How Wes Craven’s Christian Upbringing Influenced His Horror Films

Bob Bekian is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Bob Bekian is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Horror film legend Wes Craven’s Christian background helped shape some of his greatest films.

Horror director Wes Craven lost his battle with brain cancer Sunday, August 30. He was famous for creating characters such as Freddy Krueger, as well as being the mind behind some of the darkest and most gory horror films ever. Despite all of this, it is commonly ignored that he was raised as a Christian and that had to do in some way or another with his films and dark symbolism.

Wesley Earl Craven was born in 1939 and raised within a very strict and conservative Baptist family in Ohio. He declared that due to this, he was not able to even drink or go to the movies. He recalled all this as parts of a young life which he described as emotionally suppressed.

He then studied at Wheaton College, an Evangelical Protestant Christian liberal arts institution. Here he studies English and Psychology, both of which would also serve him to create his famous horror stories. Wes Craven became the editor for a literary magazine at Wheaton, and here he began to develop a more strained relationship with the beliefs he was taught.

A former professor in Wheaton College, Richard Warburton mentions this episode as one of the strongest moments that shows Craven's struggle with Christianity: he wanted Christian arts to grow, as well as artists to do things that really gave a place to them in the world. In a way, he was about pushing boundaries, both personal and professional, as well as creating valuable works of art.

Although he began doing slasher films after leaving Wheaton College, he then came to great success and fame due to various films, but no other was as big and important as em>A Nightmare on Elm Street. With that film and its sequels, Craven managed to redefine the horror genre, expose some of our deepest fears (the inability to protect society's precious teens when they are most vulnerable), and reflected the conflict of reality versus dreams; all through Freddy Krueger's burnt skin and clawed fingers.

The very things that he learned through his Christian upbringing, as well as those that Craven both loved and disliked about Christianity, from which he eventually decided to part ways with, where the elements that made his movies amazing. He understood how people work and the way we all are afraid of certain things, of being lost and of the unknown.

There is no doubt that Wes Craven's films reached out to the audiences like not many movies are able to. He was also in good understanding of people and what makes us feel joy ad fear, something clearly learned, at least in the beginning, through his Christian upbringing, focused on the fight between good and evil.

He will continue to be an example of film direction and creation. His movies are part of popular culture nowadays and they will remain great examples of the ways in which symbolism and human inner conflicts can be portrayed in the big screen inner conflicts can be portrayed in the big screen.


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