Today I woke up to the sad news that Wes Craven, a true horror icon who has inspired many people over the years, had died. Craven passed away in his home after a battle with cancer and he will be greatly missed.
I would like to take a moment to reflect on his life, known widely for writing and directing the first Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984 he also brought us the first four films in the Scream Series and had an eye for discovering talent.
According to Craven, the idea for Nightmare on Elm Street stemmed from living next door to a Cemetary on a road of that name in Cleveland. The films were released between 1984 and 1989 drawing big crowds. During the casting of the first film, he discovered the young Johnny Depp.
The beauty of Scream, and Nightmare on Elm Street is that although they have obviously aged, they haven’t become outdated and still scare people to this day.
I have found Craven’s work to be particularly influential to me, having been raised in a house where horror wasn’t generally an option on the television, Scream was one of the first horror series’ I ever watched. I will always remember sitting in front of the television with the remote in one hand and my duvet in the other promising myself that if it got too scary I could just hit the button and it would all go away.
Craven’s first feature film was Last House on the Left in 1972, this one is a rape revenge film which appalled some viewers but also generated big box office, next came The Hills Have Eyes (1977). The latter being a title most young people today will be aware of due to the more recent remake in 2006 which Craven also produced along with The Last House on the Left in 2009 which I don’t hear so many people speak of, I’m unsure whether this means that it’s lesser known or just hushed up due to it’s subject.
Along with his discovery of Johnny Depp, Craven cast Sharon Stone in her first role in Deadly Blessing and gave Bruce Willis his first featured role in an episode of 1980’s Twilight Zone.
However, Wes Craven’s work was not only kept to the Horror genre, he had a hard time getting Music of the Heart into Cinemas because of course once you’re known for horror people who are not fans of that genre will tend to shrink away from your work assuming that it’s going to be scary. Once this film got there however, it earned Meryl Streep a nomination for Best Actress.
Wes Craven will be deeply missed by fans worldwide and is a great loss to the horror genre. May he rest in peace.