On August 30, 2015, the film world lost one of its greatest masters of the horror genre. Wes Craven, a name synonymous with some of the most famous films in modern day terror, lost his battle with brain cancer at the age of 76. If it hadn’t been for Craven, we would not have a Pluto, a Freddy Krueger or a Ghostface, as he was responsible for crafting some of the most well-known horror films over his forty-plus year career.
Wesley Earl Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 2, 1939. Raised in a strict Baptist family, he would earn his Bachelor’s in English and psychology from Wheaton College and a Master’s degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University.
In 1972, Craven made his directorial debut with Last House on the Left, which he also had written the screenplay. The film had quite a novel concept in what would be known as the revenge horror film. A couple goes from mild-mannered to violent when they learn a group they let stay in their home is the gang responsible for the murder of their daughter. Using extreme methods, the couple exact their revenge on the gang. It was also there where Craven would meet his kindred spirit in films, Sean S. Cunningham, who would be known for creating the Friday the 13th series of films. Cunningham served as a producer on the film.
He wouldn’t direct again for another five years, but when he did, it could be the start of a prolific career for Craven. His second film as director, The Hills Have Eyes, can be described as a horror-filled take similar to the 1972 action classic Deliverance. Two families on vacation together break down in the desert and face off against a mutated backwoods clan, led by Papa Jupiter and Pluto. The film was a hit among horror film fans.
In 1984, Craven would unleash one of his greatest creations. A Nightmare on Elm Street would be known for two things: the film debut of Johnny Depp and the film debut of one of the greatest slashers in 1980’s horror films: Freddy Krueger. Using a glove with razor sharp blades at the fingertips, Krueger would invade his victims’ dreams and unleash all sorts of unholy hell. Actor Robert Englund would iconize the role of Krueger in eight films, including the 2003 battle film Freddy vs. Jason, which both Craven and longtime friend Sean Cunningham were producers. Just recently, Englund himself officially retired as Freddy Krueger after an appearance at a Chicago drive-in theater.
In 1996, Craven decided to up the ante and bring the slasher film back in full force. He created Scream, in which not only did he unleash another iconic killer in Ghostface, but even include a character who was skilled in horror films and used his knowledge to warn potential victims about how the genre works. The film did extremely well that three sequels, all directed by Craven, hit the big screens as well as a MTV series (which he executive produced) that just premiered recently and has already been optioned for a second season.
Meanwhile, holding dearly to his creations, Craven would be involved as a producer with remakes of two of his horror masterpieces, The Hills Have Eyes (2006, co-written and directed by Alexandre Aja) and The Last House on the Left (2009, directed by Dennis Iliadis). In fact, Craven enjoyed the former remake so much that he and his son Jonathan wrote the screenplay for The Hills Have Eyes 2, directed by Martin Weisz, in 2007.
Craven is survived by his third wife Iya Lubunka, children Jonathan and Jessica, sister Carol Buhrow; stepdaughter Nina Tarnawsky and three grandchildren.
World Film Geek sends its deepest condolences to the family of Wes Craven. And to Wes himself, Thank You for bringing us some of the most iconic characters in modern horror films today. Rest in Peace.
As we salute the memory of Wes Craven, World Film Geek invites fans to post on Twitter their favorite Wes Craven movies. On your tweet, please put #worldfilmgeek and #wescraven with your memories and recommendation of films from the master Wes Craven.
As we salute the memory of Wes Craven, World Film Geek invites fans to post on Google+ their favorite Wes Craven movies. When you post, please put #worldfilmgeek and #wescraven with your memories and recommendations of films from the master Wes Craven.