According to Deadline, director Wes Craven has died at age 76.
Best known for creating Freddy Kruger in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven was widely recognized as a master of horror during the late 1970s and early 80s explosion of the genre which included such films as Halloween and Friday the 13th.
Freddy was inspired by a childhood memory of a man watching his bedroom window. Cloaked in an overcoat and fedora, Craven never forgot the haunting specter. He used it as the visual basis for the character who killed children in their sleep and featured in five sequels, Craven’s own re-imagining of the character as an avatar of ancient evil in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and the 2010 remake starring Jackie Earl Haley.
Beyond Nightmare, Craven directed such films as Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes, both of which he would later produce remakes of. In 1982, he directed Swamp Thing, a lesser known comic book adaptation featuring Dick Durock as the titular character and Adrienne Barbeau as Abby Cable.
In the 1990s, he helmed the Scream horror movie series, which poked fun at some of the horror genre conventions he himself created. Mixing horror and comedy proved a successful with the first film spawning three sequels and providing early roles for Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich and Liev Schreiber.
He stepped away from the genre in 1999 for Music of the Heart, for which star Meryl Streep earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress, but he returned to horror with Scream 3 and its eventual follow-up, Scream 4. Recently, he wrote and was scheduled to direct the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” segment of Ten Commandments miniseries for The Weinstein Company and cable channel WGN, but passed away this afternoon after a battle with brain cancer.
For me, there will always be the inedible image of Freddy’s first appearance: a shadow of a man walking down the alley. His arms reach out and, though impossible, touching the fences on either side. His right hand, sheathed in a bladed glove, strikes sparks as he walks closer to dreamer Tina Grey. She stops at the sight of this man in the stripped sweater and comically long arms. It’s simultaneously hilarious and terrifying. Referring to his iconic glove, Freddy’s first line is “This is God.”
While some might dismiss him as a creator of schlock horror and a dismissable franchise, Craven was a skilled craftsman in every sense of the word. A master practitioner in a form that is easy to emulate, but terribly difficult to employ successfully. Beyond that, he create a singular figure that will live on. Wes Craven will be missed.
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