A while back I got to discuss film with the man behind Last House on the Left and A Nightmare on Elm Street as well as the commercial franchise Scream. With the recent news of Craven‘s death from brain cancer, I decided to repost the interview in his honor.
R.A. The Rugged Man: What are some of your favorite horror films?
Wes Craven: Frankenstein. The Exorcist is stunningly powerful. King Kong. Texas chainsaw massacre, when Leatherface kills the guy with the mallot- I jumped out of my seat. I also like David Cronenberg’s early work.
Like The Brood and Rabid?
Yes, remarkable. And Scanners.
What’s the most brutal kill in a Wes Craven movie?
When they killed the best friend in Last House on the Left and she was being stabbed and crawling away. That was pretty brutal, especially for that time. That scene caused fist fights in theaters.
In Last House when the girl was forced to pee on herself, did she actually pee on herself or was it a tube?
It was a tube. That was to establish the villain completely in charge. Peeing on ones self goes back to everyone’s childhood. It’s an ancient no-no and when you’re forced to do it, it’s really degrading. It’s also shocking with no gore.
A child molester brought to justice by townspeople- Is Freddy Krueger a homage to Fritz Lang’s M? No one seems to acknowledge the similarities.
‘Cause you’re probably the only interviewer in the genre that studied. I was trying to think of a crime that would cause parents to commit murder. It wasn’t a conscious thing, but I had seen M.
I think you’re most kick-ass kill scene is in Deadly Friend when they throw the basketball through the old lady’s face and her head explodes.
That scene was cut down. After her head gets knocked off, she ran around for quite a while like a chicken with its head chopped off. They forced me to cut a lot of gore from that film.
You made your first serious drama Music of the Heart starring Meryl Streep. If you could spice that film up with a couple grizzly murders, How would you do it?
(laughs) Oh, God. Uh, I don’t know.
I was thinking, maybe beating Meryl Streep to death with a trumpet.
Maybe, she kills her ex-husband. Maybe she’d strangle him with a violin cord. I’m not sure.
Scream doesn’t have that mean-spirited raping-and-murdering-mommies-vibe like The Hills Have Eyes, Do you think you’ve calmed down a bit?
It’s different. Scream’s more ironic and self-reflected. It’s actually one of the more sophisticated films I’ve made in the genre. It just wasn’t as primal.
In your long career of chopping people the fuck up, what actor or actress did you have the most fun killing?
Umm. Drew Barrymore. She was fun to kill ’cause she was so intense. You know, people ask me how can i defend filmmakers putting murder and torture on screen and I say start by looking at the president- he’s really torturing people. We’re just making movies.
When I was thirteen, I made a Freddy glove out of duct tape and steak knives.
Then I got naked at a party and tried stabbing people with it. I was a young kid, Do you take responsibility for my actions?
(laughs) Absolutely not. I’m just glad you didn’t try to jerk off later that night. You would’ve cut yourself to shreds.