Published on October 23rd, 2015 | by Brando Quiring1
Brando’s Top Three Wes Craven Movies
Halloween is fast approaching! Brando looks at some of his favourite Wes Craven films, to celebrate the life and career of the iconic horror director.
Horror director Wes Craven delivered some fantastic scares over the course of his legendary career as a film maker. His style of keeping the films grounded and never taking them too seriously set him apart as a contributor to a genre he helped to define. His work has created pop culture icons and has inspired some of the most disturbing images to ever be put to film. His commentary on modern horror and his contributions to classic exploitation will see that his name lives on forever in horror history.
As a fan of all things terrifying and gruesome, I felt that this would be an appropriate time to pay tribute to a man who gave me so many great memories throughout my life and countdown my top three favourite Wes Craven pictures. Why three? Bronze, silver, gold. Why would anyone bother with plywood and sheetrock?
#3 – The People Under the Stairs: This early 90s Craven offering was a journey into the depths of insanity as a young boy from the ghetto named Fool and a pair of professional robbers break into the fortress-like home of the corrupt landlords who own Fool’s apartment building in order to capture enough loot to get them out of the rundown part of town and get Fool’s sick mom an operation. What follows inside the house is a whirlwind of child mutilation, implied incest, and claustrophobic terror, as Fool fights for his life against a leather-clad lunatic with a gun, a dog that would terrify Cujo, and many other horrors as he tries to get out alive and save the life of the demented couple’s daughter.
This movie is ripe with scares and has just enough tongue-in-cheek humour to keep you from passing out from the tension. It is a great time and will continue to inspire shock and awe as the true depths of the couples depravity is slowly revealed.
#2 – The Hills Have Eyes: One of Craven’s earliest works, this 70s shocker about a family taking the long way around on a trip to California who end up stranded in the middle of the desert is the stuff nightmares are made of. For me, this movie did to family road trips what Jaws did for swimming in the ocean.
The family wrecks their car in the desert and is summarily accosted by a group of hateful cannibals who terrorize them all and eventually turn the family from regular people into killers of necessity. It is an interesting look at the nature of how people react to horrible circumstance and what lengths they will go to protect the ones they love, and it was chilling and scary without having to add an incredibly graphic fifteen minute rape scene.
#1 – Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors: It might not be everyone’s favourite entry in the iconic horror franchise but it is the one that I think made the best use of the dream world gimmick, with Freddy’s victims using the fact that they were in a dream to give themselves ‘powers’ to help them fight against him. It also saw the return and ultimate demise of Nancy, the survivor of the first film who is back as an adult to try and help the new batch of institutionalised kids. This film was the first times we see Freddy being a little more fun as well. He cracks more jokes and the manner in which he bumps off many of the characters is more creative and over the top and sets the stage for the way the rest of the films would be done. It is the entry that turns the horror icon from a baby-killing pedophile into the entertaining, cartoonish super villain that has branched out and created a fandom that still exists today.
Notably absent from my list are Craven’s first major offering The Last House on the Left and all the entries in the self aware and entirely ‘meta’ Scream series. These movies are not without their merits but I feel like the films on my list better encapsulate Craven’s style of putting hapless, ordinary people into completely insane circumstances and then letting us watch how those people extract themselves from the crazy situations. It is a style in the horror genre that has been emulated many times but has never been duplicated. Wes Craven will be forever remembered for his characters and movies because he based them firmly in reality and then scared the pants off of his audience by throwing something unexpected at them and no number of gritty, sex crime laced remakes can ever take away from the solid film making or great stories that made this man in icon.