It always sucks when you make an “R.I.P.” post. I don’t care if I know the work of the person or not, those types of posts are not fun and rather depressing to be honest. This one tonight stings and really hits close to home with me. I not only know of Wes Craven, but am a fan of his work and would list him as a big influence on me and someone who made me want to be involved in horror in some way, shape, or form. Wes Craven died tonight and the word is he died of brain cancer, I like most of you, wasn’t even aware he was sick.
My introduction to Wes came in the form of A Nightmare on Elm Street. That is pretty common for horror fans my age. I think the series was probably three or four deep and I was around four nearing five when I heard of my cousin not wanting to get on the school bus after having seen something in a movie about a guy who kills people in their sleep. He also apparently had knives for fingers. I learned quick who Freddy Krueger was and I learned just as quick who Wes Craven was. I heard of such things as The Hills Have Eyes and The Last House on the Left, but even in my horror upbringing that came with weekend trips to the video store, growing up I never had the pleasure of seeing those just yet. I did see Shocker, which I like way more than most. I also saw stuff I liked like Swamp Things (another I was kind of alone in liking), The New Nightmare, and The People Under the Stairs.
By 1996 I was as into horror as always, but hadn’t seen much at the time that had really blown me away. At my Dad’s house one weekend my step-brother and I rented Wes’ movie Scream (maybe the tape came out in 96, but it might have been 97 by the way things worked in those days). Scream was a game changer in my opinion. Maybe it got run into the ground like all good things do, but Scream was unlike anything we had ever seen up to that point. A self-aware horror movie with Wes behind the camera giving it his style. The end results was probably the best horror movie of the 90’s. It resurrected the slasher and it made people copy it to try to recreate it in the same way they do found footage films today.
Flash forward to when I started blogging and really backtracking to get horror movies I hadn’t seen yet. Both The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes were on my list and I think The Last House on the Left is one of the darkest films ever made. It still gets to you today and it showed the brutal side of Wes’ filmmaking. Later on, thanks to a Horrorphilia Masters of Horror Podcast, I saw all the other films of his I hadn’t seen and I found more stuff of his to love like Deadly Blessing, Deadly Friend, and Chiller, which again is one I liked probably more than most. I wasn’t very big on My Soul to Take, but when Wes did Scream 4, now his last film, I was back singing his praises. I’m not sure why so many didn’t seem to really dig Scream 4, but I think down the line people might just warm up to it a bit more than they had originally.
When all is said and done, Wes Craven gave the world of horror some of the most frightening films ever put on film. He made a movie in A Nightmare on Elm Street that could very well be the greatest horror film ever made, and in the process he created an icon for horror that is still as popular today as ever. One that is easily in the top three of horror movie killers, neck and neck for the top spot. He introduced a whole new style of horror movie with Scream and regardless of if it was a hit or a rare miss, the man gave us horror geeks hours upon hours of entertainment to write about, share with our friends/family, and to try to use to influence our own horror projects. Wes Craven might be gone, but thanks to his body of work he will live on forever. Because not only will people like you and I continue to watch and share his films. But he will continue to inspire others from now until the end of time. Somewhere some kid is going to discover horror by stumbling across a Wes Craven movie and start the whole horror lover process all over again. I think Wes Craven himself would be content in knowing that.
R.I.P, Wes. I want you to know that I appreciate all you did for this genre I love. Those times I’d be afraid to walk to the bathroom by myself as a child without all the lights on because I had seen one of your movies were some of the best times of my life. I also want you to know that until I end up on that other side myself, I’ll be inspired by what you created and I’ll be sure to pass it on down.