on the passing of Wes Craven, a gentleman and a scholar, one of the all-time great masters of horror who made his indelible mark on the genre with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, NEW NIGHTMARE, SCREAM, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, and THE HILLS HAVE EYES. He had such range in his deeper cuts, too, with offbeat masterpieces like THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, DEADLY FRIEND, and THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. In Freddy Krueger, he invented one of horror's enduring icons, and while Wes didn't approve of every ridiculous iteration of the character, I love Freddy in all of his terror and his hilarity, a Grand Guignol superstar for our times. [I mean, as of this moment, I have a plastic Freddy glove, a Freddy goblet, and a sticker that says "Freddy for President" all within sight of my computer. That speaks less to Freddy's album and one-liners than it does to Wes' capacity to effortlessly conjure our primal fears and visceral anxieties in a way that is ultimately exhilarating.]
About five years ago at IFC, it was my honor to briefly chat with him about the rumors of bizarro goings-on behind-the-scenes of THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW. His eyes lit up, and he told me about the cast and crew having shared nightmares of cows with television static for eyes, crew members fleeing the set, strange wall seepage in hotel rooms, and others seeking mystical protection with local Houngans. His demeanor was warm, fatherly, professorial. You can get a great sense of the man from a New York Times piece he wrote two years ago on fear of retirement.
There are plenty of Wes' films I should have written about by now but haven't, but you can read more here on SCREAM 2, SCREAM 3, DEADLY BLESSING, VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, SWAMP THING, and even Wes' fun cameos in films like BODY BAGS and DIARY OF THE DEAD.