This past weekend, horror fans around the world were shocked to hear Wes Craven had passed away at the age of 76. He lost his battle with brain cancer, a battle no one seemed to even know about. I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for his family to say goodbye to the man they loved so much but my heart and prayers go out to them whole-heartedly. I didn't know the man but he left an imprint on my life that began when I was just eight years old. I distinctly remember my fascination with SWAMP THING as a child. It was put in heavy rotation on HBO and every time it aired, I was seated directly in front of the screen. My parents and I would watch it over and over again though I'm pretty sure the only reason they were watching it was because It kept me sitting still and well behaved for at least ninety minutes of the day. At eight years old, I knew nothing about the magic of making movies or who was responsible for it. It was when I was eleven that I would experience a film that would spark my life-long obsession with horror films, an obsession that would grow and shape me into the person I am today. Now, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM ST. didn't actually scare me as a whole, but there were images in the film that would haunt me for years to come. Instead of running away from the fear, I embraced it, like many others would, and horror films quickly became my escape. At eleven, I couldn't watch every horror film I wanted to but the seed was planted. That's when I finally became aware of who Wes Craven was. The name scared and fascinated me all at the same time. My parents wouldn't allow me to watch most R-rated movies, but my friend's parents were another story. They would take us to the video store when I would stay the night and let us pick out whatever we wanted. Over the next several years, I would discover his previous films like LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT and THE HILLS HAVE EYES while catching his current crop of like DEADLY FRIEND and SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW as they became available. The first Wes Craven film I saw in the theater was SHOCKER and I loved every ridiculous minute of it. It was one of the first R-rated films I saw in a theater (and snuck in to). It may not be one of his most loved films but for me, it was the movie that would launch my obsession with heavy metal horror flicks (I consider it to be, Horace Pinker was a rockstar serial killer, and the marketing campaign relied heavily on it's metal soundtrack). SHOCKER would be the second major imprint he would leave on me. The final major imprint he left on me came in 1996 with the release of SCREAM. It seemed like after the exquisite NEW NIGHTMARE, Wes was able lay to rest his cinematic past and came back with a vengeance. I was so in love with how fun and clever the film was, I would go see it once a week for six weeks. I've never done that with any other film. Not only did he give birth to Freddy Krueger, but Ghostface as well, both have become household names and two of the most popular faces we see every year when Halloween roles around. After seeing SCREAM, I made my first short film using Ghostface as my killer. I never had the chance to meet Wes Craven, though I have met MANY people who have worked with him on numerous projects and every single one of them had nothing but praise and love for their director and friend. My only encounter with the man was when he phoned in on Fangoria Radio, a weekly Sirius satellite radio program hosted by Dee Snider and Debbie Rochon. I was able to ask him a question about whether or not he had any intention on writing another book after he had done FOUNTAIN SOCIETY. His response: laughter. He said I might have been the only person who actually read the book. Not everything the man was involved in turned to gold but he was never afraid to experiment and his work was always far more intelligent than whatever else was in cinemas. The outpouring of love, respect, and admiration for our fallen Master of Horror on various social media sites just goes to show the world just how powerful and amazing the horror community is. Wes Craven may no longer be with us in life but his words, films, and characters will be with us forever. He's inspired all of us in one way, shape, or form and the impact of his creations will continue to influence us and the next generation of fans and filmmakers who will discover his work in the future. Rest in peace, Mr. Craven, thank you for a lifetime of nightmares.
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