Edgar Wright Pays Tribute to the Late Wes Craven With a Wonderful Essay
The loss of Wes Craven is one that’s felt pretty heavily in the film community, and there’s been no shortage of fans, filmmakers and actors sharing their remembrances of the director and his influence on their lives and work. Director Edgar Wright is one such fan of the late Craven, and took to his website to share a thoughtful and moving look back at the filmmaker whose work affected so many.
If you were a young fan of horror (or film in general) in the ‘80s, chances are you were a fan of Wes Craven. For many, A Nightmare on Elm Street offered a gateway into the thrilling genre and helped us discover not only the older, more grisly works of Craven, but a robust genre filled with many intriguing sub-genres.
Wright was similarly affected by Craven’s work, and penned a thoughtful essay about the late director on his blog, Edgar Wright Here. He begins:
Like many film fans who grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s, Wes Craven’s name became synonymous to me 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.
Wright goes on to showcase the VHS box art and posters for some of Craven’s horror films before discussing his first viewing of 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.
The first ‘Nightmare’ quickly became a landmark horror movie and what distinguished it then is what still marks it out as a classic now. It’s the sheer twisted imagination of the premise; the idea of lucid waking nightmares bleeding into the real world makes Freddy Kruger a much more formidable and interesting foe than any of his slasher rivals.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Craven greatly influenced Wright in the making of Shaun of the Dead:
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.
There’s so much more to this wonderful tribute from Wright, and I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Whether you’re a fellow filmmaker or no, so many of us have similar stories about discovering Craven’s films and the horror genre, and while we may have never known him personally, his influence was still powerful — and will continue to be felt for decades to come.