It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to report that Wes Craven, the man who created modern horror with the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and then reinvented the genre with the Scream franchise, has died aged 76 at his home in Los Angeles from brain cancer.
Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 2nd 1939, the son of Caroline (née Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven. He was raised in a strict Baptist family. Craven earned an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois and a master’s degree in Philosophy and Writing from Johns Hopkins University.
He initially embarked on a career in teaching English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University) in Potsdam, New York.
Craven left the academic world for the more lucrative role of pornographic film director. In the documentary Inside Deep Throat, Craven says on camera he made “many hard core X-rated films” under pseudonyms. While his role in Deep Throat is undisclosed, most of his early known work involved writing, film editing or both. In 1972 Wes Craven directed his first feature film The Last House on the Left, collaborating with Sean S. Cunningham as producer. This partnership would continue for many years.
Later, in Craven’s most famous film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cunningham directed one of the chase scenes, although uncredited. Their infamous characters,Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, appeared together in the 2003 slasher film Freddy vs. Jason with Cunningham acting as producer, while screenwriter Victor Miller is credited as “Character Creator”. Later, in The Last House on the Left remake, both Cunningham and Craven share production credits.
Craven had a major hand in launching superstar Johnny Depp’s career by casting him in 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp’s first major film role.
Through the years Craven also brought us The Hills Have Eyes, Swamp Thing, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs,Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed, Wishmaster, Red Eye, and My Soul to Take.
Although known for directing horror/thriller films, he had worked on two that were outside this genre: the 1999 film Music of the Heart, and as one of the 22 directors in the 2006 collaboration Paris, je t’aime.
Craven created Coming of Rage, a five-issue comic book series, with 30 Days of Night comic book writer Steve Niles. The series was released in digital formin 2014 by Liquid Comics with a print edition scheduled for an October 2015 debut.