A statement from his family confirmed the news: “It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed away at 1pm on Sunday, August 30 after battling brain cancer. Craven was surrounded by love, in the presence of his family, at his home in Los Angeles.”
Best known for A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Scream films, Craven is credited with reinventing the horror franchise.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he released his first film The Last House on the Left in 1972, achieving box office success and following it up with The Hills Have Eyes in 1977.
But it was 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street – which he wrote and directed – that achieved iconic status. The film saw Johnny Depp in his first major role, playing iconic horror character Freddy in a feature that spurned four follow-ups between 1985-89.
Craven was known for his knack of spotting young talent, also handing Sharon Stone her first major starring role (in Deadly Blessing) before picking out an unknown Bruce Willis for a featured role in an episode of TV series The Twilight Zone.
It was in 1996 that Craven revamped horror with his post-modern smash hit Scream. Referencing the rules of the genre, it grossed more then $100m in the States, as did its sequel Scream 2 in 1997, with a further two films completing the franchise.
Between the second and third he dipped out of horror to direct Music of the Heart, a 1999 Meryl Streep film which earned her an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Roberta Guaspari who founded the Opus 118 Harlem School of Music.
Craven published his first novel, The Fountain Society, in 1999 and went on to direct 2005 psychological thriller Red Eye, before producing remakes of The Hills Have Eyes (in 2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009).
At the time of his death, the director was involved in a number of projects. He’d recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions and was executive producing the new Scream series for MTV. In addition, he had recently written and was to direct a segment for The Weinstein Co.’s Ten Commandment miniseries titled Thou Shalt Not Kill.
Since news of Craven’s passing broke yesterday evening, many stars of the screen (and behind the camera) have taken to Twitter to pay their respects, including Scream actress Courteney Cox, Independence Day director Roland Emmerich and fellow master of fright John Carpenter:
Today the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor, Wes Craven. My heart goes out to his family. x
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