Wes Craven changed the face of genre filmmaking — and caused audience members to face uncountable nightmares. Here’s a look back at the late Master of Horror’s most twisted and influential movies.
1. The Last House on the Left (1972)
As would routinely prove the case throughout his career, the former English teacher revealed his dark side and his erudition with his film debut, a rape-revenge fantasy directly inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 Oscar-winner The Virgin Spring. An almost unbearably brutal watch even today, The Last House on the Left would, like every film on this list, become essential viewing for subsequent generations of filmmakers, but at the time of its release, Craven was literally shunned at social events for creating it.
2. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
Along with Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre and John Boorman’s Deliverance, this tale of a seemingly “normal” family driven to desperate measures after they are attacked by desert-dwelling maniacs introduced a new vein of cinematic horror which is still being pumped for inspiration by filmmakers today.
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
One of the most successful and most influential horror films of the ’80s, Craven’s literally nightmare-filled shocker unleashed a bona fide horror icon in the disfigured form of Robert Englund’s dream-stalker Freddy Krueger.
4. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
Craven returned to the Elm Street franchise for this ahead-of-its-time meta-movie in which Freddy enters the “real” world to torment the folks who originally brought him to life, including the first film’s star Heather Langenkamp and Craven himself.
5. Scream (1996)
Two years on from Scream, the world was ready for a horror movie about horror movies and Craven’s Kevin Williamson-penned, Neve Campbell-starring slasher proved a big enough hit to inspire three sequels and the current MTV series — as well as innumerable copycat terror tales.