The Metal Community Remembers Horror Icon Wes Craven
Defining an entire era of horror is noteworthy, but defining three is impressive. Not only did director Wes Craven do just that, he did so with a level of grace and imagination that any artist has to admire.
With his first two films, The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes, Craven revealed to the world panicked, paranoid depictions of America’s fear of itself in the ragged ’70s. With 1984’s A Nightmare On Elm Street, he changed cinema with the invention of the ultimate boogeyman, the burn-scarred, knife-handed child murderer Freddy Krueger. And the in the ’90s, he turned the camera inward and showed us the pop culture-obsessed maniac in us all with the polished slasher Scream (and unwitting inspired a series of iffy imitations — Scream was like Korn in that respect). Between these, he also found time to make eerie, fairy tale-esque films like The People Under The Stairs and The Serpent And The Rainbow.
In honor of the anniversary of Wes Craven’s death, we asked members of the metal community what the director’s work meant to them. Here’s what they had to say.
Spencer Charnas, Ice Nine Kills
Above: Ice Nine Kills in the kitchen where the final scene of Scream was shot.
“The bloody mark that Wes Craven’s legacy left on the horror genre cannot be overstated. For me, it was his film Scream that changed the game forever.
“I saw the movie in theaters when I was 11 years old, but I can remember the experience as if it were yesterday. Although I had already been a big fan of slashers, this was the first time I had ever seen one on the big screen. I was hooked from the opening sequence and watched in awe at the devilishly sharp self-referential dialogue that cut through the screen like a knife. The suspenseful direction was clever, the cast was funny, the concept was so original, the kills were creative, and in my opinion, it sports one of the best surprise endings ever seen in any movie. Wes single handedly revitalized the slasher/horror movie craze in ’90s, and he will forever remain a crucial figure in the genre.
“Bravo to Wes Craven for making this masterpiece of a film come to life. He may be gone, but his unmatched direction will forever bring nightmares to the world.”
“My first introduction to Wes Craven was A Nightmare on Elm Street.1984, eight years old, viewing this was terrifying. With an illegal HBO hook-up, I was able to see all these terrifying films at a young age with not much parental guidance. In fact, the first time I saw this film, I was living in a mobile home trailer in North Carolina. With Freddys trademark knife finger gloves scratching metal — this sound was constantly made by the tree outside scraping the metal trailer. I was convinced Freddy was outside taunting me. ‘Nine, ten, never sleep again’ could never ring more true for me.
“The first film of this series is still one of my favorite ’80s horror films, and scenes from this film still hit the same nerve it did back in 1984. Wes Craven and his terrifying body of work will live on for more generations. I never thought at 43 years old I would still be talking about this film, and I actually live across the street from the Nightmare house in Los Angeles…Dreams do come true.”
Jeremy Wagner, Broken Hope
“As I write this, it’s the eve of the passing of Wes Craven — four years gone already.
“When I was 13 or 14, my mom came home one day and said, ‘A lady at work says she just saw the scariest movie, ever. It’s called, A Nightmare on Elm Street.’
Being a horror-kid (still to this day), I just HAD to see it. Once I did, I was hooked. Craven created A Nightmare On Elm Street and Freddy Krueger — and then he created Scream and Ghostface. Think about that…Wes Craven is responsible for two of the most iconic horror figures in horror cinema — and responsible for many bad dreams.”
Jamie Madrox, Twiztid
“When I think of Wes Craven, I remember a cutting edge director that was ahead of his time. I believe he was one of those in-depth directors with the intestinal fortitude to push the envelope when it mattered most. From 1972’s Last House On The Left to A Nightmare On Elm Street’s iconic Freddy Krueger character that captivated a nation during the peaks of its heights, Wes Craven quickly became somewhat of a solid fixture in the horror movie cinema world. But the solid fixture status would quickly be propelled into iconic status in ’96 when he basically reinvented the horror slasher genre with the first installment of what would go on to be a series of Scream movies. I feel the horror world owes a lot to Mr. Craven for his no-boundaries kind of thinking behind the camera, as well as his vision of what we were all to see in front of it.”
Paul Booth, tattoo artist
“Of course we all know Wes Craven for Freddy Krueger, but I think my all-time favorite film he had made would have to be The Hills Have Eyes. Don’t get me wrong, Krueger is an awesome franchise, but I always seemed to be drawn to slasher flicks that cast aside the more humorous aspects like what you find on Elm Street. Nonetheless, Wes Craven was a true master and icon of horror. Respect.”
Valentine Hauser, Betraying The Martyrs
“Wes Craven was one of a kind. He helped to create the slasher genre and still then was able to kick it back to life 20 years after. To me he is the true Master of Horror; he could jump on any style of horror movie and his creations became mythical pop culture figures: Freddy, Ghostface, Pluto…I miss his violent and brutal depiction of society. With his passing four years ago, the whole horror genre lost a lot of its bite.”
Mike Hochins, VHS
“My journey with Wes Craven actually didn’t start on Elm St. The People Under the Stairs was the first Craven flick I saw, and it disturbed me immensely! The freaks, the gimp suit, literally everything about this movie told my 11-year-old brain to stop watching, but I couldn’t! Eventually, I did see the first A Nightmare on Elm Street, and it became one of my favorite movies. At that point I had seen the second and third movie but somehow the first slipped through my fingers! It had a much darker tone, and the Johnny Depp death scene blew my mind!
“Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate Wes Craven as a meat and potatoes horror director with a panache for storytelling and awesome set pieces. Everything from his blockbusters to unknown gems like Deadly Friend and Deadly Blessing all hit the mark for horror. Hell, I even like the Scream movies, but can we keep that a secret? RIP.”
Giovanni Bucci, ODDKO
“Wes Craven was a master of his field, and his work fueled more than a few of my childhood nightmares. I regret never having had a chance to meet him or collaborate with him, because his characters were absolutely iconic and unforgettable.”
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