Prolific horror filmmaker Wes Craven dead at 76

Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:01am EDT
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(Reuters) - Prolific horror filmmaker Wes Craven, who directed the slasher classic "A Nightmare on Elm Street," died on Sunday afternoon, his family said in a statement. He was 76.

Craven, who was also behind the 1990s horror hit "Scream," died surrounded by his loved ones at his Los Angeles home after suffering from brain cancer, the family said.

"It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed away," the family said. "Our hearts are broken."

Craven suffered from ailing health over the past three years, but continued to work on projects including several television shows, a graphic novel and a new film, "The Girl in the Photographs," which is set to premiere at the 2015 Toronto Film Festival next month.

Craven, born in Cleveland, shot to fame, at least among horror film fans, with his first feature, "The Last House on the Left," which has achieved cult classic status over the decades. He moved into film work after spending a few years as a college professor.

Other horror films also now deemed classics quickly followed, including "The Hills Have Eyes" and "Swamp Thing." But it was with 1984's hit "A Nightmare on Elm Street" that Craven rose to the top of the genre.

The film, which cost less than $2 million, starred Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, a clawed villain who torments a group of youths through their dreams, was a box office bonanza earning some $25 million, and spawned eight sequels, as well as a television series and novels.

In 1996, he struck box office gold again with "Scream," another teens-in-peril slasher film which also satirized the genre. Craven directed three more "Scream" films over the next 15 years.

He broke from the genre in 2005 with "Red Eye," a well-received airline thriller that starred Rachel McAdams.   Continued...

Director Wes Craven attends the premiere of the movie "Drag Me to Hell" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California in this May 12, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni