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Remembering A Master: A FANGO Scribe on Wes Craven

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FANGO writer W. Brice McVicar interviewed the late Wes Craven for our acclaimed issue #337 last fall. The loss of his hero has hit McVicar hard and here, he writes about his experiences providing FANGO with what would be Craven’s final in-print chat.

Wes Craven gave millions nightmares, but he made one of my dreams come true.

Earlier this week the horror community lost one of its masters, the man who reinvigorated the slasher subgenre with his 1984 classic A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Then, years later, did it again when he unleashed SCREAM on the world in 1996. Craven was an uncompromising filmmaker who, he admitted himself, had his share of clunkers to offset his hits.

It was his hit, trademark film, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, that prompted me to reach out to him early last year with the hope to profile he and his iconic film for FANGORIA. A retrospect was due to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary and it all hinged on having Craven discuss the movie that gave birth to one of the genre’s most recognized villains, Freddy Krueger. Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp had already agreed to be interviewed, but without Craven, the piece wouldn’t be complete.

After reaching out to his agents in California, Craven’s wife- now widow, sadly- Iya Labunka informed me via e-mail her husband would talk. In the spring of 2014, while taking “a break” in New York, Craven graciously spent an hour on the telephone discussing his brainchild, sharing memories and recollections and, essentially, giving FANGORIA a peek inside his most recognizable feature.

A soft spoken man- who didn’t at all seem upset by regular requests to speak up so he could be heard- Craven was thoughtful in his responses and wasn’t at all frustrated to, once again, be shedding light on a film he created three decades earlier. He knew his fans still loved the film and seemed to accept his legacy would be his twisted, charred creation.

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“It certainly was successful for me, intellectually, and for the audience,” he said when asked if NIGHTMARE was a blessing or a curse. “[I’m] sure it’ll be on my gravestone; ‘Father of Freddy Krueger’ or some such thing.”

That statement wasn’t made with the knowledge a little more than a year later he’d be dead, but it still had a sad tone when he said it. Craven was getting older at the time and whether he was fighting the brain cancer that would eventually snuff his creative light for eternity, he didn’t say, but facing one’s own mortality in any sense can always be harrowing.

The interview went smoothly and Craven, ever the intellectual, didn’t dumb down his answers or try to sound smart… He was just himself. It was refreshing. At the interview’s end, we briefly talked about his lone novel, FOUNTAIN SOCIETY, and his desire to someday see it become a feature film.

He was ever the gentleman and politely thanked FANGORIA for still having interest in a film celebrating its 30th birthday. That interview became the basis for FANGORIA issue #337 and became my first cover story for the magazine, highlighted by gorgeous photography by Ama Lea. Craven had no idea his nightmares and those he’d given so many others would allow me to achieve a dream of getting a cover story for this very magazine.

Rest easy, Mr. Craven. We assure you you’re being remembered for so much more than just Freddy Krueger.

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About the author
Brice McVicar

Brice McVicar is a life-long fan of all things dark. He is the father of three boys, a husband to a crazy wife and the managing editor of a daily newspaper in Ontario, Canada. His love for horror began when he was young and he accidentally was exposed to Tobe Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT on television, prompting years of nightmares and a deep desire to surround himself with the macabre.

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