The Wes Craven Retrospective: Swamp Thing (1982)

Long before what we now understand as the Golden Age of Comic Book Movies, the pickings were slim for fans keen on seeing their favourite spandex-clad superheroes on the silver screen. Richard Donner’s Superman had only opened in 1978 and the public at large was most likely not ready to embrace comic books as a serious source material for cinematic treatment. Granted, The Incredible HulkCaptain America and others featured prominently on TV, but I don’t think I’d be too far off the mark if I assumed these works were never taken as anything more than entertainment for children.  

Continue reading

The Wes Craven Retrospective: Deadly Blessing (1981)

As the 1970s were coming to an end, the cultural flavour of genre filmmaking was also undergoing some changes. The rogue and unrestrained atmosphere of exploitation films was shifting towards something more aesthetically refined and anchored more decisively in what was happening in mainstream cinema of the time, a post-nouvelle vague, iconoclastic, self-aware recalibration. Having completed The Last House On The Left and The Hills Have Eyes, both revered as exploitation classics, Wes Craven’s filmmaking was also signalling he was ready to evolve his style into something else entirely.  

Continue reading

The Wes Craven Retrospective: The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Following his unexpectedly successful debut The Last House On The Left, Wes Craven ended up convinced to stay within the genre and cook up a worthy follow-up that would cement his stature as one of the up-and-coming voices in horror. Interestingly enough, he was initially quite hesitant because he feared he would paint himself into a corner. Little did he know that the corner he was painting himself into would be looked at with adulation by generations of filmmakers. That’s because similarly to George A. Romero, John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper – his contemporaries – he had a knack for distilling social anxieties into his stories and elevating what could otherwise be disposable exploitation films to become cultural icons.  

Continue reading

The Wes Craven Retrospective: The Last House On The Left (1972)

It is commonly understood that when Wes Craven embarked on a mission to write and direct his debut feature, he was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring. Some attach a caveat that he was merely adapting the same Swedish ballad, but it is abundantly clear he was intentionally hitting the same dramatic beats as Bergman. But more often than not – apart from remarking upon the film’s exploitation aesthetic, cultural notoriety and the fact some parts of it have been lost forever owing to widespread censorship – this is where the discourse surrounding The Last House On The Left ends. But there’s much more to be mined in there.  

Continue reading