The world of cinema lost a giant this week. Wes Craven, one of the greatest masters of horror sadly lost his battle with brain cancer on Sunday August 30th. Having penned and directed some of the most iconic horror movies of the last four decades, Craven will always be remembered for his unique ability to scare the bejesus out of viewers of all ages.
I, like most, was first introduced to Craven`s work through his original tour de force, A Nightmare on Elm Street. A new kind of slasher film, Nightmare brought into the world a new fiend that haunted the one place we could never destroy him; our dreams. Freddy Krueger, brought to glorious life by the inimitable Robert Englund, is perhaps the most instantly recognizable killer since Dracula himself. Spawning a plethora of sub-par sequels (save for Dream Warriors, in my opinion the best horror sequel of all time) and a bloody awful remake, Nightmare has certainly earned its place in the horror pantheon. In a bizarre series of coincidences, I actually met Englund at Bournemouth Comic Con barely hours before Craven`s death. Lovely bloke.
Throughout my teenage years, I continued, like most movie-loving adolescent boys, to devour scary movies like popcorn. I had worked my way through the rest of the Craven oeuvre before the age of sixteen, delighting in the schlockiness of The Hills Have Eyes, not quite understanding the relevance of The Last House on the Left, and loving the ridiculousness of Swamp Thing (still one of my favourite anti-superhero films).
It was not until I borrowed a well-worn VHS copy of Scream from one of my best friends, however, that I truly understood Craven`s ability as a film maker.
Scream was a new kind of horror. Nowadays, every new movie labels itself as “meta”, but Scream was meta before concept was even a glimmer in a young Joss Whedon`s eye. Making fun of the traditional horror tropes whilst at the same time forming a truly scary and surprising film, the adventures of Sidney Prescott and Ghostface quickly earned their rightful place into my list of favourite films of all time. Although the sequels lacked the same punch, the original trilogy formed a wickedly complete story. Perhaps not up there with Back to the Future and the original Star Wars films, the Scream trilogy remains a wonderfully watchable trilogy. Sorry Wes, Scream 4 did kind of suck though.
This week, we have lost a truly inspirational artist. A man who inspired me to sneak into my first rated 18 movie at the age of thirteen (Scream 3), gave Eddie Murphy the opportunity to realize how terrible he was before the rest of the world caught up, and who will continue to terrify young children and adults alike for generations to come.
Godspeed Mr. Craven, you shall live on in our nightmares.