Very sad news this evening as we’ve learned of the passing of film director Wes Craven. The creator of such horror classics as The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, Scream, Shocker, and A Nightmare On Elm Street. Yes, he created the iconic Freddy Krueger.
When I was a kid and my love of film, and of the horror genre, was growing faster than I was height-wise I was surrounded by the films of George A. Romero, John Carpenter, and Wes Craven. I remember seeing Swamp Thing with friends and we were so amazed by it that it is all we could talk about at school Monday morning. I took notice of the director and was both intrigued and fascinated by his then new film A Nightmare On Elm Street. The commercials alone scared me. I saw it right when it came out on video and my fear of the commercials was justified and I was indeed terrified and barely slept that night. I was, however, completely thankful to Wes Craven for that.
After that I was hooked and I followed his career and saw every film that I could of his the moment they came out. I watched and read every interview with him and saw how much of an intelligent and, more importantly, how much of a decent man he was.
Wes Craven, along with director William Lustig, also did something that saved me from myself. During my years at film school I realized I was becoming a film snob. Granted, most film students go through this phase but I found myself not enjoying films anymore. I looked at myself and wondered what had happened. Something saved me from becoming another one of those annoying film snobs thankfully. The laserdisc for Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (and William Lustig’s Maniac) came out and I was working at a Suncoast at the time so I was able to set it aside for myself and bought it at the end of my shift. I was not only excited to have the film, which I loved in the theatre, but also because it had a commentary track by Wes Craven on it. When I got home I watched the film again and then followed it directly with the commentary track. I was reminded of my love of the genre and indeed my love of film in general. My desire for the stories of how films are made. My desire to make films. All of the snobbishness was quickly washed away and my pure love of film returned in abundance.
It is always sad when someone we admire passes. I admit this is a greater sadness than others. I grew up with Wes. Granted as a fan from afar but he was just as much a part of my life as anyone. He inspired me, taught me, entertained me, and enlightened me. And yes, he even scared the crap out of me on several occasions. My regret will be I never got the chance to meet him and just say thank you.
Online tonight I am seeing an outpouring of sadness from fans from all over. With that sadness there is also gratitude for all of the amazing films he gave us. Sometimes it’s hard to express what someone has meant to to you. Other times it is just as easy and saying thanks.
You were taken too soon Wes. You will be missed. But thank you for everything you are leaving behind.