This is more about me than Wes Craven.
The first non-Batman Halloween costume I can remember wearing was Ghostface, from Wes Craven’s Scream. I hadn’t seen the movie–and wouldn’t until I was an adult–but something about that white mask topping those black robes etched itself into my consciousness. It’s almost as if Scream and I were destined for one another.
When I was 18 and a freshman at Boston University I told myself I wasn’t afraid of the dark anymore and that it was time I got into horror movies. This was in the spring of 2011, around the release of Scream 4, no better time to fulfill the promise of an old Halloween costume and watch the goddamn thing. I loved it. There’s not much I can say about it that hasn’t been said (by me or anyone else) but it struck me as one of the smartest, tautest thrillers I had ever seen. For however much Scream’s metatextual bent has been copied, it’s never been bettered. Every wink is in the service of building a better monster.
And that’s what Craven did, he made monsters. Or at least found and unleashed them, as in those early savage works The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, which helped marry the exploitation cinema and its gentler arthouse cousin in the ’70s. Even these rough, id-based films are a showcase for Craven’s intelligence–before making films, he taught college classes. Imagine your English professor making The Last House on the Left–he knows what scares you, and why it scares you. That’s why Craven’s most iconic monster would be sleep itself. And the other guys just made you afraid to, like, go outside or whatever.
But now Wes Craven has passed and I feel empty. I certainly told myself I wasn’t afraid of the dark but I was lying. Scream, and subsequently Wes Craven, came into my life during my deepest depression. My grades at BU were terrible, the result of an inability to get out of bed in the morning or the afternoon. I would eventually lose my financial aid and have to return home to Long Island. And I thought I hated myself in high school. Scream gave way to rabid horror fandom, which got me through the summer. Without Wes Craven I wouldn’t have come to John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper, David Cronenberg. Without Wes Craven I wouldn’t be writing about film. Without Wes Craven my life isn’t the same.
I’m probably supposed to write more or better about this but really, I’ve got nothing else. I’m gonna go turn out the lights and watch Scream until I feel better.
Wes Craven got me out of a bad rut once before.