“Wes Craven, the prolific writer-director who startled audiences with iconic suburban slashers like ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Scream,’ has died,” reports the Associated Press, adding, “He was 76.
“In a statement, Craven’s family said that he died in his Los Angeles home Sunday, surrounded by family, after battling brain cancer.
Robert Englund, who played Freddie Krueger in the “Nightmare” movies, tweeted, “RIP Wes Craven, my director, my friend. A brilliant, kind, gentle and very funny man. A sad day on Elm St and everywhere. I’ll miss him.
Reports The New York Times, “Wesley Earl Craven was born Aug. 2, 1939, in Cleveland to Paul and Caroline Craven. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Wheaton and a master’s in philosophy from John Hopkins University and was a professor in Pennsylvania and New York for a short time.”
The Times also notes, “Mr. Craven began his film career after briefly teaching English at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, taking on a directing role in pornographic films — many of which he also wrote and edited.
“In 1972 he directed his first feature film, ‘Last House on the Left,’ which he also wrote. ‘Last House’ was a sexually violent film that was a protest against the atrocities of the Vietnam War (and was inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Virgin Spring’).”
The AP story said that Craven “was active up until his death. Craven had numerous television projects in development, including a new ‘Scream’ series for MTV. He’s an executive producer of the upcoming film ‘The Girl in the Photographs,’ which is to premiere in September the Toronto International Film Festival.”
Here are a few quotes from Craven, courtesy Parade magazine:
“I learned to take the first job that you have in the business that you want to get into. It doesn’t matter what that job is, you get your foot in the door.”
“It was a great pleasure to make [‘Music of the Heart’], and to see Meryl [Streep] nominated [for a best actress Oscar] for it. But most of the people I run into who loved it are surprised that I made it. When you have a name that means scares, you have to live with that.”
Here’s the first of a 4-part interview Craven did with Mick Garris that we found on YouTube. Right away we learn something interesting about Craven — that he did not see his first non-Disney movie until he was a senior in college.