Wes Craven (1939-2015)
As we were preparing for our very first Fright Club screening, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), we also really wanted to use the event to show just how much the man behind the film meant to us. Wes Craven sadly passed away in 2015 and the horror genre will never really have another like him.
Having got into the business quite late in life in comparison to most, Craven worked his way up the ladder until his big break came in 1972 when he worked alongside fellow horror legend-to-be Sean S. Cunningham (Friday the 13th) on the ultra violent The Last House on the Left. Craven wrote, directed and edited the movie on a fairly modest budget and despite it being hugely controversial due to it’s brutal rape scenes the film was a huge box-office success. The home rental versions were drastically cut but it still managed to become a VHS sensation. Craven proved that he wasn’t a one trick pony with the release of The Hills Have Eyes in 1977, which once again was produced on a small budget and dealt with the middle class being attacked by lower class savages in the same vein as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which had been a huge success a few years earlier.
Craven continued to build his repertoire as an auteur within the genre in the early 80’s and had been working on a script infamously inspired by a newspaper article he saw about a young boy who claimed he was being stalked in his dreams and then later died while sleeping. The victim apparently had claimed that he “was afraid to go to sleep” but nobody believed him. The death was unexplainable and Craven used this as a starting point on his new movie idea. The 80’s was giving a platform to a brand new generation of teenagers who were very different from the generation before. Craven was smart enough to tap into this. Maybe the smartest thing Craven was able to do was create a villain so good and so evil that he eventually became a worldwide pop culture sensation. Freddy Krueger really was the stuff of nightmares though. The script was shopped around all the major studios and none of them were interested until Bob Shaye, the founder of New Line Cinema saw something in it and decided to take a chance. The story is infamous now but Shaye managed to find the necessary funds and let Craven work his magic. A Nightmare on Elm Streetturned out to be a phenomenal success that spawned seven sequels and a remake in 2010 (we don’t speak about that round these parts) There’s no doubt that the original Elm Street is probably one of the most influential horror films of all time and that Wes Craven is certainly one of the genre’s most important filmmakers.
Unfortunately due to some technical issues we were unable to play our behind-the-scenes tribute slideshow before our screening but you can watch it below right now.