Wes Craven was one of the modern kings of horror, with an incredible film résumé that includes the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, The People Under the Stairs, Red Eye, and, of course, the Scream series.
But did you know Craven is from Cleveland?
That's right - the master of horror himself was born right here in Northeast Ohio in 1939. Unfortunately, Craven's childhood home - located at 1458 East 86th Street, uncovered by some great sleuthing from Don Billie - is no longer standing, but don't let that diminish the fact that Craven spent his formative years here.
The Inspiration for Freddy Krueger Came From Cleveland
What's really interesting about what we know from Craven's childhood - aside from the fact that his parents were strict Baptists and he worked at the Cleveland Public Library in the 1950s - is that part of the inspiration for the character Freddy Krueger came from Cleveland, too.
According to Craven, the inspiration for Krueger came from numerous sources, including a bully from school named Freddy and an incident that scared him as a 12-year-old, in which Craven watched a "yellow-toothed, cackling drunk" walk by his home one night making a scratching sound outside his window. In addition to an article he wrote for CosmoGirl in October of 2004, Craven also spoke about it on the Nightmare on Elm Street DVD audio commentary:
"When I looked down there was a man very much like Freddy walking along the sidewalk. He must have sensed that someone was looking at him and stopped and looked right into my face. He scared the living daylights out of me, so I jumped back into the shadows. I waited and waited to hear him walk away. Finally I thought he must have gone, so I stepped back to the window. The guy was not only still looking at me but he thrust his head forward as if to say, 'Yes, I'm still looking at you.' The man walked towards the apartment building's entrance. I ran through the apartment to our front door as he was walking into our building on the lower floor. I heard him starting up the stairs. My brother, who is ten years older than me, got a baseball bat and went out to the corridor but he was gone."
The inspiration for Freddy Krueger is no doubt an amalgamation of different things, but there's no doubt Cleveland played a major role in the genesis of the character.
And even though Craven's childhood home is now gone, the city should do something - anything- to honor the birthplace of one of the greatest horror directors of all time. It's doubtful most people even know he came from Cleveland in the first place, which is a shame.
But hopefully now, you'll be able to watch a Wes Craven movie with just a little bit more pride in our great city, which, apparently, was terrifying enough to Craven to conceive one of the best horror characters of all time.