Horror lost a true pioneer recently, with the passing of mastermind Wes Craven at age 76. He’s most famous for giving us horror icon Freddy Krueger and for directing the Scream saga, but what about his other films? Let’s look at some of his lesser known works, those times when he broke away from the norm and gave us something unexpectedly awesome.
What I’m presenting is a small portion of this man’s legacy — a legacy that cannot be done justice in a small article or by a guy called “Moan4stallone.” So out of respect for the man, I’m writing this one as David Batarseh, who first watched a VHS copy of A Nightmare on Elm Street when he was seven years old, and has been haunted by it ever since. Mission accomplished, Mr. Craven.
Red Eye (2005)
A lot of people were questioning Wes’ credibility as a horror director in the mid-2000s, due to his lackluster werewolf film Cursed. So what did he do? What he does best. He changed the game, jumping ship on the horror genre and giving us a legitimately good thriller, featuring True Detective starlet Rachel Mcadams and pre-Scarecrow/post-28 Days Later actor Cillian Murphy.
Swamp Thing (1982)
Comic book adaptations were practically unheard of when Wes Craven decided to follow up his Amish horror film — yes, you read that correctly, his Amish horror film Deadly Blessing — with an amazing take on DC’s Swamp Thing. You know your film is good when Roger Ebert compares it to Bride of Frankenstein.
Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
Sure, many vampire films existed before Wes Craven came around, but how many featured Eddie Murphy in the lead role, a biter from the borough? Exactly. It’s a 90s re-imagining of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with an urban flare and the always funny John Witherspoon.
Music of the Heart (1999)
Master of horror decides to make a film about a high school violin teacher in Harlem? Yup, and you know what? It worked, it worked very well, and it earned lead actress Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination (which I believe is a first for a horror director). The movie also sports a pretty great NSYNC song of the same name on its soundtrack.
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
This film holds a special place in my heart due to my mother introducing me to it back in 2006. Being a huge zombie fan, I have no idea how I missed this genre classic, a realistic take on the undead set against the backdrop of a Haitian revolution. Bill Pullman combined with some truly terrifying imagery to make this film what I believe is Wes Craven’s finest work.