?ightmare on Elm Street?Director Wes Craven Dies

The horror director and writer was also an avid bird lover.

Horror director Wes Craven was also an advocate for birds.
Photo via Wes Craven/Instagram 
Horror director Wes Craven was also an advocate for birds.

Writer and director Wes Craven is probably best known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises. He was renowned for his horror films, bringing Freddy Krueger into the nightmares of anyone who watched the films. But Craven, who passed away on Sunday at age 76 after a battle with brain cancer, had another love: birds.

“I?e been fascinated by them my whole life. To most kids, flight is just such a fantastic magical thing to watch,?Craven said in a 2008 interview with Audubon. “My mother and I used to sit out in the backyard in Cleveland and watch the purple martins and, in the evening, nighthawks come diving out of the sky with a screech and swoop by with an audible sound of wind through wings.?lt;/span>

His love of birds seeped its way into his films, starting with the first one he ever made, The Last House on the Left. “As the tension rose and the action rose, I just brought up the blue jays,?he told Audubon.

In one of his last films, My Soul to Take, Craven used the condor as a central part of the story. “These huge, magnificent birds are kind of like a bellwether. If we can? allow these things to exist, it? just a tragedy. But I just thought it was a great story,?he told Audubon. “Some smart and dedicated people saw these birds were going to be extinct soon, daringly took these eggs out of their nests, every-body screaming at them?You cannot do this!?and succeeded in raising and reintroducing them. It? a wonderful story. And within the context of the script, it? like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, built on something that was hauled back from the brink of extinction. We even talk in the script about how some people think [condors] are ugly and how this kid just sees the beauty of them.?lt;/span>

No doubt Craven saw the beauty not just in condors but in all birds, even writing about them in a column called “Wes Craven? The Birds” for Martha? Vineyard Magazine.

“I?e just finished reading a book about what birds think. About migrating, mating, nesting, eating, and feeding. Even learning to fly,?he wrote. “Interesting, but it never addressed the more important question: what do birds think about us? That? what made Hitchcock? masterpiece The Birds so scary. The birds had thought about us a lot and concluded they? had enough.?lt;/span>

Craven added in the column that birds communicate with him, informing him of what they think of humans. “There are keyboards everywhere now. Crows and ravens can steal a cell phone in a second, and they?e very smart birds. I get fan mail from them quite often, when they?e not playing Angry Birds. Red-tailed hawks like my movies too. One even sent me a selfie. And an idea for a new bumper sticker.?lt;/span>

The birds continue to “communicate?with Craven through to his last column for the magazine, which was published in June of this year. Each essay is at once smart, funny and informative while also being creative ?so much so that one almost doesn? realize that Craven is asking for us to help the birds. And when that realization is known, we can? help wanting to do what he? asked.

“I love watching the ravens ?they?e such great soarers, very clever and very communal, and they play,?Craven told Audubon. “You can see them hanging from one foot from the end of a pine tree branch, just kind of looking around, and then let go and go flying off.?lt;/span>

Craven will be missed.

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