Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.
The Last House of the Left, was Craven’s first feature, which he wrote, directed and edited but really reinvented the youth horror genre in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street, which he also wrote and directed. Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street when living next to a cemetery on a street of that name when growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland. Five of his Elm Street films were released from 1984-89.
In 1996 Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream (which sparked the trilogy) grossing more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997).
In 1999, Craven completed his first novel, The Fountain Society. He again pushed his genre boundaries with the 2005 psychological thriller, Red Eye, starring Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy and Brian Cox. He had recently signed a TV deal and had a number of TV projects in development including The People Under the Stairs with Syfy Networks and he was executive producing the new Scream series for MTV.
Craven had an eye for discovering fresh talent too. While casting Elm Street, he discovered a young Johnny Depp and he cast Sharon Stone in her first starring role, for his film Deadly Blessing (1981). He also gave Bruce Willis his first featured role in an episode of the 1980s version of The Twilight Zone.
Craven was a longtime summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, where he moved permanently three years ago before returning to LA for work and health reasons. He was a big nature lover and committed bird conservationist, serving as a longtime member of the Audubon California Board of Directors. He penned a monthly column, “Wes Craven’s The Birds,” for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. (via THR)