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Wes Craven, The Lessons He Taught Me And My New Nightmare

Updated on August 31, 2015
Nightcat profile image

Nightcat is a movie junkie who loves rationalizing her obsession by writing movie reviews.

Even though we are apart for just a little while, Wes has only moved on to the next film location before us.
Even though we are apart for just a little while, Wes has only moved on to the next film location before us.

Thank You, Wes Craven

I'd like to tell long time readers that I got a really good nightmare out of this, since my fiction readers know, that like Wes Craven, that's where I got all my good story ideas from. I did have a recent Freddy dream, but those tend to be good ones, and I did have series of odd events worthy of any horror film he directed.

But what about my new nightmare? To many fans of the horror genre and his films in particular Wes Craven was a horror icon and a sort of father in the industry. And as I was brought up in a small town decades behind the rest of the country, I can tell you a love for all things horror was seen as a sign of mental illness. A bit ironic considering that Wes Craven had a degree is psychology.

The odd thing is, I didn't know until after his death how close his upbringing must have mirrored mine and I can't help but wonder if his journey was a little bit the same. But I remember reading many years ago, in a magazine about his love for gardening, and suddenly everything changed.

As always, all writing and photography are my original work. Any videos are used for informational and entertainment purposes only. If you own the copyright and want credit and a link or something removed, please let me know.

Lesson One: We Are Who We Are

While the rest of the world was moving on and accepting that humans had a healthy psychological need for horror movies on many levels, the ultra conservative town I grew up in wasn't. I was labeled abnormal, evil, even the antichrist, just for a love of horror movies. Yes, I always had an interest in paganism as well, and you can only imagine how well that went over, but horror films were literally thought to be inspired by the devil and tools, I kid you not, used to steal souls.

So here I was, with the internal struggle that even to this day can rear its unsightly head. I loved horror movies, I saw nothing wrong with them, I even thought they were healthy in a way. And they actually are. Whether you love the good scares, you admire the lessons Wes Craven deftly wove into his films, or you adore the bad guys, because they can be very empowering to the powerless, you can be revitalized and nourished by them. Yet everyone from teachers to exfriends who could no longer speak to me because of the horror films was telling me I was evil. Imagine, being told every day of your life you are evil just for being you.

Then I read about Wes Craven and his garden. He was a man who certainly loved the horror industry, yet he also gardened as I did at the time. He could walk in the light and be at peace with himself and his chosen profession. This was a very long time ago, but every time I think of his garden I can close my eyes and be at peace.

He taught me a valuable lesson with that garden. We are who we choose to be. We are not what others label us or see us as.

Truly Lovely Tribute

The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection (New Line Platinum Series)
The Nightmare on Elm Street Collection (New Line Platinum Series)

Still my favorite box set on all time and one I actually reviewed for Hubpages. See all the films and follow Freddy's growth as a true horror movie icon and enjoy the box set with extra goodies like a collectible booklet and 3D glasses. The ultimate gift for any Freddy or Wes Craven fan, it is also a stunning example of what horror movies should be.


Lesson Two: We Naturally Crave Darkness and Light

I remember reading articles about Wes Craven's house as well. Why anyone outside of horror movie fans cared what his house looked like I honestly wasn't sure, but their surprise kind of amused me. I write in the pagan section, often write horror fiction, and yet? Come into my office and you will find bright yellow walls and white lace curtains.

If there is one lesson Wes Craven taught me from his home and could teach anyone who cared to pay attention it's that we aren't all one thing. Sure, he directed some of the most iconic horror films in the industry. Almost everyone knows who Freddy Kruger is. But that didn't mean he has to live in a house worthy of one of his films.

We all love beauty and light. We all appreciate color, structure and design. And by embracing both halves of ourselves, that which dwells in and craves light, but also the part that loves and craves darkness, we can be whole again.

Great Interview

The Serpent and the Rainbow
The Serpent and the Rainbow

I truly love this film as it explores the line between reality and fantasy. Although it does not follow the novel it is still an impressive cinematic thrill ride and worthy of any film buff's video shelf.


Lesson Three: Education is a Beautiful Thing

Wes Craven had several degrees, a passion for teaching, and a continual quest to learn more. He was also, like me a voracious reader, a habit I highly approve of. And again, maybe folks wouldn't get what they expect. While I certainly have my share of pagan tomes there are also books on Roman Catholicism which I was raised in, Judaism which I studied in University, and more. Crimes novels, horror reads, but also a goodly amount of cookbooks as I'm always trying to learn more and grow as a home chef.

So education, whether in school or on your own is a beautiful thing and it can be had for free or nearly that. With the proliferation of online articles and videos alone you could learn at least the fundamentals of any subject you wish. Then a trip to your local library or used bookstore and you'd have a better grasp on the subject.

But we are never done learning. No matter how old we get there are always new subjects to explore, fundamentals we totally forgot to go back to, and books are a gateway to that path. Last night as a matter of fact, I spent an hour or so curled up with some old books, going over articles I haven't read in years and the experience was heavenly

And Wes Craven's love of reading, along with my mother's impressed me with that. The valuable lesson that education and the books that go along with it are priceless have never left me, so thank you, Wes.

My New Nightmare and the Gift of Freddy

This one hit me when I heard of Wes Craven's death. I never knew him personally, I never wrote to him, I never interacted with the man online that I'm aware of. Wes Craven never read the terrible Freddy fanfiction I wrote to cope with my mother dying of cancer two short years after my father's passing, also from cancer, and oddly enough, I lost both father figures in my life to brain cancer.

And the only thing that kept me sane was horror movies because I could let all the darkness and helplessness from inside out. And that fanfic? As my mother was dying, it was extremely fast. We found out about her cancer in November and she died in December, I needed that. In it I had absolutely no restraint and the end result was a hyper-violent, blood soaked and darkly twisted love story. But it wasn't really a love story at all.

It was me, as the OC, I can't even remember if I named her, fighting Freddy for endless chapters because I couldn't fight the cancer. At one point I seriously believed that if I could slay the dream demon in text I could save my mother, it felt that real, that intense, and I was having Freddy dreams, which are actually good ones, on a nightly basis.

In fact the last gifts I got myself for Christmas, and this was either before or after we knew about the cancer, were a Freddy glove, long since gone as I transfered all my hate and pain, all my rage and sorrow onto that glove, and a sweater. But had it not been for Wes Craven and Freddy, had it not been for that story, I know I would not have survived the darkness that was consuming me.

I never met the man, I never told him how much Freddy or his entire body of work meant to me, but I owe Wes Craven for all the valuable lessons he taught me and I seriously owe my life to the man as fighting Freddy in all of his terrible, blood-soaked glory was the one thing that kept me sane.

At Peace

I will share a dream with you. Shortly after mom died what could I do for my beloved Freddy? I gave him a happy ending I'm sure angered a lot of fans and still does, and I don't care. He'd been my punching bag for over two months, and fictional character or not, I owed him. That night I had the briefest dream of the Freddy, my Freddy, who was like a son to me, sleeping peacefully, a contented smile on his face, looking for all the world like the kitten in the old Chessie logo.

And that let me know that things would be OK. Maybe not perfect, and I still get Freddy dreams when I need a mental kick in the tailfeathers, but it let me know that everything would be all right, no matter what. Wes Craven, if you are out there and ever see this, I wish you well on the next part of your journey and I thank you a million times over for not only the lessons you taught me, but for saving my life.

Without your films and inspiration my mother's passing would have been the end of me, so, thank you. I can never repay my debt to you, until perhaps we meet on the other side. Hope you are already hard at work cooking up some new films because I'm going to want to see them when I too journey on to the next film location.

What Did You Love About Wes Craven?

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