Like Carpenter, Wes Craven is responsible for creating one of the cinematic screen’s essential villains. Compared to many post-“Halloween” movies that simply tried to replicate Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger was a unique character. The concept of a dream-invading killer robbed any sense of security and gave Craven a unique way to carry out his murders. Like “Halloween,” the tension in the 1984 original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” doesn’t let up during its 91-minute run.
Craven returned to the character with his 1994 sequel “New Nightmare,” which commented on how horror films had changed over the decade. Freddy had gotten dumber in later episodes of the “Nightmare” series, and Craven made him scary once again. Freddy has escaped the confines of the big screen and is beginning to haunt the cast of the original film.
Although “New Nightmare” was not immediately celebrated for its subversiveness, it did lead Craven to create another satirical masterpiece. 1996’s “Scream” introduced a universe where the characters were aware of genre clichés; they refer to the illogical decisions standard slasher victims would make. “Scream” gave Craven a new franchise, and he directed the next three episodes.
Outside of those two franchises, Craven explored different horror elements with his other beloved classics. He made the exploitation films “The Last House on the Left” and “The Hills Have Eyes”, and examined family conflict with “People Under the Stairs”.