The world has lost another icon today in the form of Wes Craven who passed away surrounded by family and friends after a battle with brain cancer.
Wes Craven will be remembered for a vast and varied body of horror which at times was quite literally the stuff of Nightmares. But for me the most important film from his body of work would be SCREAM, but why was that?
Was it because it mastered the concept of post modern horror? No.
Was it because of the incredibly attractive cast being sliced and diced on the screen? Uh-uh.
Give my love of cinematic score maybe it was the exceptional work of Marco Beltrami backed by a killer soundtrack album featuring what would become the series anthem Nick Caves ‘Red Right Hand’? Ehhhh… No.
It’s because that for a brief moment horror became cool.
So lets go back to that period of time. I was at school, 16 years old, and a +3 social outcast. Already a regular buyer of Fangoria and owner of various bootleg, ex-rental and off air horror classics on VHS. Whilst I look back on myself at this time with a level of fondness it really just made me a target for bullying and ridicule, because what I was interested in was not football, or the Spice Girls, or whatever else was going on at that time.
But then SCREAM came out, and suddenly the genre I loved was popular. People who had previously sneered at the few of us who would pass tapes back and forth suddenly wanted to find out about this film called HALLOWEEN, or come looking for stronger stuff with enquiries about DAWN OF THE DEAD and hushed whispers about this TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. SCREAM was the gateway drug, and suddenly myself and the other few with a taste for horror were the dealers that could hook you up.
Of course, SCREAM was a fad for most teenagers and after the admirable but slightly less popular sequel the interest in horror faded. However it has always stuck in my head as a landmark film. It was when horror films became smart and when Wes Craven perfected the post-modern horror genre that he’d first started to create in NEW NIGHTMARE. SCREAM gave a major shot of adrenaline to a genre that hadn’t truly been invigorated since HALLOWEEN in 1978.
In addition to the 3 sequels and recent television series it gave birth to many imitators and parodies, ‘Ghost Face’ masks can be found in both licensed and unlicensed forms every halloween, and phrases such as ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’ have entered the public lexicon. But to me the original will always be special because for a few brief shining moments I was cool in school, and horror movies were in vogue. So thank you Mr Craven, for giving me that brief respite from the cruel jibes and taunts, and for helping to reinvigorate one of my favourite sub-genres. Your filmography means so much to so many, but to me SCREAM will always be my go to title.