In the last few days, a number of high profile people have passed away. Self-help pioneer Dr. Wayne W. Dyer passed away August 29. Australia’s Bart Cummings, horse trainer extraordinaire, passed away yesterday. He trained many Melbourne Cup winning horses. Oliver Sacks, neurologist and author, also passed away yesterday. The movie Awakenings was based on one of his works. But the one that resonated the most with me, was the death of Wes Craven, often referred to as a horror maestro, and the man who created iconic horror villain Freddy Krueger, who passed away yesterday after a fight with brain cancer.
For those who might not know of any of Mr. Craven’s films other than A Nightmare On Elm Street or Scream, I thought I’d list his films for you. Y’know, to sort of raise your awareness of the man and his work. The majority of Mr. Craven’s films are of the horror variety, but there are a few that slot into the suspense genre, and then there’s The Music Of The Heart that doesn’t fall into the ‘scare the crap outta you’ or ‘make you jump five feet in the air with an unexpected scare’ categories. And, admittedly, movies like Swamp Thing, and Scream do hold a few laughs in them, and are most definitely far away from pure horror.
Scream 4 (2011) – director, producer
My Soul To Take (2010) – writer, director, producer
The Last House On The Left (2009) – executive producer
The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) – executive producer
Feast (2007) – executive producer
Paris, Je T’Aime (2006) – writer, director
The Breed (2006) – executive producer
The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – executive producer
Red Eye (2005) – director
Cursed (2005) – director
Dracula 2000 (2000) – executive producer
Scream 3 (2000) – director
Music Of The Heart (1999) – director
Carnival Of Souls (1998) – executive producer
Scream 2 (1997) – director
Wishmaster (1997) – executive producer
Scream (1996) – director
Vampire In Brooklyn (1995) – director
Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) – writer, director, executive producer, also has a cameo role in it as himself
The People Under The Stairs (1991) – writer, director
Shocker (1989) – writer, director, producer
The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988) – director
Deadly Friend (1986) – director
The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985) – writer, director
A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) – writer, director
Invitation To Hell (1984) – director
Swamp Thing (1982) – writer, director
Deadly Blessing (1981) – writer, director
The Hills Have Eyes (1977) – writer, director
The Last House On The Left (1972) – writer, director
It’s important to note that movies like the original The Last House On The Left, and the original The Hills Have Eyes were banned from some cinemas, as they were deemed to horrific for general viewing. If you managed to get hold of the originals of those movies, chances are they’d be more cringe worthy because of the acting and special effects than scary. However, I heartily recommend that you get your hands on the remakes of those two films because they’re really great. They fit into what I like to refer to as butt-clenching horror. As you watch them, you’ll notice that your butt cheeks start to clench reeeeeaaaaalllly tightly when the harrowing bits set in.
As you can see from the list, quite a good many of the movies Mr. Craven acted as executive producer or director for, so his input into the actual creation of the story was limited in terms of the storyline. And with regards to his possibly most famous creation, A Nightmare On Elm Street, and its main character Freddy Krueger, Mr. Craven only wrote and directed the original 1984 movie, and wrote, directed, executive produced, and filmed a cameo role in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in 1994. Every Nightmare between the original and New Nightmare was written, directed, and produced by other people. This explains why any horror fan will tell you that the original movie was the best, and that it returned to its devilish origins with New Nightmare. In between those two films, Freddy fans will note that the child killer became more of a caricature of that original monster, funnier than a heinous murderer should be. For me, that was also part of why I enjoyed the Nightmare franchise so much, along with the attempts at providing some character mythology for Freddy.
Regardless of how others manipulated his characters and stories, Mr. Craven was a storyteller that many of us looked up to. He was juxtaposition – a kindly looking, grandfather type of man who created some horrific stories and characters. And he will be missed.
Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) created a poignant cartoon to honour Mr. Craven. Even Freddy is feeling the loss of Wes Craven.
Vale Mr. Wes Craven, the maestro of horror . . .