This year “A Nightmare on Elm Street” celebrated its 35th anniversary, the highly influential slasher film became the quintessential horror movie series of the eighties, turning Freddy Krueger in to one of the most recognizable villains in horror movie history. You wouldn’t think a scarred undead child molester and murderer with claw hands who takes perverse delight in haunting teens would become a mascot for the eighties, but you’d be shocked. Krueger was incredibly popular in the eighties, arguably more than Jason Voorhees, and I say that as someone who favors Jason. In either case, these are five of my favorite Freddy Krueger moments where he wrought havoc on unsuspecting Elm Street kids and was at his most sadistic.
If you’ve ever seen the series “Freddy’s Nightmares” (Trust me, don’t, it’s awful), then it’s verified in various episodes that Freddy Krueger isn’t the only dream demon out there. In fact he’s one of many, and there are other types of demons that can haunt our dreams and our subconscious. In either case, I was thinking about the slew of horror movie monsters out there introduced since Krueger hit the movies in the eighties and wondered what other boogey men could perhaps be a part of Freddy’s world, or from his lineage. Here are five monsters that I think could be related to Freddy Krueger.
Wes Craven’s survival horror film is a bit rough around the edges in terms of editing and acting, but that’s also why it’s so stark and creepy. It’s a gritty and grimy film much like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and its tone lends it something of a semi-documentary aesthetic. Everything, right down to the final shot feels so probable and possible of happening in this universe. It’s the destruction of the nuclear family by the ultimate clan of what society would normally deem the antithesis of the traditional family. Not to mention it’s the society cannibalizing one another right down to the very last man. I initially didn’t enjoy “The Hills Have Eyes” when I saw it a decade ago, but watching it again has allowed me to really enjoy what Craven intended and how soaked in dread and violence it is.
Surely, “I Am Nancy” isn’t one of the best documentaries ever made, but it will definitely go down as one of the most unique. How often do documentaries focus on the final girls of horror movies? “I Am Nancy” is that documentary about Heather Langenkamp who ended up playing one of the best final girls: Nancy Thompson. But unlike people like Jamie Lee Curtis and Neve Campbell, actress Heather Langenkamp’s fate as a performer was much different. Rather than become a big star, Langenkamp slowly slid in to obscurity as the film’s villain Robert Englund became an icon of pop culture and film history.
It baffles me to this day that “Shocker” is still considered one of Wes Craven’s best films. It’s especially baffling considering Craven has not only pulled off much better genre films, but because “Shocker” is really just a remake of “Nightmare on Elm Street.” A vicious serial killer wreaks revenge on his pursuers through supernatural means which allow him to shift through his own dimensions, can contact our protagonist through dreams, and does battle with a lone teenager who enters his realm in the finale and confronts him. It’s the exact same film from beginning to end, except it has a much more prevalent self awareness than “Nightmare” did.
As a hardcore horror fan I cut my teeth on the films of John Carpenter, George Romero, and Wes Craven. They were just the trio of horror masters that were always there from the time I started exploring the horror world, and I always took them for granted as wizards of cinema that would always be there. Sadly our horror icons are mortal, and Wes Craven has passed on. His death will surely rattle the horror world for a long time, and that’s because Craven was an important face of the genre right until his death, and he’ll be important long after he’s died. We can take solace in the fact that Craven affected a ton of people, and will live on forever through his vast and unique library of horror films and thrillers.
True, he’d stumbled on occasion with films like “Shocker,” and “Cursed,” but when he was on point, he’d deliver a horror film that would change the entire genre for a long time. He did so through a ghost faced slasher, a clawed dream demon, and an exploitation film about psychotic hippies. Craven always seemed like such an affable and good spirited individual with a smile permanently plastered on his face. He seemed to enjoy creating horror films that would haunt us and make us think at the same time. It’s a shame we won’t see anything new from Craven anymore, but we can celebrate the diverse output of really interesting and often celebrated horror movies that continue to influence generations. With respect to the legacy of Wes Craven, these are five of his films that are essential viewing for any movie buff interested in horror 101.
Here’s to you, Wes. Thanks for entertaining us, scaring us, and enlightening us. May you rest in peace.
Wes Craven creates Freddy Krueger. Again. This time rather than invading the meta-reality of dreams, maniac Horace Pinker can travel through televisions. That said, “Shocker” is basically like “Nightmare.” There’s a maniac, a main character linked to him through dreams, a secret that the main character’s neglectful parent is hiding, a major supporting character that dies thanks to the maniac that allows the main character to face off against the maniac, and a final showdown where the main character turns the tables on the maniac.
Director Wes Craven’s remake of “The Virgin Spring” often gets a lot of credit, not just for jump starting the grindhouse boom, but for being influential as a veritable violent film. Sadly, “Last House” is another of Wes Craven’s films that gets too much credit. While many will argue that “Last House” has to be considered for its time period, even in context, “Last House” is a piss poor horror film with terrible production qualities.