Friday Night Knife Fights: WES CRAVEN vs. M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN
FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, and Colleen Wanglund
WES CRAVEN VS. M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN – Part 1
MICHAEL ARRUDA: Welcome to this month’s FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS. Tonight, LL and I are joined by the Geisha of Gore herself, Colleen Wanglund. Welcome, Colleen.
COLLEEN WANGLUND: Happy to be here.
MA: And how are you doing tonight, LL?
L.L. SOARES: I’ve been better. I mean, we’re going to be talking about Wes Craven and M. Night Shyamalan tonight. How good can I be?
MA: That’s right, tonight on FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS it’s WES CRAVEN vs. M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN. We’ll be answering the question, which of these two directors is in the worst slump right now? Let’s get started. First of all, do you agree that these two directors are in a slump?
Both of these directors are in a huge slump. Wes Craven actually used to make really good movies….back in the 70s and 80s. And M. Night Shyamalan was touted as a potential movie-making genius with so much promise.
MA: How quickly fates change!
LS: Both directors have had periods in their careers where they were doing some terrific work. Neither has done anything of value for at least the last ten years. So yeah, they are definitely in a slump. They’re both awful examples of horror directors.
MA: I agree. I don’t see how anyone can argue otherwise, unless of course you’re a die-hard fan of Shyamalan and think all his movies have been great. I’m sure Dan Keohane would argue this if he were here.
LS: You hear that Dan? You’d better be here next time!
MA: Nothing like pressuring the guy!
LS: He can handle it. I thought he’d jump at the chance to defend his hero, M. Night. I’m surprised he didn’t show up for this one.
MA: Maybe he was afraid he’d be outnumbered.
CW: Which he would have been.
MA: Okay, so, who has fallen further from grace? In other words, which one was making movies at a higher level when he lost his way and got his head stuck in a toilet?
LS: I guess I’d have to go with Wes Craven, because his early films were fantastic. I think LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) and THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) were like these iconic, influential classics. Even people who don’t like them have to admit how they left indelible marks on the genre.
MA: I don’t like those movies, and I don’t have to admit that they were influential. I think they’re minor movies. They didn’t do anything to shape the horror industry, except maybe give people the false perception that horror movies are mindless violent trash, which is not a good thing. I don’t want people thinking horror movies are mindless violent trash.
LS: As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about. You claim to be a horror guy, but you’re such a wimp you can’t appreciate anything with any kind of real edge to it.
MA: THE EXORCIST (1973), HALLOWEEN (1978), ALIEN (1979)–these movies don’t have an edge? They do, plus guess what? They actually were made well!
CW: Sorry, but I have to agree with LL here. LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) and THE HILLS HAVE EYES are horror classics. I also loved SWAMP THING (1982), THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988) and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984).
LS: SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW is actually really good. It might be the last good movie Craven has made.
CW: I think Craven started to lose his way with the ELM STREET sequels. If there’s one thing I hate more than a remake, it’s a sequel. Although there was also the absolutely awful THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991).
LS: Oh God, you’re right. THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS is horrendous!
But, as for Craven’s career, you could tell as soon as he started getting big he really wanted to have a commercial/mainstream career, and he abandoned his more edgy sensibilities early on.
MA: I didn’t like any of these movies, except for the first A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The last movie that Craven made that I liked was SCREAM (1996).
LS: Yet another example of your lack of taste. SCREAM was crap.
MA: I have to cut you off here, because we have to move on to Shyamalan.
LS: Fine. I’ll come back to SCREAM later, because I’ve got more to say about this smug little piece of —.
MA: I’m sure you do. Anyway, moving on to Shyamalan, the last movie that he made that I liked was SIGNS (2002), so in my book Craven’s been in the longer slump.
LS: You must be sniffing glue again. SIGNS was horrible. It’s illogical, badly written, and not scary. It’s a movie about aliens so stupid they invade Earth – a planet that’s like 80% water – and guess what their only weakness is? Yep. Water! I think these must be the stupidest aliens in film history. Since we’re mostly water, too, what the hell were they planning to do with us once they took over? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
MA: Yes, but it works! It is scary, and I totally bought into the emotional plight of Mel Gibson’s character. That being said, you’re dead on about the aliens.
Still, I enjoyed SIGNS and THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) better than anything Craven has ever made. I guess I’m not much of a Craven fan.
So, in my estimation, Shyamalan has fallen further from grace since THE SIXTH SENSE is a classic of the genre, and SIGNS, while flawed, captivated me much more than anything in Craven’s canon of work.
LS: I thought Shyamalan’s best films were THE SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE (2000). I really liked both of them. However, I don’t think either one was as important as Craven’s early films. So I say Craven has fallen further.
CW: It’s tough to answer this one. Shyamalan made one great movie in THE SIXTH SENSE and seemed to fall off from there. It was as if he believed the hype, that he probably couldn’t make a bad movie (but keep in mind his idol is Stephen Spielberg who is another iffy one for me).
So, I don’t know which one has fallen further. They both have fallen pretty far.
LS: I think that Craven has made better films than Shymalan. But Craven’s worst films are also worse than Shymalan’s worst.
MA: Hold that thought, because that’s my next question. Which of the two has made the worst movies of late? Whose recent movies have you disliked more?
CW: Of late?
In my opinion, Shyamalan hasn’t made a good movie since THE SIXTH SENSE (1999). And Craven hasn’t made a good movie since THE EIGHTIES! I thought he was starting to mend his ways with SCREAM (1996) but then he just HAD to go and do sequels again.
MA: So, you liked SCREAM?
CW: Yeah, I liked the first one.
MA: At least I’m not the only one here who liked that movie.
LS: I think you’re both high!
CW: I have to say I probably dislike Wes Craven’s movies more because he’s been making movies longer and really should know better.
LS: I think they’ve both been pretty awful. They both had career highs and they both have wallowed in the sewer for awhile now.
MA: Wes Craven’s MY SOUL TO TAKE (2010) and CURSED (2005) were horrible. In fact, a friend of mine actually walked out of MY SOUL TO TAKE.
LS: I wish that friend was me. I had to sit through the whole thing and review it. Talk about torture porn! It was TORTURE sitting through that movie!
MA: Shyamalan’s recent movies haven’t been any better. Consider DEVIL (2010)— I know he only wrote this one, but I still count it as one of his movies—, THE HAPPENING (2008) , and the worst of the worst: THE VILLAGE (2004).
LS: THE VILLAGE is a work of genius compared to THE HAPPENING and SIGNS. At least it started out really good.
MA: It may have started out well, but where it went afterwards was abysmal.
THE VILLAGE actually annoyed the hell out of me. I was really into it and really enjoying it, and then Shyamalan goes and ruins it with an idiotic revelation half way through the film which absolutely killed any and all suspense the movie had taken so much care to build up. So, I was already outraged long before the film’s ridiculous unnecessary twist ending.
LS: Frankly, the fact that THE VILLAGE annoyed you so much makes me like it more than I originally did. If it irritated you that much, it can’t be all bad.
MA: I think you secretly wrote the screenplay.
Whose recent movies have I disliked more? Hands down, Shyamalan’s.
—-END PART 1—
(TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT FRIDAY)