Legendary director Wes Craven has passed away at the age of 76. A pioneer of the horror genre, and a well-respected director within the competitive film industry, Craven directed 28 features and was responsible for a host of acclaimed horror movies that met audiences over the past fourty years. From Freddie Krueger to Ghostface, Craven’s work inspired a wave of directors wanting to follow in his creative footsteps, and his work spawned a host of remakes and homages. Today, we shall remember and respect the captivating Mr Wes Craven, a bold and daring auteur who was instrumental in turning the horror genre on its head.
Craven came crashing onto the film scene with his 1972 directorial debut The Last House on the Left. Starting as he meant to go on, the movie was shot on an indie budget of $87,000 and went on to make an impressive $3.1 million. Penned as exploitation horror the film went unreleased in the UK until the 1980s, at which time it was seen uncut. Despite being banned once again, due to being deemed as a ‘video nasty’ The Last House on the Left attained cult status and remained in the minds of horror fans all over the world. Craven’s debut was remade in 2009 with the director serving as producer, and an impressive box-office success of $45 million. This re-boot proved Craven’s prowess in Hollywood, and the continued support and love of his work from old and new cinema goers.
Following the undeniable triumph of the heavy duty The Last House on the Left, Craven went on to direct the equally gruesome The Hills Have Eyes (which, again, influenced remakes), A Nightmare on Elm Street – which cult status and acclaim speaks for itself – and in 1996, the genre-bending classic Scream. Starring up-and-comers Courteney Cox, Neve Campbell and David Arquette, Scream was made on a relatively minute budget of $15 million, and was served up to audiences with an R rating. What followed was a phenomenal reception and a staggering $173 million profit at the box-office – quite a feat for a movie strictly for adults. Some 24 years after his initial debut, Craven proved his ability as an innovative and timeless director, one who wasn’t showing any signs of hanging up his coat. Utilising witty humour and openly calling out the cliches and ‘rules’ of the familiar horror movie, Scream turned the tired genre on its head and invigorated the seemingly boring and tasteless genre once again. Four films and nineteen years later, the Scream franchise remains popular with audiences, and not just fans of horror – outwardly identifying itself as a member of the gory style of filmmaking, the films found success amongst a wide demographic of people, and still stand today as one of the most quoted and easily recognised of Craven’s impressive filmography.
A writer, cinematographer, producer, and a cult director, Wes Craven was an authentic and inventive filmmaker, with the bravery to create movies that tested their audience – and the ratings system. Thank you for your contributions to the film industry, there isn’t a horror film today that doesn’t have a glimmer of one of your classic movies. Your work will continue to shine – and scare – generations of audiences. The world of cinema wouldn’t of been the same without the work of Mr Wes Craven, a true artist and auteur.