Wes Craven on Film, Fear and Faith

The horror film director says people watch scary movies "not to get scared, but to deal with terrors they already feel."

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The soul searching took different forms. Sometimes Craven toldhimself, "I am bad because I am rejecting the Holy Spirit of Christ."But at other times, the doubts served more positively as signs that heneeded to rethink reality.

Asked if he considered himself a religious person now, Cravenresponded, "I don't do anything in an organized way." Rather, he hascome to see filmmaking as the most significant way to express hisbeliefs and longings.

Craven said he found something in the whole process of crafting afilm, from the business nuts-and-bolts to "wrestling with my innerdemons and inner glimpses of light," that was more satisfying andbeneficial than anything he could have done in traditional venues ofreligious service.

"I think that's ... the best approach to (the) spiritual ... I'mcapable of," he said.

And the filmmaker draws on religious and philosophical categories toanalyze the horror-film genre of which he is an acknowledged master.

"Horror films somehow come and confront" the dark, incomprehensibleside of humanity, Craven said. "They're very much like an inoculationagainst a deeper and darker and more frightening reality."

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People go to horror movies, the director believes, not to getscared, but to deal with terrors they already feel. "That's why we haveconcepts of heaven and salvation, because there is a sense of beinglost, of being under threat. We are, at our very basic ... these veryfrail little vehicles that keep running around."

When an audience leaves a scary movie, Craven said, "something hasbeen released, something has been exorcised."

Craig Detweiler, City of the Angels co-producer, underscored therelevance of Craven's filmmaking for people of faith. "Wes Craven comesfrom a faith background. He understands Christianity, he understandsconservative Christianity," Detweiler said. "He has first-handexperience of what the majority of people of faith in America haveexperienced and believe."

Craven "was created by the church of the 1950s," Detweiler said. "Ithink a film like `Nightmare on Elm Street' is a critique of a certainsanitized vision of America that he undoubtedly believes was less thanhonest."

Detweiler added, "if we're afraid of Freddy Krueger, then we don'tstand a chance of dealing with the real everyday fears of what's goingon in Afghanistan, what happened Sept. 11 ... what happened in Rwanda,what happened in Vietnam."

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