On Nightmares: A Eulogy for Wes Craven
How do you write a eulogy for a man you have never met?
You see the news of a death near every single day, thanks to the Internet's facilitation of mass-communication. It allows us to mourn complete strangers; take a moment to think about others we may not have met ourselves, yet have touched the lives of countless others.
Wes Craven was one of those rare individuals.
He was a man that many would not have met - perhaps not often thought of - yet his works had a profound impact on millions of people. When you think of nightmares, you think of 'Freddy'. 'Scream' introduced an entire new generation to horror. 'The Hills Have Eyes', 'The Last House on the Left' have both shocked countless people worldwide. He made fantastic contributions to 'The Twilight Zone'. He gave Eddie Murphy a much needed escape from sequelitis with 'Vampire in Brooklyn'. 'The Wishmaster' was a twisted and refreshing take on the concept of middle eastern genies (Or Djinn). 'Red Eye' was a fantastic thriller, and 'The People Under the Stairs' is still well loved, even today.
It's very hard to write a eulogy and not say a few more personal words, also. My own awakening to horror was with the 'Scream' franchise. While 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' was an earlier watch, it was Scream which really brought life to the genre for me. The opening scene still sits there with me today; I still frequently find myself quoting it off-hand during conversation. I know I'm not the only one who has worn 'that' costume at least once for halloween.
That was his talent, really. It wasn't so much the film-making, it was more his way of breathing life into absurd concepts. 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' woke people up to the concept of lucid dreaming, 'Scream' made (humorous) sense of the effect horror can have on us. It can shape the way we see our lives, haunt our nightmares, facilitate our darkest of wishes. It can take us to strange places; introduce us to awful monsters; reveal things that just might go bump in the night. It can reveal more about ourselves than it ever could the ones who create it.
To that end, Wes Craven has left us a highly diverse legacy. It is a legacy which will continue to influence many, many more generations to come. We all must ensure it is treated with the utmost of care and respect, for you never know when he just might reappear again; in the nightmares of a curious child, or a disembodied cry in the dark.
Wes Craven is a man who will forever be known, his absence leaving a void no other could ever attempt to fill.