We lost another legend over the weekend as news broke that director Wes Craven had passed away at age 76 due to brain cancer.
Craven was an absolute master of the horror genre (although he somehow never actually directed an episode of Masters of Horror). Right from the start, after meeting fellow horror director Sean Cunningham while directing porn, he kicked off his career with what is still one of the most brutal and disturbing horror movies of all time, The Last House on the Left.
Craven then directed The Hills Have Eyes, Swamp Thing and The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 before delivering what many would consider his greatest contribution to horror, A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Freddy Krueger is still arguably the greatest and most iconic horror villain of all time and it also helped launched the career of Johnny Depp, for better or for worse. Nightmare is still what many people think of first when you start talking about 80’s horror.
Craven wouldn’t return to the Nightmare series until 1994 but in between he directed The Serpent and The Rainbow, Shocker and the cult classic The People Under the Stairs.
After delivering seminal hits in the 70’s and 80’s, Craven delivered the greatest horror movie of the 90’s with Scream and forever changed the genre by perfecting the meta commentary he introduced in New Nightmare. Craven directed all four entries in the Scream series and created another iconic character in Ghostface (although unlike Freddy, it was someone new each time). Scream single handedly revived the slasher genre, as copycats like I Know What You Did Last Summer got put into development.
Craven’s last directing credit was Scream 4 but he was helping produce a number of movies in the 2000’s, like the remakes of his own Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes and was executive producing MTV’s take on Scream that just recently debuted.
For 3 decades Craven was one of the directors who was basically defining what horror was going to be for years after one of his major hits was released. It’s a huge loss to horror movies in particular but film in general, RIP Mr. Craven.