“Like many film fans who grew up in the ’70s and early ’80s, Wes Craven’s name became, to me, synonymous with cutting edge horror,” Wright, who has directed Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, wrote in a post on his website. “When I grew up in a VHS less house, I really could only dream of the horrors behind the forbidding posters or video box art of movies like The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and Deadly Blessing. These were films I was not really allowed to see, but as a young horror obsessive I needed to know everything about them.”
The first Craven film he saw, Wright remembered, was A Nightmare on Elm Street, at the house of one of his older brother’s friends around 1985. “It felt so illicit and exciting watching it and I wish sometimes I could return to this more innocent time where these horror films felt some dangerous and visceral to me,” he wrote. “The first Nightmare quickly became a landmark horror movie and what distinguished it then is what still marks it out as a classic now. It’s the sheer twisted imagination of the premise; the idea of lucid waking nightmares bleeding into the real world makes Freddy Kruger a much more formidable and interesting foe than any of his slasher rivals.”
A little more than a decade later, the first Scream film opened. “I vividly remember seeing this opening weekend in London and saying out loud ‘That’s the kind of movie I want to make,’” Wright added. “Eight years later I tried to do exactly that with Shaun of the Dead. I would frequently evoke Craven’s film when pitching ours as an example of a successful horror that mixes laughs with jolts.”
The two met briefly at a Masters of Horror dinner in 2005, Wright said, and also came to email occasionally after Craven used a scene from Shaun of the Dead in Scream 4. As Wright concluded in his piece, he was sad to have never spoken to Craven at “any great length” before his death.
Craven, 76, died Sunday from brain cancer. You can read Wright’s full tribute here.
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