Scream 2, the follow-up to director Wes Craven's meta-horror hit from 1996 that just became available to stream on Netflix, was forged in the fire of the early internet. After the runaway box-office success of Scream, which grossed $173 million on a $15 million budget, launched the movie careers of a number of young stars, and turned the question, "Do you like scary movies?" into an annoying catch phrase, series writer Kevin Williamson was already cranking out a script for the sequel. It proved difficult to keep under wraps. According to Craven, they had to "do backflips" to rewrite the opening after the first 40 pages "show[ed] up on the Internet"; in an interview with Williamson from 2010, the screenwriter said he created multiple potential finales to the script, including a "dummy ending" that surfaced online and identified a different set of killers than the actual ending. (Versions of that controversial alternate script are still readily available.) Even during production, the actors were kept in the dark about the big reveal, which remains a great, bewildering horror movie twist.
Like many sequels, Scream 2 was a product of both careful planning and in-the-moment problem-solving. It had a rushed shoot, complicated by the fact that many of its stars, like Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and Jerry O'Connell, were also starring in high-profile TV shows at the time. But Williamson had a vision: As he told Fangoria before the movie's release, the writer, who would go on to create Dawson's Creek and The Following, submitted the script for the original Scream with a five-page treatment for two sequels. "I was not being ballsy or overly confident," he said. "I was just suggesting that, if they bought this script, they would have a possible franchise on their hands."
His bet paid off: Scream spawned three movies, including 1997's Scream 2, 2000's Scream 3, and 2011's Scream 4, and a television series, which are all currently available to stream on Netflix. The first Scream, with its dynamite opening sequence featuring Drew Barrymore, quippy dialogue, and tense plotting, remains the high watermark for the franchise and a historic inflection point for the genre, but Scream 2 deserves your attention -- or at least your next stream. It's one of the best slasher sequels of all time, dutifully building on the self-reflexive tone of the first film while deepening the convoluted, death-obsessed mythology of the series. Plus, it's got Academy Award nominee Laurie Metcalf and future Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant! How many other sequels can say that?