Horror films don’t create fear. They release it. – Wes Craven
On Sunday, August 30, 2015, horror genre legend Wes Craven succumbed to brain cancer; he was 76.
Writer, director, executive producer, cinematographer, editor (even actor), he left his touch on many of the most iconic (and top grossing) American horror films: “A Swamp Thing”, “A Nightmare on Elm Street”, “The Hills Have Eyes”, “Scream”, and many, many others. It can be argued that his creation, Freddy Krueger, is the face of modern horror, and his “Scream” movies alone brought in over $100m at the box office. But he wasn’t all about horror – in 1999 he directed “Music of the Heart”, the inspirational story of a teacher in Harlem; it earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, his father died when he was 5 years old, and he was subjected to a strict Baptist upbringing as a child. Later, he earned an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology from Wheaton College and a master’s degree in Philosophy and Writing from Johns Hopkins University. For a short time he taught English at Westminster College and Humanities at Clarkson University, but left academia for “the more lucrative role of pornographic film director” (using many pseudonyms). Then in 1972 he directed his first feature film: “The Last House on the Left,” and never looked back.
When hearing of his death, Rose McGowen, an actress in the original “Scream” movie tweeted: Thank you for being the kindest man, the gentlest man, and one of the smartest men I’ve known. Please say there’s a plot twist.
Mr. Craven is survived by his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka, and two children, Jonathan and Jessica, from a previous marriage.