I am a long standing fan of the horror genre. As far as modern horror goes, there will always have a special place in my heart for Wes Craven. He had been part of horror since the 1970s and had made many great films in his career. When he passed on August 30th it was a great loss to the horror film world. I wanted to talk about a few (out of the many many reasons) that Wes Craven will be missed.
-He understood the fine art of comedy in horror
Wes Craven is of course going to be best known for his horror movies, but a lot of his movies were really amusing. He didn’t create horror comedies like Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland, rather he understood where to throw humor into his films. Wes Craven was a master of making you laugh in uncomfortable situations then throwing gore and fear at us. Freddy was actually the master of puns and it was interesting to laugh at the killer while at the same time being disturbed by what he was doing.
This continued on to later films. People Under the Stairs had more than one laugh out loud moment, while being truly disturbing and terrifying. Scream brought the giggles but also more than it’s fair share of gore. Craven was not afraid to make you both laugh and cringe, and it showed in his films.
-He owned the meta horror flick
Meta horror flicks have become more and more popular. Be it Cabin in the Woods, the upcoming The Final Girls, or even horror movies like The Town That Dreaded Sundown (remake) that combine a movie world with the real world. All of this really started with Wes Craven and Scream. Scream came out in the hayday of the 90s slasher flick. It built off the of the established “rules” of slasher flicks that came before, and met up with the changing rules that the 90s brought. It was one of the first horror movies to have a character acknowledge the way to survive horror, and had a plot based on people attempting to make a horror movie situation.
Wes Craven then managed to do it again with Scream 4. In the world of horror movie remakes, and reboots he stepped up to the plate and did the same. Scream 4 did in the 2010s what Scream did in the 1990s. It managed to be scary, and still meta all at the same time. It once again established the “rules” of the changing horror world and pulled out a great movie. So not only did Wes Craven manage to invent the whole meta horror in the 90s he retook ownership of it more than 10 years later.
He also did New Nightmare, the meta flick that was set in a universe where the Elm Street movies were just that, movies, but then they brought Freddy to life. While more of a cult film than the orginal Scream it is still a highlight in the meta horror sub genre, and no movie has done it quiet as well.
-He had a far branching and unique career
While I would venture to guess that the two biggest franchises that Craven is know for are Nightmare of Elm Street, and Scream. However Craven actually had a pretty diverse body of work. He also did the orginal Last House of the Left, The Hills Have Eyes. He created more thriller horrors like The Serpent and the Rainbow. While not all of his risks panned out (Vampire in Brooklyn) the man took risks in his career and created a number of unique movies. Heck, Wes Craven even stepped out of the shadows of horror in his directing career.
-He created not one but two slasher movie favorites
When you sit down and list of the slasher franchises that horror fans aren’t allowed to forget we have Halloween, Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, then not one, but two Wes Craven franchises. Scream and Nightmare on Elm Street. While the arguments are made that Scream doesn’t really belong in the list because the killer is different in it’s nature, it doesn’t really change that those two franchises stick with us. We know them, we watch them, love or hate them they are part of the horror pop culture.
Truly this man will be missed, a giant in the horror industry, and a creator of many of our favorite nightmares.