Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


SCREAMS AND NIGHTMARES: The Films of WES CRAVEN. Brian J. Robb. Overlook Press; 1998.

This well-written and heavily illustrated coffee table tome looks at the life, career and work of director Wes Craven, most famous, as the title suggests, for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. Never in the top rank of film directors, Craven nevertheless amassed a number of credits and did some very influential movies. Craven first came to attention with the graphic thriller The Last House on the Left, a low-budget homage or rip-off of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, then suffered poverty and anonymity for many years until he hit the big time with Nightmare and Freddy Krueger. Craven never really wanted to be a horror director, but the field kept calling him back when he needed a paycheck and when fans began to appreciate his movies. Craven's work outside the horror field was limited, however, with one example being the Meryl Streep starrer Music of the Heart. Craven also produced several genre films, and directed telefilms and episodic television, such as the remake of The Twilight Zone. Screams and Nightmares doesn't delve much into Craven's personal life, which would probably be of minor interest to most readers anyway. Even if you're not a tremendous Craven fan, this book is engaging and Robb doesn't make the mistake of deifying the director and not finding fault with his work, which he seems to appreciate more than I do. Perhaps Craven's best directed film, of the ones I've seen so far, was Scream 2.

Verdict: Handsome horror tome with lots of photos. ***.


angelman66 said...

I went to school with Wes Craven's son Jonathan, and was a fan of his father's work. You are right, Scream 2 is perhaps the of the rare instances where the sequel is even better than the original, much like Aliens being superior to Alien...

This book looks like a beautiful piece of work.

William said...

beautiful coffee table book, and if you like Craven's work that makes it even better!