Scream And Nightmare On Elm Street Director Wes Craven Dies, Aged 76

Craven at the time of New Nightmare

Craven at the time of New Nightmare

wes-cravens_mainOne of legends of US horror films, Wes Craven, died in Los Angeles on Sunday after a battle with brain cancer, aged 76. He was best known for recreating the rules of horror movies not once, but twice, as creator of the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise and director of the four Scream films. Before that he had gained a reputation as one of a new wave of  horror enfants terribles of the ’70, alongside Tobe Hooper, with the gritty and grisly The Hill Have Eyes.

Craven was born on 2 August 1932 in Cleveland Ohio. After gaining a degree in English and Psychology and a master’s in Philosophy and Writing he briefly pursued a career as an academic, teaching English at Westminster College, Pennsylvania, and then humanities at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. His first job in the film industry was as a sound editor for a post-production company in New York City.

Craven’s first feature film was The Last House On The Left (1972) which he wrote, directed and edited. Next was The Hills Have Eyes (1977). These gave him cult kudos but he truly entered the zeitgeist in 1984 when he created the iconic Freddy Krueger for A Nightmare On Elm Street, which he wrote and directed. He was only sporadically involved in the sequels (he co-wrote the third) until returning to the series and turning it on its head with the meta-aware Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994) in which Nightmare actors Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon all played themselves. The way this film deconstructed the rules of the slasher genre foreshadowed the Scream series.

wes-cravens_3Along the way Craven also gave us films such as The People Under The Stairs (1991) which was highly acclaimed, and the black comedy Vampire In Brooklyn (1995), starring Eddie Murphy, which wasn’t.

In 1996, Craven directed the first Scream film which grossed more than $100 million in the US alone. Scream 2 (1997) was equally as successful.

It wasn’t all horror, though. In 1999 he directed Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep as a teacher in Harlem.

Craven produced remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House On The Left (2009). His most recent film as writer and director was My Soul to Take (2010).

At his time of death Craven was working on various projects with Universal Cable Productions including a series based on The People Under the Stairs for Syfy Networks, Disciples for UCP, We Are All Completely Fine for Syfy/UCP and Sleepers with Federation Entertainment. He also was executive producing MTV’s acclaimed Scream series. The season finale of Scream will pay tribute to the writer/director.

Social networking has been swamped with tributes.

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