Tag Archives: Wes Craven

I Feel I Should Come Out

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now. Sharing my love of films along with my views and opinions. I really appreciate anyone who reads and follows what I do. I feel comfortable with my readers and I think I can be honest and frank with you all. So This article is my ‘coming out’ article.

So, here it goes…

Its been a little over a year now and I think the time is right to share with you all. I liked the new Ghostbusters movie. There, I’ve said it (well typed it) – its finally out in the open and I feel much better for it too.

Ghostbusters 2016

Now before I get all the “You’re not a true Ghostbusters fan!” bullshit thrown at me, I did a blowout Ghostbusters celebration last year – where I lauded the original film and it took me weeks to research and write (link right here). I took a look at the making of the original, did an overview of the film, the Ghostbusters games and so much more. It was a multi-part Ghostbusters festivity. I am a Ghostbusters fan – a HUGE one.

Now I’m not going to review the film, as I already did that. The short version? I was entertained by it. This serves more as an introduction to the point of this article. I’m going to admit to liking certain films that a lot of people really seem to hate.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.jpg

Oh yeah, I’m going there.

I’m a massive Indy fan – I’ve not done a huge Indiana Jones movie celebration… yet. But believe me, I’m a fan. I grew up watching Indy, he was one of my first childhood cinematic heroes. I’m such a big fan that I can even see the good in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom… and that’s not easy.

I was so looking forward to seeing this when it originally came out and I was there at the cinema a few days after it was released ready to watch it. I also made the terrible mistake of reading up on reviews of the film before I went to watch it (something I no longer do). The hype and excitement for this flick were high – the return of one of cinema’s great icons after a 19 year wait. But the reviews were terrible and downright depressing. It seemed that no one liked this one and were all lining up to tear it apart. So my expectations were low.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 2

But how could it not be good? Pretty much all the original cast and crew returned, they even got Marion Ravenwood back and she’s the best Indy girl by far. Ford looked amazing for his age and comfortably stepped back into the role with ease.

I left that cinema with a huge smile on my face and just did not see the same film all the bad reviews were talking about. I watched a rip-roaring action/adventure flick with a great B-movie style… which is all the Indy films have ever been. But the fallout for the film was stunning with people nit-picking even the most mundane aspects.

Now don’t get me wrong – the picture has its problems (quick newsflash for you, all films do) and I admit to it being hard to argue against some of them. Yes Shia LaBeouf as
Mutt Williams (Indy’s son) was terrible and yes the whole tree swinging/’greaser monkey’ thing was cringe-worthy. It annoyed me that they decided to retcon Indy’s history to force in a son, as he had a daughter originally (told you I was a fan). And yes, those prairie dogs were fucking stupid. But still, some of the complains felt childish…

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull explostion

Lets take the bull by the horns. ‘Nuking the fridge’. I could not believe that this moment in the film kicked up such a fuss – so much so that there was a movement to have it replace the phrase ‘jumping the shark’. The hatred for this scene seemed to stem from just how ridiculous it was – and you know what? I agree, its ridiculous… but is it worthy of all the hate it got? Its an OOT scene… but just look at that image above and tell me that is not iconic, not awesome to look at. Seeing Indiana Jones standing in front of that mushroom cloud looks stunning, that is an iconic cinematic image.

But about the scene itself. People got all upset saying that it was not ‘realistic’  and would comment on how ‘impossible’ it was or how Indy escaped with no injures. Yeah cos that is not welcome in an Indiana Jones film right…

Temple of Doom raft

Climbing into a lead lined fridge and surviving a nuclear blast is ‘unrealistic’… but jumping out of a crashing plane with 2 other people in an inflatable raft. Then falling a few dozen feet at speed and hitting a mountain, to then go on sliding down said mountain and managing to avoid every tree/rock before plunging off a waterfall and landing in a river… with no one hurt and the only complaint is being wet… that’s okay is it?

These are what the Indy films are known for, the ridiculous. As I mentioned before, they are B-moives, high budget and slickly produced but still B-movies none the less. That is where their inspiration comes from. They are supposed to be OTT and outrageous. The Indy films have never… NEVER strived for ‘realism’. They pay homage to classic 50s action/adventure serials and they have never shied away from that either.

Yes the fridge scene was stupid, but so are several other scenes in the films too. I liked the fridge scene because it was stupid – it reminded me of ‘classic’ Indy. You know what? I liked the red ant scene too – now I’m not going to get into a diatribe as to why as there are other films I want to cover. But before I leave Indy 4 behind – there is one element I need to address…

Indy 4 Alien

Oh yeah, the aliens… sorry ‘interdimensional beings’. They’re aliens okay? This is an argument that I see both sides of. There are those that cry that “aliens don’t belong in an Indiana Jones movie!”. But why not? So you can have other (non proven) forces like God but not aliens? No one kicked up a fuss when Raiders of the Lost Ark was released. I have no problem with aliens being a part of the Indiana Jones universe and it makes sense given what these film’s inspirations are. But it is with Raiders where I also need to go for my argument against the aliens in this film. You see, Raiders had an element of the unknown with the Ark of the Covenant. When Indy is first asked to look for it and gets out that book with the illustration. You know the one depicting the Ark killing people via some kind of force…

Raiders book

Yeah – that’s the one. Anyway, when Indy is asked what it is – he replies with “Lightning. Fire. Power of God or something.” Key word there is ‘something’ as no one knows what it actually is, its just ‘something’. Maybe it is the power of God, maybe its not. Point is that its left ambiguous as to what kills all those Nazis at the end. The major failing with the aliens in this film is that they showed it. Its not open to interpretation, you can not come up with your own theory as to what these things are… they’re aliens. Showing the alien and having it kill the bad guys at the end is (other than a lazy re-hash of Raiders) like actually having God turn up at the end of Raiders and smiting the Nazis. This film would have been so much better if the aliens were left ambiguous. I don’t mind aliens being part of the Indy lore… I just don’t like how it was handled.

Anyway, I liked Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull it entertained me and I had a smile on my face when I left the cinema and that is what I want from movies… to be entertained. Its not my favourite Indy film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it anyway.

For my next film, actually – lets says ‘films’ as I’m going to do a horror remake double bill. Oh yes, the horror remake!

A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010.jpg

Are you ready for Freddy?

You have no idea how much I adore the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. It is this film that turned me into a self-confessed Wes Craven nut and I miss that mad-genius of horror so damn much. The world is a much lesser place without the great Wes Craven in it.

When the remake was announced, my eyebrow raised a little. I knew this had to be something special for it to be accepted… what bullshit, no matter how great this film turned out – it would never be accepted because of the anti-remake crowd. I knew there would be changes and updates and I could not wait to see them for myself. Of course Robert Englund would have to be replaced as the iconic Freddy and of course other characters would be changed too – its inevitable. Now I have to admit to not really liking too many of the main characters in this remake, they seems so ‘typical’ so sub-standard. But what of the big guy himself?

Freddy K

Stepping into the shoes of one of horror cinema’s most (in)famous creations must be a daunting task. I mean, its not like they were remaking Dr. Giggles and saying “Larry Drake – you’re out. We need a new actor.”. This is Freddy ‘fuckin’ Krueger and without Robert Englund playing him. So Jackie Earle Haley had to step into the grimy, brown hat and dirty red & green sweater. And you know what, I liked him… I really, really liked him. It was an all new Freddy and if I’m honest I grew to dislike old Freddy more and more in the (terrible) sequels after the first film. I wanted to see a new Freddy and I got exactly that. I personally thought Haley was awesome in the role and for me, he lifted this otherwise cookie-cutter horror remake to another level. As an overall film, I felt it was a little predicable (well it is a remake) and the majority of the characters were forgotten about as soon as the credits rolled… except for Freddy.

Freddy K 2

There was a moment in the story where I thought they were going to do something really interesting. You see, in the original – Freddy was definitely guilty. But in the remake, there’s a whiff of suggestion in the first third that Freddy could be innocent and the parents killed him erroneously. This would have been a great twist and added a much needed extra level to the plot – but sadly they didn’t do that an instead made human Freddy a sadistic child killing/molesting bastard. Just try to imagine having a Freddy Krueger you could have sympathy for.

I can’t say that the A Nightmare on Elm Street remake is an outstanding flick… but its also not as horrendous as people make it out to be either. Sadly it offers no real surprises and is bland in many aspects. But it does have a great sense of dread whenever Freddy is onscreen and there a handful of good horror moments too. But Jackie Earle Haley’s version of Freddy was amazing and worth watching just for that.

So from one remade horror icon to another…

Halloween

Halloween 2007

Evil. Remade.

When to comes to great horror writer/directors, I hold John Carpenter in the same regard as Wes Craven… but I have to admit to finding the original Halloween one of his lesser pictures. So it does not hold as much of a place in my heart as A Nightmare on Elm Street.

I was not sure what to expect from this remake other than a lazy retread. But I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised when I did watch it. When you look at the film on the whole, the original Halloween is a very bare-bones flick. The story is almost non-existent and the characters became clichéd before the cliché was even created…. like totally. One of my favourite aspects of the film is the exact thing I hate about what they did in the original sequels.

Michael Myers

We follow a young Myers and see his disruptive family life, we get to see his relationship with Dr. Loomis. They gave Micheal Myers a backstory, a history and a reason for his murderous intentions which is something that I enjoyed about the remake and dislike about the original films, you know when they explain Myers via all that Thorn cult crap. I tend to lose interest when they try to give reason to a horror icon. I don’t mind the odd hints here and there, but when they attempt to give an explanation to a killer’s killing motives, that’s when I lose interest (see Freddy, Pinhead, Leatherface, etc). However, that was something about the Halloween remake that I really enjoyed. I wanted to know this Michael Myers, I wanted to learn of his history as it added much needed depth to an otherwise empty story and it is when you re-watch the original after seeing the remake when you realise just how little plot/story there is in it.

Michael Myers 2

Okay, so the hick-family members of the remake are stereotypical and very one note but that is what I like about them. The film isn’t trying to be high-art, its trying to be a horror film with just a touch of heart, a modicum depth and I think what it does, it does well enough. I genuinely felt for young Myers and his relationship with Loomis felt honest. In the original – there’s none of this. Its just a film about a guy killing babysitters while an eccentric doctor tries to stop him. The remake has that but adds more meat on the bones too.

Of course if there is one thing the original is famous for then its the lack of any blood and gore. There’s a few shots with very little blood but other then that – the flick is relatively bloodless. The remake goes the other direction and turns up the dial. There’s more than enough blood and gore in this version and to be honest… I’ve still not made up my mind whether I like it or not. I’m no prude, I’ve seen far bloodier and gory films over the years – I just can’t work out if I like it in this film or not.

Given the choice. I’d rather watch this remake than the original Halloween. As for Rob Zombie’s Halloween II? Fuck that movie.

Of course, Halloween is still not dead as another new film is on the way due to be released next year. This one is said to be a sequel to the original Halloween II with Jamie Lee Curtis returning to play Laurie Strode.

Halloween 2018

But that is a different article all together and this one has gone on long enough…

Anyway, there you go, that is my ‘coming out’ with films I liked others do not. I really enjoyed writing this one and my return with more ‘coming out’ movies in the future.

 

Advertisements

Gunnar Hansen

Its been a shitty few months for horror fans, first Wes Craven and now, I just read Gunnar Hansen died and if you don’t know who Gunnar Hansen was then you lack horror film knowledge and are in need of educating.

1

Gunnar was born on March 4, 1947 in Reykjavik, Iceland. He moved to the US at the age of 5 with his family and lived in Maine until the age of 11, when the family again moved this time to Texas.
Gunnar majored in English and mathematics as an undergraduate.

He held several jobs after school including working as a computer operator, dabbled in theatre work during college. His big frame made him perfect for a football player during high school, and for a while a bar bouncer.

It was in 1973 when Gunner heard of a horror film being made in his home town of Austin, Texas that he decided to try out for a role.
That film was the infamous; The Texas Chain Saw Massacre directed by Tobe Hooper and the role he landed was Leatherface.

LF

Despite The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s success, Hansen turned his back on acting only appearing in the film The Demon Lover (1977). He even turned down a role in the Wes Craven directed; The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Hansen instead moved back to Maine and started pursuing a writing career.
Hansen eventually returned to acting in 1988 with the spoof film; Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers and appeared in over 20 films since.
He even eventually returned to the franchise that made him famous with Texas Chainsaw 3D in 2013 appearing in a cameo role.

TC 3D

Gunnar was also a successful writer with his; Islands at the Edge of Time, A journey to America’s Barrier Islands being published in 1993. He also wrote 2013’s; Chain Saw Confidential, which covered the making of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and its infamous reception and influence.

CSC

Gunnar Hansen died at his home in Maine from pancreatic cancer on November 7, 2015. He was 68.

2

Gunnar Hansen:I never thought I had it in me. Just before production started, I was sitting in a drugstore, had nothing at all planned for the summer, heard about the casting call, and decided to try out on a lark. I was 26 years old, just out of graduate school.

btn_donate_LG

Fred Krueger

As we recently lost the great horror meister, writer/director Wes Craven. I thought I’d take a look at his most (in)famous creation, Freddy Krueger.

FK 1

Fred “Freddy” Krueger was created by Wes Craven for his film, A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) and was played by Robert Englund. Wes named the character after a kid who used to bully Wes at school (note the lead villain in Wes first film; Last House On The Left is called Krug) and took his iconic look with the hat and dirty sweater from a tramp who used to scare Wes as a child.
Freddy is often depicted as being horrendously burnt that stalks and kills teenagers in their dreams while they sleep. However, he never started out this way at all.

FK 2

He was once just a “normal” human…I say “normal” as Freddy was a known child molester and killer. He was eventually arrested by the police and made to stand trial for his nefarious crimes. However, due to the police not signing the arrest warrant, he was allowed the leave the court room a legally free man, despite his disgusting crimes.
This angered the parents of his victims and they eventually tracked him down to his boiler-room hideaway, where Freddy would take his victims. The parents doused the building with gas and then set it on fire. Freddy trapped inside was burnt alive.
Freddy is now technically dead, but his spirit lived on and would haunt and kill the children of Elm Street in their nightmares as an act of vengeance against the parents that killed him. I guess two wrongs do not make a right.

Freddy Krueger would appear in the original A Nightmare On Elm Street film from 1984 as well as six official sequels; A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge (1985), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (1989), Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991) as well as the amazing and overlooked meta sequel which saw Wes Craven finally back in control of his monster; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).

FK 3

Though Freddy was “officially killed off”, he came back and was pitted against another horror icon, Jason Voorhees from the Friday The 13th film franchise in the sequel/spin-off Freddy Vs Jason (2003).

FvJ

The character of Freddy Krueger was very different from most horror icons of the same era such as Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers from Halloween, both of who were silent and didn’t portray much of a personality.
Unlike his rivals, Krueger had personality. He talked, displayed a dark and macabre sense of humour too. In fact, as the sequels progressed, Freddy became less scary and more comedic.

Often depicted with his trademark weapon of choice which was his home-made glove with razor sharp knives for finger, along with his dirty brown Fedora hat and red & green sweater.

Freddy became a cultural icon over the years. There was a time when you couldn’t move for Freddy Krueger merchandise. Freddy cups, costumes, action figures, posters, bobble-heads, video games, etc. There was even a slight twisted ironic merchandise aimed at children…you know, what with Freddy being a child molester/murderer and all.

There have been novelizations of all the movies which were published from 1987 to 2003. Freddy has also appeared in various comic book series over the years including s Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors.

But not content with just dominating the world of merchandise, Freddy also turned his hand at music…yes music. In 1988 Freddy appeared and “rapped” on; Are You Ready for Freddy, a single from The Fat Boys recorded for the A Nightmare on Elm Street 4 soundtrack.

AYRFF

As well as making an unofficial appearance in; A Nightmare on My Street by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.

Even today, Freddy still has cultural impact and is often referenced in other media. Freddy has appeared in and episode of South Park, The Simpsons. He has been parodied in Robot Chicken, Rick and Morty and countless others.
Freddy’s iconic glove has also appeared in the films; Bride of Chucky, Jason Goes To Hell and Evil Dead II.

What makes the character of Freddy interesting is the fact he has been played by the same actor in all of the official films. From the very first A Nightmare On Elm Street right up to Freddy Vs Jason, Freddy has always been played by Robert Englund. This adds a lot of consistency in the overall performance and even a bit of irony in that even though the character has arguably changed (for the worst) over the series, its always been the same actor playing him.

Well there have been a few instances when Robert never played Freddy. There was stunt work in the film, sometimes a stand in was used for certain shots within the films…oh and there was this…

NR

The A Nightmare On Elm Street remake from 2010 where Freddy was played by Jackie Earle Haley. This depiction of Freddy also appeared in the game Mortal Kombat.
Plus a new reboot has recently been announced.

Freddy Krueger’s popularity shows no sigh of slowing down, even after 30 years since the original film, he still keeps popping up and being referenced.
Wes Craven certainly created a monster, both figuratively as well as literally.

images

Freddy Krueger:The Springwood Slasher, that’s what they called me. My reign of terror was legendary. Dozens of children would fall by my blades.

btn_donate_LG

Wes Craven

We’ve lost one of the greatest horror writer/directors.
Its strange how I was actually writing a Wes Craven piece I was planning on saving for Halloween. Its a great shame the reason I’m posting this article now is due to his recent passing instead.

Wes 1

Wesley Earl Craven was born August 2, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio.
Craven earned an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology as well as a master’s degree in Philosophy and Writing.
Wes moved into a teaching career and taught English at Westminster College. During his early teaching life, Wes purchased a second-hand 16mm film camera and began making his own short movies.
He got his first real film-making job as editor on You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat (1971).
Wes eventually moved into making porn films, the documentary Inside Deep Throat, Craven says on camera he made “many hard core X-rated films” under pseudonyms. Wes left the world of porn and got into the genre that would make him famous…

LHOTL

Wes Craven’s first feature film as director was The Last House on the Left which was released in 1972.
The film was a moderate success despite of its infamous controversy. The film made a huge impact upon release and gave Wes the opportunity to ply his trade and cement himself as a genuine horror film-maker.

Though it would take 5 years for Wes to make his next and equally as impactful next full feature film.

THHE

The Hills Have Eyes was relased in 1977 and again was a success for Wes and today enjoys a large cult following.
Craven even made a sequel, The Hills Have Eyes Part II, in 1985, but he later disowned the picture.

Through the 70s and early 80s, Wes enjoyed a steady film-making career with both theatrical as well as TV movies, with films like; Stranger in Our House (1978), Deadly Blessing (1981) and Swamp Thing (1982).
However it was the year 1984 that would see Wes bring his most famous horror creation to life.

ANOES

A Nightmare on Elm Street was Wes Craven’s masterpiece of horror. Drawing from real world events and even basing the iconic Freddy Krueger on a kid who used to bully Wes at school as well as a tramp that lived near his childhood home…yes in a roundabout way, A Nightmare on Elm Street is based somewhat on fact.
This film also launched the career of some unknown actor called Johnny Depp.

Wes Craven created a monster…really he did. The Nightmare franchise spawned many, many (too many) sequels, several spin-offs, it’s own TV show and even a 2010 remake…with another reboot announced recently too.
But of course a large part of that success was due to this guy right here…

FK 1

It wasn’t the heroine of the film that became the fan favourite. It was the villain Freddy Krueger who went on to become a pop culture icon.

A Nightmare on Elm Street was a runaway success and opened several doors for Wes Craven as a film-maker as well as it being the one film that saved production company, New Line, from bankruptcy.

Wes Craven stuck to his love for the horror genre through the 80s and 90s making films such as; Deadly Friend (1986), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Shocker (1989), The People Under the Stairs (1991) as well as the massively underrated and very cerebral sequel; Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994).

In 1992, Wes also directed and produced the TV show; Nightmare Cafe.

Wes film-making career got a huge boost in in 1996 thanks to a meta, self-aware slasher flick.

Scream

Scream was an interesting and quite risky film that decided to breakdown and reconstruct the clichés of the horror/slasher film. It was made at a time when this genre was all but dead on its legs, it took several brave and bold moves by making fun of the very genre it was trying to reinvent.

The received several awards and award nominations following its release, including the Saturn Award for Best Actress, Best Writing, and Best Horror Film.
Scream went on to become its own franchise with 3 sequels relased in 1997, 2000 and 2011. As well as spawning its own TV series, which Wes was Executive Producer on in 2015.

He also directed the massively overlooked 2005 thriller, Red Eye.

RE

Red Eye is a brilliant and tense thriller that I only recently discovered myself. But if you enjoy a suspenseful and well directed film, then I do strongly suggest you give this film a view. I’ll just leave it at that as this is a film best not spoilt beforehand.

When Wes wasn’t writing/directing/producing, he would often make the odd cameo in other productions appearing in; Body Bags (1993), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001), The Tripper (2007) and Diary of the Dead (2008).

Wes even designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google.
In 2012, the New York City Horror Film Festival awarded Craven the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Wes Craven died of brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles, August 30, 2015. He was 76 years old.
You will be missed Wes, thanks for the nightmares over the years.

Wes 2

Wes Craven:I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that’s not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.

I also take a look at Wes greatest creation, the character of Freddy Krueger.

btn_donate_LG