Wes Craven movies gave a generation (or two) nightmares. They were, quite simply, unlike anything children of the 1980s and ’90s had ever seen, what with their dream-stalking boogeymen and real-life baddies.
Craven himself had nightmares of his own, and they were often fueled by the films that came before him.
On October 30, 2014, the creator of Freddy Krueger, the Ghostface Killer, and Horace Pinker (Shocker) was given an open forum by the Daily Beast to discuss these cinematic nightmares.
Giving this list of films a second look almost one year later — upon mourning Craven’s death — fans may have a hard time seeing where some of the films rubbed off.
However, the director does a fine job of filling fans in, and now that he’s gone, it’s worth going back to his list, as many are already doing on social media.
In fact, the first-person narrative of horror’s iconic director and producer was trending again on Monday afternoon. The highlights of his piece include the following films.
Don’t Look Now (1973)
Don’t Look Now may seem tedious to some of today’s audiences — and particularly fans of Wes Craven movies — who are used to gallons of blood and a death appearing on screen every 10 or 15 minutes. However, if given a chance, the film becomes an unnerving study of one family’s grief that builds to a shocking and unforgettable climax.
Craven himself had rave reviews for the film and said he saw a bit of himself in it. The Elm Street director wasn’t allowed to see many movies growing up and didn’t get to indulge until after high school due to his strict Baptist upbringing.
“This was one of the movies that just completely enthralled me and scared me at the same time, where I was watching a film that was a pretty moving work of art as well,” Craven wrote. “There are several scenes where the parents glimpse their missing little girl — wearing the raincoat she was wearing when she disappeared — appearing down at the end of a dank alleyway in Venice. The sense that the child is either a ghost or is torturing them with her presence by disappearing was a wonderful example (not that I followed it) of being able to scare without showing blood.”
Naturally, Psycho might have a profound effect on a man, particularly one who was just 21-years-old at the time and had never seen anything as visceral before in his life. Most fans were creeped out by the slow, slithering dread of the infamous shower scene; however, for Craven, it was another moment in the film that terrified him. “The scene that really frightened me the most is the one at the top of the stairs where Martin Balsam, playing the detective, comes up and there’s a high-angle, sort of canted shot, where the mother — or what seems to be the mother — comes out of the doorway with the knife raised over her head, charges at him, stabs him in the chest, and he’s so startled he’s not able to move,” wrote Craven. It is arguably a more terrifying scene. See for yourself.
The Virgin Spring (1960)
1960 was a rough year for young Craven. Not only did he have to deal with Psycho, but he also had to sit through The Virgin Spring, which was the clear and admitted inspiration for Last House on the Left. “The basic plot of The Virgin Spring, which was lifted off a Medieval tale, became the framework for one of the most famous Wes Craven movies, The Last House on the Left,” Craven admitted before recounting the nearly identical plot in which parents became aware that their visitors (in Spring‘s case, shepherds) murdered their daughter and decided to plot revenge.
“The father systematically murders each one of these shepherds, and that to me, oddly enough, was the most terrifying because his revenge was done so graphically. There was a young boy that was traveling with these shepherds — he was utterly innocent and he ends up being killed, too. I found that really a stunning thing to be depicted in a movie where you have what in an American movie would be justifiable revenge, but at the end seeing how revenge can itself be a murder of the innocence of the victims, how they can transcend from being normal people to being victims to being murderers themselves. That was fascinating to me.”
For a full list of inspiring Wes Craven movies via Daily Beast, check out the original story. It is well worth a read if you’re a film fan or a fan of the director.
Have you watched any of these flicks? Which Wes Craven movies are your favorites? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via screen grab, A Nightmare on Elm Street]