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Wes Craven films that earned him the crown of ‘Master of Horror’

The late filmmaker was renowned as the mind behind the popular horror franchises of Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street

  • Shilpa S

  • OTTplay

Last Updated: 10.56 AM, Nov 26, 2021


It would not be an exaggeration to say that Wes Craven has left an indelible mark on the horror genre. Although Craven started out his career making low budget B movies he soon found his calling in the horror genre with 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was his first well received mainstream horror film. Perhaps most popular as the mind behind the iconic franchises of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, Craven can be credited for his trailblazing work in the slasher horror genre.

Rather than relying on the conventional selling points of gore and bloodshed, his films were elevated from the rest of the pack due to the filmmaker’s impeccable ability of mixing more layered elements in the story. Instead of a run of the mill horror film, viewers were treated to an intelligent, at times even self aware work of art which seamlessly blended humour and satire with the classic horror elements.

Craven also found a way to incorporate cliched horror tropes into his films in an intelligent and sophisticated way, a good example of which are the Scream films. The ongoing franchise’s latest installment is set to be released next year and in a bittersweet moment for fans, will be the first film in the franchise without Craven in the director’s chair.

Here is a list of films which are testimony to the fact that Craven has indeed earned the crown title of ‘Master of Horror’, as he is called by fans.

The Hills Have Eyes
Widely regarded as the film that launched Craven’s career as a popular horror director, The Hills Have Eyes tells the tale of a family whose vacation turns into a nightmare when they become stranded in a desert and are terrorised by a group of predatory outcasts. Craven had based the premise off of a legend of a cannibalistic clan in Scotland, combined with classic elements of a gory horror film. The film went on to gain a cult following and led to the establishment of a franchise centred around it.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
This 1984 film spawned the popular horror franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street and is credited with gifting the world with the horror icon Freddy Krueger. The supernatural slasher film tells the tale of a group of teenagers whose nightmares are haunted by the figure of a disfigured man with hands of razors. The teens are chased down by the figure, the spirit of a man named Freddy Krueger, whose brutal killings in the nightmares translates into the real world as well. The film, with its unique concept and sophisticated use of horror tropes, was lauded by fans and critics alike. It has been included in many lists of the world’s greatest horror films.
The first installment in the Scream franchise, the 1996 film marks the beginning of the iconic clash between the serial killer Ghostface and the object of his torment, Sidney Prescott. The slasher film tells the story of the killer’s first appearance, almost a year after the murder of the teenage Prescott’s mother, as he strikes those close to the young girl. The film’s premise was inspired by the real life murders carried out by an American serial killer called the Gainesville Ripper. The cult classic film sparked a renewed interest in the slasher horror genre with its intelligent mixing of horror movie cliches into its storyline.
The People Under the Stairs
This 1991 horror comedy film revolves around the story of a group of robbers who get more than what they bargain for when they break into the house of an elderly couple. They realise the couple are hiding away some dark secrets as they run into several children who are held prisoner in the house. Craven was inspired by a real life case in the 1970s of a pair of robbers who had discovered children locked inside a house they were trying to rob. The film also plays on the themes of capitalism and class conflict.
Red Eye
This psychological thriller tells the story of a young woman on a flight who finds herself entangled in a dangerous game with a domestic terrorist. She is forced to aid him in a assassination attack against a known diplomat, and must find a way to thwart his attempts. Although different from Craven’s usual works as it is more along the lines of a thriller, the film was well received by both critics and his long-time fans. The intelligent plot and fast moving story makes it an intriguing watch.

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