Horror director, writer, and actor Wes Craven died this week at the age of 76.
Biography: Wesley Earl “Wes” Craven is an American film director, writer, producer, and actor known for his work on horror films, particularly slasher films. He is the creator of the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise featuring the Freddy Krueger character, directed the first installment and Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, and also co-wrote A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors with Bruce Wagner. Craven also directed the entire Scream series featuring Ghostface. Some of his other films include The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed, and Red Eye along with producing partner Marianne Maddalena. Craven also directed My Soul to Take. Show Less
Born: August 02, 1939, Cleveland
To celebrate his life, we’ve listed some of his best movies for you to watch and appreciate his horrific genius.
WES CRAVEN’S GREATEST MOVIES
|1. A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET|
|A Nightmare on Elm Street is a 1984 American supernatural slasher horrorfilm written and directed by Wes Craven, and the first film of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. The film stars Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, Ronee Blakley, Amanda Wyss, Jsu Garcia, Robert Englund, and Johnny Depp in his feature film debut. Set in the fictional Midwestern town of Springwood, Ohio, the plot revolves around several teenagers who are stalked and killed in their dreams by Freddy Krueger. The teenagers are unaware of the cause of this strange phenomenon, but their parents hold a dark secret from long ago. Craven produced A Nightmare on Elm Street on an estimated budget of just $1.8 million, a sum the film earned back during its first week. An instant commercial success, the film went on to gross over $25 million at the United States box office. A Nightmare on Elm Street was met with rave critical reviews and went on to make a very significant impact on the horror genre, spawning a franchise consisting of a line of sequels, a television series, a crossover with Friday the 13th, beyond various other works of imitation; a remake of the same name was released in 2010.|
|2. THE HILLS HAVE EYES|
|The Hills Have Eyes is a 2006 American horror film and remake of Wes Craven‘s 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes. Written by filmmaking partners Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur of the French horror film Haute Tension, and directed by Aja, the film follows a family who becomes the target of a group of murderous mutants after their car breaks down in the desert. The film was released theatrically in the United States and United Kingdom on March 10, 2006. It earned $15.5 million in its opening weekend in the U.S., where it was originally rated NC-17 for strong gruesome violence, but was later edited down to an R-rating. An unrated DVD version was released on June 20, 2006. A sequel, The Hills Have Eyes 2, was released in theaters March 23, 2007.|
|3. THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS|
|The People Under the Stairs is a 1991 American horror film written and directed by Wes Craven and starring Brandon Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, A. J. Langer, Ving Rhames and Sean Whalen.|
|Scream is a 1996 American slasher film written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven. The film stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, Drew Barrymore, and David Arquette. Released on December 20, 1996, Scream follows the character of Sidney Prescott, a high school student in the fictional town of Woodsboro, who becomes the target of a mysterious killer known as Ghostface. Other main characters include Sidney’s best friend Tatum Riley, Sidney’s boyfriend Billy Loomis, Billy’s best friend Stu Macher, film geek Randy Meeks, deputy sheriff Dewey Riley, and news reporter Gale Weathers. The film combined comedy and “whodunit” mystery with the violence of the slasher genre to satirize the cliché of the horror genre popularized in films such as Halloween and Friday the 13th. The film was considered unique at the time of its release for featuring characters who were aware of real world horror films and openly discussed the cliché that Scream attempted to subvert. Based partly on the real-life case of the Gainesville Ripper, Scream was inspired by Williamson’s passion for horror films, especially Halloween|
|5. WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE|
|Wes Craven‘s New Nightmare is a 1994 American slasher metafilm written and directed by original Nightmare on Elm Street creator Wes Craven. Although it is the seventh film in the franchise, it is not part of the series continuity, instead portraying Freddy Krueger as a fictional movie villain who invades the real world and haunts the cast and crew responsible for his films. While the canon Elm Street films are about dreams overlapping reality, this entry is about films overlapping reality. In this film, Freddy is depicted as closer to what Craven originally intended, being more menacing and less comical, with a greatly updated attire and appearance. The film features various people involved in the motion picture industry playing themselves, including actress Heather Langenkamp who is compelled by events in the narrative to reprise her role as Nancy Thompson. New Nightmare features several homages to the original film such as quotes and recreations of the most famous scenes.|
|6. MY SOUL TO TAKE|
|My Soul to Take is a 2010 American supernatural horror film, written and directed by Wes Craven. It is his first film since 1994’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare that he both wrote and directed. The film stars Max Thieriot as the protagonist Adam “Bug” Hellerman, who is one of seven teenagers chosen to die. The film was unsuccessful at the box office, and was poorly received by critics. The film’s title comes from a line in the prayer “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”, which reads “If I shall die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” The prayer features in the film.|
|Cursed is a 2005 American horror-comedy film directed by Wes Craven and written by screenwriter Kevin Williamson, who both collaborated on Scream. The film stars Golden Globe nominees Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenbergas the main sister-and-brother protagonists. The plot focuses on two estranged siblings who are attacked by a werewolf loose in Los Angeles. The film premiered on November 7, 2004 at the American Film Market and was released theatrically in 2005. It was filmed in Los Angeles, California, United States, with special effects shot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It was a critical failure and a box office bomb|
|8. VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN|
|Vampire in Brooklyn is a 1995 American horror comedy film directed by Wes Craven, and starring Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett. Allen Payne, Kadeem Hardison, John Witherspoon, Zakes Mokae, and Joanna Cassidyco-star. Eddie Murphy wrote the film’s script, along with Vernon Lynch and older brother Charles Q. Murphy. In addition to playing the main character, Murphy also plays an alcoholic preacher and a foul-mouthed Italian gangster. Vampire in Brooklyn was the final film produced under Eddie Murphy’s exclusive contract with Paramount Pictures, that began with 48 Hrs. and included the Beverly Hills Cop franchise.|
|9. WES CRAVEN ‘S CHILLER|
|Chiller is a 1985 American horror television film. It aired on May 22, 1985. It was directed by Wes Craven and written by J.D. Feigelson. It follows corporate executive Miles Creighton, who dies and is cryonically preserved in the hopes that he can be revived. Ten years later, the procedure is a success, and Miles returns, but without his soul.|
|10. SWAMP THING|
|Swamp Thing is a 1982 American science fiction superhero film written and directed by Wes Craven, based on the DC Comics character of the same name created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. It tells the story of scientist Alec Holland who becomes transformed into the monster Swamp Thing through laboratory sabotage orchestrated by the evil Anton Arcane. Later, he helps out a woman named Alice and battles the man responsible for it all, the ruthless Arcane.|
What’s your favorite Wes Craven movie?