Remembering Wes Craven

What may seem like old news to most of the world still lingers at RevPub. As lifelong horror fans, the news of Wes Craven’s passing stuck us pretty hard. I even cried, which I normally don’t do for people I don’t know. However, I felt he knew me.

Wes Craven
Photo: movieline.com

That’s what was so difficult to accept. His passing wasn’t just of an adored horror director. It was the end of an era – the end of some of the best horror ever. The end of a legend.

As a teenager, I of course saw Scream in theaters. I ruined the ending for my RevPub partner – sorry James – and it took teen audiences by storm. It was the ’90s version of Halloween. It was the ’80s version Friday the 13th. And it came from someone who had already given the world Freddy and his Nightmares on Elm Street. It captured a new generation and created millions more horror fans.

The Screams and Nightmares never my favorites though. My favorite Wes Craven film is The People Under the Stairs, and it has been since I was a child. It was my Goonies. In fact, I had seen People a dozen times before I had seen Goonies. If you’ve seen both, you’re probably thinking ‘wtf?’ because People is an incredibly child-violent movie. I’m proud of that fact though.

Fool People Under the Stairs
Photo: cinapse.co

I owe my child horror movie cannon to my Dad because he was an avid fan. I was reading Stephen King at 9 years old. I was terrified of IT by 8, but People resonated with me in a different way. It didn’t scare me. It was a wonderful adventure of horrible adults, thieves, and triumphant kids. I would also argue it is one of the best socially themed movies in my lifetime. Rich white people driving out poor black people, and the community unites against them. All while the rich white people are hunting children. Powerful stuff.

The plot spoke to me. I grew up without much money. My parents struggled to pay bills, and we moved A LOT. By the time I entered high school, I had attended seven schools. I didn’t have the latest clothes, and my parents could not buy me whatever I wanted. But it was all okay.

That’s why I love People Under the Stairs. The movie addresses abuse, poverty, racial tension, and the dynamic between ‘parents’ and children. It addresses how society overlooks kids – often forgetting them and their feelings – and as a kid at the time, it empowered me. The movie gave me hope that I too could overcome my obstacles. I could escape.

More than 20 Years Later

I rewatched it when I heard the news to show my respect. As an adult, this is still one of my favorite horror movies. It’s very funny in a messed-up way. Plus, Ving Rhames from Pulp Fiction – my favorite movie of all time – plays a major part and says some awesome one-liners. The People Under the Stairs takes us on a twisted adventure with kids who try to escape a house full of passages, traps, and killers. The kids avoid shotguns, a large dog, two adults hunting them, all while trying to find gold coins. People is as much as an adventure movie as The Goonies, just bloodier.

Wes Craven understood people. He understood fear. Fear lives within everyone, no matter your age, race, identity, or social class. Fear can unite or break us. And Wes knew how to help us release it …

With a heavy heart, I hope he rests peacefully and knows his legend will always live in the hearts of horror fans worldwide. No one will replace him, and we at RevPub thank him for making us cringe and laugh – and for making us stronger.

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