5 key Wes Craven films, from The Last House On The Left to Scream

Cinema Still : Scream, starring Drew Barrymore.
Cinema Still : Scream, starring Drew Barrymore.PHOTO: STARHUB

Even if you do not like horror, you will have heard of Wes Craven.

The writer and director had a gift for inventing psychopaths that bring our deepest fears out into the open.

The former professor of humanities not only helped create the slasher genre, he also made it smart, took it mainstream and spawned imitators.

1. The Last House On The Left (1972)

The low-budget exploitation flick about two young women captured by escaped convicts was written and directed by Craven. It pushed the boundaries of allowable content at the time, but Craven's first feature featured the flourishes that would make his career: ultra-violence, thrill-killers and an awareness of the cultural zeigeist - hippie idealism (represented by the young women) is rapidly giving way to something harder and darker.

2. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Along with The Last On The Left, this horror classic received a recent remake. Craven took real-life stories of incestuous cannibal families living in remote regions and turned it into a splatter-fest. A family en route to California by caravan falls into the clutches of freaks somewhere in the Nevada desert. Craven shows the audience the worst that could happen if you stray from the main roads.

3. A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)

Freddy Krueger - no one who saw this movie and was scarred by its terrifying premise can forget him. From the hat to his striped shirt and his bent for one-liners, Krueger (played by Robert Englund) was cheeky, unstoppable and completely fascinating. He would live on in several sequels.

4. The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)

This was the slasher director trying his hand at psychological horror. Based on a popular science work of non-fiction by researcher Wade Davis, the movie explores the world of voodoo cults and zombies in Haiti. It takes huge liberties with the source material, but audiences did not seem to mind.

5. Scream (1996)

 First Freddy, now Ghostface. Directed by Craven and written by Kevin Williamson, this movie became a sensation because it attracted fans who would not otherwise watch a slasher film. It broke through because it starred names such as Drew Barrymore and Courtney Cox, who was then in the popular Friends television sitcom. And it had Ghostface, who has since taken his place next to Freddy as a Craven baddie for the ages.