The filmmaker had been battling brain cancer when he died at his home in Los Angeles.
Wes Craven, a master of cinema horror whose directorial credits include A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, died Sunday aged 76, his family said.
“It is with deep sadness we inform you that Wes Craven passed,” the family said in a statement, noting that Craven had been battling brain cancer. “Craven was surrounded by love, in the presence of his family at his Los Angeles home.”
Craven directed 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street, whose terrifying villain Freddy Krueger was reprised in several sequels and a 2010 remake. Krueger, who wore a scruffy fedora and had a glove with razor blades attached to the fingers, would visit his victims in their dreams and slash them to death. The first film in the franchise included a character played by a then-unknown Johnny Depp.
“He made nightmares seem real, the things that scare you in your subconscious can harm you, get to you,” said Richard Potter, a movie writer and producer who worked with Craven on the Scream franchise.
Craven also directed several episodes of The Twilight Zone revival in the 1980s and during the 1990s he made three films in the Scream series, with a fourth in 2011. The first film featured Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Drew Barrymore, and told the story of a U.S. high school targeted by a cloaked killer called Ghostface who wears a ghoulish mask based on The Scream painting by Edvard Munch.
“Today the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor, Wes Craven. My heart goes out to his family,” Cox wrote on Twitter.
Other tributes began pouring in after news of Craven’s passing. “My friend Wes has left us too soon,” said horror director John Carpenter, whose films include classics such as The Thing and an adaptation of Stephen King’s Christine. “He was truly an Old School director,” Carpenter said in a posting on Facebook.
Potter praised Craven’s cinematic smarts and his ability to build characters. “He was such a genuinely nice guy,” Potter said. “You felt like you were talking to your favorite professor.”
Ohio native Craven, who once taught English, had a graduate degree in philosophy and writing. “Thank you for being the kindest man, the gentlest man, and one of the smartest men I’ve known. Please say there’s a plot twist,” actress Rose McGowan, a Scream veteran, said on Twitter.