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Wes Craven Dies at 76

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Wes Craven, who reaped the teen horror market with his A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, has died of brain cancer. He was 76.

His Freddy Krueger character horrified viewers and became an iconic horror character.  He is credited with re-inventing the teen horror movie.

A blend of horror and morbid humor, the “Nightmare” movies were a box-office phenomenon. He claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street when living next to a cemetery on Elm Street when growing up in the Midwest.

Similarly, Craven’s Scream series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-’em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre:  Scream, Scream 2 and Scream 3 with Scream 4 set for 2010. The Scream movies frequently referenced other horror movies.

Similarly, in 1994 Craven even referenced his own Nightmare players – Robert Englund, Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon – who played themselves in Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

There were eight (count at time of death) Nightmare on Elm Street films, including a cross-over Freddy vs. Jason.  Although he was considered the “auteur” of the series by the horror crowd, Craven only directed two: A Nightmare on Elm Street and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare.

In 1989, Craven switched gears by producing a TV sitcom centered on a cartoonist whose characters would spring to life.Craven departed from horror intermittently: In 1999, he directed Meryl Streep in The Music of the Heart, an inspirational drama about a teacher in Spanish Harlem. He directed a suspense thriller Red Eye, amid his Scream eruptions.

He began his horror career in 1972 with Last House on the Left, a rape-revenge movie that appalled some viewers while generating big box-office. His early shockers in the late 1970s and early ’80s included:  The Hills Have Eyes, Summer of Fear, The Evolution of Snuff, Deadly Blessing and Swamp Thing, his biggest budget film up to that point.

During the ’80s, he also directed some of the revival episodes of Twilight Zone.Wesley Earl Craven was born on Aug. 2 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio. Raised in a strict Baptist household, Craven graduated from Wheaton College in English and psychology and earned a masters degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins.

He briefly taught English at Westminster College. He was also a humanities professor at Clarkson College where he was a disc jockey for the campus radio station.

He directed several other thrillers and horror movies, including: The People Under the Stairs (1991), Nightmare Café (1992), Deadly Friend (1986), Swamp Thing (1982) and Summer of Fear.

Craven directed several TV movies: Invitation to Hell (1984), Chiller (1985), Casebusters, Night Visions (1990), Laurel Canyon (1993), Hollyweird, Don’t Look Down and They Shoot Divas, Don’t They? among them.

He received his first award in 1977 for The Hills Have Eyes, winning the Prize of the International Critics’ Jury at the Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival.

In 2000, Craven received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival. He won the Grand Prize for Scream in 1997 at the Gerardmer Film Festival.

He was nominated for Best Director for Scream in 1997 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror.Craven was married three times, and had two children, Jonathan and Jessica, with his first wife Bonnie Broecker. He married Iya Labunka in 2004, his third marriage.

Source: Hollywoodreporter

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