The world has lost a legend: master of horror Wes Craven passed away this past Sunday.
It’s a horrible feeling losing one of your biggest inspirations and, worst of all, not having had the honour of meeting them, but such is life. So here I am, in denial. The news about Wes Craven’s death was like a bucket of cold water and I truly can’t believe he is gone.
Wes Craven gave us a great number horror gems which helped shape the genre or Horror itself – and gave us some truly iconic villains and monsters.
His first movie, The Last House On the Left, was the beginning of a prolific career in the horror genre. Inspired by The Virgin Spring, by Ingmar Bergman, The Last House on the Left follows the story of two teenage girls who are taken to the woods and tortured by a gang. It was the 70s, so you can imagine the amount of controversy it was met by. It was heavily censored, which just added to curiosity and the gory wonder of the film.
The tagline from this movie also happens to be the best advice you can have when watching a horror film: “To avoid fainting, keep repeating, it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie…”
His next take on exploitation-horror was The Hills Have Eyes. The premise is simple, yet it will give you a few nightmares: a family on a road trip becomes the target of a family of savages when stranded in the desert. Blood and terror brought to you by Papa Jupiter and sons.
Once more, Craven’s work was received with massive censorship due to its gory nature. It’s ok, though: all the censoring and blood gave it a cult status and a wide following. It’s also considered one of the best and scariest horror movies of all time. Not bad for a second movie. Not bad at all!
This movie is also bonding vehicle for me. It’s a constant topic of conversation between my uncle and myself, as my uncle is a huge fan of the genre. I have a lot to thank Wes Craven for.
It introduced us to one of the most iconic villains/monsters of all: Freddy Krueger, with his razor glove and that particular song that we all know by heart (and we could use to terrorise a friend or two. Muahaha). The theme of “dreams and reality,” and how thin that line can be at some points, is what makes it unique and terrifying.
A few sequels later, in 1994, came Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, a true gem as it basically broke the fourth wall, bringing Krueger to the actual real world to haunt the cast and crew of the Nightmare films. Only Wes Craven could have done such a thing and, best of all, he did it successfully.
A Nightmare on Elm Street gave me a few sleepless nights and many nightmares once I was able to sleep again. After all, I was only five or six years old when I watched it. Years later, and in one of those “let’s overcome fear” moments, I re-watched it and I was truly able to appreciate its greatness. The whole Freddy Krueger mythology is one of the most genius things I’ve encountered.
Also, a love for Freddy Krueger is something that brought some of my friends from college and I together. Friends who share a love for villains/monsters together stay together.
Let’s fast forward to 1996. After some other horror films (such as The People Under the Stairs in 1991), came his next big hit: Scream.
It not only gave us a new villain that became an icon with that peculiar mask of theirs, but it also revitalized the horror genre in the 90s when it was believed dead. Scream is a slasher film with various references to other horror films.
It was this saga which made me think, “Yes! I want to do horror films!” Scream has a special place in my heart, to the point where I dressed as Ghostface for Halloween when I was nine and I have a pair of earrings with Ghostface’s mask (my favourites). What I love the most about these movies is the way they reference and mock the horror genre, like the rules to surviving a movie (by the way, I will never be over Randy’s death).
Scream 4 was Craven’s final movie.
Filmmakers and actors have been paying their respects through social media, like the cast of Scream, Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright (friendly reminder that a clip from Shaun of the Dead is shown in Scream 4) and horror directors like Rob Zombie, Eli Roth, Scott Derrickson, and William Friedkin.
As for the fans, we do what we do best: sharing our love, respect, and admiration through photo collages, sharing quotes, gif sets, tweets, long posts, or by doing an impromptu marathon of the Nightmare movies.
As for me, well… I may or may not be wearing my grey and red striped sweater and my Ghostface earrings.
Master Craven, you are truly missed. Thank you for the scares and nightmares.
See you in our dreams.
You can follow Adrienne on Twitter @AdrienneTyler.