Remembering Wes Craven.
This morning was not a good one.
I awoke to several texts from friends of mine asking me if I had heard. Within seconds I looked it up on my phone and my heart sank.
Director Wes Craven had passed away today at the age of 76. He had lost his battle with cancer.
Without going too much into detail, I had a horrible morning following the news. I had somehow cracked three of my ribs and tore cartilage in my chest causing myself to have to run up to the emergency room for tests. I was more than a little nervous since at the time when I first went in I had zero idea what was wrong with me. I was in pain, and yep it's my fucking birthday.
Anywho, I was able to leave the ER (mostly likely with a huge bill coming in the mail for me within a month.) but relieved I was dying. Still, I was very bummed out over the news that one of my all time favorite directors had died. I remember having a talk with a friend of mine earlier last year about how much it truly sucks to loose somebody that was a huge part of your childhood. Now I'm not talking somebody personally (we've all suffered from that and it royally sucks.) but we were talking about actors and directors that were a huge part of our life's growing up by watching their work over the years. In fact my exact words were that when Tom Atkins passes away…nobody better go near me for at least a week.
It's so strange since as of lately I've been on a huge Wes Craven kick. Just recently I bought Scream Factory's killer release of The People Under The Stairs (a film I remember renting constantly as a child at my local video store.) I had also been re-watching the Elm Street movies, mostly the original over and over again. Back at school I saw My Soul To Take and probably laughed the hardest I ever did seeing a movie with friends. I also had my personal favorite Deadly Friend constantly on a loop. I feel this is one of Craven's more underrated films of all time.
The Scream movies were not just a huge part of my childhood but a massive part of my childhood. I still remember my sister telling me about this new movie where a girl gets caught in a doggy door and lifted up when the garage goes up. In total awe by this idea I told my mother and she rented me the first Scream. I remember being obsessed with this movie. My sister and I would re-watch this tape we had of the first movie when it taped it off TV (How 90's is that?) I remember how excited we got when we saw the teaser trailer for Scream 2 and how both of us went as Ghostface for Halloween that year. In fact if memory serves me correct I was the only third grader with a killer Scream 2 T-shirt. Back in 97 and 2000 my mother took both me and my sister to the movies to see both sequels. These movies were a huge part of my life since my mother adored them and loved watching them. Very few movies have a powerful opening as the original Scream did with Drew Barrymore.
As for the Nightmare On Elm Street movies, the original film was the main reason why I became fascinated with horror. I remember being absolutely terrified of Freddy. So badly in fact whenever I saw him on TV or saw somebody dressed up as him I would lose my shit. We had family friends of ours who had children that were around my age and my sister's. Their daughter loved the Elm Street movies so much she even had a birthday party theme off the films with a claw coming out of the cake. Always trying to get me to watch the movie whenever I same out, I would run out of their den screaming. It got so bad that my mother and grandmother tried to make light of my fear. They said Freddy was just pretend and the actor was a nice man. My mother was even cool enough to buy me the Nightmare On Elm Street board game to show me it was all pretend.
Finally at age 8 or 9 I had enough. I had always been fascinated by horror movies and Halloween but didn't understand why I couldn't make it through this movie. So the next time we visited I asked if I could finally once and for all see the original movie with their son. The way I looked at it was if i watched the movie, I would know what to expect and no longer be scared. I still remember watching Tina's death on the edge of my seat and shouting at the Rod character to turn on the light! That's when it hit me. Turn on the light? What was I thinking? I wanted to see this horrible death better? What was the matter with me? Once the movie was finished I was changed forever. I knew what to expect and actually enjoyed the movie. In the following years I became obsessed with this movie as well as the sequels. I even dressed up as Freddy for Halloween. In fact as much as I love the Friday the 13th series I down right adore the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. Nothing as ever been so visual, surreal, and beautiful. I mean honestly think of how many memorable scenes are just in the original Elm Street? Wes Craven was able to shape a brilliant slasher series and give birth to one of the most memorable villains of all time for our generation. I collect anything I can find Elm Street wise, have met several cast members, LOVED Never Sleep Again, hope to someday get a tattoo based off my love of this series, enjoy the TV series, and even as a kid made a mini movie of the original film that I wish I could find for a few good laughs now. Basically I love these movies and always watch them.
I admit there are still some films of Craven's I still haven't watched but I love the original Last House On The Left (such a brutal movie.), Deadly Friend, Shocker, The People Under The Stairs, Wes Craven's New Nightmare, The Hills Have Eyes 2 (which I acutely enjoy), and of course the original Hills Have Eyes which is one of my all time favorites.
In fact I own a stunning mondo print of this film.
What is so strange is that this past Saturday I watched both The Hills Have Eyes and the original Nightmare On Elm Street.
Am I bummed?
Wes seemed like such a fun and awesome guy with a brilliant mind that made so many amazing and brutal films. Shame I never had the pleasure to meet you but I'm sure you're in a better place and I certainly hope my mother is up in Heaven picking your brain and talking about movies with you.
RIP Wes. There will never be another one like you.