RIP Wes Craven
James R | On 01, Sep 2015
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s the case, then Wes Craven is one of the most flattered directors in cinema history.
The film-maker, who passed away yesterday at the age of 76, was a true maestro of horror. He not only reinvented the genre once, but multiple times during his decades of dismantling audiences’ sleep patterns.
His unique brand of terror began in 1972 with The Last House on the Left, a nasty flick of disturbing on-screen violence that soon led to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and, in time, Halloween. But that terror was redefined once again in 1984, as Halloween’s slasher rulebook was torn up by A Nightmare on Elm Street, which introduced the world to Freddy Krueger. From those gloves to that sweater, he became a bogeyman that managed to turn the safest place in the world into the most terrifying: your bed.
Fast forward several worsening sequels and, as people began to laugh at Freddy’s familiar scares, Craven once again showed the world how to do it with the post-modern New Nightmare, a film that was followed swiftly by the king of spoofs, Scream. Ghostface became the new mask of terror for a generation, managing to be both creepy and amusing at the same time – a rare feat, one so impressive that it spawned not only sequels but many copycats.
It was a trick that Craven would pull over and over: creating something for others to attempt to recreate, often undermining the impact of his original. But that imitation is at the heart of the director’s genius as much as his career’s weakness: he was simultaneously able to prompt fear in viewers and inspire talent in other film-makers. Even with his passing, people continue to imitate him today, whether it’s writers and their self-aware slasher scripts or film fans looking behind themselves every time they go up the stairs. Legacies don’t come scarier than that.
Wes Craven films on Netflix UK
Vampire in Brooklyn
Wes Craven films on Amazon Prime
The Last House on the Left (Uncut)
Wes Craven films on NOW