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Also Known As: Wesley Earl Craven Died:
Born: August 2, 1939 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Cleveland, Ohio, USA Profession: producer, director, screenwriter, editor, actor, cab driver, professor, messenger

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Though he originally intended to be a college professor, writer-director Wes Craven ditched academia to become one of the most widely recognized practitioners of the horror film, eventually becoming synonymous with the genre itself. After emerging onto the filmmaking scene with the reviled revenge flick "Last House on the Left" (1972), Craven worked as an editor and unproduced screenwriter until his next film, "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977), a cult classic that helped establish a fan base that propelled his career forward. He continued along with several mid-level horror films before striking gold with "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), which introduced the malevolent Freddie Krueger to the world, one of the most iconic horror villains of all time. Though the film spawned numerous sequels that earned over $500 million at the box office, Craven was unable to reap the rewards due to signing away all financial rights in order to get the film made. Despite such a colossal business error, the director went on to make numerous film and television projects throughout the ensuing years, most of which lacked the ingenuity and freshness of the original "Nightmare." But he finally had a large scale Hollywood...

Though he originally intended to be a college professor, writer-director Wes Craven ditched academia to become one of the most widely recognized practitioners of the horror film, eventually becoming synonymous with the genre itself. After emerging onto the filmmaking scene with the reviled revenge flick "Last House on the Left" (1972), Craven worked as an editor and unproduced screenwriter until his next film, "The Hills Have Eyes" (1977), a cult classic that helped establish a fan base that propelled his career forward. He continued along with several mid-level horror films before striking gold with "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984), which introduced the malevolent Freddie Krueger to the world, one of the most iconic horror villains of all time. Though the film spawned numerous sequels that earned over $500 million at the box office, Craven was unable to reap the rewards due to signing away all financial rights in order to get the film made. Despite such a colossal business error, the director went on to make numerous film and television projects throughout the ensuing years, most of which lacked the ingenuity and freshness of the original "Nightmare." But he finally had a large scale Hollywood success with "Scream" (1996) and its sequels, which both reveled in and parodied all the horror conventions that Craven helped establish throughout his career. Eventually settling for his share of the "Nightmare" profits after negotiations decades later, the director settled into a comfortable groove of compelling shockers like "Red Eye" (2005) and "My Soul to Take" (2010), confirming that Craven was above all others as a true master of horror.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Scream 4 (2011)
2.
3.
  25/8 (2010)
4.
  Cursed (2005) Director
5.
  Red Eye (2005)
6.
  Scream 3 (2000) Director
7.
  Music of the Heart (1999) Director
8.
  Scream 2 (1997) Director
9.
  Scream (1996) Director
10.
  Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) Director

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 Inside Deep Throat (2005) Cast
3.
 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) (Cameo Apprearance)
4.
 Shadow Zone: The Undead Express (1996) Counsellor
5.
 Fear, The (1995) Dr Arnold
6.
 Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) Himself
7.
 John Carpenter Presents Body Bags (1993) Pasty-Faced Man ("The Gas Station")
8.
 Shocker (1989) Man Neighbor
9.
 Intimate Portrait: Linda Blair (2001) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Left teaching and took a job as a messenger for a film post-production company in NYC
1971:
First film as editor, "You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat"
1971:
Was an assistant producer on the documentary feature, "Together/Sensual Paradise"; first collaboration with Sean Cunningham
1972:
Made feature directing and writing debut with "The Last House on the Left"; produced by Sean Cunningham
1977:
Wrote, directed, and edited his second horror feature, "The Hills Have Eyes"
1978:
Directed first TV-movie, "Stranger in Our House" (NBC)
1984:
Wrote and directed the popular horror film, "A Nightmare on Elm Street"
1987:
Provided story and co-wrote screenplay for "A Nightmare on Elm Street Part III: Dream Warriors"
1989:
Executive produced the short-lived series, "The People Next Door"
1992:
Created the short-lived fantasy series, "Nightmare Cafe"; also wrote pilot and several episodes
1994:
Wrote and directed "Wes Craven's New Nightmare," where Freddy Krueger as a fictional movie villain, invades the real world
1996:
Had box-office hit with the self-reflexive horror film, "Scream"
1997:
Directed the sequel, "Scream 2"
1999:
Directed first non-horror film, "Music of the Heart," starring Meryl Streep as music teacher and Violinist Roberta Guaspari┬┐Tzavaras
2000:
Once again returned to direct "Scream 3"
2005:
Directed Christina Ricci in the thriller, "Cursed"
2005:
Directed Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy in the thriller, "Red-Eye"
2006:
Produced a remake of his 1977 film, "The Hills Have Eyes"; film was directed by Alexandre Aja
2006:
Wrote the screenplay for "Pulse," a remake of cult Japanese helmer Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Kairo"
2006:
Executive produced "Feast," the horror film that is a result of Project Greenlight's third season
2007:
Wrote and produced the sequal, "The Hills Have Eyes 2"
2009:
Produced a remake of his film, "The Last House on the Left"
2010:
Wrote and directed "My Soul to Take"
2011:
Returned to direct "Scream 4"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Wheaton College: Wheaton , Illinois -
Johns Hopkins University: Baltimore , Maryland - 1964

Notes

According to Robert 'Freddy Krueger' Englund (New York Post, October 10, 1994), Craven lives on a cliff in Hollywood Hills in a house once owned by Steve McQueen.

"The horror film consistently bucks censorship, the sort of censorship of the mind that tries to normalize the chaos of life itself. The middle class wants things nice, neat and normal with all the corners squared. Horror films are the brush fires that make room for new trees to grow."---Craven, quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, October 30, 1992.

Wes Craven talking about his feature debut as a writer-director, "Last House on the Left" (1972): "The way I was raised, which was basically as a law-abiding, Bible-following person, a lot of the rage and wildness is kept out from your conscious mind," Mr. Craven says. "Finally when I had gone through a divorce and left teaching, abandoning everything everyone was pleased that I was doing, and somebody said just make something wild and crazy, suddenly all this came out of me very easily. It just gelled in a way that astonished everyone, including me."---From "Freddy Krueger's Creator Breaks Out of His Genre" by James Greenberg, The New York Times, October 9, 1994.

Wes Craven talking about his feature debut as a writer-director, "Last House on the Left" (1972): "I found that I had never written anything like this, and I'd been writing for ten to twelve years already. I'd always written artistic, poetic things. Suddenly, I was working in an area I had never confronted before. It was almost like doing a pornographic film if you'd been a fundamentalist. And I found that I was writing about things that I had very strong feelings about. I was drawing on things from very early in my own childhood, things that I was feeling about the war, and they were pouring into this very simple B-movie plot."---From "Neglected Nightmares", a chapter of Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan by Robin Wood (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986)

"I dream in colors, I dream in scene cuts, dissolves sometimes. Quite often I'll have a dream that is very specific to what I'm working on."---Wes Craven quoted in "Meeting Mr. Fright" by Manohla Dargis, Village Voice, October 25, 1994.

"In 1978, Craven's interest in dreams led him to a series of news reports which served as the inspiration for the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street". The articles detailed the mysterious case of three boys who, after experiencing a horrific nightmare one night, died the next time they slept. 'The last time it happened the kid literally tried to stay awake as long as he could. His family was very concerned. He was getting more and more distraught. The doctor prescribed sleeping pills and he threw them away. They gave him warm milk and he threw it in the sink. Finally, he fell asleep and the whole family breathed a sigh of relief. Then in the middle of the night they heard screams and ran in and found him dead.'"---From "Craven's Nightmare: Dream Director" by Dale Kutzera, Imagi-Movies, Fall 1994.

"Horror has affected me deeply, and it hasn't always been in a positive way," he says. "In certain circles, I've become a pariah for making this kind of film. I've had a lot of suspicion and resentment directed at me because I choose to deal with horror and for having to come back to it more than once. I've found that horror can be a lonely watch, and this film ["Wes Craven's New Nightmare"] addresses some of that loneliness."---Wes Craven quoted in "Psycho Analysis" by Marc Shapiro, Fangoria, October 1994.

"I would have hoped that the "Elm Street" films would have been treated with absolute respect all along the way," he says. "That's not a snipe against New Line (Pictures), but I would have liked to see somebody sit down each time they set out to make one of the sequels and really get into the philosophy and the heart behind it."

"My first film was about some very serious and important subjects. I felt that with '2', they immediately threw all the important issues out the window and made it a series of strange freaky events and the same old raunchy teenagers. I tried to wrestle it back with '3', and then the series tended to wander, depending on the talent of the directors and the commitment of the writers. Sometimes I had the feeling that they just went with somebody who could knock out a script rather than somebody who had a true vision."---Wes Craven quoted in "Psycho Analysis" by Marc Shapiro, Fangoria, October 1994.

"I have a very macabre sense of humor. To me, it's just a way of coping. It's not like I go around thinking the world is horrible all the time, but there's that subtext that you feel all the time of, "God, it's just madness out there." To be able to joke about it eases it somehow. On the face of it, it's almost inappropriate because of how horrendous life is, but life is tough and then you die. So it's almost like Voltaire said once, that God is a comedian playing to a house that's afraid to laugh. The joke is on us ultimately because we're all here for such a short time. To me, humor makes it all a little bit bearable, and there's often a lot of wisdom and insight in humor, and I think that's why people continually make up jokes about very important things. They usually have a kernel of truth in them. What we think is true."---Wes Craven on the comedic undercurrent running through most of his films to Knac.com, January 1, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Bonnie Broecker. Married in 1964; divorced in 1969.
wife:
Mimi Craven. Flight attendant, actor. Married c. 1984; divorced in 1987.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Paul Craven.
mother:
Caroline Craven.
son:
Jonathan Craven. Film industry worker. Born c. 1965; mother, Bonnie Broecker; served as an on-the-set dresser on father's "The Serpent and the Rainbow" (1988), and an apprentice editor and visual effects coordinator on Craven's "Shocker" (1989); also worked on swing gang for "The Horror Show" (1989).
daughter:
Jessica Craven. Schoolteacher. Born c. 1968; mother, Bonnie Broecker; appeared in "Wes Craven's New Nightmare" (1994); has taught in the NYC area.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Screams & Nightmares: The Films of Wes Craven" Overlook Press

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