For fun, most of the time — as anyone who lives near a school playground will know. That blast of raw sound, bigger than a shout, less prissy than a sung note, pours energy out of us in a way that demands the world take notice. And it can feel good, as all that pent up breath sweeps out our petty penned up cares and frustrations.
Sheer fun and the release of frustration seem to be what’s behind one particular — communal — screaming fit, known as the Flogsta Scream. Flogsta is a suburb of Uppsala Sweden where a lot of Uppsala University students find it convenient to live. And scream. Because at 10 p.m. every night, windows are flung open, heads stuck out, and student vocal cords shredded with a group scream that lasts four or five minutes. If the Wikipedia entry is to be believed, this bizarre call of the wild has been going on for thirty or forty years.
Here’s a video — clearly not taken in the summer — of the Flogsta Scream in action:
The Flogsta Scream isn’t the only, or even the most famous, named scream, as it happens. That title, I think, belongs to the Wilhelm Scream. First emitted in 1951 in the film Distant Drums by Sheb Wooley (he of “Purple People Eater” fame), as the character Private Wilhelm is dragged under by an alligator. This short male blast has been used more than 200 times in movies since then, having become an inside joke in the film industry. Here’s a twelve-minute video that cuts together clips of the Wilhelm Scream from 152 movies.
Somewhat less renowned is the Howie Scream (which also goes by a host of other names, among which are “Man, Gut-wrenching Scream And Fall Into Distance” and the onomatopoeic “Youraagh.” This same extended yodel of terror has been used a great many films, as well, as a video compiling clips from twenty of them shows.