WES CRAVEN, the groundbreaking director who took the tired horror genre and shook it into the 21st century, has died aged 76. He passed away at home in Los Angeles on Sunday (August 30) after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
Craven directed A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, whose demonic Freddie Kruger character still haunts the dreams of many in their 30s and 40s.
In the 90s, he took the slasher genre and, with the Scream franchise, turned it upside down, creating a series of modern, knowing, funny but still terrifying films, which brought millions back to the cinema to watch horror, when it had almost died a death on the dusty top shelves of video rental shops.
Craven is also credited with finding fresh talent, with Johnny Depp making the leap to the big screen in Elm Street, and giving Sharon Stone, in 1981’s Deadly Blessing, and Bruce Willis in an episode of The Twilight Zone, their breaks as featured actors.
He rarely strayed from horror, but in 1999, his Music of the Heart earned Meryl Streep a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
His original voice will be much missed in Hollywood, but his legacy will be a lasting one, especially for those whose favourite film-watching position is on the edge of their seat or with their hands over their eyes.