It is only appropriate that news of horror master Wes Craven’s death broke last night while the second episode of Fear the Walking Dead was being aired. Those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s, the sweet spot of Craven films, all have fond memories of seeing his movies. I remember seeing so many in the theater but I also remember groups of high school friends getting together to rent Shocker and having a great time seeing such a cheesy horror film played in vivid VHS.
Thinking how far the genre has evolved since Craven came along so many decades ago inspired us to get together and hold an impromptu, geek web-site wake for the beloved director of so many horror classics. Jump after the break to read about our favorite Craven films and more!
What was the first Wes Craven film you saw?
Ryan: Swamp Thing. I saw it in bits and pieces–there was a book store in my hometown that had a great science fiction, fantasy, and horror sections. I was too young to be into the horror books but I remember the fascination of watching Swamp Thing on the TV behind the counter in 5 or 10 minute increments until my mom said it was time to go. I visited the bookstore enough times to see the full movie even though it took a while, but given my age at the time and the fact that seeing Poltergeist gave me nightmares for weeks, it’s probably a good thing I saw Swamp Thing how I did.
Jimmy: Nightmare on Elm Street. I don’t remember my reaction but it was probably “Holy S*$&!” I was a huge Freddy and Wes Craven fan after that even if most of the non-Craven sequels were pale comparisons.
Watson: The original Nightmare on Elm Street. I was totally scared of horror movies as a kid but got pressured into watching it at a birthday party. I became a fan of the genre until Saw turned it into torture porn.
Jenny: The first Wes Craven film I ever saw was Scream. Yeah, yeah, I know… that’s really late in the game, isn’t it? Well – here’s the thing. I’m not much of a “scary movie” kind of girl. So the very fact that I saw Scream is a feat in and of itself. My initial reaction to the movie was: “Holy crap – they killed Drew Barrymore in the first 5 minutes? OMG! NO ONE IS SAFE!” And then the twist and turn of the murder mystery was great. I loved it, became one of my favorite if not first scary movies still to date.
What was your favorite Wes Craven film?
Ryan: Scream. A truly talented director can make a great horror film but only a genius within the genre can make an amazing horror film that is also a perfect parody of the slasher-film sub-genre. Tense, hilarious, and it works on multiple levels. Still a stunning masterpiece. (I still give a close second to Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors because I think it had the best story arc of all the Nightmare sequels.)
Jimmy: Probably Nightmare, though I love Scream as well.
Watson: The original Scream. It was so meta. A much better spoof on 70s/80s horror films than the Scary Movie series ever could.
Jenny: Scream out of all his films is still my #1 favorite. I only just recently (like a few years ago because my husband made me) watched the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Those were terrible. Well – let me rephrase that – watching them some 15 years later than I should have, I thought they were terrible, which is why Scream still reigns supreme.
What film or property do you wish Wes Craven had been able to write/direct?
Ryan: Given the tense, confined location drama of Red Eye, I would have loved if Wes Craven ever did a space-based movie. Whether on a space station or another planet, that would have been amazing.
Jimmy: Not sure about this one. But having Craven attached to anything was usually a good sign.
Watson: I’d have loved to see him take on DC’s Doom Patrol. Very weird and cryptic property would have blended well with his style.
Jenny: I would have loved to see what he could have done with Disney’s Haunted Mansion. I know that’s a stretch, but wouldn’t that have been cool?
If you had to recommend one Wes Craven film to someone who had never seen any of his works, which one would it be?
Ryan: Nightmare on Elm Street. Nothing summarizes his creativity and his true horror chops more than that movie. And it requires no advance knowledge of the genre to get exactly what it’s trying to communicate–I think Scream does take some knowledge of slasher films to truly get it on all levels.
Jimmy: If my horror chops cut a little deeper I might recommend some of his old school stuff (did you know he directed the Swamp Thing movie) but I have recommended Nightmare to many. And hard to go wrong recommending Scream, while horror/parody, it is a bit more mainstream.
Watson: The original The Hills Have Eyes. Even snippets of that film haunt me to this day.
Jenny: This is a no brainer – Scream, Scream, and Scream. Just skip the sequels, they are meh – but the original is an awesome mix of horror and mystery.