Wes craven

Remembering the man who rein­vented macabre movies

SFX - - Red Alert -

Ar­guably the most cel­e­brated of all con­tem­po­rary hor­ror di­rec­tors, the man born Wes­ley Earl Craven on 2 Au­gust 1939 ( who passed away on 30 Au­gust 2015 from brain can­cer) was an un­likely night­mare- maker. Raised in a strict Bap­tist fam­ily in Cleve­land, Ohio, Craven would study phi­los­o­phy and writ­ing at univer­sity and pur­sue a ca­reer in academia as a col­lege lec­turer. How­ever, a move to New York City in the early 1970s in­tro­duced him to fu­ture Fri­day The 13th cre­ator Sean Cun­ning­ham. The part­ner­ship gave him a chance to gain some ex­pe­ri­ence pro­duc­ing low- bud­get soft­core skin- flicks such as To­gether ( 1971).

But it was with 1972 clas­sic The Last House On The Left, Craven’s di­rec­to­rial de­but and a provoca­tive and pow­er­ful anti- Viet­nam al­le­gory, that the film­maker re­ally hit pay- dirt; to­day the movie is largely ac­knowl­edged as chang­ing the gore- game en­tirely. Post- Last House Craven would branch out with the more fan­tas­ti­cal thrills of The Hills Have Eyes ( 1977), and the Sharon Stone- star­ring sus­penser Deadly Bless­ing ( 1981), but he made his big­gest mark as the fa­ther of ra­zor- fin­gered dream- de­mon Freddy Krueger.

Hawk­ing his script, A Night­mare On Elm Street, around Hol­ly­wood for years, Craven would meet only dis­missal un­til an en­ter­pris­ing in­de­pen­dent pro­duc­tion out­fit, New Line Cin­ema, opted to green light the supernatural slasher- shocker. The re­sult – un­leashed in 1984 – af­forded Craven his most main­stream suc­cess to date.

Af­ter Elm Street made Craven’s name bank­able, he would con­tinue to call the shots on a num­ber of stylish, and classy, stu­dio scare- flicks – with choice cuts in­clud­ing the gothic- at­mo­spher­ics of The Ser­pent And The Rain­bow ( 1987), the be­wil­der­ing psy­cho- sickie Shocker ( 1989) and the class- car­nage of The Peo­ple Un­der The Stairs ( 1991). How­ever, it was with Scream that Craven re­ally re­turned to the mul­ti­plex, although its bof­fin box of­fice would pi­geon­hole him into a fran­chise that did not seem to know when to stop stalk­ing – spawn­ing Scream 2 ( 1997), Scream 3 ( 2000) and a be­lated Scream 4 ( 2011). In the in­terim, he at­tempted to re- imag­ine the were­wolf genre with Cursed ( 2005) and won ap­plause for his tense Hitch­cock­ian thriller Red Eye ( 2005). Re­main­ing busy right up un­til his fi­nal hours, Craven over­saw the Scream tele­vi­sion se­ries for MTV and had been col­lab­o­rat­ing on a comic book, Com­ing Of Rage, with Steve Niles.

Widely re­garded as a gen­tle­man and a good- hu­moured au­teur, whose im­ages haunted view­ers for decades but who rarely raised his voice on the set, Craven changed scary movies for­ever. His throne in any hor­ror film hall of fame is guar­an­teed.

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