Last week, we lost one of the grandfathers of modern horror.
Wes Craven took us to places that most horror directors never wanted to go. After The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes, it seemed that horror could go anywhere and disturb everyone.
Then, with A Nightmare on Elm Street, he created Freddy Kruger. Freddy wasn’t the first horror baddie to become an icon, but he was the first to TRULY embrace it.
I thought that I would pay tribute to the man by pairing up two of his films that visit the same phenomenon: The true legacy of horror.
WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994)
Written and directed by Wes Craven
Freddy had been around for ten years and five sequels (plus a VERY brief cameo in Jason Goes To Hell) by the time Craven decided to come back to the series to put a great big period on the character. This time, though, Freddy (Robert Englund) invades the real world.
On the tenth anniversary of the first film, Heather Langenkamp, the star of that film, starts getting phone calls from someone who sounds a lot like Freddy. Then her husband is killed and has suspicious slash marks on his body. Who could be responsible besides the fictional character? Could he be trying to come into the real world to really begin his reign of terror?
New Nightmare is a great blending of “real life” and movie life. I’ve always loved movies that bring the fantasy world into our world (see Neverending Story and In The Mouth Of Madness). And when the director plays himself in his own movie? Perfect!
My only problem with the movie is the ending. It’s unfortunately weak. Other than that, though, this is a super fun ride that closed out the Nightmare series incredibly well.
Directed by Wes Craven
Written by Kevin Williamson
After New Nightmare, Craven directed Vampire In Brooklyn. The less said about that, the better.
But then he went back to the “horror movie coming to life” idea. Kevin Williamson was just some guy who had a screenplay. Luckily, it got into the hands of Craven and it was soon turned into a phenomenon that spawned three sequels and, somehow, a tv show.
Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is just a typical teenager in a typical little suburban town. When she starts to get calls from a creepy voice, people start dying. Why is this person with a ghost mask targeting her and her friends? And what is it with the killer’s love of horror movies?
Scream was the first in a long line of self-referential horror movies…for better or worse. With he clout and brains of Craven behind the camera, though, this is one of the best horror movies of the 90s.
Jokey, bloody and full of characters that we actually care about, it took the world by storm for good reason. Say what you will about the sequels (I like at least Scream 2), but it really doesn’t get much better than this. Just to show that he wasn’t going to let the jokes get the best of him, Craven started the movie with one of the bloodiest and grisliest murders of his entire career. It’s beautiful.
Wes Craven was a master, no doubt about it.
He created in your face, dark, gritty horror in the 70s and then created meta, jokey horror in the 90s, with a lot of great stuff in between.