My Experience with the Works of Wes Craven (Part 2)

It’s been two weeks since the Horror community lost one of its pillars in the iconic form of director Wes Craven to brain cancer at age 76.

Here is part two of our tribute to the legendary filmmaker (click here for part one).

Deadly Friend

Another film I’ve seen thanks to Guy and Angie. We found this on a now removed streaming site called AllUC. The site had many films on it including several cult horror films from the 70’s and 80’s. Knowing this was a more obscure Craven film we decided to watch it.

The movie is about a young child prodigy who’s best friend is a robot he built named BB. He has a crush on his neighbor Samantha who’s father abuses her. The two decide to play a prank on a crazy old lady from their neighborhood that goes wrong. BB ends up being destroyed and Samantha gets pushed down the stairs by her dad, leaving her brain dead. Doing what any normal teenager would do in this situation, he puts BB’s chip in Samantha’s brain to bring them both back. Although the experiment works, Samantha isn’t quite the way she used to be.

This movie is as cheesy as it sounds. When we first saw this the three of us thought this film was a great underrated work by the master. Looking back, the film is pretty bad – but in a fun way. The concept brings stupid to new levels and the kills are hilariously bad (including the infamous dodgeball scene). Originally the film was going to be more of a Sci-Fi film driven by its story. Hopefully one day that cut will show up.

The Serpent and The Rainbow

This was always a film I’ve heard of. Although I never knew anything about the plot, it was a title that stuck out. One day I saw that Chiller was showing it. Naturally, I decided to watch it.

The film is about a man named Bill Pulman (Dennis Alan) who goes to Haiti after hearing rumors of people coming back from the dead. This is very different from Craven’s normal work. The film is surreal, atmospheric and isn’t really based around gore. Nor does it have the amount of tongue-in-cheek humor Craven’s films tend to have.The film is also based on a true story which made it seem bizarre to me. I love learning about weird real-life stories so that aspect got me hooked. I admired that the film showcased a more intelligent style from this director. My mom recently bought a cheap copy of it for herself from Walmart as she remembered this was a film she really liked.

Shocker

Yet another film I watched with Guy and Angie. Being bigger Horror collectors then me, those two would always end up with new additions to their collections almost every week.

The film is about a psychotic TV repairman who is turned in to the police by a football player. He is then put on death row. Before he is killed in the electric chair he sells his soul to Satan. This causes him to become one with electricity and gives him the ability to travel through power lines, TVs and even people.

I found this film to be very silly but in a fun way. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The second half of the movie is where it really gets weird, but I won’t spoil anything.

The People Under the Stairs

My mom was searching through eBay for a film she remembered from childhood about little people coming from under stairs and taking people away. She mistakenly thought it was the film called “The People Under The Stairs.”  Upon watching we find out she mixed the title up with a different movie.

The film is about a young kid in the ghetto named Fool. When attempting to rob the house of his family’s insane landlords, Fool, along with two others, get trapped in their house. They then face the horrors inside and learn some very dark secrets. The landlords themselves are an incestuous brother and sister who are really over the top.There are also themes of child abduction and abuse. One would think this is a throwback to Craven’s exploitation days, but this film has a more comical tone then his earlier works.

To this day this is one of my favorite Craven films and one I recommend it to those who want to explore him beyond his obvious works.

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

After buying the “Nightmare on Elm Street collection I would watch one or two of them every day after school. I enjoyed part two even if it was little weird. Three was my favorite of the sequels. Four, five and six I found to be pretty weak. The only one left was “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.”

I was a little worried since three of the films in a row were crap and the concept almost sounded like a spoof. Part of me was excited since it was Craven back in the director’s chair.

The film is about Craven (as himself) and the cast members of his films (also as themselves) having their dreams invaded by Freddy Kreuger from outside of the movie world. Though the concept may seem a little silly this is the darkest Freddy film to date. Unlike the other “Nightmare films, he is not portrayed comically at all.

I fucking love this film.

I found this darker updated version of Freddy to be pretty cool. It is my third favorite in the series.

Scream 1 and 2 

While first getting big into Horror (collecting in 8th grade) I’d go on eBay and look up horror films I’d heard were supposed to be good.

I saw a lot that contained “The Howling,” the first two “Scream” movies, a film I hadn’t have heard of called “The Last Broadcast” and “Friday the 13th Part Seven.” I’d eventually watch all of these films. “The Howling would end up being my all-time favorite werewolf movie, I had seen “Friday” before and loved it and “The Last Broadcast was pretty cool and not what I expected at all.

Then there were the Scream films. “Scream” is a pretty well known movie about a killer in a ghost face mask who goes around killing people – but before he kills them he gives them horror trivia.

The film is very meta and full of self references and jokes about the slasher genre. The film is kinda TOO meta especially considering it is set in reality.

If this was a weird surrealist film or a parody film like “The Naked Gun” trilogy this might have worked. To me it just came off as hipster shit.

The film’s influence was even worse as a good chunk of mid 90’s-early 2000 Horror was filmed to the brim with “Scream” clones. I had the same feelings about the sequel which had a similar plot. I never saw the remaining two and have no interest.This would be the point where Horror fans said Craven had sold out. While I don’t like most of his post “New Nightmare” stuff I don’t blame this franchise on him but on writer Kevin Williamson. I have yet to see a film with that name I like.

Cursed

Seeing previews for this I was little excited.

Having only known Craven for Freddy at the time and seeing his name in previews made me want to see said films.

My Dad would buy the bootleg of this from that same guy in the city who he bought “The Hills Have Eyes” of off.

The film stars Christinia Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg as two siblings who get attacked by a werewolf. They then start turning every full moon and try to find out who bit them to end this curse.

This movie absolutely sucks.

The writing (which no surprise is by Williamson), the acting , the plot, everything in this movie is horrible. There is no atmosphere. This couldn’t scare an agoraphobic five-year-old. All of the characters are annoying. To think this is the same guy who brought us many classics in the past is amazing.

Red Eye

The same year as “Cursed,” Craven would release another film called “Red Eye.”

I remember seeing previews for this that didn’t detail what it was about. All it showed was a woman talking to a man on a plane then one of his eyes would flicker red before the title appeared.

I didn’t see this in theaters but sometime after it went to DVD I rented it from Blockbuster (remember those?).

The film is about a woman who meets a mysterious man on a plane. She then ends up getting kidnapped and is forced into a plot to kill a politician. If she refuses her father will die.

This movie was surprisingly good. The style was different from Craven’s norm. More of a Hitchcock style Thriller than Horror, “Red Eye’s” moments were very intense and you worried for the girl the entire time.

Out of the post “New Nightmare Craven films, this is the only one I’ve seen that I enjoyed. I have not seen “My Soul To Take,” but have heard nothing but bad things about it and “Music of the Heart” does not look like my kind of film. All in all, Craven is someone who was important to me as a Horror fan and will be missed.

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