There are only a couple movies that manage to capture the zeitgeist of the 1990s, and for horror, many of those movies were so iconic, they were later parodied by Scary Movie and quickly engrained in all of our collective memories.
I Know What You Did Last Summer was one of those quintessential movies, and it managed to assemble a cast of the greatest heartthrobs of that time. How can you beat Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Philippe, and Sarah Michelle Gellar when it comes to '90s nostalgia? Talk about an all-star cast with a willingness to get a hook to the head.
Let's take a look at some little-known facts about I Know What You Did Last Summer (in hopes that none of us make the same mistakes).
1. The author of the book despises the movie
I Know What You Did Last Summer was originally a suspense novel written by Lois Duncan. The book was described as a "high-velocity chiller," and it didn't include any of the vicious slashing that made the movie so successful.
But, it wasn't just plot changes that kept Duncan from being a fan. In real life, her daughter was murdered in a still-unsolved shooting, and she worries that the movie version presents killing as something trivial and fun:
It's not just like I'm real picky. This [film] simply made statements that were upsetting to me, by trivializing violence and making murder seem like a game, which was not true to the spirit of my book
2. The project only got greenlit when screenwriter Kevin Williamson first did Scream
Williamson actually wrote the script for I Know What You Did Last Summer before Scream (1996), but nobody wanted to make it. After Scream's phenomenal success, Columbia Pictures immediately swooped in to pick up his other horror screenplay.
This trajectory is especially funny because Scream lampoons many of the tropes that I Know What You Did Last Summer gleefully employs (like yelling "behind you" and saying "hello" in an empty room).
3. The most memorable (and parodied) scene was thought up by a fan
According to star Jennifer Love Hewitt, that scene where she goes all Girl, Interrupted and screams "WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?" into the town streets was not actually in the script. In fact, a fan had the chance to come on set and specifically select a moment for one of the actors to do. Hewitt said he said something along the lines of:
I think that she should stand in the middle of the street and spin around and say, 'What are you waiting for?'" When Hewitt was told about this scene she responded, "You want me to what?! How am I going to look like a normal person doing that?"
She might not have looked "normal" per se, but she definitely left an impression.
4. The first murder by the killer was an afterthought
Johnny Galecki from The Big Bang Theory plays Max in the film, a.k.a. the guy that pretty much witnesses the murder at the beginning. When filmmakers first shot the movie, the scene that shows Max's death wasn't included, and they had to go back for re-shoots.
They felt that without an early death, the shadowy killer wouldn't seem like a real threat to the main characters, which may explain why Max's murder feels just a tad surprising (since he didn't commit the crime).
5. Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr.'s characters barely even speak to each other
Despite both being part of the central cast and filming many scenes together (along with ending up as an adorable married couple in real life, Helen (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and Ray (Freddie Prinze Jr.) only say four lines total to each other.
That may partially explain why they didn't start dating until 2000, even though they met on the I Know What You Did Last Summer set in 1997.
6. Jennifer Love Hewitt was legitimately scared most of the time during filming
It wasn't just the pressure of her first lead role, Hewitt was understandably creeped out while filming chase scenes in the bitter North Carolina mist. It especially makes sense when you consider the fact that Hewitt was only 18 years old at the time. Here's how she put it:
So, three o'clock in the morning, you're running in fog in the middle of North Carolina from a guy that you barely know, with a hook on his hand. You're supposed to be scared out of your mind. There were definitely days where I went home and was like, 'I'm supposed to be asleep now. I don't think that that's going to happen.'
And that last line is exactly what my seven-year-old self said when I first watched this movie with my older brother.