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Wes Craven: Losing a Master of Horror

Freddy Krueger was a common reoccurence in my nightmares from a very young age. Even before I had seen the movies, the posters and pictures were enough for my juvenile mind to go on a tangent of terror. I would lay in bed at night completely afraid of something I had built up to be the ultimate evil. I have vivid memories of Freddy Krueger scenes that never once existed in the films, yet seemed so real to me, living out through my childhood nightmares. By the time I actually watched the series, I was completely obsessed. The first time I watched it, the film haunted me for months, with specific scenes playing over in my head as I would get up to go to the bathroom at night, making those trips faster and faster for fear of my own safety.

I have Wes Craven to thank for all of that.

He created what is to this day one of my favorite horror films of all time. I watch the entire series multiple times a year and is a point of bonding when meeting new people. Those that like Freddy Krueger are usually pretty cool people. That's because the world that Wes created haunted the dreams of every one of us, creating a unique bond between us all. Sure, I'm sure many had scary dreams of Jason Voorhees, but entering Freddy's territory night after night was whole new territory.

To this day I love introducing the original Elm Street to new people. The last time I showed it to someone, it was my college girlfriend, and I made sure that all the lights were off and that it was late at night. Watching the film and going through that journey with Nancy Thompson is one thing, but then having to sleep after it? That's where Craven's brilliance really comes into play.

All of his films are such a psychological play that it make them so much fun to dissect afterwards. And the great thing about horror movies is that they stick with you an unusual amount of time when they do their job right. Craven was always excelled at that.

The Nightmare On Elm Street series was really all Craven had to give me in order for me to consider him one of the greatest ever but then he went ahead and brought us Scream. Elm Street may have been the movie that got me into horror but Scream was the movie that got me into horror screenwriting. While Craven didn't write it (that honor goes to Kevin Williamson) you can see his mark all over it, truly helping to shape it into the final product. Seeing that movie opened up my mind to so many ideas, I thought that every one of them needed to be a movie. Eventually I finished my first screenplay and it was completely a Scream knock-off because I just wanted to emulate what I loved so much.

I'm not going to pretend that Craven was always perfect. In fact, I'd say that half of his filmography isn't my bag but he was a visionary who always tried to do something different. Hell, I still consider Red Eye one of the greatest "plane movies" ever, which isn't even given the limiting gimmick. If you want to dive more into Craven's career, I wrote something up for WIGS that you can read here that has some recommendations.

The passing of Wes Craven has affected me more than I thought it would. He was one of horror's all time greats and without him repeatedly advancing the genre, who's to say the shape it would be in today. Early on in my life I would have considered him my favorite director and that's because his movies made such an impact that the answer seemed obvious. And that's really all you can ask for in life. Making an impact.

Thank you, Wes.

Random Thoughts for August 2015

I'm finally getting caught up on Twin Peaks. It may have taken me five years, but I'm finally back on the saddle. With the new mini-series coming out, I figured it was finally time to watch what many consider one of the greatest TV shows of all time. And truthfully I agree. It's pretty mindblowing even in 2015, so I can only imagine what the reaction was like in 1990.

I wish more movies like Piranha 3D were made. Seriously, go back and watch that 2010 gem, it is a spectacularly good time. The entire film's purpose is to have a fun time and it accomplishes it without going too tongue-in-cheeky. I still remember seeing this with a group of friends the day it came out my sophomore year of college. We all hooted and howled throughout the duration and it was one of the most fun movie-going experiences I've ever had. I still haven't seen the second one, and given the things I've heard about it that's probably for the best, but I'm glad I still got the first.

Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll is fun but it's no Rescue Me. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it and will follow it throughout the season but it doesn't have the same spark as Leary's past work. The Job and Rescue Me brought enough drama to add to the comedy but here, there's not enough room for big moments. It all feels so rushed, which takes me out of it. Rescue Me, as ridiculous as it was at times, would always be grounded enough that it felt like a slice of life. Sure, staring at Liz Gillies for 22 minutes isn't a bad way to spend my time, but I was expecting a little more substance from Leary in this stage of his career.

Dr. Dre's new album, "Compton" is incredible. I really can't describe how well it all flows together. The fact that all of the royalties are going to the city of Compton is pretty incredible. Dre is already a billionaire, so why not help out the place that made him who he was, for better or worse. While I selfishly wish Eminem had been featured in more than one song, the entire album is a testament to what true talent in rap embodies, without every going into fraught territory.

I watched "Apocalypse Now" for the first time ever. Yeah, that film was amazing. Not just amazing, but lifechangingly amazing. I thought about the film for days before after hearing all the crazy stories about the film shoot as I had recently become obsessed with Brando. Then after seeing seeing it, I thought about it for days yet again, the imagery both haunting and intriguing me. I'm really looking forward to watching the Redux, something I never thought I'd say, given that I had avoided this film for years due to my own abhorrence to war films. Seriously though, Vietnam is fucked up.

Go and watch The Inbetweeners right now. Seriously, I'll wait. There are 3 seasons ('series' for you Brits) and two movies and you'll wish there were more. The entire cast has a comedic timing that you get to watch evolve as the show goes on, to the point that when the movies come into play, they've gotten their characters perfected. I'm really hoping we get a third film at some point.

I need to read more. During the process of writing my book, I discovered just how helpful it was to be invested in another book at the same time. Just witnessing the process of how a story moves along was a constant reminder of what I needed to accomplish with my own writing. I recently came to the realization that autobiographical non-fiction is something I can easily read and remain interested in without my reading ADD going into effect.

I went to the movies a bunch this summer but that's ending. I saw Jurassic World twice, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Terminator Genisys and a slew of others in a time where I don't really venture out to the theater. I made a conscious effort to do so back in June, but I see that dying out now that less and less films are released that peak my interest. It just makes me think that theater going is going to die out eventually and all our movie watching will be done from the couch.

Wrestling is really good right now. I think I'm gonna do a full post about this but I'm really enjoying everything that is going on right now. Given how polarizing the subject can be, I figure I should talk about it while its at one of its peaks. Sasha Banks and Bayley at Takeover: Brooklyn is one of the best matches I've ever seen. Those girls can straight up go. There were two different moments I thought the competitors were dead. That's what I call wrestling.

I've decided I'm doing 31 Days of Horror again this year. I did it my senior year of college and really enjoyed it so figured why not. I'm not sure whether it's going to be on WIGS or this blog but I'll be sure to keep you posted. While I'm not going to plan out every day as far as which movie, I do intend on compiling a list and trying to make sure that at least half of it is stuff I haven't seen. I'm going to make it a little more unique than just a review a day but I'm not sure how quite yet. Maybe a video? We'll see.

Key and Peele is ending and that makes me sad. Just when I thought the show was hitting its stride, they decide to end it. I understand the British way of doing things but I still wish they would have done a couple seasons. I can only imagine the chances they had to give up though, in still creating the show even to this point so we must thank them for that.

Fantastic Four and My Morbid Curiosity

Josh Trank's Fantastic Four is currently bombing at the box-office. It is a $120 million dollar movie that will be lucky to accumulate half of that domestically. Critically it's at a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes with little to no positive things to say about it. As you can imagine, that is not really good.

I love "not really good."

So, of course, my interest has been peaked. I knew that this movie was going to be a mess, but I figured it would have its own pocket of loyal fans that are enjoying it. Nope. Even the people defending it aren't saying it's a good movie, the most positive thing said about it being that it's "not as terrible as everyone says."

A buddy of mine who shares my affinity for terrible films said it wasn't the worst thing he ever saw, but that it was laughably bad at parts. How can something that has had so much friction from the announcement of its existence still tread the exact same territory everyone expected it to tread. How did they not try and prove everyone by giving them exactly what they wanted: an actual Fantastic Four movie!

I didn't really find myself caring too much when it came to the black Johnny Storm debate. I liked Michael B Jordan all the way back to his Hardball and The Wire days, so I certainly wasn't upset about his being cast. Sure, changing his race seemed like a silly decision but it was one that I accepted and moved on from. Then they made the mistake of casting Miles Teller as Reed Richards.

Don't get me wrong, Teller is a fantastic actor, as evidenced by Whiplash, but he isn't Reed Richards. He's way too young and lacks that character of Richards. Not once second during the trailers or TV spots did I get lost in his character. All I could see was a brash actor coming off a hot Oscar role. He wasn't putting forth any extra effort than he did in the Divergent series. It's a tough role to cast and one that they unfortunately got wrong this time around.

I like the casting of Jaime Bell and Kate Mara as Ben Grimm and Sue Storm, respectively. They're both great actors and I thought that they actually fit the roles. Mara in particular is what I would envision for Sue, in that she has one of those faces that will always looks the same, regardless of age. That's always been Sue to me, for some reason. Plus, seeing how terribly miscast the role was in the Tim Story version, it's nice to see a little bit of coherence with what the character has always represented outside of looks.

Apparently Doom is the worst part about it. I find this funny because Doom was easily the worst part about the 2005 version as well. Given that Victor Von Doom is one of the greatest characters in all of comics history, it's a little disheartening that he hasn't been fully realized on the big screen yet. Trank seemed like the man for the job, and I think Kebbel is a decent enough actor, so the fact that they created such an abomination out of what is essentially a character who only cares about power.

So why do I want to see it? All of this seems to add up to what is so fantastically bad, it'll be putting me to sleep for the next few months. So really, I have to thank Fox because I'm always on the lookout for "so-bad-it's-boring" kind of movies.

With how recent reports are sounding, it doesn't look like Fox is willing to part ways with Marvel's first family just yet so our hopes of Fantastic Four returning to Marvel seem to still be a pipe dream. Here's hoping that the X-Men TV Show that Fox is currently negotiating with Marvel for will offer up some insight as to what Fox's hold on the franchise is for the future.

Until then, we just have to wait. And be disappointed. Very disappointed.

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