Surely, “I Am Nancy” isn’t one of the best documentaries ever made, but it will definitely go down as one of the most unique. How often do documentaries focus on the final girls of horror movies? “I Am Nancy” is that documentary about Heather Langenkamp who ended up playing one of the best final girls: Nancy Thompson. But unlike people like Jamie Lee Curtis and Neve Campbell, actress Heather Langenkamp’s fate as a performer was much different. Rather than become a big star, Langenkamp slowly slid in to obscurity as the film’s villain Robert Englund became an icon of pop culture and film history.
It baffles me to this day that “Shocker” is still considered one of Wes Craven’s best films. It’s especially baffling considering Craven has not only pulled off much better genre films, but because “Shocker” is really just a remake of “Nightmare on Elm Street.” A vicious serial killer wreaks revenge on his pursuers through supernatural means which allow him to shift through his own dimensions, can contact our protagonist through dreams, and does battle with a lone teenager who enters his realm in the finale and confronts him. It’s the exact same film from beginning to end, except it has a much more prevalent self awareness than “Nightmare” did.
As a hardcore horror fan I cut my teeth on the films of John Carpenter, George Romero, and Wes Craven. They were just the trio of horror masters that were always there from the time I started exploring the horror world, and I always took them for granted as wizards of cinema that would always be there. Sadly our horror icons are mortal, and Wes Craven has passed on. His death will surely rattle the horror world for a long time, and that’s because Craven was an important face of the genre right until his death, and he’ll be important long after he’s died. We can take solace in the fact that Craven affected a ton of people, and will live on forever through his vast and unique library of horror films and thrillers.
True, he’d stumbled on occasion with films like “Shocker,” and “Cursed,” but when he was on point, he’d deliver a horror film that would change the entire genre for a long time. He did so through a ghost faced slasher, a clawed dream demon, and an exploitation film about psychotic hippies. Craven always seemed like such an affable and good spirited individual with a smile permanently plastered on his face. He seemed to enjoy creating horror films that would haunt us and make us think at the same time. It’s a shame we won’t see anything new from Craven anymore, but we can celebrate the diverse output of really interesting and often celebrated horror movies that continue to influence generations. With respect to the legacy of Wes Craven, these are five of his films that are essential viewing for any movie buff interested in horror 101.
Here’s to you, Wes. Thanks for entertaining us, scaring us, and enlightening us. May you rest in peace.
Wes Craven creates Freddy Krueger. Again. This time rather than invading the meta-reality of dreams, maniac Horace Pinker can travel through televisions. That said, “Shocker” is basically like “Nightmare.” There’s a maniac, a main character linked to him through dreams, a secret that the main character’s neglectful parent is hiding, a major supporting character that dies thanks to the maniac that allows the main character to face off against the maniac, and a final showdown where the main character turns the tables on the maniac.
Director Wes Craven’s remake of “The Virgin Spring” often gets a lot of credit, not just for jump starting the grindhouse boom, but for being influential as a veritable violent film. Sadly, “Last House” is another of Wes Craven’s films that gets too much credit. While many will argue that “Last House” has to be considered for its time period, even in context, “Last House” is a piss poor horror film with terrible production qualities.
“New Nightmare” is the final installment of the series and something of a meta-movie that pre-dates Craven’s wildly overrated “Scream” series. Rather than deconstruct the slasher film, Craven deconstructs the “Nightmare” series once and for all studying the over saturation of Krueger on the masses of pop culture fanatics and dares to ponder on the notion that the “Nightmare” movies may have actually done more harm than good. Basing most of the film on reality (including the stalker sub-plot), “New Nightmare” breaks down and disavows the series opting instead to depict them as fiction that have taken on a life of their own in the midst of the pop culture overload.
While scouring reviews for “Nightmare,” I read a comment online that suggested the reason why Samuel Bayer’s absolutely lethargic lazy remake of the horror classic is so bad is because he wasn’t recruited by Platinum Dunes to re-imagine this world, but to simply lens it for them. And that’s an apt observation when you’ve managed to sit down and actually watch Platinum Dunes latest cinematic slap to the face of movie goers and horror lovers everywhere. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” 2010 is possibly one of the worst remakes of all time, it’s a lazy, unimaginative, nonsensical, and absolutely tedious piece of hogwash that doesn’t try to do anything new with the material before it, nor does it re- invent much, but instead merely goes through the motions as a routine horror affair focused on squeezing in as much shocks as possible and moving on to the next scene.
At this time horror fans are so beaten down to a messy shit stain that they really don’t have the strength to complain about remakes of their beloved horror classics anymore. Because whether we like it or not, Platinum Dunes and other horrific money grubbing companies will rehash our favorite titles and nothing is off limits. That preface aside, Neo-Nightmare sets down on basically the same premise except with ten times less the flavor and creativity of Wes Craven’s admittedly dated original. I never liked Platinum Dunes to begin with but “A Nightmare on Elm Street” ends as such a blatant spit in the face of horror fans everywhere it practically begins with a disclaimer reading, “We don’t give a shit about quality, but hey at least we have your money, suckers!” And they fell for it hook line and sinker.