October 2015 - Now Showing - Angry Men Reviews - In Memoriam: Wes Craven
My mother was a lover of horror films, she introduced me to gory slasher films and would read to me true crime stories of serial killers from decades past. Mostly she loved the mindless inhuman monsters that were pretty much just moving mulchers that butchered teenagers right and left with out a care in the world, which explains why she was attracted to my father (budum CHINK!). While that got me over my fear of gore and most things that go bump in the night by the time I reached a decade old, it didn’t really endear me to that genre of film because I liked my villains with a little personality. Then I met Freddy Kruger.
A Nightmare on Elm Street was a game changer. By that time Wes Craven was already a name in horror after The Hills Have Eyes and Last House on the Left, but Nightmare was different because it tapped into something that other horror films were missing at the time - a fun villain. It also has the distinction of being Johnny Depp’s first film and he gets killed in a fountain of blood while sleeping in his bed.
See to me Freddy was a turning point. I never found most slashers scary. Freddy, on the other hand, could get you anywhere, and you could only hold off sleep for so long. It also helped that even though it seemed hopeless, his victims would still try to fight back in some way, instead of just turning and running away, only to trip over a root or some shit and get killed.
I quickly became a Wes Craven fan, going back and watching his earlier horror work, waiting with excitement for his next project, and generally making myself a nerd for his stuff. I even saw this in the theater just because his name was on it. Watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer smash Mama Fratelli’s head with a basketball was worth the price of admission. I followed your career up to the “Scream” movies, and then… well… yeah.
Of course this doesn’t change the fact that I think he was one of the best (and underrated) directors of the last few decades. He truly seemed to be having fun and loving his work. It showed in what he made from Swamp Thing to Shocker - Vampire in Brooklyn to New Nightmare. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the project, I don’t think he has ever made a movie, or TV show, that was just “phoned-in” by him (the actors on the other hand - I’m looking at you Mr. Murphy).
He may never go down in history with the likes of Spielberg, Coppola, or other supposed “Greats”, but in my opinion he has left a huge hole in Hollywood that no one else will ever be able to fill.
You will be missed Mr. Craven.