It is safe to say that any horror fan will know the name Wes Craven, he is famous for crafting some of the scariest and thought provoking, genre changing films of our time, with hits like A Nightmare On Elm Street and the Scream series. Unfortunately when I started this profile I was hoping to get an interview or a quote for this dedication, but unfortunately in that time Mr Craven had passed away.
This article and our September Screams month is dedicated to his legacy of not only delivering great films, but also genuine and frightening screams and scares that will live on in our memories for the rest of our lives here at Novastream. If you do not know who Wes Craven is please read below to find out about one of film’s most sought after directors and writers of the scream genre of our generation.
Born on August 2, 1939, in Cleveland, Ohio, Wes Craven was raised in a strict christian household. He saw few films due to his parent’s religious beliefs, but used to sneak out to see things like Fantasia. After finishing high school, Craven went to Wheaton College in Illinois, were he was the editor of the school’s literary magazine and a contributor as well. Wes finalised his masters degree from John Hopkins in 1964.
Craven’s first film was 1972’s The Last House On The Left, which he wrote and directed. the film sent shockwaves through the industry and has become a cult hit and secured Craven as one of the newcomers of horror to watch out for. Although after this film he found it hard to get any work or funding due to the graphic nature of the content, he did return in 1977 with another box office smash The Hills Have Eyes (which he also wrote and directed!)
“I think the experience of going to a theater and seeing a movie with a lot of people is still part of the transformational power of the film, and it’s equivalent to the old shaman telling a story by the campfire to a bunch of people. That is a remarkable thing, if you scream and everyone else in the audience screams, you realize that your fears are not just within yourself, they’re in other people as well, and that’s strangely releasing. But on the TV, you can still watch it with friends. We watch films on so many different mediums now, that I think they’ll complement each other for a long time.” – Wes Craven
It wasn’t until 1984 when the world realised how talented Craven was with the highly successful and critically praised Nightmare On Elm Street, introducing viewers to Freddy Krueger, who went on to become a cultural icon appearing in sequels, cross over films, comic books, video games and TV shows.
Returning to the world of Freddy Krueger in 1994 with meta film New Nightmare, saw Krueger invade the “real world” and haunt the cast and crew who were making the Elm Street films. It garnered high critical praise and took the villain back to being more menacing, rather than comical as he had become over his many incarnations. The film features several homages to the original film such as quotes and recreations of the most famous scenes. The film still holds a massive cult following today and while it didn’t have the broad appeal of the Scream series, it was definitely a genre film that lived up to its name, and laid a lot of the ground work for Craven’s work on the Scream series.
In 1996 Craven came back to modern audiences with the hit horror film Scream, a joint project with Kevin Williamson, he also wrote and directed the first film and its three sequels as well as the modern remake of The Hills Have Eyes and its two sequels sequentially. Recently Craven got involved with the Scream TV series for MTV, an instant hit with audiences, the episodic series had its pilot written and directed by Craven, before moving to a producing role for the rest of season 1.
It wasn’t only horror that Craven could accommodate to, he flexed his comedic muscles with Scream and explored that with Meryl Streep in Music Of The Heart, for which Streep earned a Best Actress award.
His career is diverse and his contribution to popular culture is undeniably epic. Personally he is one of my favourite directors and the fact that he was also involved in the writing and production of the Scream TV series, will see a big hole left in the show. We would like to honour Wes Craven with our September Screams content and lock him down as one of the greats of our generation.
RIP Wes Craven 30/08/2015