Upon awakening to the news of Wes Craven’s death due to brain cancer at the age of 76, I could not help but have an very odd feeling since the main theme of all of Craven’s work is death. However when I set back and reflected internally on this massive loss in the entertainment industry, I didn’t think of Ghost Face slashing up Drew Barrymore in Scream or Freddy coming through a water bed to claim a victim in Dreammaster. Rather I thought back to sleepovers with friends in middle school as we worked our way through the Nightmare on Elm Street VHS collection and ate trwislers until we got sick. Or the time that my Mom completed my Freddy sweater right before I went trick or treating as she used a hot glue gun to place pieces of green felt on a red sweatshirt. Heck, I was even the kid whose grandparents got him a Ghost Face doll with a voice changer included from Spencer’s Gift for my 13th birthday, that I still own until this day.
While in middle school my love for Craven’s work primarily focused on Freddy, it led to me discovering my all time favorite horror franchise: Scream. Looking back after numerous parodies and a polarizing MTV remake it is easy to discount the impact this film had on the horror genre. Scream was the ultimate commentary on the slasher genre and even revitalized it for a short time in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, spawning three sequels and quality film’s like: I know what you did last summer. Having been allowed to watch these films as an early teen (Thanks Mama and Daddy!), in high school I was able to introduce them to my friends who were not allowed to see horror films growing up. I will never forget my senior year of high school were a large group of my friends at the time came together for pizza and a Scream Marathon at my parent’s house, oh the fun as I watched the girls squirm at the jump scares and the guys torment over the killer’s Identity.
Geeks and cinephiles often get questioned on their love of horror, why do you like seeing people get gutted they say? If the death of Wes Craven has made me realize anything, it is the answer to that question. We watch these film’s for the shared experience of going through a physiological thrill ride with our friends, and the bond that comes from that feeling you survived something.
Sweet Dream’s Wes, and thanks for all the great memories!
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