With the recent passing of Wes Craven, there have been lots of tribute articles and videos. I am not really so good with that stuff. Its very personal with me, dealing with death. Maybe its the loss and unending grief and mourning I still deal with when it comes to the loss of my own beloved mother.
So, I wanted to do something a little different in my own tribute for Wes Craven and share my list of must see films for any Craven fan, old and new. While he was involved in many projects, he wasn't just a director but also producer, cinematographer, writer, editor and even made cameo appearances. Little known facts was that before becoming a famous horror director, he had been involved in directing in the porn industry and in 2010, he became the Board Of Directors for the California Audubon Society.
So, here is my personal list of MUST SEE Wes Craven Films:
*All franchises, sequels and remakes were projects he was also involved in are included.*
1. The Last House On The Left (1972)
A pair of teen age girl's are kidnapped by a gang of violent, sexual deviant convicts while trying to buy drugs on their way to a concert for a birthday. There was also a remake in 2009.
2. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
A cult classic starring Dee Wallace and Michael Berryman, whom I both love! Like The Last House On The Left, it is an exploitation-horror film. About a suburban family stranded in the Nevada desert and attacked by a savage cannibalistic family. There are also two subsequent sequels in 1985 and 1995. There was also a remake in 2006 and 2007 of 1 & 2.
3. Swamp Thing (1982)
Possibly one of my favourite sci-fi/fantasy films EVER from my childhood! Ever! I was 9 years old when this was released. I loved this film. Starring Louis Jourdan and Adrienne Barbeau, big names in the late 1970s and early 1980s. A scientist involved in a chemical explosion turns into a swamp plant monster after a lab sabotage by an evil scientist. The final showdown between the two when the evil scientist has also exposed himself to the same chemical intentionally is awesome.
4. Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
This franchise was the new kid on the block in 1984 when it came to slasher flicks. We already had Michael Myers of Halloween (1978) and Jason Voorhees of Friday the 13th of 1980 by the time Freddy Krueger came along in 1984. But Freddy was and still is to this very day my favourite of the slasher trio! Child murderer and suspected pedophile, Fred Krueger is confronted and burned alive by a mob of angry neighborhood parents and comes back in the dreams of teenagers to enact his revenge by murdering them in their sleep. It is the perfect stuff that nightmares are made of! While Wes Craven was only tied to the first film and then film three, Dream Warriors and then again in New Nightmare, the francise is still tied to him as the storyline is mostly ongoing. He was not tied to the 2010 remake nor do I include that as part of this Must See list. I hated it. HATED IT. Sorry! I will always be an Englund/Krueger fan!
5. Deadly Friend (1986)
I think I was just starting high school when this was released. It starred Matthew Laborteaux (Little House On The Prairie) and Kristy Swanson (Buffy The Vampire Slayer "film"). A sort of horror/sci-fi/love film. A neighbor boy puts the microchip of the robot he has built into his female friend who is brain dead and on life support after being abused by her father. But something he thought was an act of kindness has deadly consequences. I remember it not being very popular back then but I was never the type of person to listen to what anyone thought about most films. I always enjoyed unpopular films and this was one of them!
6. The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
One of the best films ever. Hands down! My late father and I loved it, we watched it all the time. Loosely based on a book and true story dealing with VooDoo and stories of "zombies" in Haiti. I grew up watching documentaries and reading about Haitian zombies and witch doctors. If you haven't seen this film, it is a definite must see!
7. Shocker (1989)
Ok, not one of the best horror films out there but definitely different. It was released at a time in my life where I was still in high school and I was in my groupie days and partying with bands. The film had an excellent soundtrack and had some amazing cameos including Heather Langenkamp, Alice Cooper and Eric Singer from KISS. A serial killer sentenced to die in the electric chair and comes back and kills with electricity. Its a crap film honestly but its all part of its charm and I love it!
8. The People Under the Stairs (1991)
This film is just so wonderfully screwed up and bizarre on so many levels, I just don't know where to begin. A young boy is trapped in a house with a crazy couple, their daughter and vicious guard dog. As well as a basement dungeon full of pale, cannibalistic children, including one who climbs in between the walls of the house. One of the best twisted films I've seen, never get tired of this. Its a gem!
9. Scream (1996)
I loved this franchise. This first film will always hold a special place in my heart. And I didn't realize it until just now in writing this part for Scream that there is a two-fold connection to Scream for me now with Wes Craven. Wes Craven died of brain cancer. Scream was the last film I saw with one of my best friends from high school. We saw films often together but Scream was our last. She was diagnosed with brain cancer/tumour in 1995 and passed in 1997. Not long after we saw Scream, cancer overtook her brain and her memory function had disappeared. So, when I was about to say in writing this about how much the first Scream meant to me because of the connection to my friend, now more so because of she and Wes passed of the same thing. Anyway, I enjoyed the franchise but in most cases, you can never outdo the first. The cast was awesome and you just never expected it to play out as it did. I loved the 2nd as well. I haven't seen 3 and 4 in a long time so I think it may be time for a binge watch! I have yet to see the series on the telly yet, I have heard mixed reviews. I do plan on checking it out!
So, there ya have it! That is my essential must see Wes Craven film list. I have seen many other things he has done but these are just my absolute favourites. What are your favourites? I think I will be watching many of these throughout October as a memorial tribute to Wes.
And check out my tribute to Wes and Freddy on my front door for this year's Samhain (Halloween), though I might keep it up year round!