By the mid-90s it seemed like the slasher genre was all but dead and relegated to subpar sequels. All of that changed in 1996 when Scream took the world by storm. And from that very same screenwriter (Kevin Williamson) that shift and change to a more meta, self-aware teen centered slasher was cemented with 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. So in honor of its 25th anniversary today, here are 25 fun facts about I Know What You Did Last Summer.
1. Kevin Williamson had already written the script for I Know What You Did Last Summer prior to Scream and had tried shopping it around. But it wasn’t until Scream’s success that Columbia Pictures bought the script, hoping to cash in on its success.
2. Lois Duncan’s source novel was much more a murder mystery, and she reportedly hated the fact that the film adaptation was turned into a slasher. Sadly, her youngest daughter was murdered and she felt that the movie going for violent deaths for the sake of thrills was inappropriate.
3. Despite this, director Jim Gillespie wanted there to be virtually no blood onscreen as he felt that it was gratuitous. As a result, the final film is surprisingly bloodless for a slasher film.
4. Kevin Williamson based the killers outfit on his own father, who had been a fisherman and wore a similar rain slicker.
5. Reese Witherspoon had initially auditioned, but changed her mind and backed out of the project. She did however recommend her then boyfriend Ryan Philippe, who wound up being cast as Barry.
6. Jennifer Love Hewitt was the one who suggested Johnny Galecki for the role of Max. The two of them had already known each other after being neighbors while Galecki was filming Christmas Vacation nearly a decade prior.
7. Melissa Joan Hart of Sabrina the Teenage Witch fame was offered and turned down the role of Julie, citing that it was just “another Scream ripoff”.
8. The large chunks of ice on the boat were made out of gelatin rather than actual ice so that Jennifer Love Hewitt could be more comfortable, and interact with it without getting any frostbite.
9. When filming the scene where Julie discovers Max’s dead body covered in crabs, Jennifer Love Hewitt was so upset by what she saw (since she and Johnny Galecki were old friends) that she broke down crying and production came to a halt. Galecki had to call the set to reassure Hewitt that he was fine and it was just a body cast they had made of him.
10. Max’s entire murder scene was added in reshoots because producers felt that there weren’t enough kills in the first half of the movie.
11. Anne Heche had tragically also lost a brother to suicide, much like her character Missy.
12. The infamous “What are you waiting for?” scene which features the spinning camera was directed by a kid who won a contest to come on set and direct a scene. Jennifer Love Hewitt stated that at the time, she felt the scene was silly, but in hindsight, it remains one of the most memorable scenes in the films.
13. The Shivers’ department store was shot in the historic store called Harrell’s Department Store in Burgaw, NC. It first opened in 1903 and remained so until having to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic in July 2020.
14. Shot over a period of 10 weeks in Spring/Summer 1997, and was released in October that year.
15. The producers asked then 18 year old Jennifer Love Hewitt if she would be willing to shoot a nude shower scene. She refused, however they did still intentionally put in her very revealing tops that showed a lot of cleavage to “make up” for the lack of a nude scene.
16. Helen’s beauty pageant scene was shot in the historic Amuzu Theater in Southport, NC. Built in 1918, the theater remains open today and hosts many live entertainment shows.
17. While the majority of the film was shot in and around Southport, NC, the crash scene had to be shot on a California highway since NC was far too flat and didn’t have any winding mountain roads.
18. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. famously met on set and started dating. They would also star as Daphne and Fred in the two live action Scooby-Doo films. Gellar and Prinze married in 2002 and remain married to this day.
19. The original trailer for I Know What You Did Last Summer featured the line “from the creator of Scream” (citing screenwriter Kevin Williamson. Miramax however sued Paramount since they owned the rights to Scream and had the line removed.
20. Grossed $125.3 million on a $17 million budget. It opened at #1 at the box office beating out The Devil’s Advocate, which opened in second.
21. Despite being a box office hit, I Know What You Did Last Summer was panned by critics, many of whom cited that it was too derivative of Scream. Even Roger Ebert put it on his “Most Hated” list of 1997.
22. Nominated for Best Horror Film at the Saturn Awards, but lost to The Devil’s Advocate.
23. While Jennifer Love Hewitt has stated that she doesn’t like horror films, she admitted that Jim Gillespie was her favorite director she’s ever worked with.
24. Ryan Philippe admitted that years later on July 4, 2017 Muse Watson (who played the killer Ben Willis) randomly sent him a direct message on Twitter that just said, “Hello old friend” as a playful gesture.
25. In 2021, a remake TV series was made on Amazon Prime, and followed much more of the murder mystery tone of the original novel (despite the plot being very different).
Which of these did you already know? Which ones surprised you? Let us know in the comments!