On August 30, 2015, the horror community awoke to the upsetting news that legendary filmmaker Wes Craven had passed away in his home due to brain cancer. In a year when many great actors and musicians seemed to enter their eternal slumber, the one that impacted me the most was the loss of Wes. With the ability to combine pop-culture references, psychological torment, gore, and the well-timed (but not over used) jump scare, Wes Craven secured himself in the hearts and dreams of horror fanatics around the world.
Since his 1972 directorial debut on The Last House on the Left (which ironically released on August 30th), the horror maestro continued to push the envelop with every project that was lucky enough to attach his name.
In 1977 he shocked the world with his scenic thrill ride through the desert in The Hills Have Eyes. Wes was starting to find his stride as not only a reliable and creative director, but a thought provoking and relentless writer as well. Unbeknownst to many, in 1982 he turned his artistic efforts towards the comic book realm with the release of Swamp Thing.
But it was in 1984 that Wes Craven would etch his name in the history books of horror, as one of the most iconic and influential directors the genre would ever bear witness to. From the darkest corners of his demented mind, Wes gave birth to one of the most terrifying and heinous horror villains to ever haunt our dreams, Freddy Krueger.
Backed by an unforgettable performance from Robert Englund, A Nightmare on Elm Street tormented teens with its macabre and hellish imagery, and spawned a new franchise (along with Johnny Depp’s career) that would continue to thrill moviegoers for years to come.
As if one world famous fictional killer wasn’t enough to be praised for, in 1996 Wes Craven directed the highly successful first entry to the Scream franchise. Written by Kevin Williamson, the duo introduced us to the Ghostface killer, and kept fans guessing as to who would don the spine-chilling mask and voice changer through three sequels (all directed by Craven).
Wes continued his reign of terror in 2005, directing the claustrophobic airplane thriller Red Eye, starring veteran actors Cillian Murphy and Rachel McAdams. In 2010, he again put his imaginative pen to paper, writing and directing the mystery thriller My Soul to Take.
Like a large portion of the horror community, the works and artistic vision of Wes Craven forever impacted my life. When I was in the fourth grade, my older brother made me watch Scream while my parents were out of town. To this day, I can still pinpoint the start of my love for all things horror related to the first time I heard Roger Jackson’s voice asking Drew Barrymore, “What’s your favorite scary movie?”
Wes Craven was always willing to push the boundaries with his storytelling abilities, and his name will live infamously in the hearts of horror fans around the world. His legacy will continue to influence future filmmakers, and his villains will undoubtedly stand the test of time. From all of your family, friends, and fans everywhere… we miss you and may you rest in peace.