Just prior to his passing, I had the honor of collaborating with Wes on what will likely be his final and most defining work yet, “Sleepers.” To the end, he was always enthusiastic, brimming with brilliant ideas and quick to provide support and motivation for me to push the outside of whatever envelope we confronted, urging me to plumb dark depths into which I never would have ventured without his steady, confident vision and navigation.
It was he, in fact, who gave me the single most important word of writing advice I’ve ever received: “Don’t go bigger, Daniel; go deeper!”
His loss is devastating, but it is mitigated by his astonishing legacy of brilliant material and — even more importantly — unforgettable characters.
And such characters!
For almost a century, the archetypes of “The Monster” – Frankenstein, Dracula, Mr. Hyde (The Wolfman) and Cthulu held reign – until Craven’s brash introduction of the first (and thus far only) addition to the unholy four: the deliciously original Freddy Krueger. For this achievement alone, Wes Craven deserves an honored place in the horror pantheon alongside Shelley, Stoker, Stephenson and H. P. Lovecraft (indeed, on our upcoming series, “Sleepers,” Wes and I were heavily paying homage to the latter).
As a man, Wes was unfailingly kind, erudite, clever and graced with a gentle sense of wicked-dark humor that inevitably bled into seminal horror masterworks such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Hills Have Eyes, Scream and The People Under the Stairs. He was not only the consummate artist, but a gifted educator; he not only delighted fans, but inspired countless artists who have grown up under his influence or, like me, have been privileged to actually work with him.
Even when his health was fragile, Wes faced life with unfailing strength, courage and a joy that I can only pray to emulate.
I will never forget him, and while exercising my craft, I will no doubt regularly ask myself, “What would Wes do?” (bumper sticker: WWWD) as I continue my own creative journey with future projects.
That no one should sleep so peacefully as the Bringer of Nightmares…
— Daniel Knauf (Creator, “CARNIVÀLE”; Producer, “THE BLACKLIST”)
With the tragic passing of Wes Craven, literally everyone in the industry has been reeling and expressing love for the man and his work. Several people have been writing in to Dread Central to ask if it would be cool to post their thoughts. So this Farewell to Wes feature will be their opportunity to share their feelings and their thoughts with you, the horror community.
Some will be long, some will be short, but all are important and will be featured with love and caring. It’s our honor to be able to do this for the man who gave us so very much.