Horror Auteur Wes Craven Dies At 76; Directed Some Of Film's Scariest Classics

Wes Craven, the man who thrilled and frightened generations of film fans, has died. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Craven passed away at his home in Los Angeles from brain cancer. He was 76.

Originally from Cleveland, Craven began as an academic teaching at Westminster College and Clarkson College (he'd had a master in psychology and english from Johns Hopkins), but burst on the film scene with the 1972 indie thriller The Last House on the Left, a rape-revenge film that he wrote, directed and edited. The Hills Have Eyes, Craven's next film success came five years later. Both films are considered horror classics and were remade decades later.

But it was Craven's 1984 movie Nightmare on Elm Street that made him a household name, along with his most famous creation Freddy Krueger--the dead child killer who attacked and murdered people in their dreams and had wore knives on his fingers. The film would spawn eight sequels, only two of which he had direct hand in. Craven's other big success came in 1996 with the hip, self-aware slasher flick Scream, which beget its own franchise, including three sequels and a TV series. In between, Craven wrote, directed, and produced a number of other films and TV series entries, most notable several episodes of the 80s Twilight Zone Revival, the serious drama Music of the Heart (which earned its star Meryl Streep an Oscar nomination), and the psychological thriller Red Eye. Craven was also known to have helped start the careers of such major Hollywood stars as Johnny Depp, Bruce Willis and Sharon Stone.

Craven is survived by his children, Jonathan and Jessica, and his current wife, film producer and ex-Disney Studios VP Iya Labunka.

Here's an excellent interview with Craven for Stanley Wiater's Dark Dreamers series.

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