Nightmare Craftsman

By today's standards, hearing of someone passing for health reasons before 80 seems unfair, especially when you know that person has been working hard.  Any one of us is susceptible to the ravages of time and those afflictions it renders.  Still yet, Wes Craven's death at 76 from brain cancer is simply unfair.  In this day and age, no one should be struck down by debilitating disease.  But, if there is any analog in our lives emulating immortality, it would be legacy, and Mr. Craven has certainly left us with one to stand the test of time.

I am no connoisseur of horror.  I am a horror writer, but if you look at my bookshelf it's mostly science fiction.  My DVDs are action and fantasy.  My video games at scariest are alien invasion monsters.  Look at my trinkets and collectibles, you will see Star Wars and Nintendo stuff.  That's not to say I dislike the horror medium, but neither will I pretend to know the ins-and-outs of the mind of Wes Craven.  I can however say with certainty, he was a major influence on my childhood.

As a child of the 80's, Freddy Krueger was the monster we loved, pretending to have his knife-fingered glove and chasing our friends around while also legitimately afraid he might come and get us in our sleep.  Wes Craven gave us an icon, but Freddy wasn't the only one.

There's the Last House on the Left, the Hills Have Eyes, and Scream, all staples of horror cinema, all his creations.

But Nightmare on Elm Street and the Serpent and the Rainbow were what I latched onto.  Maybe because I had vivid dreams as a kid, maybe because I have night-terrors as an adult in addition to still vivid dreams.  Some of my dreams have been so intense I've managed to turn them into stories.  That dream world, though, that sense of dread and terror at something you cannot control or escape, Wes Craven was on top of and there he will remain.

His name is synonymous with horror.  Any artist would be blessed with a fraction of the success he achieved.  Any single hit would be an artist's dream, yet Wes Craven carved out of the ether pieces of terror to strike a cord in every one of us, from fantastical monsters such as Freddy to very real horror such as the central theme of the Last House on the Left.  Wes Craven gave us icons, but he himself has been, and shall forever remain, a legend.

We lost an auteur, to be sure, but also a wonderful artist who cared about gentle things like birds, he studied philosophy, and taught college English.  Horror fans the world over will post pictures of Freddy and Ghost Face, but let's remember the man, too.

Thanks for all the great movies, Wes, you'll be missed.

(Photo from @WesCraven on Twitter)

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