I grew up on Nightmare On Elm Street movies, and loved horror in part due to Wes Craven. So what better way to celebrate his life than to watch the last ten minutes of all his worst movies via Amazon Prime (and one good movie, The Hills Have Eyes).
Deadly Blessing (1981, Wes Craven)
Girl is walking around a dark farmhouse chanting thees and thous when she’s swiftly murdered by Battlestar Galactica‘s Maren Jensen. Climactic shotgun shootout, and glamorous Sharon Stone wakes up at the last minute to help out. Beardy amish guy shows up at the last minute after the women are finished killing each other off, then after a comforting epilogue, sudden Drag Me To Hell ending. It all looks very murky and VHS-generic. I guess Craven was having trouble finding work between the cult classic era (The Hills Have Eyes, Last House on the Left) and the mainstream hit (Nightmare on Elm Street)
Chiller (1985, Wes Craven)
Michael Beck (Xanadu) returns from cryogenic sleep with no soul, and his mother is disappointed, so he stalks her with a metal hook. Beck walks into a giant freezer, and any fool viewer knows she’s going to trap him in there, but he fakes out some cops and forces her to shoot him. Also appearing: horror regular Jill Schoelen (The Stepfather, Popcorn, Robert Englund’s Phantom of the Opera) The sound on this one is awful, and it’s weirdly listed as a 2007 release, and I’m starting to think quality control might not be Amazon’s highest priority. Wes would follow this up with the killer-robot-child movie Deadly Friend. I mainly remember people jumping fences in front of a creepy house, and someone’s head exploding from a robot-propelled basketball.
Night Visions (1990, Wes Craven)
“Bland mystery with obvious killer,” raves the IMDB of this most obscure Craven tv-movie, made between Shocker and The People Under The Stairs. Loryn Locklin (Fortress) is at the studio of killer/photographer Jon Tenney (Beverly Hills Cop III), cop James Remar (the gargoyle story in Tales from the Darkside: The Movie) comes to save her and immediately gets run over by a truck, haha. There’s some unconvincing multiple-personality schtick and Tenney is dropped off a tall building. This was even worse than Chiller – what happened, Wes?
Wes Craven presents Mind Ripper (1995, Joe Gayton)
Bald shriekling madman is tearing walls apart and Claire Stansfield is leading an injured Lance Henriksen to safety. Whoa, the madman has a long pointy finger for a tongue, is menacing Natasha Wagner (John Carpenter’s Vampires 2: Los Muertos), but young Giovanni Ribisi (in his first film) plugs the tongue into an outlet and they run like hell (out of what looks like The Keep from The Keep). They drive away in a van but the madman’s on the van! Then they escape in a plane but the madman’s on the plane! Cowritten by Wes Craven’s son Jonathan.
Wes Craven presents Carnival of Souls (1998, Adam Grossman)
Bobbie Phillips (Evil Breed: The Legend of Samhain) runs past creepy clowns and creaky rides then shoots the king clown. But it was all a dream and now she’s in a waterlogged truck. But it was all a dream and she’s outside the carnival having flashbacks. But it was all a dream and she’s actually dead in the river, survived by her sister Shawnee Smith (Amanda in the Saw movies). Not as cool-looking as the 1962 original. Grossman also made Sometimes They Come Back… Again.
Cursed (2005, Wes Craven)
Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg! “I’ll check the circuit breaker” will be probably be Jesse’s last words. Joshua Jackson (The Skulls, Apt Pupil) arrives as Ricci and Jesse start morphing into vampires. Vamp-fight ensues, including ceiling-crawling and a silverware stabbing. Josh catches fire and everything’s cool. Doesn’t seem awful except for the music, but I can’t imagine it was great either. Written by Craven’s Scream series collaborator Kevin Williamson and directed the same year as Red Eye.
Wes Craven presents They (2002, Robert Harmon)
Laura Regan (Hollow Man 2) is trapped in a subway tunnel, which seems to be tormenting her with surround-sound effects. Actually it’s not at all clear what’s happening, so I assume in the end she’ll just turn out to be crazy. Oh yeah here we go, mental ward where a condescending doctor is telling her she just needs to rest. But oops, she is sucked into another dimension and tormented forever by beasties. Harmon also made the 1986 The Hitcher, which I saw a million times at the video store and never rented.
Speaking of video store mainstays that never quite looked good enough to rent, here are a few more I found online (not Craven-related).
Waxwork (1988, Anthony Hickox)
Whoooa, monster effects a-go-go, as Zach from Gremlins and Sarah (Deborah Foreman of April Fool’s Day) fight an orgy of monsters alongside Zach’s butler Joe “not Don” Baker. Did I just see the baby from Demonic Toys? And a riff on Audrey II? Zach defeats a pirate then drops waxwork man David Warner into a vat of wax, obviously. Hickox made Hellraiser III, which is also absurdly entertaining.
Waxwork II: Lost In Time (1992, Anthony Hickox)
Shootout/swordfight in a zombie-filled mall. These Waxwork movies look quite good. Zach time-travels at random, stops Jack the Ripper, distracts Nosferatu, interrupts a melty-looking Godzilla, while Sarah (who is now Monika Schnarre of the Beastmaster TV series, because women are interchangeable) stabs some guy. When did Zach’s hair get so big? He pushes her through the time door back to the normal world, and she uses the disembodied hand she brings along as evidence in a jury trial.
Ghoulies (1984, Luca Bercovici)
They’re like flying-squirrel puppets, the ghoulies. Becky (Lisa Pelikan of Swing Shift) falls down the stairs and our hero Jonathan faces off against glowing-green-eyed Michael Des Barres (of Waxwork II: Lost In Time!) when Jack fuckin’ Nance, Eraserhead himself, comes to the rescue. Barres and Nance shoot each other with eyeball-lightning for a really long time. I love how during this whole scene two terrified dwarfs are shaking their heads at Jonathan. From the writer/director of Rockula.
Ghoulies II (1988, Albert Band)
Another carnival, jeez. Kerry Remsen (Pumpkinhead) climbs a ferris wheel then Phil Fondacaro (the troll in Troll) reads from a magic book, summoning a ghoulie-eating demon. It strolls around murdering ghoulies, which suddenly seem pretty slow and helpless, then our heroes trick it into eating a stuffed animal with a bomb inside. Albert “father of Charles” Band also directed Doctor Mordrid and something called I Bury The Living, which looks like it would’ve gone direct-to-video if there’d been video in 1958. Ghoulies 1 & 2 are free, but Ghoulies 3: Ghoulies Go To College costs three bucks, so we’ll have to stop here.