It’s hardly enough to say that Wes Craven was, quite literally, the Victor Frankenstein of the movie world. His creations not only came to life but have dominated horror history for decades.
Growing up in middle America during the rigid post-war era, Craven was brought up by his strictly religious parents. Ironically, they disliked films but made exceptions when Craven would be allowed to watch his personal favourite Disney film Fantasia.
Throughout his youth, Craven wrote for several literary magazines during college and even became editor before earning his masters degree in 1964.
Following this, Craven worked as an English professor for some time whilst writing poetry and short stories in his own time.
Craven found success at the age of 31 when he made his impressive debut film The Last House on the Left (1972). Craven had cultivated a great interest in the subject of evil and what pushes humans to inflict such brutality on each other. An unforgettable example of his focus being The Hills Have Eyes (1977), a Craven classic that has since been remade with equal measures of shocking horror.
Craven did for modern cinema what Vincent Price did for gothic fiction. Not only did they breathe life (or death?) into dark entertainment, but also theatricality, making horror a unique form of entertainment that has thrived ever since.
You might agree that Craven’s career peaked during the 80s and 90s. The much-loved Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) kickstarted the career of Johnny Depp and a whole movie franchise, making Robert Englund a cult god. Several movies followed detailing the gruesome antics of Freddy Krueger, the disfigured, blade-fingered caretaker with the ability to stalk his victims in their dreams. How else could he torture them so creatively?
Craven also boasts Scream in his repertoire. One of the most unique horror movie franchises ever made. It tells the story of Neve Campbell as she’s stalked by a masked killer eerily resembling Munch’s famous painting. Among the many layers of the story, the films act as a parody of the genre, questioning and mocking its general traditions. The Scream franchise was massively successful and made over $100 million. The ultimate teen horror movies that will also educate you.
But he’s not all about the slash and splatter, as Wes had shown versatility in his work. Music of the Heart, starring Meryl Streep as the passionate music teacher enlightening her students off the broken streets. Think Dead ‘set’s Society with violins. And in 2005 he brought us Red Eye: a thriller mostly taking place in the confines of an aeroplane.
A true passion for film is what a viewer will find when taking on the cinematic prowess of Wes Craven. In everything he created, he did it with passion, theatre, artistic genius and genuine love of film. After a long and eventful life and career, Craven has left the world with a screaming legacy.
We can only hope that he has gone on to his own heavenly hell.
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