This is a tough one.
Wes Craven was the defining voice of 1980’s horror. As a young boy, Michael Meyers was the first big slasher to come out. Leatherface, non-withstanding. Jason Voorhees machete’d his way into our hearts (literally), but Freddy Krueger was different.
He was truly scary, killing us in our dreams. Even as he devolved into comedy-horror, he was the face of fear. Wes Craven gave us that.
Despite the power of that first film, his later entry was incredible.
New Nightmare broke the wall of reality and had Freddy enter OUR world! Chasing the actors from the original film! This was 20 years ahead of its time. We see stories like this today, bending our conceptions of movie and reality, but Craven was there in the early 90’s.
Speaking of the 90’s…
I was a senior in High School and SCREAM comes out. I was the perfect age for this. Craven and writer Kevin Williamson made something magical in Ghostface. Like Nightmare 20+ years earlier, Scream defined horror films for the next decade. It was one of several films of the period that were about my generation. They ushered us out of high school, through the college years and into adulthood.
We lost something very special today. R.I.P. Wes Craven.