The Legendary Wes Craven

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Featured Scary Movies and Series

Wes Craven has been praised as one of the most imaginative and exciting horror creators in cinema. His legendary Nightmare on Elm Street series which birthed the insidious dream-weaving villain Freddy Krueger, and the hyper-self-aware Scream series which spawned the knife-wielding Ghostface killer, are just two of the many properties Craven has used to scare audiences the world over. Everyone who owns a television can probably tell you at least what these two aforementioned mass-murderers look like, but did you know prolific terror maestro Wes Craven actually started his film career in pornography? Or that Elm Street was actually based on the deathly nightmares of Cambodian refugees who had witnessed the American bombing of Cambodia?

Here we take a look at some of the most influential, and also the more obscure of Wes Craven’s directorial works, in order to pay tribute to and properly learn about a man who caused more sleepless nights than European Techno.

Last House On The Left (1972)


Craven clearly wanted to shock the world from the get-go. His first horror outing centred around two girls looking for drugs after attending a concert in the city. They run into a gang of escaped convicts who kidnap them for a night of rape, torture and their eventual muder. When the convicts later hide out at the home of one of the murdered girls, her parents soon work out what happened and plot their revenge. Last House managed to land itself on the Video Nasties list and was actually refused a certificate for cinema release by the British Board of Film Censors for its depictions of horiffic sadism and sexual violence.

The script, written by Craven in 1971, was originally intended to be a hardcore pornographic feature before filming began, whereupon it was decided that a much softer approach would be taken. One can only imagine what the original idea had in store for viewers. The story is inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Swedish film The Virgin Spring (1960), which in turn is based on a Swedish ballad, Töres döttrar i Wänge. Who would’ve thought such classic and artistic inspiration could have gone into what is now an infamous rape/revenge horror?


The Hills Have Eyes (1977)


This is one of the rare occasions in horror where I actually prefer a remake to the original. Perhaps it has something to do with the similarities of Craven’s Hills with Tobe Hooper’s classic (and far more expertly crafted) The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), or perhaps I simply didn’t feel that the gut-wrenching implications of some scenes could be fully realised with this particular cast of actors. That being said, this is still a fairly competent and satisfyingly violent film based on the legend of Sawney Bean, a scottish clan leader said to have lived in a sea cave and cannibalized over a thousand people in the 16th Century. Craven’s depiction features the Carter family on their way to Los Angeles who crash their camper in an area of the Nevada desert inhabited by murderous cannibals. When they start to die off the family must fight back against the savages, which they do in quite spectacular fashion. Craven’s vision was raw and unflinching with this piece, even if some of it did need to be trimmed due to an X-rating. While it doesn’t jump out as a masterpiece in the genre, it would be a crime to write it off as just another cheap shock-horror.


The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

The Serpent and the Rainbow Movie Poster
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)


Bill Pullman is excellent in this mystifying mashup of Live and Let Die (1973) and In The Mouth of Madness (1944). Anthropologist Dennis (Bill Pullman) heads to Haiti, in a time of severe social and political unrest, to study an alleged voodoo drug that has been bringing the dead back to life. With the help of a witch doctor (Brent Jennings) and a fellow researcher (Cathy Tyson) Dennis must dodge Haitian authorities and solve the deadly mystery before it consumes him completely. With some genuinely unsettling imagery, fantastically engaging performances from its lead cast and implications around life, death and madness that have the potential to chill viewers to the core, The Serpent and The Rainbow proves itself to this day one of the more original and enthralling of Craven’s back-catalogue.


The People Under the Stairs (1991)


I’ll start by saying that I had no idea what to expect from this film. Having borrowed the dvd from a friend and basing my expectations on its goofy cover art, I was expecting something akin to other campy 70s and 80s horrors like Fright Night (1985) or perhaps even Beetlejuice (1988). After multiple viewings I now class this as one of Craven’s darkest films, straight-up shocking in many places while crawling under your skin in others. Craven was adamant to portray a respectful account of class warfare and personal struggles in poverty-stricken ghettos, and has expressed in other films such as Scream 2 his views on the need for “black representation” in horror, so what better villain than a couple of rich, incestuous white landlords? The violent psychopathy displayed when things start to kick off is unrivalled, with much of the terror being derived not from monsters or ghosts, but the potential of pure evil from humans. With a stellar performance from Brandon Adams as ‘Fool’ and Everett McGill and Wendy Robie as the nameless, psychotic Landlord and Lady, this is close to the top of a list of personal favourites, not just of Craven’s work but of horror in general, and should not be missed.


Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)


Everyone is familiar with the Nightmare on Elm Street legacy, from the original breakout hit all the way to Freddy vs Jason, but I’d rather talk about what I consider the most interesting and underrated in the series. Now I’ll admit that when I first watched New Nightmare I was far too young to really be able to appreciate horror, never mind understanding any of the meta-layers underlying this gory flick. It still managed to shock me, and stick in my mind to this day, and it was one of my later revisits that helped me realise just what Craven was going for. Heather Langenkamp plays herself, years after the shooting of the original Nightmare films, when visions of Freddy begin to plague her in real life. This was definitely the beginning of Craven’s more self-aware phase which led onto the Scream series, and his playfulness in flirting with the fourth-wall more than pays off in breathing new life into Freddy as a villain, and the Nightmare series in general. I won’t give away too much, as there are several payoffs in Craven’s 1994 rethink that scream for multiple viewings.


Scream (1996)


Scream is such a fun ride. Somehow Craven managed to craft a film that is blatantly self-aware yet balanced enough so that the self-referential comedy doesn’t once get in the way of bloody scares. It is witty and clever in similar ways to New Nightmare but a lot more playful and sometimes goofy in execution. Some references and nods to horror tropes and even Craven’s earlier pictures are terrifically on the nose, and more than welcome in that, though repeated viewings are warranted with plenty of subtleties to find. Matthew Lillard is brilliant as Stu Macher, wacky and on the border of being a complete clown while somehow retaining an imposing and intimidating air through his sheer size and intensity. Scream gleefully and violently subverts expectations set by genre greats, while paying homage to all that inspired it, and somehow having a better ending to many of the films it parodies.


Scream 2 (1997)


Somehow this one passed me by until very recently, though I’m almost ashamed to admit it now. Scream 2 is one of the better horror sequels out there, majorly due to its self awareness (as if it only exists as a punchline to scream’s continuous mention of a sequel) though also due in part to Craven’s consistency in style and substance. I found myself overjoyed when characters from the first began popping up and reuniting, and enjoying the introduction of new characters that, like the film itself, feel more an extension of Scream rather than a tacked-on rethink. Featuring possibly a better ending than even its predecessor did, all while retaining the meta-layers in almost every scene that made the first great.

Full Filmography

1972The Last House on the LeftHallmark Releasing / American International Pictures
1977The Hills Have EyesVanguard
1981Deadly BlessingUnited Artists
1982Swamp ThingEmbassy Pictures
1984A Nightmare on Elm StreetNew Line Cinema
1985The Hills Have Eyes Part IICastle Hill Productions
1986Deadly FriendWarner Bros.
1988The Serpent and the RainbowUniversal Pictures
1989Shocker
1991The People Under the Stairs
1994Wes Craven’s New NightmareNew Line Cinema
1995Vampire in BrooklynParamount Pictures
1996ScreamDimension Films
1997Scream 2
1999Music of the HeartMiramax
2000Scream 3Dimension Films
2005CursedMiramax
2005Red Eye
2010My Soul to TakeUniversal Pictures
2011Scream 4Dimension Films
from wikipedia.com

What Was the Inspiration for the Scream Movies & Ghostface Killer?

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Featured Scary Movies and Series

Is Scream Based On a Real Story?

“What’s your favorite scary movie?” Ghostface can be heard around the world by countless fans mimicking his famous catchphrase. Ghostface taunts his victims by telephone and with a voice changing device to help hide his identity (which ultimately changes every movie).  He then stalks and chases them with a scary looking dagger to ensure a violent death.  Ghostface is certainly one of the horror genre’s favorite slashers.

The Scream franchise did very well, with the first movie raking in more than $103 million in the United States alone (that’s great for an estimated budget of only $14,000,000)!  But where did the story get its start? What is the Scream movie origin and is Ghostface based upon a real life killer? Horror Enthusiast has dove deep to untangle some wires and figure the true origin of the Ghostface killer and Scream movies.

The Real Story that Inspired Ghostface & Scream

The Real Life Unnerving Murders

The writer of Scream, Kevin Williamson, created the story line surrounding his fascination with the Gainesville Ripper.  While watching a news story about the terror, he realized his very own window was open, and that he could be susceptible to the same horrible fate that had already befallen a number of people.  The horror script was born that very day as Kevin completed the first 18 page draft of what would be Scream. 

The initial script featured a young woman who was alone at home (where she should be safe), being taunted by a killer over the phone.  The woman would then be chased by the slasher, who would be a scary-masked villain with a knife. Shortly, Kevin had completed a full-length script for the movie. He even planned the concept of Scream becoming a franchise right away.  In addition to his full-length script, Kevin provided suggestions that outlined two possible sequels. 

The Gainesville Ripper

Danny Harold Rolling is the Gainesville Ripper, a serial killer responsible for murdering 5 students in the Gainesville, Florida area, as well as 3 others in Louisiana.  Rolling is the initial inspiration  (although somewhat loosely fit) for the plot horror enthusiasts all know as the Scream movie today.  Rolling was a gruesome killer, mutilating his victims after raping them and even decapitating one body. He would also pose his victims in sexually provocative positions before leaving the scene. Hardly Ghostface, however, nonetheless the Gainesville Ripper would scare Kevin Williamson so bad he’d come up with the basis for a truly scary plot with a real-life feel. 

Rolling was put to death by legal injection in 2006.

Where Did the Ghostface Mask Come From?

ghostface masked killed from the movie scream

The Ghostface mask was discovered by Wes Craven himself as he were hunting for filming locations.  He noticed the mask hanging on the wall of one of the rooms within a possible film house and knew it was a perfect fit.  The mask could not be exactly similar as he could not obtain the rights and so he had one made to resemble the mask as closely as possible based upon a photo he took.

Where Did the Ghostface Cloak Come From?

Ghostface was designed, originally, to be cloaked in a white robe, not a black robe.  The costume only changed to a black robe after the crew realized he resembled a member of the Ku Klux Klan when wearing white.

Where Did the Title “Scream” Come From?

Scream was originally going to be called “Scary Movie.” This is super ironic, as that title would later be used for a parody that pretty much featured the Scream franchise. The (now more famous than ever before in light of their sexual harassment scandles) Weinstein Brothers decided to rename the film to Scream towards the end of filming.

What Made Scream More Interesting?

Scream was (basically) the first horror movie that featured characters who understood horror movies existed and even referenced real-life horror movies throughout the film.  With characters that understood how people die in horror movies and the common mistakes to avoid…it made the audience feel as though anything could happen.

Additional Inspirations

There is a lot of inspiration behind Scream that appears under the surface, as well.  Scream script writer, Kevin Williamson, had been a huge horror movie fan his entire life before beginning the Scream script. He loved popular horror franchises Halloween, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Prom Night, and many others.  His passion for these films is evident via a number of references and obvious homage throughout the Scream movies.

Scream Still Scares Even Today

painting of ghostface from scream

Ghostface today is still a very popular slasher horror icon.  He makes several appearances throughout popular media (other movies included, even comedies like ‘Scary Movie’).  And almost everyone knows who Ghostface is, or has seen at least one Scream movie.  He is even a very popular Halloween mask choice more than 20 years after his first cinematic appearance (the original Scream being released in 1996).  And very recently, more interest slasher favorite, Ghostface, has spawned a rebooted Scream franchise in form of a TV series. The TV series first aired in June of 2015, but is currently three seasons strong.  The third season has yet to air (begins in March of 2018). 

Whether on the big screen or on TV, one thing is clear: Ghostface is here to stay and wants to know what is your favorite scary movie?

Which Horror Movie Killer Would Win?

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Scary Movies and Series

Pitting Horror Movie Killers and Slashers Against Each Other

The age old questions of which horror movie slasher is strongest, most powerful, most dangerous or would win in a fight, has been haunting us for decades! And almost all of the horror fans out there expected to see a clear winner in Freddy vs Jason (2003); Thus a great void was left in the “who would win” what-if scenario between the two horror villain giants.  And people are now wondering more than ever who would win a number of other Slasher vs Slasher fights.  Horror Enthusiast has stepped up to the plate, pitting a number of villains against one another and drawing a conclusion as to the outcome and winner of each fight!

Fictional Horror Movie Killer Fights (Who Would Win)

Without further ado, these fictional horror movie killer ‘one on ones’ will draw the line on who would have won after all in a fight!

Freddy Krueger vs Michael Myers

Michael Myers has been a torment to survivors on many of the halloweens throughout the past few decades. Freddy Krueger has been active throughout various times of the year, but enjoys raising hell when school is in…thus, it is logical that the two horror movie slashers would meet up at one point or another!  If Freddy Krueger ran across Michael one Halloween, he would probably put Michael into a sleep-induced Haddonfield killing-spree coma, while he were buried alive.

Winner: Freddy Krueger

Method: Asphyxiation and Sleep-induced Coma

Leatherface vs Michael Myers

michael myers vs leatherface killer

Michael Myers keeps coming back from the dead and has been a demonic nightmare ever since the late 70s. However, Leatherface has also been killing since the 70s and may be the largest opponent Michael Myers has ever faced.  While this would be a close fight, the deciding factor came down to the ability to sustain blows.  Michael’s first blow would probably not be able to kill Leatherface, no matter how grim the wound.  Leatherface, however, is capable of literally chopping off limbs and cutting Michael’s body in half, with just one swing of his chainsaw.

Winner: Leatherface

Method: Body Dismemberment and Cut In Half

Pinhead vs Michael Myers

Michael Myers began life as a mortal human being, unlike Pinhead, who is a demon and supernatural by nature.  Myers received his supernatural developments throughout time, and unfortunately stands a serious handicap in the respect of actual power.  However, if he had a fair shot, he would probably at least look pretty while Pinhead tore him to pieces, literally!

Winner: Pinhead

Method: Detainment and Dismemberment

Leatherface vs Jason Voorhees

Leatherface is one bad mamba jamba, and has been taking out travelers for decades. Jason Voorhees, however, quite literally cannot die in a mortal sense.  Additionally, Jason can sustain unimaginable blows and still continue to hack and slash, showing no signs of slowing down.  Leatherface has been seen vulnerable on a number of occasions, leaving him writhing in pain after a survivor successfully lashes back.  Leatherface would meet his doom if encountering Jason in a one on one fight…even with his chainsaw!

Winner: Jason Voorhees

Method: Macheted In Half

Pinhead vs Jason Voorhees

jason vs pinhead winner

Jason Voorhees has been brought back from the dead after being spat out of hell. Pinhead is no longer human, just like Jason, however, he exists in an extradimensional realm only to travel to Earth to harvest souls. While the two characters share a lot in common (Jason only returns to Earth to murder and wreak havoc), Jason would be unable to overcome the impressive use of demonic magic that would be present within the fight.

Winner: Pinhead

Method: Detainment and Dismemberment

Chucky vs Michael Myers

Michael Myers stalks his victims and has a good chance of sneaking up on Chucky…however, Chucky is no stranger to deception himself.  Michael has killed a few victims based upon his strength, however, he is mostly known for his ability to kill with a blade. Chucky, being an inanimate doll, would likely be able to survive one or two slashes from Michael’s blade in order to outsmart him.  Given Michael is significantly lacking in the intelligence department, he would probably fall victim to a larger plot pre-planned by Chucky (probably using objects much larger than himself).

Winner: Chucky

Method: Trapping and Smashing Michael Between Two Heavy Objects

Freddy Krueger vs Chucky

chucky vs freddy drawing

Chucky may be practically invulnerable to a mortal human being, however, when subject to the dreamworld, he would be much more vulnerable.  Freddy is able to manipulate dreams and would most likely destroy Chucky by way of extreme explosion while he slept, scattering all of his pieces and stuffings throughout the dreamworld. Remember: “If you die in your dreams you die for real!”

Winner: Freddy Krueger

Method: Extreme Explosive Dismemberment

Leatherface vs Pinhead

Leatherface is rash and impulsive, thus his demise versus a telekinetic and supernatural power-harnessing demon from another dimension (such as Pinhead) would be rather quick!  Most likely, Leatherface would rush towards his opponent, only to be controlled by telekinesis and quickly facing his own chainsaw in the chest!

Winner: Pinhead

Method: Telekinetic Manipulation of a Chainsaw to the Gut

Freddy Krueger vs Leatherface

Leatherface may be muscular, fast and brutal, but he is no match for falling asleep and dying in his dreams.  Leatherface would likely be terrorized by confusion, as he is the least smartest of the horror movie slashers. When he awoke, it would probably be to the feeling of a chainsaw working its way through his chest somehow, or being impaled on a meat hook.

Winner: Freddy Krueger

Method: Impaled by a Running Chainsaw / Impaled on a Meat Hook

Jason Voorhees vs Chucky

Although Jason may be a little dumb, Chucky’s ability to outwit him may be nullified by Jason’s slower, unpredictable movements. Jason stands a chance at catching Chucky due to his slower movement increasing the likelihood of Chucky growing frustrated and getting too close to the slashing giant.  With Jason’s strength, it would not even require a machete!

Winner: Jason Voorhees

Method: Beheading and Crushing of the Doll’s Skull

Freddy Krueger vs Pinhead

The only killer with the ability to set up Freddy with a life sentence of psychological torture, or torture of any means, is Pinhead. Pinhead is a powerful demon capable of traveling between dimensions and manipulating reality.  Freddy lacks the ability to actually read minds and can only manipulate reality in the dreamworld. Does Pinhead even sleep?  In a fight, Freddy would only be able to resort to his agile martial-arts like movements focusing primarily on his claw-weapon.  This would make him no greater contest than a black belt in karate with a sword.*

*Though Freddy has been seen manipulating reality (telekinesis primarily) in the real-world…he is ultimately powerless against Pinheads ability to cause any object, including ones he would be controlling, to spontaneously combust.  Additionally, Pinhead can conjure any object out of thin air.

Winner: Pinhead

Method: Detainment and Psychological Torment For The Rest Of Time

Leatherface vs Chucky

Most victims run from Leatherface. Most of the other killers would stand up to fight Leatherface. Chucky, however, would hide to fight Leatherface. Chucky is a pretty smart doll, and being that he is really small and Leatherface is rather large and less flexible, Leatherface would have a hard time catching Chucky to inflict any damage. Chucky, on the other hand, is quite crafty and a very clever slasher. Before Leatherface had any idea what hit him, he’d be tumbling into a human-sized meat grinder.

Winner: Chucky

Method: Falling Into an Industrial Size Meat Grinder (or Wood Chipper of Sorts)

Pinhead vs Chucky

pinhead drawing

Unfortunately, Chucky faces the same problems as Michael Myers when it comes to Pinhead: Pinhead is a supreme supernaturally powerful demon and Chucky is a normal human being with a curse.  Chucky is also limited to human-capable methods of murder, such as death by knife…whereas Pinhead has the ability to create and manipulate the world with magic.

Winner: Pinhead

Method: Detainment and Dismemberment

Anyone vs Ghostface

Unfortunately for Ghostface, ridiculous teenagers with knives do not stand chances against real horror movie slashers (no offense Ghostface and Scream crowd).  While Ghostface may seriously tear through some victims on screen, he is most definitely the least likely to win out of all of the horror slashers when pit against any of them.

Winner: Anyone other than Ghostface

Method: Nearly Any Weapon Would Do

Freddy Krueger vs Jason Voorhees [real fight]

Horror Enthusiast disagrees with the result of Freddy vs Jason (2003) and thus has redrawn the scenario, as a proper horror fanatic would.  Freddy wins. Jason dies.  The end.

Winner: Freddy Krueger

Method: Drowning and Sleep-induced Coma

Final Notes About Which Killer Would Win

Pinhead is the clear overall winner, being able to detain and or destroy any of the other horror movie killers. However, Freddy Krueger is a close second, as his demon-like manipulation techniques are simply too powerful for any other slasher to overcome.  In a few scenarios, Freddy may even have a chance to take Pinhead out for good…though, highly unlikely! Chucky receives an honorable mention for his ability to take down some of the much larger giants despite his small size.

Although the fights are between killers who have franchises and are well known for their scary death counts, we realize we have not included all noteworthy horror slashers. If you would like to see how your killer of choice (or anyone we have left out) stacks up against the rest, leave a comment below!

Also, check out our other article on who has the most kills.