Thanks for the nightmares.

Wes Craven, the horror film director and writer best known for his A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream series, died at his home in Los Angeles on Sunday, Aug. 30, after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.

Although Craven directed his first feature film, The Last House on the Left, in 1972, it took years before he delivered his first classic, A Nightmare on Elm Street, in 1984. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Craven got the idea for the seminal movie after living next to a cemetery on a street bearing the same name in Cleveland.

The movie became the first of five Nightmare on Elm Street films released from 1984 through 1989, developing a cult-like following during that time with the haunting character Freddy Krueger, who stalked and killed teenagers in their dreams.

Craven also struck big with his horror series Scream, in which he directed all four films of the franchise, running from 1996 through 2011. The Scream series grossed upward of $600 million at the box-office worldwide.

In 1999, Craven stepped away from the horror realm and showed flexibility in directing the moving drama Music of the Heart, which earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination, although it was hard to convince movie goers that Craven could deliver a nonhorror film.

"We had a very difficult time getting an audience into a theater on my name," Craven said in an interview with writer-director Mick Garris in October. "In fact, we moved toward downplaying my name a lot on Music of the Heart. The more famous you are for making kinds of outrageous scary films, the crossover audience will say, 'I don't think so.' "

That same interview had Craven discussing his humble beginnings in Cleveland.

"I come from a blue-collar family, and I'm just glad for the work," Craven said. "I think it is an extraordinary opportunity and gift to be able to make films in general, and to have done it for almost 40 years now is remarkable. If I have to do the rest of the films in the [horror] genre, no problem. If I'm going to be a caged bird, I'll sing the best song I can. I can see that I give my audience something. I can see it in their eyes, and they say thank you a lot. You realize you are doing something that means something to people. So shut up and get back to work."

Other Craven-directed films included Swamp Thing (1982), Deadly Friend (1986) and The People Under the Stairs (1991). Craven is survived by his wife and former Disney Studios vice president Iya Labunka, two children, a stepdaughter, three grandchildren and sister.

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