Terrible news broke today as prolific horror director/writer Wes Craven has been announced dead after a battle with brain cancer. The famed director of such classic horror titles A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, and Scream passed away at the age of 76. The Hollywood Reporter was first to report Craven’s untimely death.
Unlike most horror junkies, I never grew up on the Elm Street series, but as a baby of the late 80s I was more familiar with the Scream franchise when they arrived on the scene. I knew of Freddy Krueger in image only and would later binge on all of the Elm Street series as an adult. Craven wrote and directed A Nightmare on Elm Street, which sparked many sequels due to Fredd’s terrifying mainstream appeal – iterations he hand no hand in other than the character himself. Wes only came back to the character for A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors and New Nightmare. Suffice it to say, Freddy would become Robert Englund’s most recognized role in the actor’s long career of character acting.
The Last House on the Left, Wes Craven’s first feature film, I only saw after having seen the remake; the same for The Hills Have Eyes, which is a phenomenal and disturbing remake in my opinion. And despite never having the pleasure of following his career from the beginning, his influence on the horror films I was brought up on is highly apparent.
Wes Craven’s last film was Scream 4, which set out to revitalize the series for the new generation. It didn’t wind up as celebrated as expected, but now we have an MTV series based on the property that has just been renewed for a second season. I won’t pretend to be a Wes Craven aficionado, there are many titles in his filmography I have yet to digest, but I hope to get to them some day.
When I look back at Wes Craven’s career, what I will miss most is his vision that continually pushed the genre to its limits, changing the fabric of horror storytelling for the better.
Another iconic horror director, John Carpenter (The Thing; Halloween; They Live), conveyed his distress on the loss of his friend and colleague:
Other horror directors, such as James Wan (Saw; The Conjuring), Joe Dante (Gremlins), Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw II, Mother’s Day), Tom Holland (1985’s Fright Night), Ti West (The Sacrament; House of the Devil), and Eli Roth (Hostel; The Green Inferno), posted their condolences on their own social media profiles too:
The stars from Wes Craven’s Scream movies also expressed their deepest sympathies:
If you want to catch up on some of Wes Craven’s film catalog, there are nine titles now available to stream currently on Netflix:
- The Hills Have Eyes 2 (1984)
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994)
- Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
- Scream (1996)
- Scream 2 (1997)
- Music of the Heart (1999)
- Scream 3 (2000)
- Cursed (2005)
You will be missed Wes Craven. You were an inspiration that will live on through the annals of horror history.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter