Relive Wes Craven’s Scariest Movie Moments by Spencer Blohm

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Relive Wes Craven’s Scariest Movie Moments

Written by Spencer Blohm

With the recent passing of Wes Craven, the world lost a true genius in the horror genre. Not only is Craven responsible for some of the most iconic characters and of the horror realm, but he was repeatedly instrumental in the revitalization of the genre over the years. In honor of Craven and his creative genius, we are taking a look back at five of his scariest and most iconic movie moments.

Trailer Attack — The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

An extended, All-American family vacationing with a travel trailer on their way to California. They make the fateful mistake of straying from the main road, break down in the desert, and are preyed upon by a group of deranged and cannibalistic people who live in the surrounding hills. This scene is considered the most iconic of the film for its climactic reveal of just how monstrous the group they have encountered really is when two of the savages attack the trailer, torture and kill some of the women, and take the baby because they suspect she’ll be good to eat. While the cannibals are mentioned and even described earlier in the film, this is the first real glimpse views get of them, and it’s an extremely graphic and violent one at that.

Opening Scene — Scream (1996)

This opening scene sets the stage for some of Craven’s best meta-narrative sequences. Casey discusses her fondness of scary movies over the phone with her soon-to-be killer and then is forced to answer movie trivia questions in an attempt to save her boyfriend and herself. While not particularly gory or graphic – until you get to Casey’s untimely death – the tension build up alone pulls the audience into the film and sets the stage for what’s to come. The first fifteen minutes of Scream, following through to Casey’s parents return home, encompasses a classic horror scene well known by all, even those who aren’t fans of the genre.

Tina’s Murder — A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The supernatural element of A Nightmare on Elm Street is enough of a creep factor to begin with – a killer who seems to have returned from the beyond to continue his reign of terror through the his victims’ nightmares. This scene is by far the most iconic, and arguably scariest, moment of any Nightmare film. Giving us our first glimpse of the notorious horror movie mad man, Freddy Krueger, the suspense of knowing that Freddy could kill Tina at any moment should have had us running. But it’s the game of cat and mouse he so wickedly plays with Tina before savagely murdering her in her sleep in front of her panicked and muddled boyfriend that keeps us glued to the screen for the long run.

Deaths of Mari and Phyllis — Last House on the Left (1972)

Extremely graphic and reminiscent of the Vietnam War footage being played on the television every night at the time of its making, this film and this particular scene  are hard to watch as two teenage girls who ventured into the big city for a concert are kidnapped, raped and tortured before being murdered and dismembered by psychotic escaped prison inmates. After being taken to the woods, Phyllis at one point almost gets away. Just as quickly as we gained this slight sense of hope that she might make it, it’s ripped away and she meets her killers for the final time. While certainly not the last of the graphic and gory scenes in the movie, it is the most realistic and thus the scariest. Many even refer to this excerpt as the most horrifying and shocking sequence of Craven’s entire career.

“Don’t bury me, I’m not dead” — The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

A change of pace from Craven’s usual slasher films, The Serpent and the Rainbow returns to the zombie myth. The film is set in Haiti and tells a tale of black magic, a powerful drug, and a process that brings the dead back as zombies. This scene is one of the scariest as it details the main character’s descent into madness induced by the drugs that character sought to investigate. As he slowly slips into a coma knowing he’s going to wake up underground, he utters this now iconic line, marking this scene forever in the memories of Wes Craven fans. The notion that these people are being buried alive really ups the ante of this film and scene, bringing the fear from fantasy to reality, in that who isn’t afraid of being buried alive?

Although we lost the legend himself, we can at least be consoled through the legacy of his films, most of which are available for viewing on demand and regularly played on cable TV (check here). Over four decades, Craven directed some of the scariest and most gut-wrenching films in horror movie history and it’s through them, he, his creative genius and his originality will live on forever.


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