9/01/2015

A Tribute to Wes Craven: Master of Horror Pt. 2: From a Shocker to a 4th Scream

For part 1, please go here: http://themastergio.blogspot.com/2015/08/a-tribute-to-wes-craven-master-of.html

Shocker (1989)- This was the first Wes Craven movie that I ever saw in the movies. And man back then, I was totally in love with it. I thought it was the coolest thing ever! The villain, Horace Pinker (as played by future X-Files actor Mitch Pileggi) was awesome! I had a crush on blonde hottie Cami Cooper, and the FX, to me, where just the coolest. Then, there was the soundtrack, which remains, to this day, a favorite of mine. With music from Megadeth (this is how I got into them), Alice Cooper, Dangerous Toys, Iggy Pop, etc, I was in metal heaven. It was around this time, that Craven became cemented as one of my heroes.
When, I watched again as an adult, I gotta say, it came off rather silly. And, I soon noticed that lead actor Peter Berg was not that great in the role, but he would go on to be a solid director in his own right (witness my favorite of his, Very Bad Things, for proof). But, despite its failings, Shocker remains way more fun than it has a right to be. It is, by far, the best of Craven's "bad" films. And, I CANNOT wait for the Scream Factory blu-ray to come out!

The People Under the Stairs (1990)- This is an odd one. Like Shocker, I LOVED this when I saw it in the movies. And, like that film, it's faults were clearer to me when I watched it again, this time with adult eyes. That said, the first half of the film feels like a throwback to the more hardcore and brutal Craven of old. Had it sustained this feel, it might be a minor classic. Sadly, it is marred by a way to happy ending and very pointless and annoying comedy. Still the villains played by Twin Peaks alumni Everett McGill and Wendy Robie are great, as is future My So Called Life star AJ Langer. I was about her age when this movie came out (like two years younger than her, actually) and developed a little bit of a kid crush on her. In fact, I did wished girls in my school looked like her. She blossomed into a beautiful woman, not surprisingly. Recent;y, Scream Factory did a special edition blu-ray of it, which I need to get.


New Nightmare (1994)- After the absolutely godawful Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare (the WORST Freddy flick ever, IMHO), Craven returned to the franchise for this brilliant installment. Stepping out of continuity and into the "real world" with Robert Englund, the gorgeous Heather Langenkamp, and Craven himself, as themselves, he crafted a great meta-horror film, before he did Scream. Like some of his earlier work, he drew inspiration from real life. But, it was more prevalent here, perhaps thanks to whole meta-thing. Personally, speaking I loved the whole real world aspect of it. While, some it's flaws come further in repeated viewings, this remains a strong entry in Craven's work.

Scream (1996)- After the abysmal Vampire in Brooklyn with Eddie Murphy, natch, Craven bounced back with one of his biggest hits and most influential movies ever: Scream!! This one was made by word of mouth and slowly grew to a HUGE hit. I remember being blown away by it. I adored this film when I first saw it. Over the years, it has been tainted by rip-offs and sequels, so I had to pull away from it. In a recent revisit after years of not watching it, I loved it again. It's really a brilliant movie, with one of the greatest beginnings ever. It's influence and importance to the genre CANNOT be measured. While, I am not crazy about some of the slashers that followed, it helped to "rescue" the then floundering genre.
On a side note, I owned an unrated version of this film on lasersdisc. Sadly, we will never see that cut, again. Sucks, cause it was even better uncut. And, one more side note, dear God was Rose McGowan HOT as hell back then!!

Scream 2 (1997)- Hit it, while it's hot, I guess. So horror's new antagonist, Ghostface, along with the last movie's survivors/ heroes return only one year later. Not as good as the first film, by any means, but still a good little flick. But, really this style of slasher film was quickly wearing thin...



Red Eye (2005)- Dear God, Craven made some terrible shit around this time. Scream 3 and, even more so, Cursed were painfully awful, dreadful films. Which is why this one stood out, I think. Not really a horror movie, but more of a thriller; It's a pretty entertaining, even good little movie, whatever genre you refer to it as. Both leads are great. Cillian Murphy is an awesome villain, and Rachel McAdams makes for a very likable heroine. And, she looks great, then she always does. Unfortunately this movie is severely hurt by a ridiculous climax that no amount of suspension of disbelief will help. I remember watching that thinking to myself, "Really?!" *sigh*

Scream 4 (2011)- A true return to form after the unwatchable My Soul to Take (I mean I could not watch it! I switched channels on that shit!), this was his last film, sadly. But, at least it ends the series, and his career, on a high note. A smart, fun, and bloody (by far the bloodiest in the franchise, in fact), this movie is better, no make that  A LOT better, than it has any right to be. I really got a kick out of seeing this movies. It also solidified my thoughts that Courteney Cox is one of the yummiest MILFs around. It introduced the horror world to future American Horror Story actress the pretty Emma Roberts. Though her performance here is questionable, to say the least...

I hope you enjoyed this little look and tribute to Wes Craven's directing career. He is already so dearly missed. Thank you for everything, Wes Craven, and may you RIP.


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