CATEGORIES Interviews
Wes Craven"I had never really seen a horror film, though in some ways I think that was good because I didn't set out to do something I'd already seen."

Without Wes Craven, the face of horror would be a much different, far less scary beast. In a career that spans 37 terrifying years, he's haunted moviegoers' dreams with the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movies; made audiences laugh and scream with the 'Scream' franchise; and scared the bejesus out of all comers with underrated cult fare like 'The Serpent and the Rainbow' (one of his personal favorites) and 'Swamp Thing.'

And it all began with 'Last House on the Left,' the short but sweet (read: frightening as hell) chiller that marked Craven's writer-director debut in 1972. With a Craven-produced 'The Last House on the Left' remake headed to the big screen, the legendary filmmaker opens up about his unlikely introduction to the horror genre, the inspiration for his 'Nightmare' and whether fans will be seeing him at the helm of 'Scream 4.'



Wes CravenWithout Wes Craven, the face of horror would be a much different, far less scary beast. In a career that spans 37 terrifying years, he's haunted moviegoers' dreams with the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' movies; made audiences laugh and scream with the 'Scream' franchise; and scared the bejesus out of all comers with underrated cult fare like 'The Serpent and the Rainbow' (one of his personal favorites) and 'Swamp Thing.'

And it all began with 'Last House on the Left,' the short but sweet (read: frightening as hell) chiller that marked Craven's writer-director debut in 1972. With a Craven-produced 'The Last House on the Left' remake headed to the big screen, the legendary filmmaker opens up about his unlikely introduction to the horror genre, the inspiration for his 'Nightmare' and whether fans will be seeing him at the helm of 'Scream 4.' -- By Tom DiChiara

1. What inspired you to make the original 'Last House on the Left'?

Way back when I was a college teacher, I was watching the films of Bergman, and 'Virgin Spring' always stuck in my mind. It's such a concise and powerful story. And Sean Cunningham, who I'd been working for for a year, said: "I have these guys in Boston. They have outdoor theaters and they want me to do a scary film. If you want to write something scary, then you can direct it and cut it and I'll produce it, and, you know, we'll have fun. So that was basically my introduction to being a director -- being given that opportunity. I had never really seen a horror film, though in some ways I think that was good because I didn't set out to do something I'd already seen. I was much more influenced by the mid-'60s directors -- Fellini and people like that -- who had a great sort of hallucinogenic element in their films, and yet they were very serious films. That's how it started.

Last House' Premiere Pics

    Actress Sara Paxton arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Last House On The Left" at the ArcLight Theatre on March 10, 2009 in Hollywood, California. "The Last House On The Left" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals ArcLight Theatre Hollywood, CA United States March 10, 2009 Photo by Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com To license this image (56949925), contact WireImage.com

    Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com

    Actress Sara Paxton arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Last House On The Left" at the ArcLight Theatre on March 10, 2009 in Hollywood, California. "The Last House On The Left" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals ArcLight Theatre Hollywood, CA United States March 10, 2009 Photo by Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com To license this image (56949923), contact WireImage.com

    Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com

    Actress Monica Potter arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Last House On The Left" at the ArcLight Theatre on March 10, 2009 in Hollywood, California. "The Last House On The Left" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals ArcLight Theatre Hollywood, CA United States March 10, 2009 Photo by Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com To license this image (56949887), contact WireImage.com

    Jordan Strauss/WireImage.com

    Tori Spelling arriveS on the red carpet of the Los Angeles premiere of "The Last House On The Left" at the ArcLight Theatre on March 10, 2009 in Hollywood, California. "The Last House On The Left" Los Angeles Premiere - Red Carpet ArcLight Theatre Hollywood, CA United States March 10, 2009 Photo by Todd Williamson/WireImage.com To license this image (56950424), contact WireImage.com

    Todd Williamson/WireImage.com

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Actress Sara Paxton arrives at the premiere of Rogue Pictures' "The Last House on the Left" at the Arclight Theater on March 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sara Paxton

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Actors Spencer Treat Clark (L) and Monica Potter pose at the premiere of Rogue Pictures' "The Last House on the Left" at the Arclight Theater on March 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Spencer Treat Clark;Monica Potter

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Actress Monica Potter arrives at the premiere of Rogue Pictures' "The Last House on the Left" at the Arclight Theater on March 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Monica Potter

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Actress Monica Potter arrives at the premiere of Rogue Pictures' "The Last House on the Left" at the Arclight Theater on March 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Monica Potter

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Director Dennis Iliadis (L) and actor Spencer Treat Clark arrive at the premiere of Rogue Pictures' "The Last House on the Left" at the Arclight Theater on March 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dennis Iliadis;Spencer Treat Clark

    Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Director Dennis Iliadis (L) and actor Spencer Treat Clark arrive at the premiere of Rogue Pictures' "The Last House on the Left" at the Arclight Theater on March 10, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dennis Iliadis;Spencer Treat Clark

    Getty Images



2. What's your favorite scene from the original film, and what's your favorite scene from the new version?

The first film had a nightmare scene in it with a weasel and the parents coming in as a doctor and nurse with a chisel. Several films later, someone said to me, "That dream still comes back to me. You should do something about dreams." [Laughs.] Years later, I finally acted on that. But I liked -- not that you like a rape scene -- but I thought that was very powerful, and the moment afterward where the girl just gets up and walks into the lake. I just found that quite extraordinary. Dennis Iliadis [the director] just took it to a whole new level. His shot is just beautiful. We couldn't afford to get out in front of her, so we just watched her go from the back [laughs].

3. Looking at your directorial resume there's one movie that kind of stands out: 'Music of the Heart.' What inspired you to make that, and do you have any interest in tackling another straight-up drama in the future?

Well, your question leads me to believe you don't understand the harsh realities of being a director [laughs]. You don't usually have a choice of changing genres. Once you do a film as hard-hitting as 'Last House,' it's the general assumption that that's the kind of person you are. And so people don't send you their comedies [laughs]. So the way I got to 'Music of the Heart' was I'd seen the documentary it was based on, and Bob and Harvey Weinstein were at the first test screening for 'Scream.' It went through the roof. And they literally found us in a restaurant later that night, where we had opened a bottle of champagne, and they offered us a three picture deal -- that deal being to do two more 'Screams' and then I could do a film out of the genre. And they owned the rights to that documentary, which I think was called 'Small Wonders.' I said, "That's the one I would love to do." So it was one of those freak opportunities that somebody very powerful could afford to give you and say, "OK, you can do something out of the genre." Before that, in the mid-'80s, I'd done a lot of 'Twilight Zones' that were everything from comedies to thrillers and so forth. And then recently I did a segment of 'Paris je t'aime.' But by and large, I've had to content myself with doing genre fare, and I've come to have a real affection for it.

'The Last House on the Left' Trailer





4. Remaking horror classics is all the rage these days, with the reboots of 'Friday the 13th' and 'Halloween' and an update of your very own 'Nightmare on Elm Street' on the way. Why do you think that is and do think it's a good thing?

It's certainly not a bad thing for movies being made in general. I think it's good that there's a healthy genre audience. I think we're in one of those sort of interim stages where a form of the genre -- what's been called "torture porn" -- has kind of run its course and nobody knows quite what to do next, so they're doing remakes. And it becomes a question of do you do mediocre remakes that you just kind of knock off? Or do you do something daring, like find a director who's a real artist and stand back and see what he does? I've written and directed a film this year ['25/8'], which I think is also very, very different. So it will depend on some filmmaker or a group of filmmakers doing films that are extraordinarily original and different, and then people will be off and making films like that one.

5. What's the latest on 'Scream 4'? Any progress in your talks to direct it, and will any of the original cast members be back?

No, I've heard virtually nothing about it. There was an initial inquiry, frankly. And the deal is just to the extent that I'd be interested in looking at the script. That's all it is from my end. I'm open-minded about it, but at the same time I've got plenty things of my own that I'm looking at doing. We'll just have to see what Kevin Williamson [the writer] comes up with.