TIME remembrance

How Wes Craven Reinvented the Horror Movie

From grisly exploitation pics to postmodern slashers

Wes Craven’s name was synonymous with horror. Like Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg, he was a director whose name could be used as a prefix to signify authenticity—if you knew it was Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, you knew it was going to be terrifying. And it usually was.

But Craven, who died on Sunday at age 76, didn’t rest on his reputation as a creator of chills and jumpscares. Until the Scream franchise he made sequels only sparingly, directing only the original Nightmare on Elm Street and then a postmodern reboot that was less a sequel than a movie about the power of that first movie.

Throughout his career he repeatedly took the genre to new and unpredictable places. Here, three horror subgenres the “master of horror” helped reinvent:

The exploitation pic

Craven’s The Last House on the Left was a scuzzy, low-budget revenge pic that one-upped the Roger Corman-style exploitation picture to show the horrendous rape and murder of two teenage girls by a gang of thugs, who are then violently killed by one of the victim’s parents. Less outright horror than a “terror movie” with highbrow origins — Craven named Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring as an influence — its box office success inspired an entire subgenre of grisly revenge pics, from the outright knockoff Last House on Dead End Street to even scuzzier movies like I Spit on Your Grave. Without The Last House on the Left, there would be no Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which likewise advertised itself, falsely, as being based on a true story) and, in all likelihood, no ’00s torture porn like Hostel or Saw.

The monster movie

Craven did make traditional, woman-in-peril monster movies, such as Swamp Thing, but his most infamous monster—and the character for which he will forever be remembered—is Freddy Krueger, the demonic murderer with razorblade gloves who kills kids in their dreams. Before the Nightmare on Elm Street antagonist became a symbol of horror comedy thanks to inferior sequels and Simpsons parodies, he was an archetype of a particular kind of monster, something that had once been a man but had become a living personification of a nightmare. Freddy as a character was so powerful that he spawned an entire library of films, which gave him a mythology that Craven later subverted with New Nightmare.

The slasher pic

Craven resurrected the ’70s slasher movie with Scream, the 1996 hit that punctured (sometimes literally) the then-wearying end-of-millennium irony of Generation X. Baldly self-aware, down to the defined “rules” that govern the slasher movie the characters themselves are starring in, the movie was also terrifying, not least due to the nihilism of its dual murderers. Scream was followed by a host of imitators and some less impressive sequels, but perhaps its keenest influence was its subversion of the “final girl” trope—the lone woman, usually a virgin, who manages to escape the killer’s clutches. Sidney Prescott ended up an empowered heroine even after losing her virginity, not just taking revenge on the killers but saving the lives of her male friends.


Meet the American Who Went to Iraq to Fight ISIS But Ended Up Taking on Iran

Ryan O'Leary thinks the Kurds face a greater threat than ISIS

When Ryan O’Leary went to war for the third time, he was expecting to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the militant group that has captured vast swathes of Iraq and Syria. After serving with the Iowa National Guard in Iraq in 2007-8 and then in Afghanistan in 2010-11, he went back to Iraq earlier this year of his own volition. The intention, he told the Des Moines Register in June, was to train Kurdish soldiers — the Peshmerga — to drive ISIS out of its northern Iraqi strongholds. “ISIS isn’t just a fight for them,” he said then. “It’s a fight for all of us.”

But the 28-year-old’s journey took a slightly different direction once he got to Iraq. Now, O’Leary is patrolling the border between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan embedded with a faction of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) deep in the Qandil mountains. And he’s training the soldiers not to fight ISIS, but Iranian forces he says are repressing Kurdish minorities in the region. “I’ve pretty much changed my view,” he tells TIME in a telephone interview. “There’s no difference between Iran and ISIS, they do the exact same thing to these people. It’s just not reported as much.”

The KDPI is one of several political organizations representing Iran’s Kurds, an ethnic group of about 7 million people living both in Iran and in the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. The party has been outlawed in the Islamic Republic for decades, as it advocates for greater independence and European-style social democracy. The unit O’Leary is with patrols the mountainous border ostensibly to defend Kurds against Iranian aggression.

So how did O’Leary get involved? He says he felt rootless after returning from Afghanistan in 2011, and itched to serve again in some way despite suffering some symptoms of PTSD. “I felt a bit lost when I got back,” he says now. “I didn’t have a purpose.” A Kurdish translator for his National Guard unit put him in touch with a British former soldier who was training Peshmerga, who gave him some contacts in northern Iraq. Against the advice of his family — and the U.S. government — he flew out in June.

When O’Leary arrived in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, he said he went looking for a Peshmerga unit “that wouldn’t allow me to get babysat.” He met with an official with a faction of the KDPI who convinced him the bigger threat to the region’s Kurds was not ISIS, but Iran. “ISIS isn’t a permanent threat to Kurdistan or even the region,” O’Leary says. “But the influence from Iran in this region is getting insanely huge. It’s a hardline religious view.”

So he teamed up with KDPI soldiers in the border region northeast of Erbil, becoming “basically the first Westerner they’ve ever let in,” he says. He claims to be teaching the soldiers tactics picked up from his own days in the military, using what little Kurdish he has picked up; how to mount an ambush, how to observe troop movements, how to give basic first aid. His trainees aren’t like the battle-hardened Peshmerga, who are fighting ISIS in northern Iraq; there’s no rank structure, and the men can be as old as 60.

Tensions have indeed been rising between Iranian Kurds and the regime in recent months. In May, thousands of Iranian Kurds took to the streets in the Iranian city of Mahabad and elsewhere in a series of sometimes violent protests against the regime. Armed Iranian Kurdish parties threatened to send militia to Tehran if the Islamic Republic wouldn’t grant them autonomy. O’Leary claims Iran has shelled border villages and executed civilians on the border and that Kurdish groups have made raids on Iranian outposts.

He won’t talk about current operations but said the troops he is with are “trying to avoid direct conflict.” Instead, O’Leary says, the focus is on preparing to defend the border during an Iranian incursion he believes will come once the U.S. approves a nuclear deal. Without military sanctions the country will finally feel emboldened to crack down on its rebel minorities, he says. “I think this will escalate to armed conflict, and when it does I’ll be there for it.”

It may not come to that, says Martin van Bruinessen, professor of the comparative study of contemporary Muslim societies at Utrecht University. Although there have been Iranian military incursions into Kurdish areas in the past, he says, the regime has long agreed to forgo military action on the border so long as Iraqi Kurds prevent Iranian exiles from mounting attacks. As for the pending nuclear deal, “the Iranian Kurds are in fact rather hopeful of a liberalizing impact,” he says.

There’s little doubt who is the more serious regional foe, he adds. “The confrontation with ISIS, in which Iranian proxies are playing a significant part and Iran’s influence in general appear to be increasing, represents a more serious threat to the KDPI.”

So what do the U.S. authorities make of a U.S. citizen inserting himself into a decades-old conflict between Iran and its Kurdish minorities? Rasheeda Clements, a spokesperson for the State Department, tells TIME that the U.S. government does not support any U.S. citizen traveling to Iraq or Syria to train soldiers for the KDPI. “Any private U.S. citizens/civilians who may have traveled to Iraq or Syria to take part in the activities described are neither in support of nor part of U.S. efforts in the region.”

O’Leary says he’ll stay in the country until he feels he has made a difference. His goals are to make the international community aware of the threat posed by Iran to Kurdish minorities, he says, and to prepare the troops for whatever fighting there is to come. Finally he has a purpose, he says. “I’m not just out here running around with a gun, I’m trying to change things.”

TIME Music

When N.W.A. Was America’s Most Dangerous Group

In 1991, TIME's critic said that their latest album was "an entire open season for negative stereotyping"

The new biopic of iconic West Coast rap group N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton (in theaters Friday), may come as a shock to younger viewers. Is that really the Ice Cube who starred in mainstream comedies like Ride Along and Last Friday? Is this the same Dr. Dre who designed my headphones? It’s hard to think of a more stark illustration of how rap went from being the protest music of an angry, marginalized subculture to the multi-unit-selling mainstream genre it is today than the rise and rise of N.W.A.’s two biggest surviving stars.

Twenty-four years ago the idea that Ice Cube would one day wrestle a talking deer in Are We There Yet? would have been unfathomable. This, after all, was the man whose fierce opening verse in 1989’s ‘F—k the Police’ helped prompt the FBI to send a letter to the group’s record distributor advising them that “advocating violence and assault is wrong.” By 1991, N.W.A. was reveling in its self-described role as the World’s Most Dangerous Group, condemned by politicians and law enforcement authorities alike. Straight Outta Compton had sold some 2 million copies, and its hotly anticipated second full album Efil4zaggin (read it backwards) brought the group fresh infamy when it was released in June of that year.

The album’s cover showed N.W.A. — now without Cube, who had left to start a solo career in 1989 after falling out with manager Jerry Heller — as ghosts rising from gunned-down corpses, and its content was no less violent or nihilistic. Songs about violence and sex were punctuated with skits that were just as extreme; the band used the N-word some 249 times. Having been roundly condemned as a menace to society, the group was doing its best to live up to the label. And it worked; the album was banned from some record chains in the U.S., and British authorities, under the authority of the Obscene Publications Act, seized 25,000 copies of the album upon its release. Critics weren’t impressed. TIME’s Jay Cocks branded the album “grotesque” in a July 1991 review, not for its threat to the moral order but for its relentless negativity and misogyny:

The fact is, Efil4zaggin is an entire open season for negative stereotyping. That’s the classic rap posture, black male division, of course: turning the comic-book white fantasy of the black male as a murderous sexual stud into a hyperbolic reality. Rappers like N.W.A. and Public Enemy want to scare the living hell out of white America — and sell it a whole mess of records — by making its worst racial nightmares come true.

N.W.A.’s runaway success was driven not by “street-seasoned bloods,” Cocks wrote. Instead, he continued, the group appealed to white, middle-class teenage boys thousands of miles from South Central L.A. who were looking for a way to rebel (boys like this writer, who remembers listening to a bootlegged tape in late 1991 with a mixture of disgust and riotous glee). Little surprise then that the moral majority believed the hype about N.W.A. being so dangerous. To Cocks, however, they were a danger only to themselves — the threat of being “stifled”, he wrote, by their own “ravening sexism.” It’s a charge that hip-hop has never quite managed to shake even as it moved further into the mainstream, with jiggling booties still common in music videos and female rappers often treated with disrespect or outright hostility.

But a quarter century on, as a new generation prepares to learn about the rise of N.W.A. and the lure of its music, the absence of a truly disruptive band or musician of the moment is striking. Plenty of artists still express their anger at society, especially as the world becomes increasingly aware of inequality, but the top of the pop charts is not usually where those people end up. So who are today’s preteen boys listening to in their private moments of rebellion, who is upsetting the nation’s parents, who is riling up the critics — and who will perhaps sell us headphones in a decade or two?

Read the full 1991 article about N.W.A., here in the TIME Vault: A Nasty Jolt for the Top Pops


Hillary Clinton Comments On Viral ‘Humans of New York’ Photo

The former Secretary of State tells gay child: "Your future is going to be amazing"

Street photographer Brandon Stanton — better known as the creator of Humans of New York — posted a picture Friday of a tearful boy with the caption, “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.”

The post garnered 498,000 ‘Likes’, about standard for a HONY post, but what Stanton may not have expected was a comment from Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton wrote, “Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you – there will be lots of them.”

The photo initially became the subject of controversy when Stanton claimed Facebook had removed it from the site. But a Facebook spokesperson said Saturday the photo had not been intentionally deleted, but had been temporarily unavailable due to a bug. The photo is now available to be seen online, along with Clinton’s comment signed with her distinctive “-H.”

Humans of New York features photographs of ordinary people on the street along with quotes from the subjects, who typically do not identify themselves.

TIME russia

Putin Wishes Obama a Happy Independence Day

Vladimir Putin
Sergei Karpukhin—AP In this May 28, 2015 file photo, Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a ceremony in the Kremlin in Moscow.

"Russian-American relations remain the most important factor of international stability and security"

Russian President Vladimir Putin has emphasized the importance of U.S.-Russian relations in a congratulatory July 4 message to President Barack Obama Saturday.

“In his message of congratulations, the Russian President noted that, despite the differences between the two countries, Russian-American relations remain the most important factor of international stability and security,” the Kremlin said, Reuters reports.

The message comes as diplomatic relations between the countries remain frayed, with Russia considering fresh sanctions against Western nations in the ongoing diplomatic feud over eastern Ukraine.

The head of Russia’s Security Council said Friday the country might target Finland over its refusal to issue a visa for the head of its lower house.

Nikolai Patrushev also singled out Washington for blame Friday for the protests in early 2014 that saw the pro-Moscow leadership driven from office. “The United States has initiated all those events in Ukraine. It has initiated a coup and put the current Ukrainian leadership in power,” he said, the AP reports.

Putin’s message, however, did not mention Ukraine or the Western sanctions imposed by the U.S. and others following the annexation of Crimea.


TIME movies

Ava DuVernay Confirms She Won’t Direct Black Panther

2015 Sundance Institute Celebration Benefit Ava DuVernay
Michael Tran—Getty Images Ava DuVernay arrives at the 2015 Sundance Institute Celebration Benefit held at 3LABS on June 2, 2015 in Culver City, Calif.

Sorry, Selma fans

The first major black superhero movie won’t be directed by the most prominent African American female director in Hollywood.

Selma director Ava DuVernay told Essence she considered directing Marvel’s Black Panther movie, but ultimately decided the project wasn’t for her.

“I think I’ll just say we had different ideas about what the story would be,” she told the magazine at the Essence Festival in New Orleans. “I love that they reached out to me.”

Black Panther will star Chadwick Boseman as the titular superhero and is due for release in July 2018.

Read the entire story at Essence.com

TIME Google Doodle

Google Doodle Brings Out Lawn Chairs to Celebrate 4th of July

Inspired by memories of Independence Days past

Google has brought out a set of lawn chairs — and a couple of pets — for its doodle celebrating Independence Day.

The artist, San Francisco-based Brian Kaas, explained the illustration was inspired by his own memories of July 4 block parties. “I spent a lot of my summers sitting on a lawn chair with my neighbors, friends and family,” he said. “When we would get up, the neighborhood pets would often steal our seats.”

Google’s previous July 4 doodles have featured a lot of red white and blue — but this year the Stars and Stripes just put in a cameo, with two small flags sitting in a vase next to a jug of lemonade.

TIME Crime

Police Report ‘All Clear’ at Washington Navy Yard

Employee thought she heard gunshots but was mistaken

The Washington Navy Yard was on lockdown Thursday morning after reports of shots being fired, just two years after a gunman killed 12 people at the military base.

But after a heavy police and FBI response, local authorities said there was no evidence of a shooting and restrictions on movement were lifted. Law enforcement officials said in a news conference that they received a call from an employee who thought she heard gunshots, and executed a “smooth, well-coordinated response.”

“This is an employee who did exactly what we ask them to do,” D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier said of the caller. “We have no concerns that this was a hoax whatsoever.”

The affected area was smoothly evacuated, and law enforcement executed a protocol that they say resemble the response to the active shooter incident in September 2013, when Aaron Alexis, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, shot and killed 12 people before being shot dead by authorities.

TIME 2016 Election

Yes, Donald Trump Is Running for President

Will 2016 finally be the year of President Trump?

Real estate magnate and reality television star Donald Trump finally made good on his decades-long promise to seek the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, promising America the chance to vote for a “truly great leader.”

Taking the stage to the sounds of Neil Young’s “Rocking in the Free World” at New York City’s Trump Tower, the entrepreneur departed from his prepared remarks to deliver a lengthy monologue on global trade, the military, the U.S. economy, and most of all, Donald Trump.

“I will be the greatest jobs president God ever created,” he said. His rivals, he continued, “will never make America great again. They don’t have a chance.”

I am officially running for President of the United States. #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

A photo posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Trump’s frequent flirtations with a presidential bid have become a stock joke among the Washington press corps in recent years, but now he has finally made his intentions official. He must disclose his much-debated income to the Federal Elections Commission and may need to give up his role as the chief antagonist of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice.

The network released a statement following Trump’s announcement, saying it would “re-evaluate Trump’s role as host of Celebrity Apprentice should it become necessary, as we are committed to this franchise.”

TIME Soccer

U.S. Defeats Germany 2-1 in Soccer Friendly

Team USA beat the top ranking national team in the world

The U.S. men’s soccer team defeated the current World Cup champions on Wednesday, with a 2-1 victory over Germany in a thrilling non-competitive match.

Although Germany scored first after just 12 minutes, Sports Illustrated reports, U.S. midfielder Mix Diskerud tied the game in the 41st minute. With three minutes left in the match, substitute Bobby Wood hammered home a late winner.

The come-from-behind victory against FIFA’s top-ranking national squad comes just five days after the U.S. defeated the Netherlands, another top 10 team.

The win represents long-awaited payback for Team USA, which lost to the Germans both in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup and in the 2002 tournament, when Michael Ballack’s goal in the quarterfinals sent the Americans packing. But the defeat will leave a bitter taste in the mouth for German soccer fans, especially as U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann is one of Germany’s most celebrated former players and its onetime manager.

The U.S. women’s team, meanwhile, is preparing for its second World Cup group stage game against Sweden on Friday, after beating Australia 3-1 on Monday. The U.S. is currently ranked second in the world in the women’s game, just behind… Germany.

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