Wes Craven

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Wes Craven
Wes Craven 2010.jpg
Craven in 2010
Born Wesley Earl Craven
(1939-08-02)August 2, 1939
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died August 30, 2015(2015-08-30) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Brain cancer
Occupation Director, writer, producer, actor
Years active 1971–2015
Known for The Last House on the Left
The Hills Have Eyes
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The Serpent and the Rainbow
Red Eye
Scream
Spouse(s) Bonnie Broecker
(1964–1969)
Mimi Craven (1984–87)
Iya
Website www.wescraven.com

Wesley Earl "Wes" Craven (August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015) was an American film director, writer, producer, and actor known for his work on horror films, particularly slasher films. He was best known for creating the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise featuring the Freddy Krueger character, directed the first installment and Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and also co-wrote A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors with Bruce Wagner.

Craven also directed the entire Scream series featuring Ghostface. Some of his other films include The Hills Have Eyes, The Last House on the Left, The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Vampire in Brooklyn, Cursed, Red Eye and My Soul to Take.

Early life[edit]

Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Caroline (née Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven.[1][2] He was raised in a strict Baptist family.[3] 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.[4]

Craven briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University) in Potsdam, New York.[5] His first job in the film industry was as a sound editor for a post-production company in New York City.[5]

Directing and writing career[edit]

Craven left the academic world for the more lucrative role of pornographic film director.[6] In the documentary Inside Deep Throat, Craven says on camera he made "many hard core 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.[6] In 1972 Wes Craven directed his first feature film The Last House on the Left.[5]

Craven frequently collaborated with Sean S. Cunningham. In Craven's debut feature, The Last House on the Left, Cunningham served as producer. Later, in Craven's most famous film, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cunningham directed one of the chase scenes, although uncredited.[5] Their infamous characters, Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, appeared together in the 2003 slasher film Freddy vs. Jason with Cunningham acting as producer, while screenwriter Victor Miller is credited as "Character Creator". Later, in The Last House on the Left remake, both Cunningham and Craven share production credits.[7]

Craven had a major hand in launching superstar Johnny Depp's career by casting him in 1984's A Nightmare on Elm Street, Depp's first major film role. [8]

Although known for directing horror/thriller films, he had worked on two that were outside this genre: the 1999 film Music of the Heart, and as one of the 22 directors in the 2006 collaboration Paris, je t'aime.[6]

Craven created Coming of Rage, a five-issue comic book series, with 30 Days of Night comic book writer Steve Niles.[9] The series was released in digital form in 2014 by Liquid Comics with a print edition scheduled for an October 2015 debut.[9]

Film style[edit]

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. New Nightmare "brushes against" (but does not quite break) the fourth wall by having actress Heather Langenkamp play herself as she is haunted by the villain of the film in which she once starred.[10] At one point in the film, the audience sees on Wes Craven's word processor a script he has written, which includes the exact conversation he just had with Heather — as if the script was being written as the action unfolded. The Serpent and the Rainbow portrays a man who cannot distinguish between nightmarish visions and reality.[10]

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 reenact the events of a new film about the Woodsboro killings occurring in Scream.[5] Scream included a scene mentioning the well-known Richard Gere urban legend. Craven stated in interviews that he received calls from agents telling him that if he left that scene in, he would never work again.[11][12] He directed Scream 4.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

During his career, Wes Craven was nominated for and won several awards, including the Saturn Award.[13]

In 1977, he won the critic's award at the Sitges Film Festival for his film The Hills Have Eyes.[14] The Gérardmer Film Festival granted him the Grand Prize in 1997 for Scream.[15] In 2012, the New York City Horror Film Festival awarded Craven the Lifetime Achievement Award.[16]

Other work[edit]

Craven designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google,[17] and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween.[18]

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

Personal life and death[edit]

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 with a few credits to his name.[5] Jessica was a singer/songwriter in the group the Chapin Sisters. The marriage ended in 1970. In 1982, Craven married Millicent Eleanor Meyer. However, the two divorced. Craven stated in interviews that the marriage dissolved after he discovered it "was no longer anything but a sham."[20] In 2004, Craven married Iya Labunka. She frequently worked as a producer on Craven's films.[21]

Craven was a birder. In 2010 he became a member of Audubon California's Board of Directors.[21] His favorite films included Night of the Living Dead, The Virgin Spring and Red River.[22]

On August 30, 2015, Craven died of brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 76 years old.[23][10]

Books[edit]

Year Title
1999 Fountain Society[24]
2013 Coming of Rage[25]

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Director (Executive)
Producer
Writer Cinematographer Editor Actor Role Notes
1971 Together
NoN
1972 The Last House on the Left
NoN
NoN
NoN
1977 The Hills Have Eyes
NoN
NoN
NoN
1978 Stranger in Our House
NoN
TV movie
The Evolution of Snuff
NoN
Here Come the Tigers
NoN
1981 Deadly Blessing
NoN
NoN
Kent State
NoN
TV movie
1982 Swamp Thing
NoN
NoN
1984 Invitation to Hell
NoN
TV movie
A Nightmare on Elm Street
NoN
NoN
1985 Chiller
NoN
TV movie
The Hills Have Eyes Part II
NoN
NoN
The Twilight Zone
NoN
TV series, 5 episodes
1986 Deadly Friend
NoN
Casebusters
NoN
Episode of anthology TV series Disneyland
1987 A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors
NoN
NoN
1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow
NoN
1989 The People Next Door
NoN
NoN
TV series, co-creator
Shocker
NoN
NoN
NoN
NoN
The neighbor
1990 Night Visions
NoN
NoN
NoN
TV movie
1991 The People Under the Stairs
NoN
NoN
NoN
1992 Nightmare Cafe
NoN
NoN
TV series
1993 Laurel Canyon
NoN
Body Bags
NoN
Pasty faced man in garage Cameo
1994 Wes Craven's New Nightmare
NoN
NoN
NoN
NoN
Himself
1995 Vampire in Brooklyn
NoN
The Hills Have Eyes III
NoN
aka Mind Ripper
The Fear
NoN
Dr. Arnold
1996 Scream
NoN
NoN
"Fred" (school janitor) Cameo
1997 Scream 2
NoN
NoN
NoN
Doctor
Wishmaster
NoN
1998 Hollyweird
NoN
TV movie
Don't Look Down
NoN
NoN
Carnival of Souls
NoN
NoN
1999 Music of the Heart
NoN
2000 Scream 3
NoN
NoN
Tourist Cameo
Dracula 2000
NoN
2001 Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
NoN
Himself Cameo
2002 They Shoot Divas, Don't They?
NoN
TV movie
They
NoN
2003 Dracula II: Ascension
NoN
2004 Tales from the Crapper
NoN
Himself
The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing
NoN
2005 Dracula III: Legacy
NoN
Cursed
NoN
Inside Deep Throat
NoN
Himself
Feast
NoN
Red Eye
NoN
2006 Pulse
NoN
Remake
The Hills Have Eyes
NoN
The Breed
NoN
Paris, je t'aime
NoN
NoN
NoN
Vampire's Victim Segment: Père-Lachaise
2007 The Hills Have Eyes 2
NoN
NoN
Remake
The Tripper
NoN
Top hat-wearing hippy Cameo
2008 Diary of the Dead
NoN
Radio voice
2009 The Last House on the Left
NoN
Remake
2010 My Soul to Take
NoN
NoN
NoN
2011 Scream 4
NoN
NoN
NoN
Coroner at the Randalls Cameo
Deleted scene
2013 Castle (TV series)
NoN
Himself Cameo
Episode: "Scared to Death"
2015 Scream (TV series)
NoN
Executive producer

Highest-grossing films[edit]

[clarification needed][citation needed] This is a list of the top 10 highest-grossing films by Wes Craven; each has made at least $30 million.

Rank Title Lifetime gross (US$)
1 Scream 173,046,663
2 Scream 2 172,363,301
3 Scream 3 161,834,276
4 Scream 4 101,214,723
5 Red Eye 95,577,774
6 The Hills Have Eyes (2006) 69,623,713
7 The Hills Have Eyes 2 67,915,885
8 The Last House on the Left (2009) 45,286,228
9 A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors 44,793,222
10 The People Under the Stairs 31,347,154

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wes Craven Biography (1939–) at filmreference.com
  2. ^ http://birth-records.mooseroots.com/l/6325004/Wesley-Earl-Craven
  3. ^ The Horror of Being Wes Craven
  4. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (1998). Wes Craven: The Art of Horror. Jefferson, South Carolina: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0-7864-0576-7. pp. 8–9.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Wes Craven". Biography.com. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Wes Craven, Master Horror Movie Director, Dies At 76". NPR.org. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  7. ^ "'Scream IV' Officially Greenlit with Wes Craven Attached". 
  8. ^ Blitz,Krasniewicz. Johnny Depp: A Biography. 
  9. ^ a b http://www.bleedingcool.com/2015/07/17/wes-cravens-coming-of-rage-finally-comes-to-print-from-steve-niles-and-francesco-biagini/
  10. ^ a b c "Wes Craven, horror movie director, dies at age 76". CNN.com. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  11. ^ Movies Referenced in SCREAM
  12. ^ Simels, Steve (September 5, 1997). "Slashed and Burned". Entertainment Weekly. 
  13. ^ "THE SATURN AWARDS". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  14. ^ "Awards". Sitges Film Festival. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Historique". Festival international du film fantastique de Gérardmer. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  16. ^ "2012". New York City Horror Film Festival. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Wes Craven Carves Google Logo". 
  18. ^ "Wes Craven Takes Over YouTube for Halloween!". Tubefilter News. August 31, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008. 
  19. ^ "Letters To The Editors", Life, July 19, 1968, p.17. Reprinted at Google Books.
  20. ^ Emery, Robert J. The Directors: Take Three, Volume 3, Allworth Press, 2003. ISBN 1581152450. Reprinted at Google Books.
  21. ^ a b Frost, G (May 28, 2010). "Director Wes Craven joins Audubon California's Board of Directors". Audublog. Audubon California (National Audubon Society). Retrieved April 3, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Wes Craven Favourite Films". 'Film Doctor. November 1, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Wes Craven, Horror Maestro, Dies at 76". The Hollywood Reporter. August 30, 2015. Retrieved August 30, 2015. 
  24. ^ Wes Craven (November 1, 1999). Fountain Society. Thorndike Press. ISBN 978-0-7862-2270-4. 
  25. ^ Wes Craven; Steve Niles (October 25, 2014). COMING OF RAGE #1. Liquid Comics. ISBN 978-1-62665-913-1. 

External links[edit]