This series will be split into four posts starting with his films from the 1970’s and moving on to his Nightmare on Elm Street series before finishing with the Scream franchise. In between I will look at some of his other work as well.
8- The Serpent and the Rainbow – Buried Alive
Horror maven Wes Craven stepped away from his usual slasher movie milieu with The Serpent and the Rainbow, a thriller loosely based on a true story. Adapted from the book of the same name by Wade Davis, the film follows an anthropologist on a trip to Haiti after hearing rumours about a drug used by black magic practitioners to turn people into Zombies. Depending largely on psychological horror, and working from a screenplay by Richard Maxwell and A.R. Simoun, Craven whips up some truly memorable dream sequences, some unsettling poetic images, and a host of visual metaphors — rather than the usual splatter shocks and special effects that made him famous. Craven doesn’t hold back and lets loose an assault of surreal and horrific images including a zombie bride, demonic possession and a startling scene with Bill Pullman waking up next to a decapitated human head. The opening scene alone, where a needle is poked inside a corpse’s eyeball is enough to make your shriek — but perhaps the scariest moment is when Dennis (Bill Pullman) slowly slips into a comatose state before being buried alive.
9 – The People Under The Stairs – The Bathtub Scene
Wes Craven wrote and directed The People Under the Stairs, a surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story about parents keeping their children locked in a basement for years. The People Under the Stairs is an unusual beast — a mix of classic horror mysteries and the spate of cannibal-family horror films that followed on the heels of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s success. It’s a very strange film indeed, tackling issues of child abuse, incest, serial killers, the homeless and cannibalism in equal measure. Craven offers a number of weird scenes including the outlandish image of Everett McGill running around the house dressed head-to-toe in studded black leather bondage gear, while wielding a shotgun. But the moment that stands out the most is the scene where the crazed Mrs. Robeson violently throws her teenage daughter Alice (A.J. Langer) into a steaming bathtub and begins scrubbing her body with a wire brush. The performances combined with Craven’s energetic direction make it a scene most horror fans will get a kick out of.
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