If he wasn't in the horror film business, it would have been a shame, but that's what Wes Craven chose to do. He did it like a champ right up until this past weekend when he passed away. Brain cancer got him, which begins to make me wonder about the nature of horror and horror movies. What is more horrifying: A horribly scarred ex-janitor with knives for fingers or having your own cells turning into vicious killers attacking you from the inside.
Inside your brain.
Kind of like the dreams that attacked the teenagers in Wes Craven's Nightmare On Elm Street series. More than thirty years ago, he decided to unleash Freddy Krueger on our collective unconscious. For three decades, moviegoers like myself knew that they were safe as long as they didn't fall asleep. Sure, it became a little more difficult over the years to devise new and different ways to chop teenagers up in to tiny bits, but that didn't slow him down. For that matter, each time Freddy was put through the mill or turned into dust, he popped back up again. Because of the gross. Not just the ticket sales, but because of the gross.
Wes started out in 1972 with a cult classic Last House On The Left. This is where he began working his not-so-subtle vision on the world. Along with Tobe Hooper a couple years later, Wes was pioneering a genre that would eventually become "the slasher film." Eventually, Mister Craven became so immersed and familiar with this brand of gore that he turned the camera back on itself and produced the Scream series. Once you knew and understood the rules, it was possible for teenagers to grow up and star in yet another series of films created by this master of splatter.
I always admired his work, at least for the first couple movies in a row, but then the formula would grow tired. To me. Wes didn't care. He knew there was always another kid waiting to see his first scary movie, and that was the ticket he wanted to sell.
I'll miss Wes Craven this Halloween, not just for the movies that he made, but for the number of Freddy Kruegers and Ghostface masks that haunt our playground year after year. Timeless. Aloha, Wes Craven, you really stomped on the Terra(fy).