In December of 1996, Wes Craven’s “Scream” made its silver screen debut and revitalized the slasher film genre. This now-iconic piece of cinematic history was greatly inspired by a drifter in Florida who murdered five college students over the course of three days in August of 1990. The drifter? Shreveport, Louisiana native Danny Rolling.
Rolling’s reign of terror began in Shreveport in November of 1989, when he broke into the home of 24-year-old Julie Grissom where he killed her, her 8-year-old nephew and her father.
Fleeing to Florida after shooting his father, a Shreveport police officer, in May of the following year, Rolling committed the crimes that would later earn him the moniker “The Gainesville Ripper.”
When finally caught and charged for the murders nearly two years later, Rolling claimed to have been driven to do so by an alternate personality named “Gemini.” In February of 1994, Rolling pleaded guilty to his crimes while his mother recounted the abuse Rolling had received at the hands of his father to the jury. Several psychiatrists testified that Rolling suffered from a severe personality disorder, but stated that Rolling understood what he was doing at the time of his crimes.
Rolling was found guilty on all five counts in late March and sentenced to death in April 1994. He was executed at Florida State Prison on Oct. 25, 2006.
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In 1994, an episode of ABC News’ “Turning Point” about Rolling inspired screenwriter Kevin Williamson to write “Woodsboro Murders,” which later became the script for “Scream.”
The cult horror classic draws on various “horror movie rules” to explore the story about two teenage boys who terrorize a small town.
In the new documentary, paranormal investigator Steve Shippy and psychic medium Cindy Kaza team up to uncover the truth behind Rolling’s insanity claims.
The duo will be the first to ever conduct a paranormal investigation at the campsite near the University of Florida campus where the murders took place and in his childhood home, where current homeowners complain of aggressive poltergeist activity.
The “Scream” film finds a new set of teenagers being terrorized by the infamous Ghostface to resurrect secrets from the town’s past 25 years after the original series of murders. While this will be the fifth installment of the franchise, it is being marketed as a re-launch and will be the first not directed by Wes Craven after the horror director’s 2015 death.
“Scream” the movie and “Scream: The True Story” will both premiere on Jan. 14. You can catch the new film in theaters everywhere and the documentary on Discovery+ with a subscription.
Meredith G. White is the arts and culture reporter for the Shreveport Times. You can find her on Facebook as Meredith G. White, on Instagram and Twitter as @meredithgwhite, and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.