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Legendary Horror Film Director Wes Craven Dead At 76

Posted: Monday, August 31, 2015 – 3:29 PM

Tributes poured in today for film director Wes Craven, best known for his “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” horror- film franchises.

Craven, 76, died Sunday at his Los Angeles home following a battle with brain cancer, relatives said.

Robert Englund, who portrayed creepy killer Freddy Krueger in the “Elm Street” films, hailed Craven as a true gentleman.

“RIP Wes Craven, my director, my friend,” Englund wrote on his Twitter page. “A brilliant, kind, gentle and very funny man. A sad day on Elm St and everywhere. I’ll miss him.”

Courteney Cox, who appeared in “Scream,” wrote on her page that “the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor West Craven. My heart goes out to his family.”

The Hollywood Reporter credited Craven with re-inventing the slumbering youth horror genre in 1984, with his release of “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

The five-film “Nightmare” series scared up big crowds at the box office in 1984-89, as did his follow-up “Scream” series, which made fun of the teen horror genre, starting in the mid-1990s.

Craven took time away from “Scream” in 1999 to direct “Music of the Heart,” a drama about a teacher in Harlem that won an Oscar nomination for actress Meryl Streep.

“Wes will forever be remembered for keeping generations of moviegoers on the edges of their seats, defining and redefining the horror genre with each passing decade,” said Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay. “His rule was simple — abandon the rules.

“… We thank Wes for being willing to explore our darkest depths, bringing our fears thrillingly alive on screen with some of horror’s most influential films and indelible characters,” Barclay said.

Craven, born in 1939 in Cleveland and raised in a strict Baptist household, graduated with a masters degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University.

He dabbled as a college professor and radio announcer before finding traction as a filmmaker. His first feature was the horror film, “The Last House on the Left.”

Among the movie stars who received early breaks in Craven projects were Johnny Depp (“Nightmare on Elm Street”), Sharon Stone (“Deadly Blessing”) and Bruce Willis (“The Twilight Zone”).

Craven’s survivors include his wife, one-time Disney Studios Vice President Iya Labunka.

 

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