Wes CravenArguably the father of the modern horror genre, Wes Craven passed away late Sunday night after a long battle with brain cancer.

The filmmaker, whose works spanned five decades, would be a first-ballot entry into any film hall of fame and has left an indelible mark on today’s movie culture.

He himself said some of his favorite films were 1968’s ‘Night of the Living Dead’, 1960’s ‘The Virgin Spring’, and 1948’s ‘Red River’.

It was this love and appreciation of not just horror but all styles of film that ultimately made his own work largely inside one specific genre so indistinguishable. And while it took awhile for Craven to come around to film making, once he was there, he never left.

Here’s a look at some of his most memorable works:

The ‘Scream’ Franchise (1996, 1997, 2000, 2011)

Scream

Nothing has single-handedly breathed new life into an entire genre of film like the Scream movies did. A set of horror films that were also about horror films, ‘Scream’s’ will largely be remembered for the iconic ghost face mask. But it’s Craven’s genius ability to deconstruct horror films in the middle of a series of them that should be remembered as his greatest achievement here. One cannot help but to imagine Craven chuckling as we were left to guess (often incorrectly) time and time again as to who the masked serial killer was!

 

The ‘A Nightmare On Elm Street’ Franchise (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 2010)

Heart of Summer

Though he actually only directed the original film in 1984, he has had a hand in one way or another on every subsequent addition to the franchise. And how could he not? A psychopathic killer that seeks revenge on his own murder by coming after the teenage offspring of his own killers in his dreams? It’s the stuff of nightmares. Literally! And it gave birth to Freddy Kreuger, easily one of the most memorable horror villains of all time!

 

‘The Last House on the Left’ (1972)

Last House on the Left

For many great film makers, their first works are often forgettable as it takes a while for them to really find their niche. This was not the case for Craven whose debut film, a revenge thriller about a pair of unsuspecting and naive teenage girls, was a box office hit and an instant sign that Hollywood had a real talent on their hands. It would be only because of the overwhelming success of his later works that this, his first film, would eventually become an afterthought.

 

‘Red Eye’ (2005)

Red Eye

‘Red Eye’ is important to Craven’s legacy for two reasons. One, it is actually the only non-‘Scream’ entry among his top five grossing films. Second, it showed the world (and perhaps himself) that he didn’t need blood and gore to build real, fear-enducing suspense. More a thriller than it is a horror film, the high-flying (literally) flick made us think twice about getting chummy with that guy in the seat next to us.

 

‘The Hills Have Eyes’ (1977)

Hills Have Eyes

Though the remakes are probably more prevalent in pop culture’s consciousness, this was once again, a horror franchise that began with Wes Craven. And while we’d like to forget the disaster that was ‘The Hills Have Eyes Part II’, one is forced to recognize the man who started it all with mutant hillbillies wreaking havoc on a group of stranded road trippers.

 


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