Wes Craven - Director "The Hills Have Eyes" / "Nightmare On Elm Street" / "Last House On The Left"
Cinequest 10 San Jose Film Festival - Feb. 2000
Popular horror director Wes Craven has been known around the film circles for many years now by such legendary works as "Nightmare On Elm Street", "The People Under The Stairs" and most recently the "Scream" trilogy. People either love him or hate him with his particular style of storytelling in his films. Some of his best works are actually also some of his lesser known - "Deadly Blessing, "The Hills Have Eyes", "Last House On The Left", and most importantly "The Serpent And The Rainbow", which dealt with the true aspects of the subject of voodoo and zombies.
Wes appeared at Cinequest to talk about the new Scream film and also take honors at the awards ceremonies. During the press conference, he talked a bit about his films and his past and how, affectively, he will move forward with some new film plans. After the conference, we had a chance to get a few words with Mr. Craven as well.
When asked if "Scream" was originally supposed to be a trilogy or if it became such after the income dictated so: "It was essentially, from the beginning of the set, a couple of weeks into it, it was explained to us that we were shooting a script that he [the writer] had that would be a trilogy or could be a trilogy. So from there the idea was to be a trilogy. To me it was always a neat and interesting playground."
Future projects for Wes include a film version of a novel of his that is a thriller / love story. He also talked about why he doesn't do films about his personal upbringing, Fundimentalist Baptist, it was because of the sentiments of the people who are still back in that lifestyle at home and in his family. It is a contrast to the things that he has done and some people may be hurt by it. He veers away from doing any personal exploratory filmmaking in order to protect and not hurt anyone.
When asked what drew him into the horror genre of filmmaking, Wes tells:
"A job. I had no idea that I had any skills and I had no inclination. I always had a bizarre sense of humor. When I got into New York, I was suddenly on the bottom of the barrel. Suddenly I had the urge to make movies. The first chance that I had when somebody offered me to make a movie, I was fairly young and it was very, very low budget."
In a discussion about capital punishment, imprisonment and the horror genre having not escaped that, Wes gives his own opinions:
"I'm not a typical liberal, Southern Californian with a New York mentality. I don't say that in jest. There's a distinct feeling out here more of politically "f*** you" social consciousness. I'm fairly torn about it. I've seen documentaries and even film festivals where people are in families where they see the criminal get away or not get punished for who they've killed. People seem generally injured deeply. At the same time, the racial disparity from prison to prison and where DNA is [proving innocence], I am against capital punishment. I am, but I understand where people desperately need that justice, so that something somewhere is responsible and held accountable for their act. So much of our culture now is that nobody is responsible for anything. That makes people crazy and makes them feel totally unsafe. Somewhere there's got to be a balance.
K2K: I wanted to ask you about "Carnival Of Souls" and why it was called a remake when it wasn't one at all.
WC: (mentioning someone whom he worked with early on one of his previous films) He had a project, so I basically lent my name to it. I thought this guy deserved a chance to direct. That was kind of the extent of my involvement.
K2K: How did you feel about that film?
WC: I thought it was OK. I loathe to say anything that would get back to the filmmakers. It is a tricky thing to lend your name because one part of you wants to support young filmmakers. The other part is that, as a filmmaker yourself, when you're making the film, you do everything that you possibly can to have complete control so that it's done right. In the case of lending your name to somebody else's project, you're completely at the mercy of them and how well they can do it - and then your name's attached to it. It's a mixed experience. I'm doing it right now with a project called "Dracula 2000" which is a feature that my editor, who has edited everything from "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" up to all the "Screams". He's very, very talented and I think he deserves a break, so we'll see how it goes. It's dicey. It is really dicey to put your name on something when you're not there. It's a calculated risk.
Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

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