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Wes Craven was a master of horror movies. The Cleveland native, who made his directorial debut with 1972’s “The Last House on the Left,” gave us spine-chilling classics “The Hills Have Eyes” and “Swamp Thing” before introducing fans to “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” and the “Scream” franchise. Craven’s other credits include “The People Under the Stairs,” “Vampire in Brooklyn,” and, taking his oeuvre in a slightly different direction, the drama “Music of the Heart” starring Meryl Streep.
From Freddy Kruger to Ghostface, Craven’s most iconic characters have been scaring audiences for years, but what about the movies that scared him? Because Craven loved watching movies (maybe even more than making them), we’re celebrating his birthday with a roundup some of his favorite films. Keep reading to find out where you can buy Craven’s movie picks. For more spooky selections, check out the best horror movies worth adding to your collection.
One of the things that struck Craven about “The Bad Seed” was that it flipped the trope of what was then considered to be an all-American girl: blue-eyes and blonde pigtails. Mervyn LeRoy’s 1956 psychological thriller starring Patty McCormack, Nancy Kelly, William Hopper, Henry Jones, and Eileen Heckart is about an eight-year-old girl with a dark side. Craven once called the film “extraordinarily intelligently written,” and couldn’t believe it hasn’t been remade.
Sure, “Frankenstein” isn’t exactly gory by today’s standards, but it was groundbreaking for the time period, and it left a young Craven shocked by one particular scene where Frankenstein (played by Boris Karloff) kills a little girl. Although the murder isn’t shown, Craven was surprised the scene made it to the final cut because it technically showed a “dead child” killed by a monster. Nonetheless, “Frankenstein” was released in 1931 and became a commercial success and horror classic that spawned the 1935 sequel, “The Bride of Frankenstein,” plus an array of further remakes and revamps. Want more monster classics? Check out the Universal Pictures Monsters Collection.
If you ask a horror fan to name their favorite movies, “The Exorcist” will likely fall somewhere on the list. The 1973 horror classic, directed by William Friedkin and based loosely on real-life events, centers around the exorcism of a possessed young girl, played by Linda Blair. “The Exorcist” remains one of the most successful horror films of all time, and it paved the way for an entire genre of films about demonic possessions.
Craven once wrote that “Don’t Look Now” left him enthralled and terrified at the same time. Adapted from a short story by Daphne du Maurier, “Don’t Look Now” is a supernatural story about a grieving couple (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) who travel to Venice after the death of their daughter. While on holiday, the couple meets two sisters who claims to see the dead, and the ensuing madness culminates in one of the most shocking endings of all time in Nicolas Roeg’s classic.
Set in medieval Sweden, the plot of Ingmar Bergman’s “The Virgin Spring” tells the tragic story of a virgin who gets raped and murdered, sending her father on a ruthless quest for revenge. This Oscar-winning international film starring Max von Sydow and Birgitta Valberg blends the beautiful and cruel depictions of a world teetering between paganism and Christianity. For Craven, “The Virgin Spring” became the framework for his directorial debut, “The Last House on the Left.”