Theology and Wes Craven explores the religious themes in the movies, television shows, and other works of the man who redefined the horror genre with such landmark and notorious films as The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), The People Under the Stairs (1991), and Scream (1996). This volume provides a retrospective for his entire career, and then spotlights his most theologically intriguing works in chapters devoted to revealing Craven's narrative intent. This collection brings together established scholars and new emergent voices in academia, including feminist and LGBTQ+ perspectives, who explore Craven's vision in relation to contemporary political, social, and economic issues, especially as they related to children, visible minorities, the excluded, and the disenfranchised. This volume is sure to be appreciated both by academics and horror enthusiasts everywhere.
David K. Goodin is a lecturer for the McGill School of Religious Studies in Montreal and Professeur Associé at the Université Laval, Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe de Montréal.
1. Wes Craven – A Retrospective David K. Goodin
2. Wes Craven’s “Noah’s Ark – The Journals of a Madman” A Theological Review David K. Goodin
3. Mary’s Body, Broken for Us: Last House on the Left and American Trauma, 1972 to 2009 Catherine Jeannette McCrary
4. Wes Craven’s Mockery of Purity Culture in The Fireworks Woman
David K. Goodin
5. Freddy versus the Myth of Feminine Evil: Nancy and Heather as Redemptrices in A Nightmare on Elm Street
6. Thirteen Fragments about Zombies, Vodou, and Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow
7. The People Under the Stairs, Dominion Theology, and the Prosperity Gospel
Kevin J. Wetmore, Jr.
8. Laughing with Wes Craven: Monstrosity and Otherness in Craven’s Comedy-Horror Films
Catherine Jeannette McCrary
9. Dark Myths: Archetypal Elements and Biblical Themes in Wes Craven’s My Soul to Take Through the Lens of René Girard David L. Dickey
10. Ancient Wisdom and Contemporary Filmography: The Ethical Journey from the Music of the Spheres to the Music of the Heart Federico Andreoni
Theology doesn’t really cover what is contained in this collection as it is a rollercoaster ride of all-things Craven crammed into its sparkling roster of insightful essays that leaves the reader wanting more.
With topics ranging from Craven’s well-known films such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Last House on the Left, to some of his lesser-known work, including the novel Noah’s Ark: Diary of a Madman (1964), the essays in this collection are impressive in both scope and analysis. Through careful and sustained theological enquiry and engaging close-readings, the contributors provide an invaluable reassessment of Craven’s horror beyond shock value, highlighting the religious questions raised by Craven’s work. The study is timely, contributing to new theological approaches to the study of Gothic and horror media.
This collection of astute, surprising, and creative essays shines a light on the full range of Craven’s creative output (including his unpublished novel!), and looks into all of the dark corners of his work to uncover often-overlooked connections with theology and religion. These essays are a testament to an artist who looked the monstrous aspects of religion square in the eye—but also found grace and beauty in unexpected places.
This book looks at how theology is incorporated into Wes Craven’s filmography, offering new analyses and arguments for scholars of theology and horror, as well as Craven film fans. The book presents a timely exploration of topics including intergenerational trauma, on-screen violence, and intersectional feminism through the unique lens that is the intersection of religion and horror.
Horror fans rejoice! This is the third academic book about Wes Craven published in 2023. Edited by Religious Studies professor David K. Goodin, Theology and Wes Craven departs from the previous two by focusing less on the case for Wes as an auteur, and instead drawing attention to “under appreciated theological subtexts” in his work that resonates with current social issues. The book’s ten essays offer new insights on some of Wes’s most famous creations (Last House on the Left, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The People Under the Stairs) while heaping attention on some of his more neglected works (The Fireworks Woman, My Soul to Take, and even Coming of Rage, Wes’s 2014 comic book series with Steve Niles). As Goodin implores, the “seeds have been planted for further cultivation…. Get to it!” Three books in a single year is a lot but Wes Craven is an endlessly fascinating subject and I sincerely hope there’s more to come.