Why William Friedkin Was Wrong About Wes Craven


For my money William Friedkin is one of the most talented directors working today.  Not everything he does clicks (with the public or box office-wise, for that matter) but as far as I am concerned he’s made one of the best crime thrillers in recent memory with 1985’s To Live And Die In L.A.  Some might suggest that I am crazy, and bring up 1971’s The French Connection, but for my money To Live And Die In L.A., with its combination of a talented director, an outstanding cast and great music hit all the right notes.

Interestingly enough, Friedkin also directed one of the best horror movies, The Exorcist, ever put on celluloid.

And while the movies that Wes Craven created, particularly A Nightmare On Elm Street, managed to tap into The zeitgeist in a way few other films have done besides being visually interesting, though more often then not his movies were products of the time that they were made; which is another way of saying that they don’t age particularly well.

If in doubt check out Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes.  While the idea of cannibalistic mutants preying on hapless tourists is always potentially interesting, the movie has not aged well (though Alexandre Aja’s 2006 remake…pretty good, almost brilliantly so).

Let’s contrast that with the The Exorcist.  It’s not only one of the scariest horror movies ever made–I think that Craven’s The Snake And The Rainbow was probably his most effective movie as far as terror goes though it doesn’t have the single-mindedness of Friedkin’s classic.

I also had the feeling that Craven was a horror director less because he actually wanted to do it, that it was a niche that he  happened to fall into (which isn’t an insult by any means.  John Carpenter did some groundbreaking horror films, though recognized, and at times seem embittered by the fact, that it limited his ability to move into other types of filmmaking).

So, while Craven was known as a maker of horror films, it never really felt to me that he committed to the genre to the degree that other directors, such as Carpenter (or even Friedkin himself) have demonstrated.

So Wes Craven will always be known for the horrors that he helped to bring to grisly life, though I am not at all sure that that’s what he would have wanted.


Quite Possibly The Most Capable Blind Person In Movies. Who’s Not A Ninja, That Is

I have noticed, more often that I like to admit, that I form opinions of people I have never met and experiences I have never had based upon what I have seen in movies, on television and in the news.

And even worse, I tend to do so unconsciously, despite being aware–sometimes even hyper-aware–of the distorted images they bring to reality.

For instance, I have always assumed that blind people are relatively helpless, that losing their sight has somehow made them…somehow less capable beyond the lack of sight.

This feeling wasn’t something that I was particularly conscious of, but was there nonetheless.

Which is why I was surprised by the film that I saw recently.

This story begins on a very rainy day in Washington, DC, a day I have spent cleaning my apartment, which is a bit messy because I let things go when I was sick last week–though the experience revealed to me that beer actually helps colds by muting the cough reflex as well as helping one sleep.  After all, it’s not an accident that NyQuil contains alcohol–and watching horror flicks on Netflix.

At the moment Wes Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes 2” is unspooling, and while it’s not by any means a great movie, what it does have is one of the most capable blind people I have ever seen in movies, without that person being a ninja, or something of that effect.

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‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 3 Trailer

Halloween’s just around the corner, which is why it’s the perfect time to discuss monsters and other things that go bump in the night.

A creature that is currently in vogue is the zombie, which is enjoying a surge in popularity, evidenced by “The Walking Dead,” a series about a small band of survivors who are, essentially, trying to remain uneaten.  It also happens to be one one of the most successful series on cable, with ratings comparable to, and in some cases better, than network television shows.  This is a remarkable when you consider that network television is available to anyone with a television able to pick up the signal, which channels like AMC–which airs “The Walking Dead”–are generally part to pay cable packages, and not as widely available.

By the way, zombies actually exist.  There are documented cases, in Haiti, of people being dead and buried, only to rise from their graves.  The process of zombification was the subject of Wes Craven’s 1988 film, “The Serpent And The Rainbow,” one of his better movies.

I think the idea of zombies is so interesting that a few months ago I signed for  “Run For Your Lives,” an obstacle race made all the more interesting because there are “zombies” there to avoid, as well as obstacles to overcome.

The ‘Batman Rises’ Trailer Takes Flight

The “Batman Rises” trailer is online, though if you glance though the articles that I have written, you’ll notice that’s there’s nothing there about Batman.

Zip.  Nada.  Zero.  Nothing.

This is because the Christopher Nolan’s Batman films don’t embody what I want to see in a superhero comic–which is, generally speaking, larger than life characters, overcoming terrific odds, etc.

Which is not to say that there isn’t room for smaller, darker stories–after all The Crow is a favorite of mine, though that film balances the bleakness (embodied in a dark, brooding city, seeming populated by either criminals, or their victims) with a quest for redemption.

In his effort to make the films more realistic, Chris Nolan has, removed the more fantastical elements, so that’s what’s left is somewhat mundane, dark, and uninspiring.

Though I could even deal with that if they weren’t also somewhat dull, though I don’t think that this is necessarily a problem with the character of Batman, as opposed to the approach the director takes in bringing him to life.

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A Mediation On Violence In Film

I happen to be a big fan of genre films, with horror and science-fiction being two of my favorites.  Now, they aren’t for everyone, which I understand, though what I don’t get is the reason why some of those people don’t at least give them a chance.

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