This Friday the 13th, Wes Craven Reveals His Nightmares
Wes Craven and Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy
Horrors! It's Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street
auteur Wes Craven
, is a big part of the bloody-good documentary Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
, premiering tonight, Friday, Oct. 13, at 9 pm/ET, on STARZ. Whatever you do, don't fall asleep.
TV Guide: Your first flick, The Last House on the Left, scarred me for life. And now you're redoing it?!
Wes Craven: [Laughs] Yes, we are. It's time to scar a whole new generation.
TV Guide: And your son is directing the sequel to [2006's] The Hills Have Eyes?
Craven: No, actually, it's being directed by a young man named Martin Weisz, who did a film about a strange case of cannibalism in Germany called Butterfly. He's also a veteran of music videos and commercials, and the winner of a very exhaustive search for young directors. My son and I cowrote the script, but we thought it would be smart to have someone with a little more experience to direct this one.
TV Guide: And this Hills sequel will not be a remake of the '80s sequel, right?
Craven: That's correct. [Laughs] Swear to god. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
TV Guide: Eh, it was the '80s — we were all out of our heads back then. Speaking of which, I have to admit that I have watched most of your movies through my hands.
Craven: [Laughs] I had a woman reporter tell me that about Red Eye! It was the first movie of mine — and she said she'd seen ‘em all, though she was not a horror fan — that she was able to watch with her hands laced in front of her eyes. [Laughs]
TV Guide: It's interesting that part of Going to Pieces plays like a response to critics who blame the genre for real-life violence.
Craven: I was just listening to [a] show on NPR about the government's attempts to get an allowance to perform more torture [on terror suspects], and it's like, "OK, guys, now who's causing the violence?"
TV Guide: And if they wanted to, they could still link it back to the movies.
Craven: [Laughs] I know! I'm surprised they haven't already.
TV Guide: They could just say the entire senate went to see Hostel last year.
Craven: Right, it's the president himself who's asking [for the allowance], and it would make him look a little weak to say he got the idea from a movie. [Laughs]
TV Guide: Any plans to adapt your Fountain Society book for the screen?
Craven: We went through a period with a branch of Dreamworks to do just that. We had two writers work on it separately and neither of the scripts, we thought, would work as a film. It was kind of left to me to [rewrite] it, but at that time, I was going into the Scream business, I think, and I never got around to it. But I did think it would make a very interesting movie.
TV Guide: What about any more TV for you? You had Nightmare Cafe and Showtime has their Masters of Horror coming back....
Craven: We're talking to a few people, but there's nothing I would say is on the front burner right now. We do have a project at Court TV that's sort of been grinding through the works, about an exorcist cop, which is based on an actual a New York City cop who has become a specialist on murders that involve the occult. I don't want to go too much into detail, 'cause it's not really on the front burner, but we are exploring.
TV Guide: With your job, I am sure you've heard some crazy real-life tales of the occult from cast and crew members.
Craven: Oh, yeah. Everybody is always telling me their ghost stories. But I think the most extraordinary things that I have ever experienced were in Haiti. Just a lot of bizarre things happened. Certainly for a Westerner, I saw a lot of things, because we were taken right into the heart of the voodoo practice.
TV Guide: Do people just invite you over and expect you to come up with great ghost stories?
Craven: Yeah, I think that's my duty as a guest. To tell strange stories from either life or from my movies.
TV Guide: And I am sure you have some Hollywood horror stories to tell, too.
Craven: [Laughs] That's for sure.
TV Guide: To borrow a line from your Scream films, what's your favorite scary movie?
Craven: The Exorcist probably grabbed me the most, because it was done by a real master [director William Friedkin] and so the impact, the reality of it was so great. You just weren't expecting what you were about to see. I think that it caught everybody off guard.
TV Guide: That's another one that traumatizes me to this day.
Craven: If it had been something grainy, like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre — which I would cite as the second scariest thing I've ever seen — you kind of know something terrible is going to happen from the get-go. But with Friedkin... I don't think anybody was expecting The Exorcist from a man who was thought of as a purely Hollywood practitioner.
TV Guide: And the original Texas Chain Saw, I swear, still feels like a snuff film.
Craven: I agree. That's how it felt to me. It was done during a time when, you know, supposedly snuff films were being done and you thought, "My god, maybe I am watching a snuff film." I went to see it in a scruffy theater in Times Square because the editing room for Last House was a couple of blocks from there. And I had never seen a horror film before and I told myself that I needed to go out and see one of these things — since I was making one. [Laughs] I was cringing behind the seat in front of me and it was very dicey whether I was going to be able to stay in the theater another minute. It has a strange power and I think Tobe Hooper really pulled off something magnificent on a 10-cent budget.
TV Guide: How do you feel about the recent remakes like [2003's] Texas Chainsaw, and even your own Hills update?
Craven: I am all for it! With digital filming and editing, remakes will become a legitimate part of the art form. Kind of like how remixes are in music, how they took original tracks and completely redid them into something new.
TV Guide: Any chance there's another Elm Street movie in you?
Craven: For me, it would all be a matter of material. If it's Freddy vs. Jason, well, that wasn't up to a level where I would want to jump in. But there might be.
TV Guide: Can you explain why we end up hoping certain characters die in horror movies?
Craven: I have a theory about that. I think all of the characters around the lead role could be elements of that person. In the same way that as we grow and mature, we eliminate certain elements of our infantile and adolescent personalities that just don't work or are stupid — the part of us that drinks too much or drives the car at 80 miles an hour, or does silly drugs, whatever it is. Those parts of us get killed off as we transition from childhood to adulthood. I think the horror film is like that, where you have sort of cohorts who are much like the central character but have certain traits that are going to get them killed. So that at the end of the film, you are left with this super-refined hero that is much wiser, harder, even scarred, but is down to the essential element that will help them survive and go back to a normal life as a better person.
TV Guide: And the horror genre's sex-equals-death equation...?
Craven: People always say, "Why do people have sex and then die in your films?" Well, if you're having sex then you're not paying attention. I'm not saying that sex is bad, but in a combat situation, you have to watch what you're doing!
TV Guide: What scares you in real life?
Craven: Our president and his cohorts. [Laughs] I am absolutely serious.
Want some actual Friday the 13th film-franchise scoop? Read our Halloween 2005 Q&A with Jason Voorhees himself.
Send your comments on this Q&A to email@example.com.