This one is personal folks. As a young African American male growing up in the midwest with no father figure in the household,heroes were important to me. I understood at an early age that I was drawn to a darker side of reality which had a lot to do with my mother. Her endless novels from Stephen King, Dean R Koontz and the like gave me an early appreciation for the macabre which to most of my friends was described as “strange”. As a child of the 80’s the presence of horror was big in my life as most of the classics were created during that timespan. Searching for heroes in a world of masked killers with big knives and chainsaws my life would ultimately change with one film. Nerd, weirdo, sell out, oreo and other hateful words were told to me on a day to day basis because I was a fan of bands like Motorhead, The Sex Pistols and more. One film changed all that and that film was A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. As an only child I was privy to an access of things most of the kids in my neighborhood could never see. Be it porn or a crazy kung fu flick my desire for the weird gave me so many outlets to escape the section 8 housing community I was apart of that was littered with gangs, drug dealers and dope fiends. When I got my hands on A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET it was the first time I was accepted by many of my future peers because it was the film they were all not allowed to watch. Most people (except my mother) are unaware of how horror films terrified the shit out me. Nightmares was a common thing in the Brown household and to see Wes Craven’s masterpiece created it quite a stir within myself. Finally a film spoke to me and was more than just a barrage of killing of teenage campers (which I enjoyed as well) and took the slasher genre in a new direction. In other words I was hooked. I was hooked but still proud to finally be accepted as the cool kid on the block because I had the scariest film everyone wanted to see.
By now you all know of the passing of Wes Craven who at 76 ultimately lost his battle with brain cancer today. This has affected me more than I could ever imagine and is the reason these words pour out from my fingers right now. Just when I thought Wes could do no better even after seeing his timeless classic THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT he hit me again. In 1991 when I was just entering middle school Wes delivered THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS. I had to see this movie and snuck in the AMC Esquire theater during the screening of some kid movie in spite of a family member who brought me there. I was blown away by the film more than anything because I felt as it spoke to me once again. Being a fan of The Mighty Ducks I was ecstatic to see Brandon Adams in the film as I felt I related to Fool. The kid who could never get it right but always had the best intentions. I thought Craven was a genius for making this film in a time where the West Coast hip hop scene and films like BOYZ IN THE HOOD were at the forefront of pop culture. Wes brought horror to south central and created a world that was not bent on the horror of the streets but the horrors that can reside in a quiet neighborhood. Dealing with an unruly slumlord and heavy racial undertones was so refreshing I tried to watch the film twice. Films like SHOCKER were entertaining but didn’t speak to me in the way the other films did but little did I know I would not be finished with Mr. Craven.
High School was a trip and I was really having a tough time coming into my own after leaving one school district and starting at a new one. My junior year was a challenge as I entered the halls of Webster Groves with only my cousins and a few other familiar faces. Joining the State Championship basketball team was huge and allowed me to gain more friends than I could imagine. While I was getting used to this new popularity Wes Craven struck again with SCREAM. It was the film that everyone had to see and yours truly saw it 7 times! Not that I wanted to but at a time when you were engaged with dates of the opposite sex I found a new form of popularity as the guy to go see SCREAM with. I laugh when I think about it but I owe Wes a lot to my sexual pursuits in my final high school years. So it’s sad to hear of the passing of this man. I have been in the same building as him many times but was unable to ever meet. Though I owe a lot to him in shaping the mind of this lost soul and allowing me to create the platform that I and others speak to you here on HMU everyday. You will be missed more than you know Wes Craven and I wish I would have made more of an attempt to speak to you personally. Though you will speak to each and everyone one of us everytime we play one of your films. Visionary is a word that I don’t use too frequently but I feel like we all should rejoice in the fact that we were alive to witness a true master of horror and for that I am forever thankful. So thank you Wes Craven, thank you.