Horror director Wes Craven, the man responsible for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, among many other films, passed away over the weekend, succumbing to a battle with brain cancer. It’s a loss felt by many horror fans and cinephiles, who are taking stock of Craven’s significant influence on the movie landscape.
In case you need any more evidence that Wes Craven was a filmmaker who inspired many directors working today, Edgar Wright has chimed in on his own personal blog with a fond remembrance of Craven and what his work meant to the director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
Read some of the Edgar Wright Wes Craven tribute below!
Wright began his fond farewell to Wes Craven (via Edgar Wright Here):
“I was most saddened to learn of the passing of Wes Craven today. I was a big fan of his films and he was an extremely nice gentleman who I didn’t get to know in person as well as I’d like.
Like many film fans who grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s, Wes Craven’s name became to me synonymous with cutting edge horror. When I grew up in a VHS less house, I really could only dream of the horrors behind the forbidding posters or video box art of movies like ‘The Last House On The Left’, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and ‘Deadly Blessing’. These were films I was not really allowed to see, but as a young horror obsessive I needed to know everything about them.”
The director featured some of the examples of the old school VHS artwork from some of Wes Craven’s movies, and it really made me miss the craftsmanship (and at times pure huckster spirit) that went into selling movies just via the images on a slip cover at a video rental shop or electronics store. Movie covers used to be flashy and cool, and now they’re just shoddy Photoshop jobs. But I digress.
Wright talked about how Craven’s movies haunted him even before he saw them, and then he recounted his first experience with A Nightmare on Elm Street:
“Even before I actually saw any of his movies, the mere synopsis on the jackets were enough to give me nightmares. I boned up on Mr Craven in the pages of STARBURST and my well thumbed ‘Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film’ and so knew every terrifying detail about his early films without seeing a frame.
The first encounter with the actual work was seeing ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ sometime in 1985 around the house of a friend of my older brother. Their parents had rented out this 18 certificate movie and we were going to watch it in the afternoon. It felt so illicit and exciting watching it and I wish sometimes I could return to this more innocent time where these horror films felt so dangerous and visceral to me.”
Finally, Wright praised Craven’s genius work on Scream, which ended up launching a cavalcade of intertextual jokes and references between horror directors, paying tribute and giving homage to each other’s work:
“In the late nineties, Wes scored his biggest hit of all with ‘Scream’. I vividly remember seeing this opening weekend in London and saying out loud ‘That’s the kind of movie I want to make’. Eight years later I tried to do exactly that with ‘Shaun Of The Dead’. I would frequently evoke Craven’s film when pitching ours as an example of a successful horror that mixes laughs with jolts.
The intertextuality of ‘Scream’ was a surprise to some, but in reality there was a winking side to Craven’s movies that goes all the way back to 1977’s ‘The Hills Have Eyes’.
That film began a series of funny intertextual references between horror film directors that became a game of one-upmanship. In the first ‘Hills Have Eyes’, there was a ripped poster for ‘Jaws’ on the wall of a ravaged trailer, as if Craven was saying ‘that’s not scary, this is scary’. Then in response Sam Raimi featured a ripped ‘Hills Have Eyes’ poster in the cabin in ‘The Evil Dead’. Craven’s reply to this was to have his characters watching ‘Evil Dead’ on television in ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. Finally Raimi responded once again by putting the iconic razor glove of Freddy Krueger, in the basement of the cabin in ‘Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn’.”
In Wright’s full post, he talks about how cool and surreal it was to see a clip from Shaun of the Dead in Scream 4, including hearing Ghost Face say the title of his film while threatening his victims and playing horror movie games on the phone.
There’s plenty more that Wright has to say about the late Wes Craven, and I recommend reading the whole post right here, though it might make you tear up a little bit.
Otherwise, the director ended with this high praise:
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“I am thankful for the many movies he left behind, for my tiny part in his last completed film and happy to have got to tell him how much I enjoyed and was inspired by his work. He was a true maestro of genre and a class act.
Rest In Peace, Wes. We willingly give you full permission to haunt our waking dreams forever.”