LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Wes Craven, the legendary film director who easily made audiences scream and fearful of anything and anyone on Elm Street, died Sunday at the age of 76.
His family says Craven died at 1 p.m. Sunday. He was battling brain cancer.
Craven was known as the Guru of Gore. He directed the “Scream” franchise as well as the mega-popular “Nightmare on Elm Street” series.
Most recently, he was executive producing MTV’s “Scream,” just renewed for a second season.
Craven first emerged with the wild “The Last House on the Left” in 1972.
He soon became the go-to guy for gore and horror — mixed with often uncomfortable comedy — with such wet-your-pants fare as “Swamp Thing” and “The Hills Have Eyes.”
A spokesperson said Sunday that “he was surrounded by love, in the presence of his family at his Los Angeles home” when he died.
After moving to Martha’s Vinyard three years ago, the family said he ultimately returned to LA for health and work reasons.
When he wasn’t scaring the bejesus out of folks, Craven also liked to show a softer, gentler side.
In 1999, for example, he directed the sweet “Music of the Heart” — a movie about a violin teacher who taught inner-city kids for which Meryl Streep was Oscar nominated for best actress.
His family said Craven was “creatively engaged and working until the end.”
In a statement, they added, “Our hearts our broken.”
Craven had recently signed an overall television deal with Universal Cable Productions (UCP) and had a number of television projects in development including “The People Under the Stairs” with Syfy.”Disciples” with UCP, “We Are All Completely Fine” with Syfy / UCP, and “Sleepers” with Federation Entertainment.
Craven had recently written and was to direct the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” segment for The Weinstein Company / WGN’s “Ten Commandments” television mini-series. He had also been working on a graphic novel series based on his original idea “Coming of Rage” for Liquid Comics, in collaboration with Steve Niles.
Born August 2, 1939, in Cleveland, Ohio, Variety said he was a longtime bird lover who even served as a longtime member of the Audubon Society’s California Board of Directors. Craven even wrote a monthly column “Wes Craven’s The Birds” for Martha’s Vineyard Magazine.
Craven is survived by his wife, producer and former Disney Studios VP Iya Labunka; sister Carol Buhrow; son Jonathan Craven; daughter Jessica Craven; stepdaughter Nina Tarnawksy and three grandchildren. He was pre deceased by his parents and a brother.