Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, and producer Marianne Maddalena graced the stage of our Silver Scream Fest in Santa Rosa, Calif., to pay tribute to Wes Craven, the filmmaker who changed all their lives and the face of horror cinema. The three had a comfortable rapport, having known each other for decades at this point.
When asked by moderator Neil Pearlmutter who the real Craven was, Englund graciously deferred to Maddalena, because, while he and Langenkamp had worked with him as actors on several projects, Maddalena had been his right-hand man for years. Maddalena said that when she interviewed to be his assistant, “I told him I wanted to be a producer. He did everything he could and two years later, I was a producer on a film called SHOCKER.”
She then related an anecdote that illustrated his sense of humor. He loaned her a screener of WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? “He said, ‘Don’t give this to anyone.’ So I lent it to the assistant director. Then the [Northridge, Calif.] earthquake happened. And the film was destroyed.” It so happened that the assistant director was a practical joker himself, so he went to Craven and told him what had happened. “So Wes came up to me and said, ‘Johnny Depp’s coming over and we’re going to have a screening of GILBERT GRAPE. I need that movie back.’ And I believed him!”
Englund remembered that Bob Shaye, the head of New Line Cinema, which had released A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, was concerned that Freddy’s iconic fedora would make people think of Indiana Jones. Doubting himself, Craven began to waffle until Englund intervened and convinced him his original vision was sound.
Langenkamp recalls him as being, “More an uncle, a really caring person who was looking after me.”
Englund credits both women, saying, “I think both of you were muses to Wes. … I think you guys inspired Wes.”
Maddalena says that after the SCREAM series, Craven did RED EYE and PARIS, JE T’AIME. “He got to do a lot of things. And I think that pleased him.”
Englund gives his legacy props, saying, “The SCREAM movies completely changed horror. It was very meta and deconstructive. Before that was the NIGHTMARE movies. And before that, there was LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. And THE HILLS HAVE EYES. People forget there are three different chapters in horror he had.”
When a fan brings up FREDDY VS JASON and asks who Englund thinks Freddy should also have a face-off with, Englund responds, “The demarcation for me is when it gets silly. … You can’t have Freddy facing off with f***ing Chucky,” to great laughs from the audience.
Near the end of the panel, some interesting tidbits were spilled:
- Apparently, Freddy is a mashup of a boy who bullied Craven in seventh grade and a man he saw outside when he was a kid. The man had grime on his face and wore a fedora. He looked away and when he looked back, the man wasn’t there. Getting his brother, the two looked out the front door, only to find the man on their walkway. Craven never forgot it, and used those experiences to create one of horror’s greatest icons.
- Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton was up for Mitch Pileggi’s role in SHOCKER.
- Jamie Kennedy was not the first choice to play Randy in SCREAM.
- And, apparently, John Savage once brought his wife to an audition for moral support!
The three will come together tomorrow again to talk horror and Craven, so if you’re in the area, you can still buy tix and experience all this fantastic fantasticness in person! Go to SilverScreamFest.com!