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Friday, March 12, 2010

Horrorography- Wes Craven

Craven's works tend to share a common exploration of the nature of reality. A Nightmare on Elm Street, for example, dealt with the consequences of dreams in real life. A Nightmare on Elm Street was directed and written by Craven, and the first film of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
The film features John Saxon, Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut. Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio, the plot revolves around several teenagers being terrorized in their nightmares by the ghost of a serial child murderer named Fred Krueger. Craven produced A Nightmare on Elm Street on an estimated budget of just $1.8 million, a sum the film earned back during its first week. An instant commercial success, the film's total United States box office gross is $25.5 million. A Nightmare on Elm Street was initially met with relatively mixed critical reviews—however went on to make a significant impact on the horror genre, spawning a franchise consisting of a line of sequels, a television series, an upcoming remake and various other works of imitation. The film is credited with carrying on many clich├ęs found in low-budget horror films of the 1980s and 1990s, originating in John Carpenter's 1978 horror film Halloween, including the morality play that revolves around sexual promiscuity in teenagers resulting in their eventual (usually graphic) death, leading to the term "slasher film". Critics and film historians argue that the film's premise is the question of the distinction between dreams and reality, which is manifested in the film through the teenagers dreams and their realities. Critics today praise the film's ability to transgress "the boundaries between the imaginary and real", toying with audience perceptions.

New Nightmare "brushes against" (but doesn't quite break) the fourth wall by having actress Heather Langenkamp play herself as she is haunted by the villain of the film in which she once starred. At one point in the film, we see on Wes Craven's word processor a script he has written, which includes the exact conversation he just had with Heather — as if the script is being written as the action is unfolding.

The Serpent and the Rainbow portrays a man who cannot distinguish between nightmarish visions and reality.  The film is very loosely based on the non-fiction book of the same name by ethnobotanist Wade Davis. Davis' book recounted his experiences in Haiti investigating the story of Clairvius Narcisse. Narcisse was allegedly poisoned and buried alive. When he was released from the grave, he was given an herbal brew whose effects produced what was called a zombie.

In Scream, the characters frequently reference horror films similar to their situations, and at one point Billy Loomis tells his girlfriend that life is just a big movie. This concept was emphasized in the sequels, as copycat stalkers reenact the events of a new film about the Woodsboro killings occurring in Scream. Scream included a scene mentioning the well-known Richard Gere gerbil urban legend. Craven stated that he received calls from agents telling him that if he leaves that scene in, he would never work again.

Craven was also set to direct Beetlejuice but dropped out to co-write and executive produce the third outing for Freddy Krueger. "The" Elm Street is located in Potsdam, NYThough there have been seven different Nightmare on Elm Street films (eight if one includes the crossover Freddy vs. Jason), only two have been directed by Craven. He has said in several interviews and discussions that he considers only his two films to be accurate depictions of his creation. For years, it has been rumored that he would make one more film, essentially completing his trilogy. However Craven was involved in the third Nightmare film Dream Warriors as producer, aiming to make the third film the last. His ideas were largely rejected, and used in his New Nightmare, ten years later. Craven did not participate in a remake of the original, scheduled for an April release.