Tag: Wes Craven

What’s in a name?

Wes Craven (1939-2015)
Wes Craven (1939-2015)

What’s in a name you say? Well, when I was growing up, there were certain words that – whenever spoken, always conjured up a feeling or an urge inside of you. Something that was more than just a rational, cognizant realization.

Let me give you a few examples from my own childhood to prove my point:

Barney

No, not Fred’s “Yabba Dabba Doo” buddy from The Flintstones. In my neck of the woods (on the south side of Easton, PA), Barney meant only one thing: The guy who made the  best cheesesteaks this side of Philly. Although Barney’s been dead for nearly two decades I can still recall the days of eating his wares in his Steak Shop while trying my luck on the latest video games like Vanguard and Defender and listening to the Foreigner “4” album on the jukebox.

Utopia

No, not the imaginary place or state of things in which everything is perfect (although some of the questionable paraphernalia they sold there may have you think otherwise). Utopia was/is a store in the downtown section of town where all of the teens would congregate in the 1980’s in order to purchase the latest AC/DC or Pretenders album and get concert tickets for Stabler Arena or the Allentown Fairgrounds.

Lucy

I’m not talking about the chick that swiped the football out from under Charlie Brown. Lucy’s was the neighborhood candy store that served up the finest in Swedish Fish, Tootsie Rolls and Hostess Twinkies.

See how one word can easily trigger something deep inside you? And while we’re on the subject, let me give you a pair of words that does the same thing for me:

Wes Craven

Whenever these two words are mentioned together it instantly reminds me of one of the scariest films I ever saw as pubescent teenager – “A Nightmare on Elm Street”.

Sure, by the time that movie came out in 1984, I had already been covering my ears to the creepy intro music of “Halloween” and hidden my eyes from the inevitable pop up scare scenes in the closing minutes of the first two “Friday The 13th” movies. But there was something far more diabolical with Elm Street. For unlike Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees – who at least early on were actual human beings,  Freddy Kreuger represented something that was far more sinister – an unknown, malevolent creature who came to us in our darkest dreams.

Watching the scene where poor Amanda Wyss’ character, Tina, is standing in the alley way while Freddy’s arms grow and he pounces on her still gives me an uneasy feeling some thirty years later.

Back then, I wasn’t even aware of some of Craven’s earlier films like “The Last House on The Left” or “The Hills Have Eyes”. All I knew was from that point forward, anytime I saw the words “Wes Craven” before a film’s title, I knew immediately it would be scary and I would have to see it. And although some of his work was questionable in the years following NOES -“The Hills Have Eyes Part II” and “Shocker” immediately come to mind, Craven was back in top form for “Scream” in 1996. Single-handedly creating a film that (at least to me) rivaled Elm Street in terms of its originality and scare.

So hearing the news late last night that Wes Craven had passed away at the age of 76 was somewhat shocking. Knowing that there will never be another film that will give me that same feeling when I see the title. But whenever I hear those two words together – “Wes Craven”, I’ll always remember a man whose vision and memorable characters will continue to live on, both on screen and in dreams.

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Five Things I Think: The 5 Worst Movies of All Time

I’m no film aficionado by any stretch of the imagination but I think I know a thing or two about bad movies when I see them (or make the attempt to see them). I’ve always been a huge action, adventure and horror/suspense junkie but over the years my will has been tested as I’ve seen some real doozies with things like pesky kids (Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom), horrendous acting (Friday the 13th Part what ever you want) and plot lines that would make your sick to your stomach (try watching the movie Alive – the only movie that made me nauseous and claustrophobic).

But I don’t base my opinion on character, the film score or even directing. Nope, for me only one of two criteria must be met in order for a film to be dubbed HORRIBLE:

One: If during the course of watching the movie I want to literally get up and leave.  Something not really smart considering you may have shelled out a bunch of money to see that you thought would be much better.

This actually happened to me on two occasions and on one of them I was successful in walking out. That was the wonderful film Hellraiser II. If you ever get a chance to see it, don’t. It sucks. But I still get a chuckle thinking about walking out of the 25th Street Theater yelling “THIS MOVIE BLOWS!”

The second movie I wasn’t so lucky at escaping from mainly because I was with a company of people. Hence, that particular movie has been dubbed my Worst Movie of All Time (as you’ll see).

The other criteria that indicates a bad film to me is if while watching the movie I fall asleep. I can probably name dozens of movies where this occurred but I’ve narrowed down my list to five to keep from dozing off again.

You may notice while reading this list that a lot of my stinkers ended in 2008. I take pride in knowing that my viewing habits seem to have gotten better.

Let’s get to the heart of this post. I present to you the FIVE most horrible movies of ALL TIME:

5. Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994): There was a time when I would see every single Nightmare on Elm Street as fast it came out. I’m still not sure why as they were all pretty terrible. I definitely reached my limit when this atrocious movie came out and I still to this day have absolutely no idea what it was about. And I don’t plan on watching it again any time soon to find out.

4. Jaws: The Revenge (1987): If it has anything to do with JAWS you know I’m there. This was the first movie I saw being a high school graduate. After that mistake they should have rescinded my diploma and made me repeat 12th grade. Who in their right mind would believe a shark would follow someone from the northeast to the Bahamas? Apparently the same people who’d construct the most fake looking shark ever caught on film and try to pass it off as real.

3. The Happening (2008). I wanted to like this movie. I mean, I REALLY wanted to like this movie. I loved the Sixth Sense and kept trying to give director M.Night Shyamalan a pass. But since the “I see dead people” movie he has continued to disappoint.  In fact several of his movies including Unbreakable, Signs and The Village could all be listed here. But I chose The Happening because it is quite possibly the worst acting I’ve ever seen in a movie.  I’m not kidding, it’s bad.

2. Twilight (2008). I will NEVER understand why women love these films so much. I forced myself to read the first book. I forced myself to watch the first film at home on DVD. I fell asleep 1/4 of the way through. Now you KNOW a movie is bad when going to bed at 8:30pm on the weekend sounds more appealing than watching a movie with awesome microwave popcorn.

Drum roll please?….. I now present to you the worst movie of ALL time…..

1. Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997). Without a doubt the most atrocious film ever made. I really enjoyed the original Speed and the whole notion of a bus blowing up if it goes under 55 mph. But Sandra Bullock on a boat? Eh, not so much.
It was a warm summer evening in 1997 when I saw it and I wanted to leave SO badly. I could not leave. I was with people and it would be embarrassing. I forced myself to stay. In retrospect, I probably would have been better off saying I had to go to the bathroom and hanging out next to the urinal all night. That’s how bad it was. I still lament losing every one of those 121 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. In fact, just me reminiscing about how horrible it is has cost me an additional ten more minutes of life. So I’m finished discussing it.

So there you have it. The five worst movies of all time as dubbed by me. I’m sure there are plenty of movies that meet this criteria for you as well.  So please feel free to add your own or challenge my list. I’m always interested in learning about movies I need to avoid.