Today, August 2nd, would have been Wes Craven’s birthday. This icon was one of the most beloved in the horror business, creating some of the most genre-defining films we know of today, from Shocker to A Nightmare on Elm Street. His work and legacy still influences some of our favorites films, TV shows, and creatives to this day.
His impact on the horror genre was nothing but praiseworthy. The passing of Craven was felt by filmmakers and fans worldwide—which is why many of us cannot help getting a little sad on his birthday. In honor of his memory, we are counting down his 10 best films.
10. Shocker (1989)
When A Nightmare on Elm Street slammed it big at the box office, Craven at this point decided to try something even more wild, and that is where Shocker came in. Although it did not work nearly as well as Elm Street, this very guilty pleasure of a flick still somehow works. It’s a story which centers around a killer who resurrects himself with electricity and television. This bizarre and supernatural flick provides what we like in a great slasher film, but Shocker goes even bigger than that. Shocker was one of Craven’s more more-out there films, but it was also very entertaining.
9. Scream 4 (2011)
Here we are, when we all thought Scream movies were supposed to be over, Craven returns for Scream 4. Once again, this is a continuation of the story from the previous films and events. Although, after 15 years, the Scream franchise felt much less groundbreaking at this point. It might not have been the best Scream, but it was still a fun and enjoyable ride for what it’s worth.
8. The Hill Have Eyes (1977)
This film was an early cult classic for Craven, though it wasn’t his first. While traveling cross-country, a family’s car breaks down and they end up finding themselves near the territory of a family of cannibals. It is certainly a very disturbing and frightening film worth a watch for any horror fan. Check out a review of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray from Arrow Video here.
7. The People Under The Stairs (1991)
Craven seemed to love to explore social issues and themes in his films. With The People Under The Stairs, he did all this and pushed it all to the forefront in his twisted, but compelling and unsettling ways. It is a story of a boy (Brandon Adams) who decides to rob a house owned by the local white landlords hoping to get enough money to save his family from eviction, but then finds something very disturbing in their basement. This is another worthwhile watch in the body of work from Craven.
6. Scream 2 (1997)
Like its predecessor in ’96, Scream 2 still captures what we loved about the original film. With this bloodier and more convoluted installment, Craven somehow managed to achieve that original Scream flavor at the cinemas. The survivors from the events of the original flick happen to find a copycat killer on the loose. This smart, but well-written title was fun and thrilling sequel.
5. Red Eye (2005)
Red Eye was one of Craven’s later works in life, but also arguably one of his best films. This thrilling film features Cillian Murphy, who plays Jackson Rippner, forces Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams) to go along with his terrorist plot. This truly underrated hit pays homage to Hitchcock thrillers, and it is worth every minute of your time.
4. The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
Not only based on a true story of a scientist (played by Bill Pullman) who had journeyed to Haiti to discover the secret to “zombification,” The Serpent and the Rainbow was visually the most terrifying film Craven has ever made. Craven had really pushed his horror chops to the next level with this film, resulting in the most frightening and unsettling scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie.
3. New Nightmare (1994)
After many years of sequels, many of which Craven had nothing to do with, he returned to his defining horror franchise — A Nightmare on Elm Street — to answer one question: “What happens when your creation becomes more powerful than you?” Craven dives into that question with New Nightmare playing himself alongside original Elm Street stars Heather Langenkamp and Robert Englund. The slasher icon that has scared many of us, Freddy Kruger, begins attacking the people who brought him to life in the first place. This film is funny, scary, and a brilliant Craven film.
2. Scream (1996)
Scream — almost all of us have seen it at some point of life. It’s no exaggeration to say almost every horror film made in the past 25 years has been a reaction to Scream in some way or form. This slasher was a funny film, both comical and strange in a way, but also helped define the horror genre. Not only did it launch a massive franchise, but it made icons out of its young stars. It was truly a masterpiece and a must-watch for any slasher fan. Check out a review of the 4K UHD Blu-Ray from Paramount here.
1. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)
Although Craven had some hits before Elm Street, he is probably best known for creating the villiain we were all frightened by, Freddy Krueger, who haunts the dreams of local high school students and was capable of doing them bodily harm. It was a breakout performance for Heather Langenkamp, who then went on to play the role of Nancy Thompson throughout many sequels. This classic is favorite of many, and it is always a must watch during Halloween season. If you somehow have missed this one, I highly suggest to give the Nightmare a try.
What is your favorite Wes Craven film? Let us know over on Twitter!.
It all started when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons like the Spider-Man: Animated Series and Batman. Since then I’ve been hooked to the world of pop culture. Huge movie lover from French New Wave, to the latest blockbusters, I love them all. Huge Star Wars and Marvel geek. When I’m free from typing away at my computer, you can usually catch me watching a good flick or reading the next best comic. Come geek out with me on Twitter @somedudecody.