This well-written and heavily illustrated coffee table tome looks at the life, career and work of director Wes Craven, most famous, as the title suggests, for A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. Never in the top rank of film directors, Craven nevertheless amassed a number of credits and did some very influential movies. Craven first came to attention with the graphic thriller The Last House on the Left, a low-budget homage or rip-off of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring, then suffered poverty and anonymity for many years until he hit the big time with Nightmare and Freddy Krueger. Craven never really wanted to be a horror director, but the field kept calling him back when he needed a paycheck and when fans began to appreciate his movies. Craven's work outside the horror field was limited, however, with one example being the Meryl Streep starrer Music of the Heart. Craven also produced several genre films, and directed telefilms and episodic television, such as the remake of The Twilight Zone. Screams and Nightmares doesn't delve much into Craven's personal life, which would probably be of minor interest to most readers anyway. Even if you're not a tremendous Craven fan, this book is engaging and Robb doesn't make the mistake of deifying the director and not finding fault with his work, which he seems to appreciate more than I do. Perhaps Craven's best directed film, of the ones I've seen so far, was Scream 2.
Verdict: Handsome horror tome with lots of photos. ***.