August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015

Wes Craven

Wes Craven

An Appreciation

By Michael Arruda


With the passing of Wes Craven on August 30, 2015, at the age of 76, the world has lost one of its finest horror movie directors.  Craven might not have liked that label, as he wanted to branch out beyond horror movies, and sometimes he did just that.

I was never a huge fan of Wes Craven’s films.  His biggest hit, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984), the film which introduced the iconic character Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) to the world, never really impressed me all that much, and unlike most other horror fans, I never found it to be all that scary.

Probably my favorite film in the series was the only other one Craven directed, WES CRAVEN’S NEW

Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) gives audiences nightmares.

Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund) gives audiences nightmares.

NIGHTMARE (1994).  In NEW NIGHTMARE Craven and the actors from the first movie play themselves, haunted by the real Freddy Krueger.  It was a neat imaginative premise, and it breathed new life into the series at the time.

Craven’s second hit movie series— not many horror directors can make that claim, that they successfully helmed two horror movie franchises—- was the SCREAM series and began with the movie SCREAM (1996), a film that was both frightening and hip, as it poked fun at the genre and had a self-awareness about it that kept things playful throughout.  I’ve always preferred SCREAM over A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, although in terms of the sequels, I’m not a fan of any of them in either series, except for the aforementioned NEW NIGHTMARE.

Craven’s early films are considered his best, films like the rough and raw THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), his debut movie, and THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977).

Craven also directed the well-received THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988) and THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991), as well as the misfires SWAMP THING (1982), SHOCKER (1989) and VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN (1995).

Sadly, Craven’s career ended on a low note with a series of pretty bad horror movies, including CURSED (2005), MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010) and SCREAM 4 (2011), all pretty forgettable movies.

I did like his non-horror suspense thriller RED EYE (2005) about a terrorist plot aboard a plane.

The masked killer in SCREAM.

The masked killer in SCREAM.

And I’ve always thought that the opening scene in SCREAM where Drew Barrymore’s character is terrorized and viciously murdered is one of the more brutal and terrifying opening scenes you’ll find in a horror movie.

Wes Craven, master of nightmares and screams, dead from brain cancer at 76.

Wes Craven

August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015


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