What follows is a look at some the projects he was involved in — actually and/or presumably. TV series are ignored.
Go here for Part I (1970-77)That it took Wes Craven so long to see the financial possibilities of having his older movies remade is almost inexplicably odd, considering the success of all the remakes of not-so-old movies prior to Aja's version of The Hills Have Eyes, ranging from crappy (e.g., Willard  and Village of the Damned  — but were either financially successful?) to fun but dumb (e.g., Thirteen Ghosts [2001 / trailer] and House of Haunted Hill [1999 / trailer]) to entertainingly effective (e.g., Night of the Living Dead [1990 / trailer] and The Blob ) to excellent (e.g., Dawn of the Dead [2004 / trailer] and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre [2003 / trailer]). But one day Wes Craven saw the light, and after watching Alexandre Aja's well-made but extremely questionable French horror movie Haute Tension (2003 / trailer) — which we saw and would've liked had it not been so lesbophobic — he pulled in Aja and his pal Grégory Levasseur to take over the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. And, damn! If they didn't manage to make a movie that is, in many ways, more effective and multi-layered (and gory and violent) than the original from 1977. Wow. (OK, we totally ignore the narrative fuck-up of the film: the bad guys don't kill the good guy before they put him in the fridge.)
Go here for Part II (1978-86)
Go here for Part III (1987-93)
Go here for Part IV (1994-99)
Go here for Part V (2000-05)
Go here for Part II (1978-86)
Go here for Part III (1987-93)
Go here for Part IV (1994-99)
Go here for Part V (2000-05)
Filmed in Morocco (but set in New Mexico), the cannibalistic family is now a mass of hungry mutants and far more dirty and scary, while the survivors are also far more delineated as characters and some actually grow during the course of the movie — particularly Doug Bukowski (Aaron Stanford), who believably goes from a wimpy nerd to a survivor willing to kill.
The Hills Have Eyes:
Eat My Brains has the plot: "The extended Carter family are on their way to California but Big Bob Carter (Ted Levine of The Mangler [1995 / trailer]) is hell bent on taking the 'scenic route' through the desert. They run into a spot of trouble when their car falls victim to spikes in the road, laid there by the victims of US government nuclear testing — human mutants from an isolated mining community who refused to leave their homes when the government took over the area for research. The inhabitants of the area are now deformed versions of their former selves, preying on unfortunate passers-by who have taken wrong directions from the clan's only human link to the outside world, a gas station owner (Tom Bower of The Killing Jar [1997 / trailer] and Lady in White [1988 / trailer]). He leads the raw meat their direction and in return, receives valuable belongings of dead hill victims. The dysfunctional family unit react in their own individual ways to their attackers. Three in particular are forced to rely on their primal survival instincts if they are going to outfight and outwit the wrath of the mutants. [...]"
More and More by Webb Pierce —
The song played over the opening credits:
The song played over the opening credits:
Combustible Celluloid, like most, didn't like the remake: "Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Kairo (a.k.a. Pulse) may have been the scariest movie of the past 10 years, but the new American remake is a soulless imitation, set in a ruddy blue-gray world with grimy bathrooms and poorly-lit libraries. Kurosawa's concept, having to do with loneliness and isolation due to technology, is now distilled into a plot in which evil ghosts use the Internet and cell phones to attack the living. Kurosawa used chilling, dreamlike imagery, but director Jim Sonzero substitutes loud noises and sudden, jerky movements to pull off his wretched scare scenes. Charismatic Kristen Bell goes a long way in easing the pain as a college student who discovers what's going on. The great, twitchy, rat-faced actor Brad Dourif has a small role as a doomsayer in a cafe."
Trailer of the original Japanese movie,
The Breed:The Breed is one of many college-age horrors starring people too old to play teens or college students, one of a substantially smaller number but nevertheless not rare "nature gone wild" movies, and neither all that fun as a crappy flick or all that great as a not-crappy flick. We would assume that Michelle Rodriguez's participation was based more on her then relatively recent drug bust (and related loss of her part on Lost [2005-2010]) than on her appreciation of the script. The other in-the-meantime minor big name, Taryn Manning (of Zombie Apocalypse ), wasn't even a C-name at the time — or was she? (Different names carry different weight over here in Europe.)
Sarah Hates Your Movie has the plot: "Wes Craven sullies his once-good name just a little bit more by 'presenting' another nonsensical horror movie. A group of obnoxiously well-off teenagers fly out to an island for a weekend of partying, only to find themselves being victimised by a pack of rabid dogs. And, that's it." Sarah really hated the movie.
The Breed has, of course, the typically stupid shock ending that defies logic and negates any concept of a happy end. (See: the ending of the original Nightmare on Elm Street [1984, Part II], which was of course conveniently ignored for Dream Warriors [1987, Part III] — as normal in teen horror flicks.)
Over at Oszus' World, Dennis Schwartz says the movie is: "one of those anthology films that seems like a good idea but never quite works because it lacks the vision of one filmmaker to put it all together. [...] It covers the range from drama, romance, comedy, mime, and even vampire movies. It's pretty much a stunningly beautiful 'postcard' view of a Paris that tourists might not usually visit, that tries to stretch the skits into something a bit heavier; especially, when it attempts to cover stories about a missing child, racial tensions, a woman dying from cancer and ticklish romantic situations, but the serendipitous narratives are too short to have power and almost all can be quickly forgotten. It remains of interest merely as an exercise in acting and filmmaking, but otherwise has little value."
Trailer:Reel Talk has the plot: "Set two years after the events in the first movie, The Hills Have Eyes 2 focuses on a new group of individuals who will end up as the victims of cannibal mutants living in an area of the New Mexico desert. This time, a handful of green National Guard trainees, made up of such stock archetypes as the Slow Fat Guy and the Dangerous Hothead, are serving themselves up for the cinematic slaughter. Assigned to help out a team of scientists at a desert base, the soldiers arrive to find the place abandoned, with someone apparently trapped in the surrounding hills seeking help. Some investigate while some stay behind, but soon, all of the troops fall under attack by the deformed derelicts who call the area's caves and old mines their home. One by one the soldiers are killed off, forcing the survivors to band together, save what little ammunition they have, and do whatever it takes to stay alive."
Blood Brothers says, "This remake franchise is completely baffling. The initial remake of the Wes Craven classic was a sleek, brutal, and intense leap that proved French director Aja was a legit new force in horror cinema. Everything about its theatrically released sequel [...] is as bad as the first entry was good. It's completely illogical, it's by the numbers in many of its aspects, and the execution for the film can be downright jaw dropping in ineptness. It leaves one a bit speechless."
Trailer:Romero-fan Final Girl, who admits "I really disliked it", has the plot: "A group college kids are off in the woods filming a no-budget mummy movie when they hear reports on the radio about a few dead people returning to life and making with the chomp-chomp on the living. The kids are unsure what to think, but they decide to stop filming and head home. They pile into a Winnebago and have various wacky and gross zombie-laden adventures all caught on camera by mummy-movie director Jason (Josh Close), who can't put down the camera because he is the voice of truth!"
The voice of truth is not good, according to Notes of a Film Fanatic: "Using the video diary form first practiced in The Blair Witch Project,* Romero strives for the same kind of you-are-there authenticity but botches the effort by allowing his didactic, ham-fisted social commentary, conveyed via thudding mouthpiece dialogue and overblown voiceover narration, to overshadow the zombie horror. [...] Romero is delivering a sermon about media responsibility in this age of 24-hour cable news channels, digital video, YouTube, etc., but when the zombie apocalypse really does come down (and it will, oh, it will), the last thing I'll need is a lecture from a painfully out-of-touch old fuddy-duddy. I will need guns — lots of them — in order to do battle with the rampaging zombies. But until then I need a gun for another reason: to put a bullet in the head of Romero's zombie franchise."
* Here we must say they are wrong: that honor belongs to Cannibal Holocaust (1980).
Aka President Evil. Deputy Dewey from Craven's Scream franchise, otherwise known as the former Mr. Courteney Cox or, on occasion, as David Arquette, directs a horror film! The Tripper is actually on our "To See" list, but we haven't gotten around to it yet. According to some sources, Wes Craven makes a non-speaking cameo in the movie as the (old) hippie wearing a top hat. Deputy Dewey co-wrote the movie with Joe Harris, who few years previously was involved in the not-so-hot horror flick Darkness Falls (2003 / trailer).
Crimson Quill, however, is less critical of the movie: "[...] An homage to the exploitation flicks of Craven and Tobe Hooper set against the backdrop of a free love festival in mother nature's back yard, Northern California. [...] Slashers in the eighties were often lambasted for their moral bankruptcy with their outlook and one could be forgiven for believing that The Tripper has a very strong political agenda. [...] There is plentiful political subtext, none of which is implemented with any kind of subtlety whatsoever, but it was never Arquette's sole intention to school our asses. [...] That's the strength of it, no deep hidden meaning other than that of equal rights for one and all, his movie was only concerned with entertaining the pants off its audience and, on this count, it performed rather well indeed. [...] Being an equal rights commentator, Arquette ensures that we are given ample naked flesh of both sexes and seasons his treat with lashings of delectable grue as Ronnie (Christopher Allen Nelson) dispatches with gay abandon using his woodsman's axe to chop up any deadwood en route. Limbs are relocated, arteries spray and there's more than enough grue to sate all but the most ferocious appetites."
Behind the Couch has the plot: "A group of free-loving, pot-smoking, acid-dropping hippies attend a music and camping festival only to find themselves stalked and brutally butchered by an axe-wielding psychotic killer wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. Aided by his faithful killer dog, Nancy. Naturally." The Final Girl, "Samantha", is played by Jaime King (of My Bloody Valentine 3D ).
It's hard to ask "Why bother remaking this movie?" when the first version itself was a "remake" of another movie, The Virgin Spring (1960). Nevertheless, why bother remaking this movie?
Music used in the movie —
Sweet Child o' Mine by Taken by Trees:
Chuck Norris Ate My Baby liked the movie, pointing out: "What works about the film in comparison to the original, is the fact that it is a glossy and well-crafted update. [...] I've already seen a grimy and grungy version of The Last House on the Left, so seeing the story with a different pallet actually gives the film its own identity. To be a successful remake, there needs to be a separation form the source material and to go with a stylistic and well-crafted version is a major departure from 72's Last House. [...] While I love Craven's Last House, and consider it an exploitation classic, it is certainly not without its problems. Two that immediately come to mind are some of the dialogue scenes between the parents as well as everything involving the two police officers. Overall, in this update, the dialogue is solid and mostly natural for all the characters, including the teenage girls, the rents and the gang of psychos."
More music used in the movie —For the first time since Freddy's New Nightmare (1994, Part IV), Craven directs his own script again! And he also goes 3D — 'cause, like, it's cinematic art. In any event, despite the 3D and despite major reshoots and rewrites that delayed the movie's release, My Soul to Take bombed. It received a Fangoria Chainsaw Award nomination for "Worst Film"; we were unable to find out to which film it lost. We sort of want to one day see both flicks.
Sweet Love for Planet Earth by Fuck Buttons:
Sweet Love for Planet Earth by Fuck Buttons:
Trailer:Love Horror has the plot: "Abel Plainkoff (Raúl Esparza) is a man with multiple personalities (one of which is particularly evil) who turns out to be a serial killer, which is news to him. As he realises this and calls his therapist for help, the dark side of him takes full control and attempts to kill his pregnant wife and young daughter. Police arrive just in time to save the little girl, but the mother isn't so lucky. Abel gets shot and sent to hospital, restrained (because he just won't die), but somewhere along the line he escapes and disappears. 16 years later, and a large group of teens gather at the spot where the killer vanished. Seven of the group share a birthday, which happens to be the anniversary of when Plainkoff's killing spree was put to an end. But their taunting and trivialising of the event seems to awaken something, and the following day it looks like the psychopath is back from the grave to continue his murderous rampage, starting with the 7 kids who were born on that same fateful night."
365 Horror Movies is of the opinion that "The two things that the film does have going for it are 1. It's an original horror movie and 2. The teens actually look like teens. No 40-year-olds with five o'clock shadows at 6am. Oh, and the condor scene in the classroom is pretty awesome. It's not supposed to be the scariest scene, but, in fact, it's easily the best scene in the film by a mile, which pretty much says everything ones needs to know about this film."
Birth Movies Death, however, offers a description that makes My Soul to Take sound like our kind of movie: "His worst movie, My Soul to Take, is perhaps one of the all-time great bad movies, a train wreck of monumental proportions that is incredibly entertaining and watchable and should, frankly, be a cult classic."
Trailer:The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review, which is of the opinion that "Most of the Platinum Dunes remakes disappointingly fail to hold any kind of candle up to their predecessors – [...] this new A Nightmare on Elm Street is no different", has the plot, in case you didn't know it: "In a diner, Dean Russell (Kellan Lutz) abruptly slashes his own throat after not having slept for several days. A group of his friends from high school realise they are all having dreams about a sinister figure wearing a glove of steel claws. When the figure kills them in their dreams, each of them dies in the real world. As they desperately try to stay awake and stop themselves falling into dream, Nancy Holbrook (Rooney Mara) learns that the dream figure is Freddy Krueger (Jackie Earle Haley of Damnation Alley [1977 / trailer] and Dollman [1991 / trailer]). She uncovers that Freddy was the janitor at their preschool when they were five years old. Believing that Freddy was molesting the children, their parents pursued and set him on fire. Though their parents have made every effort to cover this up, Freddy has now returned to take revenge against the children in their dreams."
Aka Scre4m. Ain't no such thing as beating a dead horse as long as it's still breathing. Fifteen years after the first movie, and 11 years after the last, the Scream trilogy becomes a quadrilogy. Exciting. The four main characters were back for the ride, as was scriptwriter Kevin Williamson (who unofficially sort of got eased out of the project and had his script re-written). A hit, as to be expected, sadly enough it is also the last movie that Craven was to direct before the Big C got to him.
Trailer:Urban Cinefile has the plot: "A decade has passed and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell of Wild Things [1998 / trailer]), has got herself together and is now the author of a self-help book. She returns home to Woodsboro — the last stop of her book tour — where she reconnects with Sheriff Dewey (David Arquette of Ravenous [1999 / trailer] and 8-Legged Freaks [2002 / trailer]) and Gale (Courtney Cox of 3000 Miles to Graceland ), who are now married, as well as her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts) and her Aunt Kate (Mary McDonnell). Unfortunately, Sidney's appearance also brings about the return of Ghostface (voice of Dane Farwell), putting Sidney, Gale, and Dewey, along with Jill, her friends, and the whole town of Woodsboro in danger."
Daily Dead is of the opinion that Scream 4 "is a direct sequel and you won't appreciate this film as much if you haven't seen the first three movies. On top of referencing other horror films, there are many references to past quotes or events in the Scream series that will be lost to someone only watching Scream 4. [...] I'm happy to say that the film continues to build over the second and third act into a really strong sequel." This positive attitude seems to be shared by the majority of those who have seen the movie.
Final Girl, who likewise thinks that "much of that enjoyment stems from an affection for earlier entries in the series" but also opinions that "Cash-grab, by the way, smells a bit like Aviance Night Musk by Prince Matchabelli for Women" and that is a semi-exception: "Scream 4 is so self-referential and meta (even dropping hints about, say, the real-life marital discord between Cox and Arquette) that it's become a mobius strip, and ouroboros feeding off of its own history and cleverness. At times, it almost sinks into the realm of complete parody. There is some seriously broad overacting going throughout, the type better suited to Scary Movie than a scary movie. [...] Though the cast is full of red herrings and the violence is vicious and brutal, the film quickly falls into a pattern: phone call, oh no!, die. I suppose, perhaps, that was always the Scream formula, but here it just seems like a journey from beat to beat. There may be jump scares, but there's not much tension. It's capable, like all Wes Craven movies are. After it was over, I began thinking about that — what makes a Wes Craven movie a Wes Craven movie? Does anything? Scream 4 could have been directed by anyone who knows what they're doing behind the camera and the results wouldn't be much different. It's just sort of there and you like it well enough even though things slide into JUST END ALREADY-land once the killer is revealed, but...you know. It's enjoyable, if rote."
The usually forgiving Arrow in the Head, however, does not, and says: "Being that The Girl in the Photographs bears the name of the late Wes Craven as an executive producer, I wish I could tell you that the last film to have the maestro's seal of approval was something that would please his legions of fans. Despite having been chosen to play the Toronto International Film Festival's prestigious Midnight Madness genre selection, The Girl in the Photographs is a mean-spirited, vacuous genre effort that's little more than an extended exercise in style with barely a thimble of content to sustain it."
More Horror has the plot: "It's the story of young South Dakota resident and grocery store clerk, Colleen (Claudia Lee). Colleen's rather lackluster life is turned upside down when a mysterious photographer begins to stalk her, leaving bloody, grisly photographs for her to find, each depicting the aftermath of what appears to be astonishing violence. After the photographs are dismissed by the police as fakes, they wind up going viral online, eventually catching the attention of renowned Los Angeles photographer, Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn of Dementamania [2013 / trailer]). Hemmings, who immediately notices the unmistakable influence of his own work in the gory photographs, decides to roll into town to investigate the situation. He brings with him his assistant, Chris (Kenny Wormald) and several of the models with which he works, one of whom is his girlfriend. He also meets and is intrigued by Colleen and her wholesome good looks. Eventually, Colleen's deranged stalkers cross paths with Hemmings and his Hollywood entourage, of course. Suspense and slayings aplenty ensue as one might expect."
By the time you read this, there might be a trailer out there — but there wasn't the day we uploaded this blog entry.
The Rialto Report, that fabulous and continually interesting website dedicated to the historical documentation of "adult movies", dug up a release form (see below) for Radley Metzger's The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976), a classic porn movie from the day and age when they still tried to be serious movies. Misty Beethoven's working title was "Society", and Craven signed on to play a character named "Michal". You see him? We didn't — but we enjoyed the movie anyway.
10K Bullets has the plot: "Seymour Love (Jamie Gillis) is a sexologist who believes that he can transform Misty Beethoven (Constance Money), a second-rate whore, into the next Golden Rod Girl. Seymour with the help of his friend Geraldine (Jacqueline Beaudant) have to work at a feverish pace with Misty in order to have here ready for Lawrence Layman a vane magazine publishers next high-society party."
Basically, a sexed-up version of the Pygmalion story which, despite all the sex, is actually less sexist than that earlier version, My Fair Lady (1964 / trailer).
Short clip with theme song: