American film director, writer, producer and actor Wesley Earl Craven sadly died August 30, 2015, from brain cancer, at the age of 76 at his home in Los Angeles. He was born August 2, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. Craven earned an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois and a master’s degree in Philosophy and Writing from Johns Hopkins University. Craven also briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College of Technology (later named Clarkson University) in Potsdam, New York. He additionally taught at Madrid-Waddington High School in Madrid, New York. During this time, he purchased a used 16mm film camera and began making short movies. When his friend Tom Chapin informed him of a messenger position at a New York City post-production company run by his brother, future folk-rock star Harry Chapin, Craven moved to Manhattan. His first creative job in the film industry was as a sound editor for Chapin’s firm.
Harry was a fantastic film editor and producer of industrials. He taught me The Chapin Method of editing: ‘Nuts and bolts! Nuts and bolts!” Craven afterward became the firm’s assistant manager, and broke into film editing with You’ve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You’ll Lose That Beat. Craven left the academic world for the more lucrative role of pornographic film director. In the documentary Inside Deep Throat, Craven says on camera he made “many hard core X-rated films including Deep Throat most of his early known work involved writing, film editing or both. Craven’s first feature film as director was The Last House on the Left, which was released in 1972.
Craven frequently collaborated with Sean S. Cunningham. In Craven’s debut feature, The Last House on the Left, Cunningham served as producer. Later, in Craven’s best-known film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and launched actor Johnny Depp’s career by casting him in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp’s first major film role.Cunningham directed one of the chase scenes, although he was not credited. Their characters, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, appeared together in the slasher film Freddy vs. Jason (2003) with Cunningham acting as producer, while screenwriter Victor Miller is credited as “Character Creator”. Later, in The Last House on the Left remake (2009), Cunningham and Craven share production credits. Although known for directing horror/thriller films, he had worked on two other films: Music of the Heart (1999), and as one of the 22 directors responsible for Paris, je t’aime (2006). Craven alao created Coming of Rage, a five-issue comic book series, with 30 Days of Night comic book writer Steve Niles.The series was released in digital form in 2014 by Liquid Comics with a print edition scheduled for an October 2015 debut.
He is best known for creating the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise featuring the Freddy Krueger character, directing the first installment and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and co-writing A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors with Bruce Wagner. Craven also directed all four films in the Scream series and two films in the Hills Have Eyes series. Some of his other films include The Last House on the Left, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Vampire in Brooklyn and Red Eye. Following his untimely passing The 10th episode of Scream was dedicated in his memory. He was known for his pioneering work in the genre of horror films, particularly slasher films, where his impact on the genre was considered prolific and influential. Due to the success and cultural impact of his works in the horror film genre Craven has been called the “Master of Horror”.