Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Wilhelm Scream

This is the all time largest post ever to appear on Astroroach, but I'm burning the bits anyway because I find it so astonishing that a certain sound byte of a man screaming has been used over and over again in hundreds of films, TV shows and even amusement park rides for more than 50 years. You have to see the list to appreciate it. The YouTube video shows only a small sampling.

According to Damn Interesting:

Eventually a sound effect aficionado named Ben Burtt noticed the same scream wailing from the speakers of movie after movie. When he made the swashbuckler parody The Scarlet Blade in 1974, he decided he wanted to use the scream, so he lifted it from another film's soundtrack. A few years later, he was hired to handle the sound effects for Star Wars, and during his audio hunting adventures he heard a familiar cry emanate from the Warner Brothers archive: the original Distant Drums scream. Delighted, Burtt began to regularly insert the dramatic outcry into the projects he worked on, including Star Wars. He dubbed it the "Wilhelm scream" in honor of the first named character to use it, and from there it found its way into cinema legend.

The scream soon became a kind of inside joke for Hollywood sound editors who started watching for places to insert it.

Movies Using The Wilhelm Scream (from freedictionary.com )


  • The Charge at Feather River (The scream is uttered by the character Wilhelm, who gave his name to the scream, as well as by several other characters.)
  • The Command (an Indian is shot)
  • Distant Drums (The original use of the sound. Used when a character is eaten by an alligator and when three Indians are shot.)
  • Helen of Troy (1956)
  • Land of the Pharaohs (The scream is emitted from inside a crocodile that has just eaten a man)
  • The Sea Chase (1955)
  • Springfield Rifle (1952)
  • A Star Is Born (1954 version with Judy Garland)
  • Them! (A sailor uses the scream when attacked on his ship and later a soldier pinned by falling beam in storm sewers)




  • Always (1989)
  • The Big Brawl (1980)
  • The Big Red One (When the soldiers are being ambushed at Christ-on-the-Cross, just after an explosion.)
  • Explorers (1985)
  • Howard the Duck (A duck hunter falls out of a boat shortly before Howard yells, "Banzai!")
  • Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (twice in the truck chase scene, first when a Nazi soldier falls out of the back of the truck and then again when two fall off the side)
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Three Wilhelms and a near Wilhelm. Once when Indy is pushed on a cart into the band-stand in Club Obi-Wan, when Indiana Jones shoots one of the Goons pursuing him through Shanghai, when Mola Ram is eaten at the end of the movie. A near Wilhelm occurs when a Thuggee goon is tossed off of a walkway in the mines.)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (when one soldier is killed with a grenade during the desert chase.)
  • Poltergeist (After the family eats breakfast, Carol Anne Freeling is watching tv. A soldier dies)
  • Spaceballs (Barf uses a section of tubing to reflect four laser bolts back at guards. The fourth one hit screams.)
  • (during the Hoth battle, a rebel soldier's defensive turret dish is destroyed. Another one occurs when Chewbacca throws a stormtrooper off of a platform before Han is frozen.)
  • (when Luke kills one of Jabba the Hutt's guards (a Weequay) above the Sarlacc Pit. Later, Han throws a bag of charges at an Imperial officer in the Endor bunker, knocking him backwards over a railing. That Imperial officer is sound designer Ben Burtt in a cameo appearance, who did his own impression of the "Wilhelm". In the Special Edition, a stormtrooper does a Wilhelm while being savaged by a crowd. In the DVD release, a second Wilhelm occurs after another Weequay is knocked off of a barge by Luke Skywalker, and when Boba Fett was knocked onto the Sarlaac.)
  • Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Three Fugitives (1989)
  • Willow (when soldiers crash their carriage after chasing the heroes and when The Brownies manage to trigger a huge spear shooter that hits several enemy soldiers)


  • Aladdin (Villagers flee in terror as the Genie [under Jafar's control] lifts the palace into the air.)
  • Batman Returns (During the second Red Triangle Circus Gang mayhem scene, when Batman turns a corner, punches and grabs an enemy and hurls him towards a railing.)
  • Beauty and the Beast (Just after Chip says, "You guys got to try this thing", a villager screams from the exterior of the castle during a fight between the villagers & the household objects.)
  • Beethoven's 2nd (when the bully kid falls from the house's balcony into the lake)
  • Broken Arrow (when Master Sergeant Kelly falls down the ravine)
  • Dante's Peak (Dr. Paul Dreyfus dies)
  • Evening Class
  • (while driving through central park)
  • The Doors (during the toppling of speakers while the crowd charges the stage in the chaos after Morrison "reveals" himself)
  • Face/Off (rappelling SWAT team member shot, again when a man is shot as his boat is stolen by Castor Troy)
  • The Fifth Element (When Leeloo kicks the two Mangalores into the hallway during the fight in Plavalaguna's chamber.)
  • A Goofy Movie (During the song "On The Open Road", Goofy's car plows through a construction site & a worker screams.)
  • (when the gremlins take over a man is thrown off a balcony)
  • Hercules (when the Cyclops is smashing houses looking for Hercules)
  • Legion of Iron
  • Lethal Weapon 4 (when the flamethrower man in the opening scene flies into the gas truck)
  • Matinee (1993)
  • Mom And Dad Save The World
  • (1998) (a lower-pitched Wilhelm is heard from one of the last scientists to be killed offscreen by Mewtwo's psychic powers)
  • Reservoir Dogs (when Mr. Pink pushes past pedestrians on the street after the botched robbery)
  • Sailor Moon S: Hearts in Ice (While Amara, Michelle, and Trista are at a restaurant, a snow dancer freezes a man passing by. Only in the Optimum dub.)
  • The Second Civil War (1997)
  • Small Soldiers (many action figures scream Wilhelms when they die)
  • (two Naboo security officers get shot in the Naboo hangar, also heard in "Trailer B" when a Naboo fighter pilot is shot down)
  • Toy Story (Buzz screams the Wilhelm scream when the desk lamp knocks him out the window)


  • Accepted (Heard from a kid as he flies from his skateboard.)
  • ├ćon Flux (Aeon shoots a guard off the ledge in the courtyard)
  • Agent Cody Banks (when a guard falls off a balcony and through a fiberglass ceiling. time: 1:25:41)
  • (During the first part of the gang fight, in a lower-than-usual pitch.)
  • And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself
  • Animatrix (During Matriculated a sentinel grabs and throws a human)
  • Cars (film) (When a car is hit by lightning in Lightning McQueen's dream sequence at the beginning of the movie.)
  • Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
  • (short) (When FBI Agent Thompson is killed by an electro-incinerator)
  • (2006)
  • Fantastic Four (by a frightened bystander in the final battle after Ben (The Thing) throws a car at Victor (Doctor Doom) and a bus is slid in Victor's direction)
  • "Fun with Dick and Jane" (2005) (Deleted scene - when security gaurd chases Dick, and when he's thrown out the front window.)
  • The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas (when Fred Flinstone does a cannonball in the pool at the hotel, he displaces a swimmer)
  • Flushed Away (2006)
  • Flyboys (when the Germans raid the refugee caravan, one plane makes a strafing run blowing up a cart, one the men is flung forwards)
  • Get Rich or Die Trying (when the Colombians shoot a number of people during a recording session)
  • Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle (when Harold and Kumar are riding the cheetah and Harold is hit by a tree branch)
  • Hellboy (A Nazi scientist is sucked into the portal)
  • Just Visiting (2001)
  • The Kid (2000)
  • Kill Bill: Vol.1 (once shortly after splitting the henchman vertically during the Crazy 88 scene, and once more two minutes later when running up the stairway.)
  • King Kong (A sailor is pushed over a cliff by a dinosaur during the stampede)
  • Kingdom of Heaven (A Muslim soldier is knocked off from his siege tower when a trebuchet missile hits it)
  • Land of the Dead (2005)
  • Life or Something Like It (2002)
  • (2000--Direct to video) (A crew member jumps from his ship and screams just before part of an iceberg falls on the ship) (time: 57:48)
  • (when Damian Drake tosses a grenade behind him; the scream is heard when it explodes) (time: 13:27)
  • (A Gondorian is dropped from the sky by a Nazgul and a Haradrim is knocked off a Mumakil by Legolas)
  • (Shortly after the Uruk-Hai succesfully scale the walls of Helm's deep, (just after the shot of Haldir killing two Uruks))
  • Madagascar (film) (When people are fleeing from Alex the Lion in the Grand Central Station [barely audible])
  • The Majestic (when they first test the Majestic's lit sign and it shorts out)
  • A Man Apart (2003)
  • The Medallion (twice, once when Julian Sands defeats Jackie Chan in a fight, and later when the medallion itself "screams")
  • Monster House (film) (during a scary movie Zee & Bones are watching, Very Faint)
  • Once Upon A Time In Mexico (During the motorcycle chase one of the gansters is hit by an old man in a car)
  • Osmosis Jones (Thrax throws someone out of their car)
  • Peter Pan (--Unconfirmed--) (Alf Mason [the 'ugly' pirate] falls from rigging after being accidentally shot by Smee)
  • (The cursed pirates engage the HMS Dauntless crew and a British officer is thrown over the railing near the start of the battle, right before Governor Swann is shown coming out of the captin's quarters. very faint)
  • Planet of the Apes (when General Thade throws two humans in the air)
  • Ring Two, The (Very faint, just when Rachel hits the water after having thrown herself off the cliff)
  • The Salton Sea (2002)
  • Scorched (2003)
  • She's the Man (Shortly after Viola enters her brother's dorm, the scream can be heard faintly on the TV set) (time: 15:26)
  • Sin City (Marv throws a cop out of his squad car while stealing it.)
  • Sixteen Blocks (during the bus hijacking scene.)
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (A construction worker on a scaffolding is thrown from it by bat-like flying robots)
  • Soul Plane (When Captain Mack dives the plane)
  • Spider-Man (Very faint, when Bone Saw first flips his opponent in the ring)
  • (Vol.1) (Chapter 12, when the seismic tank fires for the first time. During the shock wave after.)
  • (Vol.2) (Chapter 24, Once when General Grievous is slicing up clones in the chambers of Chancellor Palpatine. Also, a couple minutes later when two Magna Guards throw the last two clones over an edge.)
  • (in the beginning of the film,a Naboo cruiser explodes on Coruscant)
  • (when a laser cannon battery explodes in a Venator-class Star Destroyer and severly injures many Clone Troopers in the Battle of Coruscant)
  • Storm (film) (In the first comic book scene)
  • Superman Returns (When the train set in Luthor's basement is destroyed)
  • Taxi (2004)
  • (When Gary first walks into the palace and says he has his pass right here, shooting 3 guards.)
  • Tears of the Sun (After the spy is discovered, two traps are laid and set off. The second trap kills some soldiers.)
  • Tomcats (2001)
  • War of the Worlds (At the end of the film when the soldiers take down a tripod, it lands on a soldier.)
  • (The were-rabbit Has a rampage near the end of the film, and picks up Lady Tottington)
  • Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
  • (Deleted scenes: one mutant is under a platform during the big battle and gets shot, "curing" him and he falls off)

Television shows

  • American Dad, where an agent at the CIA pulls the pin on a grenade and casually tosses it over his shoulder while in the training room. It was also heard in a later episode as two Handicapped Mafia hitmen beat up a rival.
  • , during the episode Grand Master (Season 1, Episode 4) where Mack and Aiden are on a fire escape discussing the murder of DJ Banner. A possible flashback of his murder uses the sound as DJ Banner dies.
  • Doctor Who, during the "TARDISODE" (made-for-Internet prequel trailer) for the 2006 episode "Tooth and Claw", as a man is attacked by a werewolf.
  • Drawn Together, in the episode "Dirty Pranking No. 2" when someone gets blasted with a robo-fly's raygun, in "The Lemon-AIDS Walk" when Captain Hero takes steroids, in "A Very Special Drawn Together Afterschool Special" during a barroom brawl, and in "The Drawn Together Clip Show" when the the Producer opens fire on the audience.
  • Family Guy, in the episode "North by North Quahog" when Lois and Peter try to get away with Mel Gibson's new movie from two catholic priests they drive through a mall and they manage to drive past a piano but the priests drive right at it and the man at the piano jumps out of the way.
  • Invasion, when a man is thrown over the edge of a pier during the series finale (May 2006).
  • Island of Assassins, when Ellen is fighting in the opening scene (you can faintly hear the scream in the background). Only in the FUNimation dub.
  • The Batman episode The Breakout, when Batgirl and Robin are fighting an organization in an elevator shaft, and one is hit by Robin while trying to get to the top of the shaft.
  • The League of Gentlemen, on the main menu of the second series DVD, accompanied by the show's theme tune.
  • The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, in almost any, if not every, episode.
  • Macross, in the episode "Blind Game" when Hikaru Ichijyo takes down a group of Zentradi police officers. Only in the ADV Films dub.
  • The Venture Bros., in the episode "Hate Floats" when The Monarch, Dr. Venture and the henchmen come out of the door just before the closing credits, and at the beginning of "I Know Why the Caged Bird Kills" when the Monarch and his henchmen mistakingly raid an office.

Video games

  • Daleks vs. Cybermen (2006), a Flash video game from the BBC website based on the Doctor Who episode "Doomsday." The humans "deleted" by the player-controlled Cybermen emit Wilhelm screams. http://www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho/games/game13/index.shtml
  • God of War, when you kill the man holding the bridge on the Rooftops of Athens.
  • (2005), either Obi-Wan Kenobi or Anakin Skywalker screams it when the player dies during the Space Battle Over Coruscant level.
  • Mortal Kombat, if a player uses Johnny Cage to defeat Goro, the villain emits a Wilhelm scream.
  • Ratchet and Clank During all of the Ratchet games apart from Deadlocked, you emit a Wilhelm if you die by falling into one of the game's many abysses 1 and fissions.
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004) for the Nintendo DS, when the player throws an enemy off a building.
  • Various times.
  • , when an enemy falls off a ledge and in the second ILM made cutscene.
  • When killing most ground troops (storm troopers, snow troopers, sand people etc.)
  • (1996) For the Nintendo 64 version, an imitation of this scream can be heard as the player shoots a stormtrooper, Imperial commando or other living hostile and the AI falls off a high ledge.
  • SWAT 4, sometimes when the VIP is killed in the "VIP Escort" multiplayer mode.
  • Team Fortress 2, in the second released trailer, when a character runs over some dynamite as it explodes. Also is heard at the beginning when a group of soldiers are killed by an engineer's turret.
  • World Championship Poker 2: Featuring Howard Lederer: Players leaving an online game emit a Wilhelm Scream.
  • Scarface:The World is Yours: Tony Montana emits what sounds like a Wilhelm Scream when he gets eaten by a shark.
  • Various times.
  • Neverwinter Knights II I couple times.


  • Davy Crockett's Tall Tales (Amusement Park Ride) In the Davy and Death Hug wrestling scene Davy emits a Wilhelm.
  • 4chan's Flash introduction shown at Otakon 2006 contains an Apple IIe user who emits a Wilhelm scream upon being strangled by an elongated feline.
  • Pitching Lucas (Fan film) By one of the executives who falls through the carbon freeze shaft.
  • Runaway Brain: At the start of the cartoon after Minnie says, "From now on, you can date your stupid video game," Mickey's video game character lets out a Wilhelm when he dies.
  • Trevor Rides Again: In the scene where Trevor falls off of the movie car while 'ghostriding the whip.'
  • Elvenking: On the album Heathenreel, the scream is heard at the beginning of the song "Conjuring the 14th".
  • In Medal of Honor Pacific Assault a Wilhelm can be heard during the opening Tarawa battle and during the strafing of the Pearl Harbor docks near the CINCPAC headquarters.

1 comment:

Buzz Stephens said...

Speaking of Judy Garland, There is a popular new group on Yahoo called THE JUDY GARLAND EXPERIENCE.The group has rare audio files, photo's, lively discussions, and more! They just don't feature Judy exclusively. This week one of the audio files they are featuring is a recording of Tallulah Bankhead trying to make a record, and she can't sing, I mean the girl really can't sing!. Besides that, she is explicit, offensive, politically incorrect, and of course,wonderful. It's only about 8 minutes long but you get the full force of Tallulah's over the top personality. You should check it out. And if you are a Judy fan you have to definitely pay the site a visit.