Wes Craven

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Wes Craven
Wes Craven 2010.jpg
Craven on set of Scream 4 in 2010
Wesley Earl Craven

(1939-08-02)August 2, 1939
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
DiedAugust 30, 2015(2015-08-30) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma mater Wheaton College
Johns Hopkins University
OccupationDirector, writer, producer, actor, novelist
Years active1971–2015
Bonnie Broecker
(m. 1964;div. 1969)

Mimi Craven
(m. 1984;div. 1987)

Iya Labunka
(m. 2004;his death 2015)
Children2, including Jonathan
Website www.wescraven.com
Signature of Wes Craven.png

Wesley Earl Craven (August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015) was an American film director, writer, producer, and actor. He was known for his pioneering work [1] [2] [3] in the genre of horror films, particularly slasher films, where he mixed horror cliches with humor and satire. His impact on the genre was considered prolific and influential. [4] [5] Due to the success and cultural impact [6] of his works in the horror film genre, Craven has been called a "Master of Horror". [3] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Horror film Film genre

A horror film is a film that seeks to elicit fear for entertainment purposes. Initially inspired by literature from authors like Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley, horror has existed as a film genre for more than a century. The macabre and the supernatural are frequent themes. Horror may also overlap with the fantasy, supernatural fiction, and thriller genres.

A slasher film is a film in the subgenre of horror films involving a violent psychopath stalking and murdering a group of people, usually by use of bladed tools. Although the term "slasher" is often used informally as a generic term for any horror film involving murder, film analysts cite an established set of characteristics which set these films apart from other subgenres, such as splatter films and psychological horror films.


He is best known for creating A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Scream (1996), featuring the characters of Freddy Krueger, Nancy Thompson, Ghostface, and Sidney Prescott. His other films include The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), Swamp Thing (1982), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), The People Under the Stairs (1991), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Music of the Heart (1999), and Red Eye (2005).

<i>A Nightmare on Elm Street</i> (franchise) horror film series

A Nightmare on Elm Street is an American horror franchise that consists of nine slasher films, a television series, novels, and comic books. The films began with the film A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) created by Wes Craven. The series revolves around the fictional character Freddy Krueger, a former child killer who after being burned alive by the vengeful parents of his victims, returns from the grave to terrorize and kill the teenage residents of Springwood, Ohio in their dreams. The original film was written and directed by Craven, who returned to co-script the second sequel, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), and to write and direct New Nightmare (1994). The films collectively grossed over $457 million at the box-office worldwide.

Scream is an American horror media franchise created by Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven. Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, and David Arquette, the film series grossed over $604 million in worldwide box-office receipts and consists of four slasher films directed by Craven. The first series entry, Scream, was released on December 20, 1996, and is currently the second highest-grossing slasher film in the United States, behind Halloween (2018). The second entry Scream 2 was released on December 12, 1997 followed by a third installment, Scream 3, released February 4, 2000. Eleven years after the previous film, Scream 4 was released on April 15, 2011. The films follow Sidney Prescott, and her war against a succession of murderers who adopt the guise of Ghostface to stalk and torment their victims. Sidney receives support in the films from town deputy Dewey Riley, reporter Gale Weathers, and film-geek Randy Meeks. An anthology television series was launched by MTV on June 30, 2015. The TV series follows different characters and new storylines inspired by the film series.

Freddy Krueger the main antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series

Frederick Charles Krueger is a character from the A Nightmare on Elm Street film series. He first appeared in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as a spirit of a burnt serial killer who uses a gloved hand with razors to kill his victims in their dreams, causing their deaths in the real world as well. In the dream world, he is a powerful force and almost completely invulnerable. However, whenever Freddy is pulled into the real world, he has normal human vulnerabilities.

Early life

Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Caroline (née Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven. [11] [12] He was raised in a strict Baptist family. [13] Craven earned an undergraduate degree in English and psychology from Wheaton College in Illinois and a master's degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University. [14]

Cleveland City in Ohio

Cleveland is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and the county seat of Cuyahoga County. The city proper has a population of 383,793, making it the 52nd-largest city in the United States and the second-largest city in Ohio. Greater Cleveland is ranked as the 32nd-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 2,055,612 people in 2016. A Gamma + city, Cleveland anchors the Cleveland–Akron–Canton Combined Statistical Area, which had a population of 3,515,646 in 2010 and is ranked 15th in the nation.

English studies is an academic discipline taught in primary, secondary, and post-secondary education in English-speaking countries; it is not to be confused with English taught as a foreign language, which is a distinct discipline. English includes: the study of literature written in the English language, the majority of which comes from Britain, the United States, and Ireland ; English composition, including writing essays, short stories, and poetry; English language arts, including the study of grammar, usage, and style; and English sociolinguistics, including discourse analysis of written and spoken texts in the English language, the history of the English language, English language learning and teaching, and the study of World Englishes. English linguistics is usually treated as a distinct discipline, taught in a department of linguistics.

Psychology is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.

Craven briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College of Technology (later named Clarkson University) in Potsdam, New York. [15] He additionally taught at Madrid-Waddington High School in Madrid, New York. [16] During this time, he purchased a used 16 mm film camera and began making short movies. When his friend Steve Chapin informed him of a messenger position at a New York City film production co, where his brother, future folk-rock star Harry Chapin worked. Craven moved into the building where his friend Steve Chapin lived at 136 Hicks St. in Brooklyn Heights. [16] His first creative job in the film industry was as a sound editor. [15]

Humanities academic disciplines that study human culture

Humanities are academic disciplines that study aspects of human society and culture. In the Renaissance, the term contrasted with divinity and referred to what is now called classics, the main area of secular study in universities at the time. Today, the humanities are more frequently contrasted with natural, and sometimes social sciences, as well as professional training.

Clarkson University university

Clarkson University is a private research university with its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in New York State's Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y. It was founded in 1896 and has an enrollment of about 4,300 students studying toward bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in each of its schools or institutes: the Institute for a Sustainable Environment, the School of Arts & Sciences, the David D. Reh School of Business and the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering. Clarkson University ranks #8 among "Top Salary-Boosting Colleges" nationwide. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies Clarkson University as a "Doctoral University [with] High Research Activity".

Potsdam, New York Town in New York, United States

Potsdam is a town in St. Lawrence County, New York, United States. The town population was 17,029 at the 2010 census. The ZIP Code is 13676. Potsdam is a cultural and educational hub of Northern New York. When SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University are in session, the population increases by approximately 8,000 students. The town is named after the city of Potsdam in Germany. The Town of Potsdam also contains a village named Potsdam. Potsdam is centrally located within the county and northeast of Canton, the county seat.

Recalling his early training, Craven said in 1994, "Harry was a fantastic film editor and producer of industrials. He taught me the Chapin method [of editing]: 'Nuts and bolts! Nuts and bolts! Get rid of the shit!'" Craven afterward became the firm's assistant manager, and broke into film editing with You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat (1971). [16]

Film editing activity

Film editing is both a creative and a tech part of the post-production process of filmmaking. The term is derived from the traditional process of working with film which increasingly involves the use of digital technology.

Sponsored film, or ephemeral film, as defined by film archivist Rick Prelinger, is a film made by a particular sponsor for a specific purpose other than as a work of art: the films were designed to serve a specific pragmatic purpose for a limited time. Many of the films are also orphan works since they lack copyright owners or active custodians to guarantee their long-term preservation.

<i>Youve Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or Youll Lose That Beat</i> 1971 comedy-drama film directed by Peter Locke

You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat is a 1971 comedy-drama film directed by Peter Locke.

Directing and writing career

Craven left the academic world for the more lucrative role of pornographic film director. [17] In the documentary Inside Deep Throat , Craven says on camera he made "many hardcore X-rated films" under pseudonyms. While his role in Deep Throat is undisclosed, most of his early known work involved writing, film editing, or both. [17] Craven's first feature film as director was The Last House on the Left, which was released in 1972. [15] Craven expected the film to be shown at only a few theaters, which according to him "gave me a freedom to be outrageous, and to go into areas that normally I wouldn't have gone into, and not worry about my family hearing about it, or being crushed." [18] Ultimately the movie was screened much more widely than he assumed, leaving him ostracized due to the content of the film. [18]

<i>Inside Deep Throat</i> 2005 film

Inside Deep Throat is a 2005 American documentary film about the 1972 pornographic film Deep Throat, at the forefront of the Golden Age of Porn, and its effects on American society.

<i>Deep Throat</i> (film) 1972 film by Gerard Damiano

Deep Throat is a 1972 American pornographic film that was at the forefront of the Golden Age of Porn (1969–1984). The film was written and directed by Gerard Damiano, who was listed in the credits as "Jerry Gerard"; produced by Louis Peraino, credited as "Lou Perry"; and starring Linda Lovelace, the pseudonym given to Linda Susan Boreman.

After the negative experience of Last House, Craven attempted to move out of the horror genre, and began writing non-horror films with his partner Sean S. Cunningham, none of which attracted any financial backing. [19] Finally, based on advice from a friend about the ease of filming in the Nevada deserts, Craven began to write a new horror film based on that locale. [19] The resulting film, The Hills Have Eyes , cemented Craven as a "horror film director" with Craven noting "It soon became clear that I wasn't going to do anything else unless it was scary". [19]

Craven frequently collaborated with Sean S. Cunningham. In Craven's debut feature, The Last House on the Left, Cunningham served as producer. They pooled all of their resources and came up with $90,000.[ citation needed ] Later, in Craven's best-known film, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Cunningham directed one of the chase scenes, although he was not credited. [15] Their characters, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, appeared together in the slasher film Freddy vs. Jason (2003) with Cunningham acting as producer, while screenwriter Victor Miller is credited as "Character Creator". Later, in The Last House on the Left remake (2009), Cunningham and Craven share production credits. [20]

Craven had a hand in launching actor Johnny Depp's career by casting him in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp's first major film role. [21]

Although known for directing horror/thriller films, he had worked on two films which are outside this genre: Music of the Heart (1999), and as one of the 22 directors responsible for Paris, je t'aime (2006). [17]

Craven created Coming of Rage, a five-issue comic book series, with 30 Days of Night writer Steve Niles. [22] The series was released in digital form in 2014 by Liquid Comics with a print edition scheduled for an October 2015 debut. [22]

Film style

Craven's works tend to share a common exploration of the nature of reality. A Nightmare on Elm Street, for example, dealt with the consequences of dreams in real life. [23] New Nightmare has actress Heather Langenkamp play herself as she is haunted by the villain of the film in which she once starred. [24] At one point in the film, the audience sees on Wes Craven's word processor a script he has written, which includes the conversation he just had with Heather—as if the script were being written as the action unfolds. The Serpent and the Rainbow portrays a man who cannot distinguish between nightmarish visions and reality. [24]

In Scream , the characters frequently reference horror films similar to their situations, and at one point, Billy Loomis tells his girlfriend that life is just a big movie. This concept was emphasized in the sequels, as copycat stalkers re-enact the events of a new film about the Woodsboro killings (Woodsboro being the fictional town where Scream is set) occurring in Scream. [15] Scream included a scene mentioning an urban legend about Richard Gere and a sex act involving a hamster. [25] Craven stated in interviews that he received calls from agents telling him that if he left that scene in, he would never work again. [26] [27] The last film that he directed before his death was Scream 4 . [17]

Awards and nominations

During his career, Wes Craven was nominated for and won several awards, including the Saturn Award. [28]

In 1977, he won the critics award at the Sitges Film Festival for his film The Hills Have Eyes . [29] The Gérardmer Film Festival granted him the Grand Prize in 1997 for Scream. [30] In 2012, the New York City Horror Film Festival awarded Craven the Lifetime Achievement Award. [31]

Other work

Craven designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google [32] and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween. [33]

Craven had a letter published in the July 19, 1968, edition of Life, praising that periodical's coverage of contemporary rock music, in particular Frank Zappa's. [34]

Personal life

Craven's first marriage, to Bonnie Broecker, produced two children: Jonathan Craven (born 1965) and Jessica Craven (born 1968). Jonathan is a writer and director. [15] Jessica was a singer-songwriter in the group the Chapin Sisters. The marriage ended in 1970. In 1982, Craven married a woman who became known professionally as actress Mimi Craven. The two later divorced, with Wes Craven stating in interviews that the marriage dissolved after he discovered it "was no longer anything but a sham". [35] In 2004, Craven married Iya Labunka; she frequently worked as a producer on Craven's films. [36]

Craven was a birder; in 2010, he joined Audubon California's Board of Directors. [36] His favorite films included Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Virgin Spring (1960) and Red River (1948). [37]

Craven was an atheist, once telling FANGORIA magazine that "Formally, I don't believe in God" and that "I believe religions have done much more harm than they've done good." [38]

Death and legacy

On August 30, 2015, 4 weeks after his 76th birthday, Craven died of brain cancer at his Los Angeles home. [24] [39]

Many actors paid tribute to him, including David Arquette, Johnny Depp, Adrienne Barbeau, Angela Bassett, Courteney Cox, Scott Foley, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kadeem Hardison, Jamie Kennedy, Shane Dawson, Heather Langenkamp, Rose McGowan, Cillian Murphy, Mitch Pileggi, Kristy Swanson and Amanda Wyss. [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45] Depp stated, "Wes Craven was the guy who gave me my start, from my perspective, for almost no reason in particular. I read scenes with his daughter when I auditioned for the part. At the time, I was a musician. I wasn't really acting. It was not anything very near to my brain or my heart, which is pretty much how it remains to this day. But Wes Craven was brave enough to give me the gig based on his daughter's opinion, I guess she had read with a bunch of actors, and after the casting sessions, she said, 'No, that's the guy.' I always think of her for putting me in this mess, and certainly Wes Craven for being very brave to give me this gig. But he was a good man — so rest in peace, old Wes." [40] Robert Englund, one of Craven's most frequent acting collaborators said Craven was "a brilliant, kind, gentle and very funny man." [43] Neve Campbell, who starred in Scream's franchise, said, "We lost a great deal of magic yesterday. I'm devastated to hear of Wes's passing. My life wouldn't be what it is without him. I will be forever grateful for his brilliant direction, his wicked sense of humour and his consummate kindness and friendship. He has entertained us all for decades and inspired so many to follow in his path. I loved Wes dearly and will miss him always. Thank you Wes!!!". [44]

The 10th episode of Scream was dedicated in his memory. [46]


1999Fountain Society [47]
2013Coming of Rage [48]



1972 The Last House on the Left YesNoYesAlso editor
1975The Fireworks WomanYesNoYesCredited as Abe Snake;
Also editor
1977 The Hills Have Eyes YesNoYesAlso editor
1981 Deadly Blessing YesNoYes
1982 Swamp Thing YesNoYes
1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street YesNoYes
1985 The Hills Have Eyes Part II YesNoYes
1986 Deadly Friend YesNoNo
1987 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors NoexecutiveYes
1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow YesNoNo
1989 Shocker YesYesYes
1991 The People Under the Stairs YesexecutiveYes
1994 Wes Craven's New Nightmare YesexecutiveYes
1995 Vampire in Brooklyn YesNoNo
1996 Scream YesNoNo
1997 Scream 2 YesYesNo
1999 Music of the Heart YesNoNo
2000 Scream 3 YesNoNo
2005 Cursed YesNoNo
Red Eye YesNoNo
2006 Pulse NoNoYesRemake
Paris, je t'aime YesNoYesSegment Père-Lachaise
2007 The Hills Have Eyes 2 NoYesYesRemake
2010 My Soul to Take YesYesYes
2011 Scream 4 YesYesNoFinal film

Producer Only

1971 Together
1993Laurel Canyon
1995 Mind Ripper aka The Hills Have Eyes III
1997 Wishmaster Executive producer
2000 Dracula 2000
2002 They
2003 Dracula II: Ascension
2005 Dracula III: Legacy
Feast Executive producer
2006 The Hills Have Eyes Remake
The Breed Executive producer
2009 The Last House on the Left Remake
2015 The Girl in the Photographs


1978The Evolution of SnuffCinematographer
Here Come the Tigers Gaffer

Acting roles

1989 Shocker The neighbor
1994 Wes Craven's New Nightmare Himself
1995The FearDr. Arnold
1996 Scream "Fred" (school janitor)Cameo
1997 Scream 2 Doctor
2000 Scream 3 Tourist
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Himself
2004 Tales from the Crapper
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing
2005 Inside Deep Throat
2006 Paris, je t'aime Vampire's VictimSegment Père-Lachaise
2007 The Tripper Top hat-wearing hippyCameo
2008 Diary of the Dead Radio voice
2011 Scream 4 Coroner at the RandallsCameo;
Deleted scene


1978 Stranger in Our House YesNoNoaka Summer of Fear;
TV movie
1984 Invitation to Hell YesNoNoTV movie
1985 Chiller YesNoNo
The Twilight Zone YesNoNo5 episodes
1986CasebustersYesNoNoEpisode of anthology TV series Disneyland
1989 The People Next Door NoYesYesCo-creator
1990 Night Visions YesYesYesTV movie
1992 Nightmare Cafe YesYesNoCo-creator

Executive producer only

1981Kent StateTV movie
Don't Look Down
Carnival of Souls
2002They Shoot Divas, Don't They?
2015 Scream Season 1


1998 Don't Look Down TV movie
Carnival of Souls

Acting roles

1993 Body Bags Pasty faced man at gas stationCameo
2004 The 100 Scariest Movie Moments Himself TV special
2006 Boston Legal Cameo;
Episode: "Spring Fever"
2013 Castle Cameo;
Episode: "Scared to Death"

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