Monday, September 21, 2015

the Directors: Wes Craven

It’s easy to say that Wes Craven’s name is synonymous with horror. The man created Freddy Krueger, The Hills Have Eyes, Ghostface. Hell, even the name “Craven” sounds scary. That name and the horror genre will be forever linked, but labeling Craven as just a master horror filmmaker isn’t entirely fair. The man was a master filmmaker, period.

When Craven died of brain cancer last month, generations of movie fans mourned his loss. My mother was 16 years old when she saw Craven’s first film, The Last House on the Left. She said she sat in the theater in a horrific daze, mesmerized and terrified by what she was watching. Nearly 25 years later, I was roughly the same age when I watched Scream with the same exact emotions running through me. That was the power of Wes Craven at his best. His best films cut through and became iconic, scaring millions along the way.

The Last House on the Left (1972)
Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left is one of the most audacious American film debuts I’ve ever seen. This film is fucking brutal; by far the most disturbing film Craven ever made. A casual remake of Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, The Last House on the Left is a rape revenge thriller to end all rape revenge thrillers. The film is 91 minutes long and the majority of them are excruciating.

I’m an outspoken detractor of movies of this kind. They rarely work for me – too exploitative, too cheap, too shocking for the sake of shocking – but when they work, as this one does, they can be wholly effective. Simply put, The Last House on the Left is a well-made movie, helmed by a young, confident talent who knew full well what he was doing. A-

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Here’s the thing about cult movies: the earlier you get in, the better. Whether that means seeing them when they first come out, or seeing them at a young age, the longer a cult film has to resonate with you, the better. I know The Hills Have Eyes is loved and cherished by many, but I’m sadly not one of them. I blame this on the fact that I saw the film for the first time the day after Wes Craven died. Had I seen it earlier, perhaps I would have more affection for it. Don’t get me wrong, I like it well enough. Hard not to have fun with a horror flick about a deranged family who feasts on unsuspecting travelers. But ultimately, I can’t hail it as a classic, cult or otherwise. But who knows, maybe that will change in years to come. B-

Deadly Blessing (1981)
A farming community known as Hittites harass people who have either left their group, or refuse to become members. When a former Hittite is murdered, the Hittites are suspected of the killing. But when the next person found dead is a Hittite, locating the “Incubus” (that’s what the Hittites call the killer) becomes even harder.

Some highlights include Sharon Stone (in one of her first roles) as a scream queen, Ernest Borgnine hamming it up as the leader of the Hittites, a freaky bit involving a very large snake in a bathtub, and a completely batshit conclusion. Deadly Blessing is a generic whodunit thriller that bogs itself down with too many details, but I’ll give it credit for really going for it during its final moments. D+

Swamp Thing (1982)
On the surface, Swamp Thing seems to be taking itself very, very seriously. It wants you to believe the bad dialogue, the flat delivery and the monster man rubber suit shlock of it all. Or, perhaps it’s a film that’s in on its own joke. It’s a tough call, because later in Craven’s career, he became known for making movies that poked fun at their genres. But ultimately, I think Swamp Thing strives to be genuine, even in a camp classic kind of way. The film is about a noble scientist who gets turned into a Swamp Thing by bad guys. With his former lover on the run, the Swamp Thing (who has a heart of gold, mind you), must fight injustice and prove himself to his woman.

I had fun with the film, and could understand why Roger Ebert championed it. There’s a kid who works in a gas station who’s a real hoot. His sarcastic one-liners are a great divide from a movie that (I think) is taking itself a little too seriously. C-

Invitation to Hell (1984)
Invitation to Hell is a “horror” romp straight out of the ‘80s. The film is about a well-to-do family who move to the California ‘burbs and are immediately courted into joining the community’s mysterious country club. Susan Lucci plays the club president in a deliciously over the top performance, yet, as fun as her work is, you’re likely to forget about this film the moment it’s over. Save its utterly bonkers opening 90 seconds, and its Poltergiest-meets-2001-meets-Plan 9 from Outer Space conclusion. D

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
This is the game changer. The boss of it all. The film that made Wes Craven, Wes Craven. A Nightmare on Elm Street is a film so popular, so firmly cemented into pop culture, that I have trouble lending a paragraph of fresh text to it. After all, what can I say about such a horror classic that hasn’t been said? When I rewatched this movie for this post, I found myself as excited as I was the first time I saw it. It still doesn’t carry the full domestic terror of Halloween for me (or the carnage of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), but I fully appreciate its place in American cinema. And, to its credit, while Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are horror films that take themselves very seriously, it’s a blast to watch something as well made as A Nightmare on Elm Street have fun with its own fear. A-

The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985)
The Hills Have Eyes Part II is a complete disaster. Craven himself disowned it shortly after its release. The movie is notable for just one reason: it contains an extended flashback from the perspective of… a dog. Really.

How this film was made is far more interesting than what the film is about. Shot before A Nightmare on Elm Street, THHE Part II was scrapped during production because the money gave out. After A Nightmare on Elm Street became a hit, producers behind THHE Part II demanded that Craven finish the film using only footage he’d already shot, which was about half the movie. In turn, Craven was forced to include lengthy flashbacks in the film, which are literally extended scenes lifted directly from the first The Hills Have Eyes. We’re all best treating Part II how Craven treats it, as if it never existed. F

Deadly Friend (1986)
This one is straight crazy. A young genius named Paul has built a robot he calls BB. BB’s microchip allows him to think, feel emotion, and even protect those he cares about. Paul meets a young gal, Samantha, and after Samantha’s deranged father nearly kills her on Thanksgiving, Paul connects BB’s microchip to Samantha’s brain, turning her into a killer zombie/robot thing. So that’s Deadly Friend.

This is another Craven film that apparently got butchered by the studio. Craven initially made a gentle sci-fi romance/thriller, but after poor test screenings, the studio demanded he add gore and horror to the mix. And while Deadly Friend is an awful film, credit must be given to the fact that it contains one of the most epic deaths ever featured in a Wes Craven film. Did you know you could throw a basketball at someone and make their head explode? Because I didn’t. Not until watching this movie. D-

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
A genre director directing outside of their genre can spawn disastrous results. Not the case with The Serpent and the Rainbow. This is mature, confident film (partially based on a true story) about a Harvard scientist (Bill Pullman) who is sent to Haiti to recover large portions of a drug that could act as a strong anesthetic. The drug is a key part of a Haitian Voodoo religion and is said to create actual zombies (that is: people take the drug, are assumed dead, buried, then rise later). It sounds like a silly concept, and if handled any other way, the movie would play as such. But Craven takes the material seriously, treating Voodoo, hallucinations, and zombism with the same reverence as Haitian natives. The result is a good film, one worth checking out, even if it doesn’t really look and feel like a Wes Craven movie. (Oh, and extra credit to the production design/costumes. You can tell this movie was actually filmed in Haiti. It lives there.) B-

Shocker (1989)
There’s a serial killer loose in L.A. and the only person who can stop him is a high school jock (Peter Berg) who can battle the killer in his dreams. Because of their dream fights, the kid leads his foster father (himself a police detective) to the killer, where the whacko is apprehended and soon fried in the electric chair. But after he’s electrocuted – and this is where it gets fun – the killer is able to possess anyone he wants and continue his murderous rampage. I don’t know what’s worse, the lame twists or the baffling “science” that is immediately taken as truth by its characters. Either way, Shocker is dud from the get. F

The People Under the Stairs (1991)
The People Under the Stairs is my The Hills Have Eyes. I saw The People Under the Stairs shortly after it was released on home video (I was probably 8), and I have been in love with it ever since. It’s just so crazy and fun and freaky. I mean, Jesus Christ, the movie is about crazed cannibal kids living in the walls of a house, and the insane couple who put them there. I imagine people watching this movie for the first time today would think it’s absolutely ludicrous, but because I happened upon it early, it cemented itself in my brain. Honestly, my favorite part about researching this post was having an excuse to watch this movie again. B

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
I adore the meta sensibilities of New Nightmare. The film is about Freddy inhabiting the real world and terrorizing many of the people involved with the original Nightmare on Elm Street, including stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Robert Englund, and even Craven himself. The film is a psychological mind fuck thriller in which the Nightmare franchise is as aware of itself as the audience is. And that’s a damn big risk, especially for a major studio film. Hell, even some of the New Line Cinema execs appear as themselves in the film. And I love that. I love that everyone got on board with Craven’s intrepid idea and went with it.

The film as a whole isn’t perfect (Langenkamp’s son being lifted over heavy traffic by a giant Freddy is an eye-rolling low point), but I’ll always respect the audacity of New Nightmare. B+

Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Vampire in Brooklyn is about a Caribbean vampire (Eddie Murphy) who travels to Brooklyn in search of a mate. His mate in mind (Angela Bassett) is a detective whose father, unbeknownst to her, was actually a vampire himself. Ultimately, this movie has no idea what kind of movie it wants to be. It’s part Eddie Murphy comedy (with him playing multiple characters in heavy make-up), part Wes Craven horror film (though a slight one), and part romantic thriller (though Murphy and Bassett have zero chemistry). Certainly not a recipe for a worthy film. D-

Scream (1996)
Scream will always be my favorite Wes Craven film. No question. This movie was a staple of my childhood. I remember seeing it in the theater (at the ripe old age of 11), and whispering to my mom at the conclusion of the first scene, “They can’t do that, can they?” But they did. They screwed convention and delivered a mini meta horror masterpiece. My sentiments for this film are 100 percent genuine. I truly believe it is a fantastically entertaining, extremely well made horror film. I recently labeled it as one of the movies I’ve watched the most in my life. I’ve never found a bad time to put Scream on. It always hits. A

Scream 2 (1997)
I suppose I’m one of the few people who like Scream 2 (nearly) as much as the original. I love the new college setting, the organic maturity of the characters (and the actors playing them); I love Courtney Cox’s hair and Liev Schreiber’s beefed-up role. Love the unbearably tense escape-from-the-wrecked-cop-car scene, and the fact that the opening Stab premiere was shot at a glorious movie theater four blocks from where I live. I just love it all. Sure, the reveal of the killers is a bit of a letdown (they are admittedly rather weak characters), but watching Sidney Prescott blast a hole in one of their heads (“Just in case.”) all but makes up for it. A-

Music of the Heart (1999)
Craven’s only feature film fully outside of the thriller/horror genre, Music of the Heart is a delicate biopic about Roberta Guaspari, a semi-depressive white woman who made it her life goal to teach violin to inner-city Harlem youths. The film is patient and controlled, its drama is well intentioned and its emotional payoffs are well earned.

Shame on me, but I was actually dreading Music of the Heart. It was one of the few Craven films I hadn’t seen, because I assumed it was going to be another maudlin musical biopic. But it’s better than that. It has heart and compassion. Streep is fine too. Her Roberta doesn’t belong in the top echelon of Streep’s characters, but she gives Roberta a depression that is very believable. It’s a vulnerable performance in a gentle film, from the last guy you’d expect one from. B-

Scream 3 (2000)
I’m able to tolerate Scream 3 better than most people. That doesn’t mean I think it’s as good as its predecessors (it’s not), nor as bad as its 11-years-later follow-up, but I’m able to have fun with it. The problem of film is that it’s too big. Part of this is location based. Scream is contained within the quiet town of Woodsboro, and its sequel is set on a small college campus. Los Angeles is too big a place for Scream 3. There’s too much distraction in the film, too much running around from here to there. Another aspect of the film’s largeness is budget. It’s well over double the budget of the first film, and that shows in distracting ways. For instance, does a Scream film really need to have a house in the Hollywood Hills explode in a gas fire? Using poor CG, no less?

I’m being a little too harsh, because there are things I like about the movie. Parker Posey is amazing, and David Arquette has a blast fully diving into Dewey’s dorkiness. And is there such a thing as a bad Carrie Fisher cameo? Scream 3 may be too big for its own good, but its best characters are enough of a selling point. B-

Cursed (2005)
“Look, I infected Zipper and he’s gone werewolf. You--ya gotta believe me.”

That’s an actual line from this film. And really, if you’re going to sit through Cursed, you better start in with a good sense of humor. This movie is so damn silly, mostly because it takes itself so seriously. Which, I think (…hope), is by design. It’s about a brother and sister (Jesse Eisenberg and Christina Ricci) who try to find the werewolf who attacked them, before they become werewolves themselves. Scott Baio has fun playing himself, and Judy Greer is nutty in that best Judy Greer way. But other than Cursed’s (purposeful?) humor, I can find no real reason to recommend it. D

Red Eye (2005)
You meet a man. He’s in the airport line with you, waiting patiently. You strike up a conversation. He’s nice. You spot him at the bar. More talk. He’s charming. He’s seated next to you on the plane. That’s funny. Funny cute. Until it’s not. And then you’re fucked.

I love Red Eye. Rachel McAdams stuck and terrorized at 30,000 feet, Cillian Murphy mastering a unique psychopathic charm. We see a lot of movies that take place in planes. Many of them use the organic confinement as a source of tension, which is smart. But that’s not enough to maintain a film, even one that clocks in at just 85 minutes, like Red Eye. What makes Red Eye work is its impeccable use of physical and emotional confinement, but also solid acting, and a believable premise. Once we get off the plane, the movie does unravel a little bit, but in ways I’m willing to forgive. A-

Paris, je t’aime: “Père-Lachaise” (2006)
If you want to know how to make an excellent five and a half minute film, one that perfectly encapsulates love and fear of commitment, look no further. A

My Soul to Take (2010)
Sixteen years after the death of a schizophrenic serial killer called the Riverton Ripper, a group of kids all born the night the killer died (who call themselves the Riverton Seven), are being picked off one by one. Is the killer one of them, or has the Riverton Ripper come back to resume his bloodthirsty ways? I remember hearing about My Soul to Take when it first came out, and in the years since, I had completely forgotten about it. Minus a fun, but all too brief Frank Grillo performance, there’s nothing about this film worth recommending. D-

Scream 4 (2011)
At some point, physical strength has to come into play. When the killers were revealed at the end of Scream 4, I called bullshit right away, simply because I didn’t believe they could physically pull it off. They look like they could barely make it through a gym class let alone knife so many people to death.

But this is a final problem at the end of a host of them. For starters, there is no reason for this movie to exist. Scream 3, for all its issues, had a fitting conclusion that deserved to be left alone. Scream 4 is a cash-in on the success built by the franchise’s prior films, and one that pales in comparison. It’s not even good to see the original characters again. The whole time I watched Scream 4, I kept wishing that they would’ve been left alone. Amusing opening, though. D+

In Summation
The Last House on the Left
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Paris, je t’aime: “Père-Lachaise”

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare
Scream 2
Red Eye

The Hills Have Eyes
Swamp Thing
The Serpent and the Rainbow
The People Under the Stairs
Music of the Heart
Scream 3

Deadly Blessing
Scream 4

Just Plain Bad
Invitation to Hell
The Hills Have Eyes Part II
Deadly Friend
Vampire in Brooklyn
My Soul To Take

Listen to my podcast on SCREAM!


  1. Interesting man to focus on. Enjoyed reading, despite the fact I have never seen a Craven film (got Scream cued on Netflix, though) I visited some seminal works of horror yesterday and holy hell was I impressed. Halloween was glacially chilling, Texas Chainsaw was just as truly terrifying as you said and The Exorcist was a surefire masterpiece. I had never wanted to do it before- but I was simply elated that I did. Will review each of them next month. Scream next.

    1. Awesome man! So glad you're digging into the horror classics. Scream is different... very funny and self aware. But it somehow works. It's just a damn entertaining flick. Really hope you like it.

    2. Haha actually watched it the night I commented. Love the audacity of that opening scene. Mastered meta-horror before Scary Movie apparently deemed it necessary to try.

    3. Yep. Scary Movie is just blatant rip off of Scream and films like it, obviously haha. I actually liked the first one of those films. The rest were meh.

  2. Seeing all his films laid out like this actually makes me realize how many of them I really don't like. I love the Scream movies, Red Eye, the Nightmare on Elm Street films. Swamp Thing I saw ages ago, but I remember thinking it was kind of funny, but The Last House on the Left was way too much for me. I hate rape-revenge movies to begin with, and that just makes me feel dirty. (Though that's the point so I suppose Craven wins there) but I didn't care for The Hills Have Eyes or Cursed either. Still, definitely a true master of horror. I'm glad you included him in this feature.

    1. I'm with you. In fact, I don't think I've ever placed more films in the "Just Plain Bad" category for a director than I did here. And that's kind of cool... even though the man made bad films, he's still a master. Great films are great films, doesn't really matter if they're surrounded by weaker efforts, you know?

  3. Love this post. A good deal of it is spot-on with my own feelings. Especially glad to hear you champion Scream 2. That really is an excellent film. We part ways on the next 2 Scream flicks. I thought Part 3 was dreadful and 4 was a triumphant redemption of the series. I agree about the physicality of the killers, but the rest of it worked very well for me. We're also different on his debut. All the comic relief breaks detract from it, makes the film and the director seem unsure of itself and its audience. Its just entirely too herky jerky in tone for me. I am one who has avoided Music of the Heart. Craven doing a biopic starring Meryl Streep just sounds way too forced and like a paycheck gig rather than a film he truly wanted to make. That might just be me pigeonholing him, but I haven't been able to force that one on myself. Still need to see The Serpent and the Rainbow, though.

    1. Scream 4 really does have a solid fan base, it just doesn't work for me. Yay for Scream 2 though!

      Music of the Heart was actually a film Craven fought for. He actually threatened Mirimax that he wouldn't do Scream 3 unless he was allowed to make Music of the Heart first. It really isn't half bad.

  4. I haven't seen a lot of films by Wes Craven but I liked a lot of what I saw. My favorite film of his is also Scream as it was horror at its smartest and scariest. Scream 2 was good while the third was alright.

    I also loved Red Eye, Nightmare on Elm Street, and New Nightmare while I did like The People Under the Stairs, Music of the Heart, the segment from Paris Je T'aime, and Swamp Thing.

    Yeah, I didn't like Scream 4 as well as Vampire in Brooklyn as they were just stupid. The latter of which I think is his worst that I've seen so far.

    1. Seems like we're pretty much in agreement here. Shocker is the worst Craven film for me, but Vampire in Brooklyn is pretty close behind.

  5. Ohhh boy. I am so conflicted on this director. I respect that he knew what he wanted when it came to a script. His execution of the material was another thing though. I think Nightmare On Elm Street fits squarely into this mindset. It's a genius idea and in my mind (as well as many other horror fans minds) will be the thing he will be remembered for the most. (Elm Street is far and away my favorite horror series) Yet it still exists in a traditional slasher realm. Something the series took to heart (with the exception of the unfairly maligned Freddy's Revenge). A dream project would have been to see a remake of the original but have Freddy lose the sweater and the hat.

    Scream isn't really my cup of tea either. (I sound like I really hate this guy, but keep reading please :) I think that Craven's take on meta-horror was summed up with New Nightmare and it said everything that needed to be said on the topic. The worst part of Scream to me was Kevin Williamson's script. A script that reinvented the horror trope from the slasher film of the 80's to suit the smart, sexy and scary generation of the 90's. I sometimes wonder what future Elm Street installments would have felt like if Craven was behind the helm. And the later Scream entries (particularly 3 or 4) confirm my fear that they wouldn't have really been any better.

    All that aside, his most creative work, the one where he got the execution down pat, was Serpent and the Rainbow. I am in love with the concept of Haitian voodoo and looking at the zombie from an entirely different perspective.

    1. Love hearing your praise for Serpent and the Rainbow. Couldn't agree more with you. In fact, I'm sure that one will get better with subsequent viewings. It's such an overlooked gem in Craven's body of work. And I get what you're saying about Williamson's at-times cutesy Scream script. For better or worse, that flick really did change the game.

  6. These posts are great because I always find some film I've never watched before. I'm thrilled about The Last House on the Left. I heard about it before but it definitely sounds like I need to watch that one. Oh and Red Eye. I didn't remember who the actors on it were, and I love them both. Besides some horror classics from Craven I also love, that segment from "Paris, je t'aime" with the great setting of the Pére Lachaise was one of my favorites along with the ones directed by Tom Tykwer and Vincenzo Natali. Sewell is awesome, and I didn't remember it was Alexander Payne who played Oscar Wilde! A fantastic cameo. I think I saw his name on the credits, but I didn't know much of Payne as I do now, back then.

    Loved your detailed post on Drive, I definitely need to leave you a comment there. Btw I sent you an e-mail. I'm Maria, "Mara", former owner of the blog Daughter of the soho riots.

    1. So good to hear from you! I'll respond to your email real soon! The Last House on the Left is ROUGH. Damn tough movie to make, but it's very effective in what it sets out to achieve.

      How good is Payne's cameo in that Paris, je t'aime segment? Hilarious.

  7. WOW...I have so much to see from him! Like, I literally have only seen the Scream films...and Red Eye and Music of the Heart.


    I feel like a cinephile failure now. UGH!

    1. Definitely check out A Nightmare on Elm Street when you can. It's a classic!

  8. Can't say I agree with you on your opinion of The Last House of the Left, I found the balancing of humour between slapstick and the rape of the girls in the woods to be woefully misjudged. It reminds me of the tree rape scene in The Evil Dead where Sam Raimi said it was a product of an immature mind. I don't agree that it was well made, it was made on a low budget and looked it to.

    Personally, I prefer The Hills have Eyes more than you do, but I do agree with you on the films I have seen. Like you, Scream is probably my favourite Craven film and one of films I've seen most.

    1. Can't argue with your opinion on The Last House on the Left. Films like that are destined to garner as much (if not more) hate as praise. Glad we agree on Scream though. Movie rocks.

  9. I like The Serpent and the Rainbow more than you do. I think it shits the bed a bit at the end, but I really like the story and I especially like how respectful Craven is to Voodoo--as you say, it's what makes the movie what it is. I rewatched it recently and I like it just as much now as I did on a first viewing. I'd probably move it to a B+. I'd also probably bump Music of the Heart to a B, only because it will forever make me happy that Wes Craven both directed Meryl Streep to an Oscar nomination and that he filmed a scene featuring Itzhak Perlman.

    But putting Scream at the top of the Craven heap? I can't at all say that's a wrong choice. I was completely sold by the opening scene--one of the ballsiest opening sequences I can remember.

    1. Love that you're a fan of Serpent and Music as well. Two unlikely Craven films that both work. Also great to hear your praise for Scream. That opening... man. People forget the impact that thing had. Taking out the only legit movie star in the first scene. So ballsy.

  10. This is such a brilliant post. I know many of those films, for example Serpent and the Rainbow - I'll watch anything with voodoo/hoodoo arc in it - but I had no idea Craven made them.

    This post actually got me to rewatch the entire Scream franchise this week - I actually love Scream 3 and that gas house explosion was a laugh riot. Parker Posey was so hilarious in this movie. I liked Scream 4 - it was the only time I had a chance to see any of those films in theater and I had a blast. Yeah the physical aspect of the killers....but it's not like the main one in S2 had much strength :) And I loved Hayden Panattiere's character and performance - she was really great in this movie

    1. I mean they aren't thaaaat bad, but they just pale so much in comparison to the first two. I do really love Hayden Panettiere in 4 though. There's something about her acting that I've always appreciated. A certain bite to it.

  11. I was so sad when i first heard the news that Wes Craven had died. He has made so many of my favorite movies. Red Eye is an excellent underrated thriller that not nearly enough people saw. The first two Scream movie are two that i always want to put on around Halloween times. They are both just really fun slasher movies. I especially enjoyed Timothy Olyphant in the second one with his crazy 90's hair. Scream 3 and especially 4 i really didn't care for though. You are definitely right about all the problems that last one had. It's sad to think that is the last movie Wes Craven ever directed.

    But he also directed my second favorite horror movie of all time (behind Halloween), A Nightmare on Elm Street. That is a movie i watch every year around Halloween. I still remember the first time i saw it as a kid and how terrifying Freddy Krueger actually was in that first movie. Me and a couple of friends were having a sleep over when we were probably around 8 or 9 years old and one of them had gotten their father to rent that movie for us. We waited until it was dark outside before we watched it with all the lights off and let's just say i don't think anyone of us actually got any sleep that night. We acted tough, but that movie scared the shit out of us. Even that last scene where Freddy pulls an obvious dummy version of the mother through a window scared me. Ever since that the movie has stuck with me and i even enjoy watching some of the cheesier sequels still. Wes Craven will definitely be missed.

    1. He definitely will be missed. So glad to hear you're such a fan of his work. I LOVE Olyphant and his hair in Scream 2. Great that that film is responsible for helping make him a star. And that's a great story about Nightmare on Elm Street. I remember seeing that one as a kid too and it was soooo freaky.

  12. Great stuff man! I'm not that familiar with his work, but A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream are essentials. New Nightmare and the Scream sequels - Hayden Panettiere STEALS the fourth one - are pretty entertaining, too. They tend to get overlooked, but Red Eye and the Paris, je t’aime short are great. So glad to see high marks for them.

    1. Panettiere definitely owns Scream 4. Wish she was in it more. Wish she had more films roles, actually. Though I hear she's good in Nashville.

  13. I still can't believe he's gone. At least he left us with so many horror classics.

    1. Same here. But yeah, his work will outlive us all.

  14. Alex-- You know I've been wondering what the title was for that awful tv movie I saw in the 80s. I couldn't remember what it was! I can't believe Craven directed that.

    I have to disagree on 'Shocker.' That movie is early 90s pulp and I have a soft spot for it. I remember seeing that film as a young girl. I think I rented it without my mom's permission. My mom was working late and I had friends for a sleepover. We watched that movie and the lights went out. Some sort of power surge. We were terrified.

    1. Was Invitation to Hell the '80s movie you're talking about? So bad.

      Sounds like your Shocker is my The People Under the Stairs. That's what I mean about getting in early on any given flick. The earlier you're exposed to it, the more likely you're going to remember it fondly. So I totally get where you're coming from there.