Must Watch: Nearly Every Instance of the Wilhelm Scream on Film

April 25, 2011
Source: SlashFilm

Star Wars

For those who seem to be completely lost after reading that headline, here's a little backstory. According to Wikipedia, The Wilhelm scream is a film and television stock sound effect first used in 1951 for the film Distant Drums. Though you may not know it by name, you certainly know its signature sound as it has appeared in a whole slew of popular films. For those of you who have no idea what we're talking about, you'll soon be enlightened as SlashFilm just had one of their readers send them quite an extensive video compilation of nearly every instance this signature scream has been heard on film. Check this out below!

The sound itself became popular on film again after sound designer Ben Burtt discovered the original recording (which he found as a studio reel labeled "Man being eaten by alligator") and incorporated it into the above scene in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. He's even credited with naming the scream after Private Wilhelm, a character in The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 western in which the character is shot with an arrow. Apparently this is believed the third instance in which the stock sound was used on screen.  As you can see in the video above, it's made appearances in plenty of big films since then, and will likely be around for many years to come. Pretty cool, eh?

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Reader Feedback - 32 Comments



Roc on Apr 25, 2011


Beyond Epic.

Manuel on Apr 25, 2011


Very nice! hahah Now that I watched this, i'm going to notice it ALL THE TIME!!!

MrHeatMizer on Apr 25, 2011


Amazing. Just amazing.

Xerxexx on Apr 25, 2011



NeoSlyfer on Apr 25, 2011


What the hell is that movie where Adam Goldberg gets run over by an ambulance?

JL on Apr 25, 2011


"The Salton Sea" I believe.....

Conrad Williams on Apr 26, 2011


I really enjoy when they knew it was a classic stock sound and added for fun and its classic rep. i.e. Kill Bill, Sin City,

McWilly on Apr 25, 2011


the vid sucks after 12:22

Jericho on Apr 25, 2011


its awesome how the same stock sound can be used in every genre

nick on Apr 25, 2011


this guy better be gettin paid or at least his children's children. My god those follies were annoying.

Anonymous on Apr 25, 2011


It almost doesn't seem real. It seems like the sound has been added into some of those scenes, even though I know it hasn't been.

Necrothug on Apr 25, 2011


Watched the whole thing....nearly..... got a bit fed up so paused to read all your to Jericho's which said it sucked after 12:22 so I looked how far I got and the time counter weird is that. Amazing peace of cataloguing though, seems many a director will throw millions of dollars at the on screen effects and then.....Slap a Willhelm Scream in there, no one will notice....................

Barry North on Apr 25, 2011


I'm sure it's done more as a tradition than as a way to save on money...

Anonymous on Apr 25, 2011


What was that scifi wilm with the split-kicking lady with the red hair? Wonder if Wilhelm gets any royalties?

Crapola on Apr 25, 2011


If I'm not mistaken, it could be heard in Halo: Reach as well.

Chocolate Supra on Apr 25, 2011


Nick S. on Apr 26, 2011


good (exhaustingly compiled) vid. since reading about the Wilhelm Scream years ago, i always recognise it when it's used. sitting in the cinema, it helps to makes you feel at home!

Anonymous on Apr 25, 2011


Wilhelm Scream is awesome I have that as my text sound on my Android.

Anonymous on Apr 25, 2011


There's a lot of this I've noticed. Nothing new but still funny. There's a stock sound from Starcraft (first place I've heard although I did hear it in a movie older than that but forgot the name of movie) that's been used a lot! Found it! The name of the scream sound effect is: "gut wrenching scream and fall into distance" which has been used in many movies and games.

tra la la la la di da on Apr 25, 2011


love the Wilhelm scream! BUT the Howie scream more

Anonymous on Apr 25, 2011


That's actually my favorite movie sound effect, but I couldn't find out what it was called, so thanks for that.

JL on Apr 26, 2011


proper attachment!!

Conrad Williams on Apr 26, 2011


Gayest sounding scream EVER!!

Wlange4 on Apr 25, 2011


hey guys, at 7:34, what movie is that?

Jonah on Apr 25, 2011


all hail ze Führer 11:23

Anonymous on Apr 25, 2011


I hate the Wilhelm scream. Whenever I hear it, it takes me right out of whatever movie I'm watching. It's overused and so well known I know right off that it's a fake scream. The wilhelm scream should be retired.

Whatfunisthere on Apr 25, 2011


For me, it's almost enough to ruin a movie.

JL on Apr 26, 2011


I love looking at stuff like this throughout film history. Check out a video I did of Central Park NYC throughout film history!

Casey Carroll on Apr 25, 2011


I make this exact same sound every time my wife serves her signature meatloaf. Seriously...awesome clip. I hope Wilhelm gets royalties...

Anonymous on Apr 26, 2011


@ JL regarding Adam Goldberg being run over.... I think....I think that is from "The Salton Sea"

Conrad Williams on Apr 26, 2011


Even video games are now using it!

Eoin B. Redican on Apr 26, 2011

Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.




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