Image Credit: IMDB

Wes Craven, a magnificent writer, director, and producer, is such a titan in horror that his influence continues to be felt today. Many of his scary movies have a dreamlike sense of unreality, making them so unsettling. On his birthday, here is a list of some of our favorite Craven films you can never forget. For Wes. We miss you, Wes Craven.

  • The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

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    The Serpent and the Rainbow is not one of the franchise films that Craven's reputation was built on, but a film that studied Haitian voodoo under a serious lens and gave it gravity and respect that horror films usually don't. The nightmarish imagery and the performances make this film stand out, but even the film's poster is terrifying. It's a film about zombies that only Wes Craven would make. Instead of making a Romero-style zombie film, he returned to the myth's origins.

  • Red Eye (2005)

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    Red Eye is not a film that most horror fans would point to if asked about Craven's films, but it was one of his biggest successes. The intense story of a woman, Lisa Reisert (Rachel McAdams), who is forced by a terrorist, Jackson Rippner (Cillian Murphy), to cooperate with a plot to assassinate the Director of Homeland Security while on a flight to Miami. It is a bit more conventional than most Craven films but is a favorite among his fans.

  • The Last House on the Left (1972)

    Image Caption: Twentieth Century Fox

    The Last House on the Left is not an easy film to sit through, and that's intentional. Based on one of Craven's favorite films, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, Craven made an exploitation film whose violence and depravity are so disturbing that it outrages the audience. The film has a power that is evident even as Craven's first mainstream feature film. The casting is brilliant, making the film even more engaging, and actor David Hess made an impression that no one ever forgot.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

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    Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street perfectly distills the terrors of dreams and the crossover of that terror into the real world. If you have ever woken up screaming for a nightmare, you know this is true. It is the first perfect horror film Craven made that would have made him a horror legend had he never made another film. While being unable to sleep without being in terrible danger is shared with Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Nightmare takes the idea and spins a shocking new narrative out of it. When someone writes a list of Craven's best films, Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street are always there duking it out for the top spot.

  • The People Under the Stairs (1991)

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    The People Under the Stairs is another Craven film that is a standalone narrative and was a surprise financial success. A young boy Fool (Brandon Adams), breaks into a neighbor's house with his friends while trying to find a way to save his mother and his home and finds a nightmare of cannibals and forgotten children. The horror comedy has themes of class warfare and capitalism that it uses to satirize those topics. Read more about the film here on Fango.

  • Shocker (1989)

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    Shocker is a slasher film about a serial killer, Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi), who makes a deal with the devil to live forever. While being executed in the electric chair, Pinker becomes one with the electric current. Jonathan Parker (Peter Berg) is connected to the killer through his dreams and fights to find a way to take Pinker out for good. Come on; it's your big chance to see Mitch Pileggi, The X-Files Walter Skinner, play a serial killer.

  • Scream (1996)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    Scream, the film that reinvigorated and reinvented the slasher film just when everyone thought the subgenre had run out of steam. If Wes Craven had only made Scream, his reputation as one of the greatest horror filmmakers would have been cemented, but that's not all he achieved. The film is a cornerstone of modern horror filmmaking, and you rarely find someone who doesn't list it as one of their favorite Craven films. There is everything that was released before Scream and then everything after in the genre.

  • The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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    The Hills Have Eyes is Craven's take on the Scottish legend of Sawney Beane, the cannibal who led a clan of followers responsible for a thousand murders. An all-American family gets stuck in the desert after not listening to the harbinger at the local gas station. They find themselves at the mercy of a family of cannibals who attack and kidnap family members. The survivors must learn to fight however they can to escape. This one is wild. While watching it recently, I had to ask people on social media, what are those kids doing with their grandmother's corpse? The funny thing is I had seen it before, and that detail still got me 46 years later.

  • Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)

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    Wes Craven's New Nightmare is a meta film that might not have been the biggest hit of his career but certainly was one of the most exciting and different takes on A Nightmare on Elm Street. The actors in the film, like Heather Lagenkamp and Robert Englund, play both themselves and the characters in the Nightmare franchise. Craven appears as himself, as do other film industry players. Freddy Krueger is more of a traditionally frightening figure in this version, leaving the jokes behind. The plot concerns the film Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare opens the way for the real Freddy to enter the real world, and Heather Lagenkamp has to take the role of Nancy in real life.

  • Scream 2 (1997)

    Image Credit: IMDB

    There are so many films that could make this list, but personally, Scream 2 gets the last spot. Why? Well, it survived the sequel curse, using the language of cinema and its tropes to construct a bigger, meaner film that comments on horror and horror fandom. It has energy pulsing through the equally impressive opening sequence kills and throughout the story, especially in the scene in the park. It is a film that references itself but is never snide or corny.

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