‘Final Destination” creator Jeffrey Reddick loves a good scare.
The screenwriter-director made his feature directorial debut in October with “Don’t Look Back,” a supernatural thriller about several witnesses who record a fatal attack on their cell phones, but don’t contact the police for help. Eventually, the witnesses are murdered by someone or something.
In celebration of things that go bump in the night, Reddick, 51, has shared some of his favorite scary movies.
Here are the Top 5 horror films that had an indelible impact on Reddick and influenced his work.
Wes Craven is on this list twice. And for me, it’s well deserved. Despite having covered meta-horror film with his brilliant, and underappreciated, “New Nightmare,” with “Scream,” Wes Craven took this to a whole other level, by lovingly making horror-geeks cool. The five films on this list are ones that touched me personally and professionally, and the clever, frightening script was written by out gay screenwriter, Kevin Williamson. In an industry that claims to be accepting, being an out gay filmmaker can still hinder your career. So, Kevin Williamson’s success with this film helped me feel more confident in what I can do. Fun fact on how “Scream” influenced me professionally, aside from me hoping to someday be able to write as witty as Kevin…but originally the characters in “Final Destination” were all adults who didn’t know each other prior to boarding the doomed Flight 180. But after “Scream” came out and was such a success, New Line Cinema asked me to make the characters all teenagers. So, if it wasn’t for “Scream,” you would have seen a much different version of “Final Destination.”
“Night of The Living Dead”
This movie is a great time capsule that taps into the racial unrest during the 1960’s. It exploits our fear of “the other,” but shows us that “the others” are really us. The movie broke ground by featuring an African American lead, who wasn’t a stereotype, but rather a strong, moral man. He survives the carnage only to be killed by people who assume “he’s one of them.”
Again, this film is at the top of my list, because it tapped into the feelings I felt growing up — feeling unwelcome as a gay person of color in rural America. It also reiterated my belief that horror films were the perfect genre to get across social messages in a way that was palpable to other people.
This movie is at the top of my list for two reasons. First, it’s based on a short story by openly gay author Clive Barker. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King, but when Clive Barker burst onto the scene, I finally had a write who was gay and who featured gay characters and themes in his work. The movie itself introduced an iconic, tragic villain named Candyman. He was a myth made of flesh who relied on belief to sustain his existence. And he was also Black. Seeing such an eloquent and powerful villain, excellently portrayed by Tony Todd, was thrilling for me. As a bi-racial young man, I was also mesmerized by the magnetic, but forbidden, draw between Candyman and Helen, portrayed by the exquisite Virginia Madsen. Add to that, the story of how racism resonates throughout centuries and the brilliant performance of Kasi Lemmons, as Helen’s doomed best friend, and needless to say “Candyman” hit me on so many levels. It also showed that horror films could deal with social issues that were relevant to me.
This was another film that I saw when I was young and left a long, lasting impression. Dario Argento’s stunning visual style, combined with an unforgettable soundtrack and a captivating performance by Jessica Harper gave “Suspiria” a fairy tale feel that enraptured me. While “A Nightmare on Elm Street” made me fall in love with horror, “Suspiria” made me think outside of the American box when it came to horror films. Dario’s clear, distinct style and amazing use of colors and music made me focus on the importance of these elements when creating a horror film.
“A Nightmare on Elm Street”
This movie is my all-time favorite for personal and professional reasons. As a film, this movie introduced us the scariest horror icon of all time…until he started getting funny in the sequel. Considering the low budget, amazing director Wes Craven brought us a masterpiece. From its original concept — terrifying villain, brilliant blending of nightmares and reality, and the first truly proactive horror heroine — this movie blew my mind. It made me fall in love with horror and imagine all of the possibilities the genre had to offer. And because I was such a fan, I wrote to Robert Shaye (the founder of New Line Cinema, the studio that released “A Nightmare on Elm Street”) when I was 14 with a prequel idea. This communication led to a mentorship and eventual internship at New Line Cinema, where I worked for 11 years. Its influence on me is evident in a lot of work. I always strive to write strong, female leads. And most of my work deals with fantasy-supernatural horror.