Yesterday, we lost a legend. But even though we’ve lost Wes Craven, we’ll always have his stories and his films. Here are a few of my favorites, even though it is hard to limit them. Full disclosure: Craven was, is, and always will be one of my favorite filmmakers. He wasn’t just the nicest guy in Hollywood or the master of suspense, he was one of a kind. He will be truly missed, and the horror genre (not to mention the entire film industry) has some shoes that will never be filled.
10. A Nightmare on Elm Street
Freddy Krueger is the Darth Vader of the horror genre. He is pop culture personified, and this film gave us not only Robert Englund, but also Johnny Depp. And the sequels, all of them, are a true delight in over-the-top ridiculousness that borders on self-satire, but never fully loses its terror.
9. The People Under the Stairs
Quite possibly the most bizarrely original horror movie of all time. Part The Goonies, part Blue Velvet, this movie is the 1980s all rolled into one bombastic adventure film as only horror legend Wes Craven could present us.
8. The Hills Have Eyes
The original picked off one-by-one family survival tale. The sequel isn’t the greatest, but the remake is also worth a watch. You root for the family, even though you know deep down, that they’re never really going to get over this horror… even if they survive.
7. My Soul to Take
Probably would have been better suited to be a TV series, but this was before the age of AMC and FX and Netflix, so it wouldn’t have been green lit. That being said, almost all of the high school kids are believably high school and the killer is one of the most unique slashers in all of the genre’s history.
6. The Serpent and the Rainbow
Voodoo, Bill Pullman, and being buried alive. If that’s not enough to haunt your dreams, here are two more interesting things about this film: First, the book on which it’s based is a true story. And second, they dropped a live tarantula on top of the main character before they buried him.
Werewolves, famous actors, and a script from Kevin Williamson were the recipe for success. Not nearly as funny as it was billed, but launched a lot of careers and has some stellar transformation effects. Plus: there were two versions of the film. Obviously, the R-rated one is full of the guts and gore that fans said were lacking in the theatrical release.
4. Red Eye
Cillian Murphy’s greatest role and to date, the only movie I can stand Rachel McAdams in. In fact, I actually really like her in this movie. It’s a thriller in every aspect of the term, and reminded a new generation that Craven really was the master of suspense.
A clever movie with some great TV actors gracing the big screen. This is one of Craven’s more obscure films and it is actually quite a surprise that it hasn’t been remade with today’s special effects being what they are.
2. The Last House on the Left
Very few movies have made me physically sick. This is one of those films. It’s disgusting, brutal, and shockingly honest in its violence and terror. I have to constantly remind myself that it isn’t real, every time I watch it.
This is by far, my favorite movie of all time. Kevin Williamson’s script comes to life with the greatest acting that has ever graced a horror movie in a movie that is just as clever, hip, and funny as it is genuinely scary.
So there you have it. My ten favorites, in order. But to be completely fair, I love all of Craven’s work. Whether it was Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett teaming up for a horror/comedy/romance in Vampire in Brooklyn or Meryl Streep and Gloria Estefan uniting in the inner city music drama or the countless producing credits spanning four decades, Craven was as versatile as he was creative, never giving in to a stereotype or the type-casting equivalent that faces directors of his stature. In fact, I think I’m going to enjoy tomorrow night’s season finale of Scream the TV series a little more knowing that a great show exists because of the genius of the master himself. RIP, Wes Craven. You will be missed.