Wes Craven, creator of the "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Scream" movie franchises, died of brain cancer Sunday at age 76.
Craven's most famous creation, the character Freddy Krueger, instantly joined Michael Myers of the "Halloween" franchise and Jason Voorhees of the "Friday the 13th" films in the pantheon of classic horror villains upon his debut in 1984.
According to The Hollywood Reporter
, Craven wrote, directed, and edited his first feature film in 1972, "The Last House on the Left." He followed up with 1977's "The Hills Have Eyes," which he wrote and directed.
After 1984's "Nightmare on Elm Street," Craven reached a new level of success with "Scream" in 1996.
"In addition to reviving Mr. Craven’s career, it helped redefine horror movies by introducing a self-aware, at times self-mocking sensibility," wrote The New York Times
"Written by Kevin Williamson, who would go on to create television series including 'Dawson’s Creek' and 'The Vampire Diaries,' it featured characters who have seen enough horror movies to know the clichés of the genre — although several of them end up being killed anyway."
Outside of the horror genre, Craven helmed "Music of the Heart" in 1999, a film that would earn Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress.
"We had a very difficult time getting an audience into a theater on my name," he said in an October interview. "In fact, we moved toward downplaying my name a lot on 'Music of the Heart.' The more famous you are for making kinds of outrageous scary films, the crossover audience will say, 'I don't think so.'"
In recent years, Craven created the psychological thriller "Red Eye" starring Rachel McAdams, and also produced remakes of "The Hills Have Eyes" and "The Last House on the Left."
Craven is survived by his wife, producer and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka, his sister, his two children, and one stepchild.
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