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Fox Lorber presents
The Directors: Wes Craven (2000)

"...people would literally move away from the table, or say, 'It was the most vile, reprehensible,piece of crap that I've ever seen.'"
- Wes Craven, commenting on what it was like to tell people he made "The Last House on the Left."

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: September 28, 2000

Stars: Wes Craven, Bill Pullman, Neve Campbell, Robert Englund
Other Stars: Mitch Pileggi, Meryl Streep, Kristy Swanson
Director: Robert J. Emery

Manufacturer: DVDI
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence and other R rated material in film clips)
Run Time: 00h:58m:31s
Release Date: September 19, 2000
UPC: 720917310022
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-C+C+ D+

DVD Review

With the Scream films, director Wes Craven has reached a level of commercial popularity I thought I'd never live to see. When I was a kid, Craven was the guy who made movies like The Hills Have Eyes and Swamp Thing. He had a knack for turning low-budget scripts into entertaining films that easily surpassed their inherent cheesyness. It's my own personal opinion that Craven has mellowed too much lately. No longer do we see outrageous movies like The People Under The Stairs with his name on it, but rather we see the Scream series which, in attempting to satirize 80's slasher films, has wound up becoming just as clichéd and redundant. Regardless, Craven has still managed to survive all these years, and more recently even tried to add a basic drama, Music From the Heart, to his resumé.

I gravitate towards Wes Craven's older works, especially The Serpent and the Rainbow, which I have long felt is his best film. I saw the film after having read the actual book upon which it's based, written by scientist Wade Davis about his own experiences with Haitian voodoo and experimenting with the exotic "zombie drugs" that are an essential part of that culture. In a creative move, the film is more of an exploration of the fantastic and partially fictional side of Davis' journey, rather than a direct translation, which would probably be very dry. Of course, Craven is most commonly known for A Nightmare On Elm Street, the now legendary horror film that introduced Freddie to us all. Love him or hate him, Wes Craven certainly has made his mark in the film industry.

As usual for the Directors series, the presentation here is mostly interview format, intercut with clips from Craven's movies. Overall the documentary handles the material very well, even better than some of the other discs in the series. Craven's career seems just long enough to comfortably fit into the hour given, and even though a few movies are quickly swept aside, there probably wasn't a whole lot to discuss about them anyway. For Craven fans, or those interested in his work, this is a very well made piece that treats his work a good level of professional attitude.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The overall transfer is very good, and there's no compression artifacts or pixelization. The film clips from Wes Craven's various works are surprisingly good, when compared to the rough quality of other Directors discs. My only real complaint is the lack of accurate black level in the clips, so most of them have a hazy, grey tint rather than solid blacks. As a documentary, the image works, but it's nothing special.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: A Pro-Logic Mono mix is used for the audio and it's fairly uneventful. Dialogue is easy to distinguish and the film clips sound OK, but this is nothing that will blow you away. The best of the audio is the interview portions, which are very clear and undistorted.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. DVD-ROM Weblink
Extras Review: Other than a weblink and a very basic filmography for Wes Craven, there are no extras here and the presentation is a little stale. This seems to be on average for the Directors series.

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

It's nice to see the Directors series delve into the careers of directors that aren't exclusively the acclaimed, art-house type. By treating Craven with this kind of respect, it adds more dimension to the series in general. Recommended.


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