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Director Wes Craven dies at 76

wes craven

Famous for horror productions such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, and his 1972 debut The Last House on the Left, Craven died Sunday of brain cancer in Los Angeles.

Though dream-demon Freddy Krueger is his most famous creation, Craven's cinematic talents ranged from comedy to crime thrillers, with 2005's Red Eye among his biggest hits. He was also a birdwatcher, serving on the board of California Audubon.

He is survived by his wife, Iya Labunka, and two children, Jessica and Jonathan Craven.

The BBC collected some early tributes posted online by colleagues and collaborators.

Reflecting on his career, he once said in an interview: "I tried to make movies where I can honestly say I haven't seen that before and to follow my deepest intuitions and in some cases literally my dreams."

Actors posted tributes on social media including actress Courtney Cox, who starred in Craven's 1996 Scream and appeared in the franchise's three subsequent films.

She said: "Today the world lost a great man, my friend and mentor, Wes Craven. My heart goes out to his family. x" Rose McGowan, who also featured in the original Scream, said:

"Thank you for being the kindest man, the gentlest man, and one of the smartest men I've known. Please say there's a plot twist."

News of Craven's death was posted to his twitter account late Sunday night.

Justin Wm. Moyer wrote a long obituary, for The Washington Post, which traces the origins of Craven's art.

Born in 1939 in Cleveland, Craven’s childhood came with the trauma necessary to an artist obsessed with the macabre: death and religion. The director-to-be lost his father, an alcoholic factory hand, in his youth, and was raised by a strict Protestant family.

“I came out of a very religious background,” he said in 1984. ”As fundamentalist Baptists, we were sequestered from the rest of the world. You couldn’t dance or drink or go to the movies. The first time I paid to see a movie (‘To Kill a Mockingbird’) I was a senior in college. … My whole youth was based on suppression of emotion. As they say in psychological circles, my family never got in touch with their rage. So making movies — these awful horror movies, no less — was, I guess, my way of purging this rage.”

Director Edgar Wright remembers what it was like to be young in the VHS slasher era: "Rest In Peace, Wes. We willingly give you full permission to haunt our waking dreams forever."

Like many film fans who grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s, Wes Craven’s name became to me synonymous with cutting edge horror. When I grew up in a VHS less house, I really could only dream of the horrors behind the forbidding posters or video box art of movies like ‘The Last House On The Left’, ‘The Hills Have Eyes’ and ‘Deadly Blessing’. These were films I was not really allowed to see, but as a young horror obsessive I needed to know everything about them.

Man dies after eating tablet computer

inedible

Police responded Sunday to reports of a man throwing items out of a window in St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon their arrival, he began eating pieces of glass and other smashed-up components to "avoid detention," according to a statement released Monday.

The Moscow Times reports that an investigation is underway: "The policeman, who was injured while trying to stop the man from eating his tablet, called an ambulance to the scene but the man lost consciousness and died before it arrived, the statement added."

Short documentary puts World War II fatalities into context

WWII

More people died in World War II than in any other conflict in history, yet it can be hard to conceptualize that massive loss of life.

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John Nash, famed mathematician, dies in road accident

johnnash "John Forbes Nash Jr., the brilliant Princeton University mathematician whose life story was the subject of the film "A Beautiful Mind," was killed with his wife Alicia on Saturday in a crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Previously.

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Could the Game of Thrones poisoning happen in real life?

Cyanide, deadly nightshade and pesticides have disturbingly similar symptoms to the toxin that took a powerful character's life, writes Rachel Nuwer. Warning: this post is laced with potent spoilers. Read the rest

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate novelist, 1927-2014

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

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RIP Stephen Crohn: The man AIDS couldn't kill

Stephen Crohn lost a boyfriend and many friends to AIDS before realizing that there must be something different about him that kept him from contracting HIV. He eventually became one of the key patients that helped scientists discover the delta32 mutation — a very rare genetic anomaly that makes a person immune (as far as we know) to HIV. Crohn died on August 23rd. His family has said the death was a suicide.

Chemistry mystery solved: The death of Chris McCandless

Chris McCandless was the hiker and simple living advocate who died from starvation in Denali National Park in 1992. His story was later made into a book and movie called Into the Wild. But there's always been something a little weird about McCandless' death. How did a guy dedicated to back-to-the-land knowledge and safe foraging end up starving to death? At The New Yorker, writer Jon Krakauer explains how the mystery of McCandless' death was finally solved. The evidence points to a secret of food chemistry with ties to Nazi death camps.

New bride pushes husband off cliff

A good candidate for the dumbest murderer you'll read about this year! She reported him missing, only to "find" the body herself in a million-acre national park: "It was a place he wanted to see before he died." [BBC]

Custodian of the famous Pitch Drop Experiment died without ever seeing the pitch drop

Back in early August, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Mainstone, the man who has taken care of the Pitch Drop Experiment at Australia's University of Queensland since 1961. The experiment has been running since 1927, when Professor Thomas Parnell set out to show his students that coal-tar pitch can behave as both a solid and a liquid. Despite being hard enough to break with a hammer, the pitch also drips ... sliding very, very slowly down the neck of a funnel into a beaker.

In Mainstone's years as custodian, the drops have dripped five times. He never got a chance to watch any of them, either in person, or on video. The first falling drop he ever saw came this earlier this summer, when a different pitch drop experiment in Ireland managed to catch the event on camera.

Mainstone's pitch is predicted to drop later this fall, but he won't be around to see it. Last week, I received an email from his daughter Julia, confirming that Mainstone had died of a stroke on August 23rd. He was 78. You didn't have to talk to Mainstone for very long to get a sense of the passion he had for the pitch drop project. I'm glad I got a chance to speak with him before he died and, in a couple of weeks, we'll be running a feature story here at BoingBoing based, in part, on those interviews.

In the meantime, the Pitch Drop Experiment has a new custodian, Andrew White, a physics professor and former student of Mainstone.

Death and the Mainframe: How data analysis can help document human rights atrocities

Between 1980 and 2000, a complicated war raged in Peru, pitting the country’s government against at least two political guerilla organizations, and forcing average people to band together into armed self-defense committees.

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Night Stalker dead

Serial killer and self-professed "satanist" Richard Ramirez is dead at 53, reports the California Department of Corrections.

RIP Number 10

Number 10 — a Yellowstone Park elk famous for fighting with other elk, grade-school volleyball nets, and R.V.s — has died. Estimated to have been between 15 and 18 years old, he apparently lost a battle with a vehicle.

The last words of murderer Richard Cobb

"Wow, that is great, that is awesome."

Iron Lady delays Iron Man

Organizers of the UK premiere of Iron Man 3 delayed the event due to its conflict with Baroness Thatcher's funeral.

An obituary for Harry Stamps

Who is Harry Stamps? Excellent question. He was the dean of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, but, as his excellently written and tear-inducing obituary explains, he was also "a ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler" who held the secrets of the world's greatest BLT sandwich and went to his deathbed despising Daylight Savings Time (aka The Devil's Time). A man after my own heart.

Mice guilty of arson

An inquest found mice responsible for burns found on a dead 55-year-old woman in England, but was unable to determine the exact cause of death. Though the rodents nibbled through cabling and started a fire, Linda Wyatt suffered no smoke inhalation and may therefore have already succumbed to other ailments. [Court News UK]