Ed Driscoll


THE WILHELM SCREAM: If you’re more of a die-hard Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark or Tarantino fan than I am, this may be old hat to you, but I hadn’t read about it until tonight. Common to many, many films is a sound effect called “The Wilhelm Scream“. It’s a stock sound effect that dates back to early 1950s Warner Brothers films, but it was given new life by Lucas’s sound effects man, Ben Burtt, who calls it his personal signature. Whenever a Nazi or Imperial stormtrooper gets it in one of Lucas’s films, chances are, you’re hearingthe Wilhelm Scream.

According to the Internet Movie Database, it’s heard in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs when Steve Buscemi’s “Mr. Pink” character “pushes a pedestrian on the sidewalk while being pursued by cops during his escape from the failed jewel heist”.

I wonder if over time, the Wilhelm Scream will be supplanted as a sound effect by this one. I’ve already downloaded it and used as a Keith Moon-like scream for a drumbreak in a song I recorded back in February, and these folks have also made good use of it as well.