“ It’s crazy, all that blood and violence. I thought you were supposed to be the love generation”. Conservative mother, Estelle Collingwood says to her daughter Mari in the beginning of Wes Craven’s cult classic The Last House on the Left (1972). With the war in Vietnam in full swing and the long term effects of the Manson family murders, the peace and love counter culture was at the end of an era. American society had become more violent and corrupt, as were the films Hollywood was starting to release. And with the new generation’s style of filmmaking and recent MPAA rating system, filmmakers were pushing the boundaries of their films and shocking audiences and critics to the core. With new filmmakers kicking down the door of Hollywood every year, it’s no surprise that soon-to-be horror icon Wes Craven would fit perfectly into the new generation of Hollywood. Craven’s early films fall into the exploitation category. They were severely gruesome, repulsive, appalling, and ended up being banned in several countries. Craven would go on to make films that reflect on contemporary society by using a number of recurring themes and formal filmmaking aesthetics that included:
1. Recurring themes of evil as a product of society
2. Recurring themes of corruption of youth and innocence
3. Juxtapositions of setting
4. Subjective point of view camera shots
Wesley Earl Craven was born on August 2, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. The son of
Wes Craven: Auteur of Exploitation & Violence 2
Caroline née Miller and Paul Craven, he was raised in a strict Baptist household. His parents had a large list of activities that prohibited Craven from participating in anything that would be co-ed, this would include going to the movies. At age five, his p...
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...d film aesthetics? Simple, because he asks questions that are still relevant to society today. His views on certain morals and psychological corruption is depicted in exaggerated forms of violence, that perhaps he feels an emotional connection with. It is certain that this could be because of his strict religious upbringing and being told that everything and everyone is evil. And growing up through a period in time where you’re exposed to violence around every corner, can certainly make someone question their faith in what’s and good and what’s evil and is it ok to expose that evil. As Craven states in an interview, “ A lot in life is dealing with your curse, dealing with the cards you were given that aren’t so nice. Does it make you into a monster, or can you temper or accept it and go in some other direction?” (R. Mancini & W. Craven, personal communication, 2004).