The Many Peculiar Virtues of Wes Craven’s ‘My Soul to Take’

Vague Visages • Wave Faces

My Soul to Take movie image

Wes Craven’s decades-long career is often correlated with a trifecta of tent-pole achievements. First came The Last House on the Left (1972), a customarily described “exploitation” film inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring (1960). Next, Craven revolutionized the horror genre with his surrealist slasher A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), a tonally adventurous work that evokes the likes of Luis Buñuel and Jean Cocteau. Finally, the director upended conventions with the postmodern Scream (1996), whose credit is owed in no small part to Kevin Williamson’s extraordinarily reflexive and meta-cinematic script. Some might also attribute The Hills Have Eyes (1977) with the status of “classic” genre fare, although it owes a large part of its style and sensibility to Tobe Hooper’s masterful The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974).

This characterizing of Craven’s career is problematic, not because it’s “untrue,” but because it’s woefully incomplete. Out of the three films listed above…

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