There hasn’t been a Renegade Staff Picks for a while, but with the passing a couple of weeks ago of horror master Wes Craven, I figured there is no better time to revive it for a one-time special than now.
So, without any further ado, here is a look at the staff of Renegade Cinema’s favorite movies by Wes Craven.
Derek Johns: Scream
Even after working as a horror movie director for 25 years at the time of Scream’s release, Craven still found ways to do something new with the genre at a time when horror was going through a creative dark age. Even without the film’s critique of tired horror movie cliches, it also accomplishes something very few horror films these days even attempt, give us halfway interesting characters (a concept evidently lost on the hopelessly inferior Scream TV series).
Caliber Winfield: Scream
It really sucks that I have to talk about Scream right now because of Wes’ passing, instead of for the simple fact that, at least in my mind, it’s the greatest horror film of all time. Besides all the ground it broke, it changed the horror genre, created an ultimate slasher, and gave us one of the most creative endings of all time. Not content to just be horror, the film was a masterful whodunit, with excellent kills, effects, characters, and the fact it took something as simple as a ringing phone and turned it into the scariest sound on Earth. A masterpiece that is truly a masterclass in how to make a perfect film.
Ruby Le Rouge: The People Under the Stairs
Wes Craven made so many greats that it made it really hard to choose, but I have to go with ‘The People Under the Stairs” (1991). In the June 27th, 2014 Fiendish flicks I did a full write up of why I love this movie, and I still stand by my adoration for it. It was a fantastic mix of over the top story telling, humor and horror. Everett McGill & Wendy Robie were perfectly cast as the villains of this black comedy. Incestuous (shudder) siblings looking for the perfect child, who would hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil.
When the theaters were flooded with hack and slash villains that could easily be outrun, Craven cooked up new and innovative ways to bring thrills and chills to us kiddies. He was a true Master of Horror, and will wholeheartedly be missed.
Patricia Marquez: The People Under the Stairs
When I first saw The People Under the Stairs when I was a little girl, I very clearly remember having super visual and scary nightmares for weeks. It wasn’t the gory content that was scary for me; it was the feeling of those people and kids forever trapped in that giant house that gave me a severe sense of claustrophobia and dread. And when I was older and learned that the movie was actually intended as a political statement on classism and racism during the Reagan years, it became an even cooler concept for me. Wes Craven has so many awesome and original movies that’s it’s hard to pick just one. Probably more than anything, I loved his commentary on horror on TV shows like “Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments”. I was truly sad to find out we won’t have his commentary anymore. Wes Craven is a boss.
Sandi Davis: Swamp Thing
It’s easy to pick my favorite Wes Craven movie — 1982’s Swamp Thing. This cautionary tale combines one man’s Island of Dr. Moreau-type mission of combining men and animals to breed a super soldier with one of a group of scientists deep in a swamp using chemicals to create a formula that will boost plant growth for famine-ridden regions.
The two groups collide and the creatures attack the scientists, setting fire to the labs and killing the main scientist, Alec Holland. The weird mixture of the spilled chemicals save his life while turning him into a creature more plant than human — Swamp Thing.
Alec’s girlfriend, the toothsome Adrienne Barbeau spends a lot of time in tight, torn clothing while the villainous Dr. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) keeps her as bait for Swamp Thing. Craven did a masterful job of telling an interesting, taut tale that I will watch anytime I can.
Shawn S. Lealos: New Nightmare
I loved slasher movies in the 80s, but nothing reached the level of brilliance in my eyes more than Nightmare on Elm Street. Honestly, Freddy Krueger trumps Jason and Michael Myers every day of the week as a monster due to his pure evil arrogance. While the first movie was brilliant, the third, Dream Warriors, was always my favorite. However, Craven only directed that first movie and the last solo-Freddy adventure, New Nightmare. Some of my writers here mentioned Scream, and this is the movie that really led Craven to make Scream. It was a movie about the Nightmare movies and supposed that Freddy was really haunting Craven’s nightmares and wanted to return. It was a brilliant meta-horror movie and one of the best of its kind.