The prolific horror filmmaker Wes Craven dead at 76
Wes Craven, the director of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream,” has died at 76. The influential horror master battled with brain cancer, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Craven is one of the past few decades’ most recognizable filmmakers, having transformed the slasher movie with the aforementioned box-office triumphs, both of which spawned numerous sequels. “Scream,” in particular, is credited with reinvigorating the teen horror film thanks to a tongue-in-cheek script that both parodied and praised the genre.
But long before “Scream” became one of 1996’s highest-grossing releases, Craven cemented his status as the influential writer and director of exploitation films like “The Last House on the Left” (1972), “The Hills Have Eyes” (1977) “Swamp Thing” (1982) and “The People Under the Stairs” (1991). He broke from his signature genre with the 1999 drama “Music of the Heart,” for which Meryl Streep earned an Oscar nomination, and one of the shorts within the acclaimed 2006 anthology film “Paris, je t’aime.” He returned to form with the thriller “Red Eye” (2005), the supernatural box-office dud “My Soul To Take” (2010) and the long-anticipated fourth installment in the “Scream” franchise (2011). At the time of his death, the Craven-produced MTV series based on “Scream” was days away from airing its Season 1 finale.
Craven was born in 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in a strict Baptist family. He earned a Master’s degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University. He taught college briefly before abandoning academia for the world of cinema, rapidly establishing himself as an auteur who imbued his chilling films with questions about the nature of everyday existence. But Craven said in a 2009 interview that his horror legacy was pure “coincidence,” as his debut film, “The Last House on the Left,” came about after he and producer Sean S. Cunningham were approached by financiers to make a scary drive-in feature. The rest of his career channeled a singular vision that can be defined by Skeet Ulrich’s quote in “Scream”: “Movies don’t create psychos. Movies make psychos more creative.”
The announcement of the director’s death came during the MTV Video Music Awards, but Hollywood took to Twitter to praise Craven’s contributions to American cinema.
The horror film-maker Wes Craven dead at 76 newest film is set to premiere in just days at Toronto Film Festival here in Canada.
Craven, who was also behind the 1990s horror hit Scream, died surrounded by his loved ones at his Los Angeles home after suffering from brain cancer, the statement said.
“It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed away,” the family said. “Our hearts are broken.”
Craven suffered from ailing health over the past three years, but continued to work on projects including several television shows, a graphic novel and a new film, The Girl in the Photographs, which is set to premiere at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival next month.
He was awarded lifetime achievement awards by the New York City Horror Film Festival and the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, according to the Internet Movie Database.
Craven occasionally stepped outside of the genre, directing Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart and also helming the airplane thriller Red Eye. In addition to making cameos in several of his own movies, he was also comfortable with his reputation as a horror maestro, appearing in an episode of Castle and in the movie Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.