A Tribute to Wes Craven
“You don’t enter the theater and pay your money to be afraid. You enter the theater and pay your money to have the fears that are already in you when you go into a theater dealt with and put into a narrative. Stories and narratives are one of the most powerful things in humanity. They’re devices for dealing with the chaotic danger of existence. “
The day I knew I was officially growing up was the day I got to pick out a Nightmare on Elm Street movie off of the rental shelf for my Friday selection, and my mom didn’t bat an eye. I was 11, and I was in for the ride of my life.
Over the years, I always find myself going back to the NOES series, which wouldn’t have been possible without one man. No, not Robert Englund…though he was pretty important…I’m talking about Wes Craven. The man who made my birthday a little more somber this year by dying the day before it.
Looking at the man’s genuine smile, it’s hard to believe he could come up with the visions of ‘The Last House on the Left’ or ‘The Hills Have Eyes’. Two modern classics of Gorror (gore-horror). I won’t say everything he ever made was a masterpiece, but I will say that even if I didn’t like some of his work…I can appreciate his characters. He was a good writer/director, and he knew something very important: make your heroes sympathetic, or people won’t care if they die.
He didn’t come from a family who loved film. They didn’t seem to into it, honestly, and that may have been why he ended up getting his Masters in Philosophy and Writing. He ended up becoming a teacher, before moving on to film…though he didn’t start from the top, or even the middle. Mr. Craven started from the bottom, as a messenger.
His first real movie was ‘The Last House on the Left’, which I believe ended up on the video nasties list for quite some time. He was the Spielberg of horror, in my mind. Of all the people I admire in the industry, Wes Craven is one man I would have loved to have a cup of coffee with.
People often compare Carpenter and Craven, failing to recognize that you can actually appreciate them both as separate artists with their own styles. They had no rivalry. They respected each other. So I thought…what better way to remember Wes, than to share a clip of Carpenter praising him?