Despite directing non-genre films like 50 VIOLINS, an Oscar-nominated effort starring Meryl Streep, Wes Craven is most renowned among his fans as a writer and director of scary movies, a reputation that extends all the way back to his feature debut, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972). Produced by Sean Cunningham, that film, along with TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, was one of the transgressive independent horror efforts that set new levels of screen violence; Craven’s script was also notable for its structural similarity to Ingmar Bergman’s THE VIRGIN SPRING. Since then, Craven has often written or co-written the scripts for his films, bringing to the horror genre an intelligent grounding in mythology (as would be expected of a former teacher).
Craven’s most enduring creation is dream demon Freddy Krueger, who first emerged in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The success of this 1984 film from New Line Cinema helped its writer-director make the jump to the major studios, which released subsequent efforts like THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW (1988), SHOCKER (1989), PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS (1991), and VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN (1995), and the SCREAM trilogy starting in 1997. However, none of those films quite matched the cultural impact and longevity of Freddy Krueger. Not only is there an ELM STREET remake in the works; over twenty years after his debut, Krueger has achieved horror icon status on par with classic movie monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein. Evidence of this (if any were needed beside the success of the sequels) can be found on the Universal Studios tour in Hollywood every October. The company – which created classic horror in the ’30s – sub-contracted New Line Cinema’s ELM STREET franchise (along with FRIDAY THE 13TH and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), so that Freddy is now rubbing shoulders with the Count, the Baron, Norman Bates – the horror movie equivalent of being invited to join the gods atop Mount Olympus.
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