Wes Craven reinvented horror films for generations to come. With bold visions and mixture of genres, his monsters and murders continue to haunt the dreams of trick-or-treaters every Halloween season.
“I can see that I give my audience something. I can see it in their eyes, and they say thank you a lot,” said Craven in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “You realize you are doing something that means something to people. So shut up and get back to work.”
He debuted his raw talents back in 1972 with his first feature film “The Last House on the Left.” People found his work excessively gruesome and demanded changes. So although successful at the box-office for some time, the censoring of Craven’s film prevented audiences from enjoying his true talent.
It wasn’t until his imagination came to life with “A Nightmare on Elm Street” that Craven achieved creative and commercial success.
Craven told the story of teenagers whose murderous dreams became real. He portrayed a sense of mystery through suspense as the audience did not know who was next on Freddy Krueger’s mass murdering list. Following “A Nightmare on Elm Street” were several sequels, crossovers, and video game adaptations throughout the years. Although technology has improved since the time of the movie’s release, people are still fascinated with the classic “slasher film” and Craven’s approach to the genre.
Many high-profile actors would not have furthered their careers without the recognition Craven gave them. Golden Globe Award winners Johnny Depp and Bruce Willis were given their first feature roles as actors in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The movie “Music of the Heart” earned Actress Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
“Wes Craven was the guy who gave me my start, from my perspective, for almost no reason in particular,” said Johnny Depp in a recent interview with Variety. “At the time, I was a musician. I wasn’t really acting. It was not anything very near to my brain or my heart…. [He] was brave enough to give me the gig.”
Soon, however, the horror genre’s popularity began receding from the public eye. Craven refused to see the end of an era he had dedicated his life to. With the production of “Scream,” which broke free from the demoralizing clichés and combined comedy with mystery and violence, Craven was able to revitalize slasher films. The first “Scream” film remains the highest-grossing slasher film in the U.S. to this day, receiving several awards and nominations.
Craven’s impact in film and media entertainment has allowed his works to be recreated and reinvented, producing countless costumes and party themes. A television series was created by MTV based on the “Scream” films; a retelling of the original story with new characters and plot. After Wes Craven’s passing this year, the network dedicated the series’ finale to the original film’s creator, the basis for their show’s success.
Craven’s impact on the film industry has horrified and entertained millions with two of his franchises falling under the list of high-grossing American horror films. The Master of Horror may be gone, but he will continue to stay relevant in the fears and excitement of all.