidney bedroom windows revelation. Thanks for all the shout outs!

  2. Katie says:

    Oh Lindsay, this is amazing! Sure it’s ‘just’ a warehouse that doesn’t even exist anymore but the way you have pulled this post together with your scouting and Ashley’s information is nothing short of astonishing! I love the tidbits about the bathroom and the window! Have you reached out to Skeet to ask about the window set filming? Perhaps he may be able to shed some light?


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