With my coffee mug on one hand and my phone on the other, I begin my morning “scroll”, as I like to call it, with the social medias. I clicked the Instagram icon and after the fourth posts, the news hit me. Sarah Michelle Gellar posted a picture of her magazine cover with the other ‘Scream 2’ actresses. I read the descriptions and my heart sank: Wes Craven died at the age of 76.
The first thing flashed through my mind was: No More Scream! I felt bummed out and then I thought, why am I feeling this way? Let’s back up. When I was eight or ten years old, I watched Scream on TV and instantly loved it. The Scream franchise is scary but also super-duper fun. You can regard it as funny and silly and bloody all at the same time. After watching the movies again and again, I then wonder who created this gem? Wes Craven.
Later that day, I opened my laptop and planned to re-watched the Scream series, or maybe some of Wes’ underrated movies like Cursed or Red Eye. But, my curiosity got the better of me, I googled his obituary. After several similar articles, I thought “Huh I don’t even know who he was. What’s his story?”
I typed Wes Craven interview on YouTube search bar and found his radio interview from 1988. I recognized his voice at once and after listening to him for a few minutes, I realised he was also well-spoken. He was raised in a strict religious family where movies are forbidden, because of this he grew up reading books. He earned his Masters in writing and went on to become college professor. However, he didn’t want to continue his PhD and quit his job. Do you know what he did next? He went to Hollywood and worked as a messenger in a production company! He quickly climb the rank, of course, and became assistant manager in a year.
His choice of words were calculated and his voice was clear, like any college professor should be like. Once it ends, I chose to watch his interview next. It was the one he did with Fangoria and he discussed about his movies. His first movie, The Last House on the Left, was scandalous to say the least. The exploitation horror did well on the box office, but Wes was unemployed for years to come. He stated he didn’t know the movie would be as provoking as it did back in the 70s. He didn’t fully grasp how he originally conceived the idea for the movie since he didn’t grow up watching horrors. However, he did read newspapers and draw his inspirations from the facts that horrible things happen to normal people.
Wes didn’t work for four years after The Last House.. released. He even became a cab driver once his profit money ran out. I was shaking my head by now and wonder what he did next… he returned to horror, of course! Wes confessed that how he tried to strayed away from horror or slasher movies but with no luck. His second movies, The Hill Have Eyes, panned out and he continue making movies; he created his legendary hits in 1984′ A Nightmare on Elm Street. I liked the movie, but I never imagined so many planning goes into it, especially with Freddy Krueger character. From the man with burned skin to the claw fingers to his choice of wardrobes – each of them were carefully planned. Fun Fact: do you know Freddy’s sweater has two of the most clashing colors to the eyes?
I love movies; always have and always will. While listening to Wes Craven’s interview, I felt inspired. Here is the man whose first movie made him the pariah of the movie industry. He suffered from depression, he got divorced, but he bounced back up. He made his magnum opus at the age of 45 (Nightmare’s) and 57 (Scream’s). He revived the teen slasher genre to its glory. He was the nicest famous people on Twitter. His movies centred around teenagers which was not a random decision he made. Wes stated how vulnerable teenagers are from the age of 12 to 18 and why his movies centred around them. It’s his way of saying that growing up is hard to do. We can’t depend on adults, we need to depend on ourselves. His movies mostly depicted soft and gentle lead who fights back after certain period of time, because isn’t that what we do every single day? We fight every day in our lives.
I spent yesterday listening to Wes’ interviews. I learned that he succeeded on finding his calling and scared himself throughout his life with the choices of movies he made and you know what? We should do the same. Let’s scare ourselves by taking a leap of faith and be original, just like the horror maestro did.
RIP Wes Craven and thank you for the movies!
“All of us have our individual curses, something that we are uncomfortable with and something that we have to deal with, like me making horror films, perhaps” – Wes Craven