Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream movies, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.
Craven, whose iconic Freddy Krueger character horrified viewers for years, died at his home in Los Angeles, his family announced. Survivors include his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vp Iya Labunka,
Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street when living next to a cemetery on a street of that name when growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland. His five Nightmare on Elm Street films were released from 1984-89.
Similarly, Craven's Scream series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-'em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre. The movies frequently referenced other horror movies.
Craven’s first feature film was The Last House of the Left, which he wrote, directed and edited in 1972.
Here invented the youth horror genre again in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, which he wrote and directed.
He conceived and co-wrote Elm Street III as well, and then after not being involved with the three more sequels, deconstructed the genre a decade after the original, writing and directing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was nominated as best feature at the 1995 Spirit Awards. His own Nightmare players, Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon, played themselves in the film.
In 1996 Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream. The film, which sparked the phenomenal trilogy, grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997).
Between Scream 2 and Scream 3, Craven, offered the opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, helmed Music of the Heart (1999), a film that earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress.
That same year, in the midst of directing, he completed his first novel, The Fountain Society, published by Simon & Shuster.
Craven again pushed his genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller, Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. And in 2006 he wrote and directed a romantic comedy homage to Oscar Wilde featuring Emily Mortimer and Rufus Sewell as a segment in the French ensemble production, Paris Je T’aime.
Craven then produced remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009). Craven’s most recent written and directed film, My Soul to Take (2010), marked his first collaboration with Labunka, who also produced Scream 4.
Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions and had a number of TV projects in development including The People Under the Stairs with Syfy Networks, Disciples with UCP, We Are All Completely Fine with Syfy / UCP, and Sleepers with Federation Entertainment.