I sometimes get chills when I think of the names. My eyes even get watery now and then. You know them. They are the gentlemen who created modern horror. Romero, Carpenter, Cohen, Cronenberg, Coscarelli, Hooper, Argento. And of course, Wes Craven.

The work these people did will resonate as long as horror exists. The movie milestones they created! Night/Dawn/Day of the Dead. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Susperia. Phantasm. Deep Red. The Brood. It's Alive. Halloween. Masterpieces that all later horror movies drew upon.

And yes, Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream.

Wes Craven may well have been the most intelligent of them. Regardless of the results of some of the movies he helmed, Craven's productions were ambitious in scope. He delved into human archetypes and our deepest psychological recesses. His earliest movies were raw and brutal, intended for the grindhouse/drive-in circuit, but they had depth and subtext.

There are books about all of the above directors and their movies. Most are pretty good. A few are lackluster. Wes Craven: The Man and his Nightmares is one of the better ones.

John Wooley was a longtime Fangoria writer, and he co-authored a couple of good horror novels. He knows his stuff and is passionate about it. His writing style is relaxed and it goes down easy.

I had a great time reliving the years when I saw every Wes Craven movie as they were released. Wes was unique, and while every movie didn't quite work, they were always interesting. What other horror director made not one, not two, but three genre milestones? Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream all broke boundaries and reached audiences far outside the usual horror circles.

If you love the movies of Wes Craven, or are simply interested in the history of the genre, I recommend this book. It's a pleasant, easy read, but it may also inspire you to go back and watch some of the movies with greater understanding of the ideas behind them.

The years have flown by. Time has stolen the youth we reveled in. The bright, passionate, talented horror directors have grown old and most of them have died. I am so happy I was around to see so many of their classics at drive-ins and in indoor theaters. At midnight shows and on cable and VHS. I have watched them numerous times on DVD. I have even sat through TV cuts.

John Carpenter, George Romero, David Cronenberg, Larry Cohen, Dario Argento, Tobe Hooper, and Wes Craven will live on, and their influence will endure. There have been hundreds of articles, interviews, commentaries, by and about them. We all, horror fans, should continue to study their careers and reassess the movies.

The quality of their movies suffered in later years, and many (myself included) have made disparaging, sarcastic remarks about them. What I wouldn't give to be able to see a new Craven, Romero, or Hooper movie now. I miss them all.

Written by Mark Sieber

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