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Wes Craven Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (3) | Trade Mark (11) | Trivia (25) | Personal Quotes (33)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 2 August 1939Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Date of Death 30 August 2015Los Angeles, California, USA  (brain cancer)
Birth NameWesley Earl Craven
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Wes Craven has become synonymous with genre bending and innovative horror, challenging audiences with his bold vision.

Wesley Earl Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Caroline (Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven. He had a midwestern suburban upbringing. His first feature film was The Last House on the Left (1972), which he wrote, directed, and edited. Craven reinvented the youth horror genre again in 1984 with the classic A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), a film he wrote and directed. And though he did not direct any of its five sequels, he deconstructed the genre a decade later, writing and directing the audacious New Nightmare (1994), which was nominated as Best Feature at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards, and introduced the concept of self-reflexive genre films to the world. In 1996 Craven reached a new level of success with the release of Scream (1996). The film, which sparked the phenomenal trilogy, was the winner of MTV's 1996 Best Movie Award and grossed more than $100 million domestically, as did Scream 2 (1997). Between Scream 2 and Scream 3 (2000), Craven, offered the opportunity to direct a non-genre film for Miramax, helmed Music of the Heart (1999), a film that earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. That same year, in the midst of directing, Craven completed his first novel, "The Fountain Society," published by Simon & Shuster. Recent works include the 2005 psychological thriller Red Eye (2005), and a short rom-com segment for the ensemble product, Paris, je t'aime (2006). Over the last few years, Craven has also produced remakes of two of his earlier films for his genre fans, The Hills Have Eyes (2006) and The Last House on the Left (2009). Craven has always had an eye for discovering fresh talent, something that contributes to the success of his films. While casting A Nightmare on Elm Street, Craven discovered the then unknown Johnny Depp. Craven later cast Sharon Stone in her first starring role for his film Deadly Blessing. He even gave Bruce Willis his first featured role in an episode of TV's mid-80's edition of The Twilight Zone. In My Soul to Take (2010), Craven once again brought together a cast of up-and-coming young teens, including Max Thieriot, in whom he saw the spark of stardom. The film marked Craven's first collaboration with wife and producer Iya Labunka, who also produced with him the highly anticipated production of Scream 4. Craven's most recent film, Scream 4 (2011) reunites the director with Dimension Films and Kevin Williamson, as well as with stars Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox and David Arquette, to re-boot the beloved franchise. Craven again exhibits his knack for spotting important talent, with a cast of young actors bringing us a totally new breed of Woodsboro high schoolers, including Emma Robert and Hayden Pannetierre.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Erica Sterne fathertimethemovie@gmail.com

Spouse (3)

Iya Labunka (27 November 2004 - 30 August 2015) (his death)
Mimi Craven (25 July 1982 - 1987) (divorced)
Bonnie Broecker (1964 - 1969) (divorced) (2 children)

Trade Mark (11)

On-going in-joke feud with Sam Raimi
Family issues, specifically family breakdown
His characters often use elaborate booby traps, to capture the villain
Often features strong female characters
His unglamorous depictions of sadistic and realistically brutal killers
His protagonists are often ordinary characters caught in extraordinary and Horrific circumstances
Brutal and graphic depiction of violence
Villains are often deformed and monstrous looking
His horror films often contain important social issues (e.g. The Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes)
Children in his films are often deformed or brutally murdered, often by the main villain
Often featured actor Matthew Lillard in his films, even if uncredited

Trivia (25)

"The" Elm Street is located in Potsdam, NY (a small town just south of the Canadian border). Craven was a Humanities Professor at Clarkson College, also in Potsdam.
Rumoured to have named his onscreen horror creation Freddy Kruger for a boy who used to bully him in high school.
In 1976 he acted in "Tales That Will Tear Your Heart Out," a project being made under the supervision of friend Roy Frumkes, who was teaching at a state university at that time. Shortly after the filming, the raw stock was mistakingly re-exposed by another student, so both days' shooting were lost.
Donated to the Planned Parenthood/Dream Catchers Foundation charity a auction ten-minute personal phone call and two premiere tickets to his next motion picture, Pulse (2006). He has also donated the original mask from his movie Scream (1996) along with other original props. The auction started June 19, 2002, and the props auction started June 29, 2002.
He is an avid birdwatcher.
His father died when he was 4-years-old.
He was the disc jockey for the campus radio station at Clarkson College, where he was a humanities professor.
He nearly turned down the option to direct the hit Scream (1996) because the first scene with Drew Barrymore reminded him too vividly of the climax sequence of The Last House on the Left (1972), his first film.
Directed a documentary about former president Bill Clinton. Craven and the film crew followed Clinton for three hours into the White House a few days before his departure. (January 2001)
Former son-in-law, composer Michael Maccini.
When actor-producer Robert Evans suffered a stroke May 6, 1998, Craven was having a drink with him in Evans' screening room when he collapsed in front of him. Evans later quipped, "I really scared the shit out of the king of horror."
Co-wrote the screenplay for Pulse (2006) with Vince Gilligan. The script was based on Kiyoshi Kurosawa's original Japanese horror film. Craven and Gilligan scripted the final draft in the fall of 2002 for Miramax's Dimension Films. The production for this film should have started on October 1, 2002, in Los Angeles. In July 2003, Dimension's chairman Bob Weinstein announced that Pulse (2006) would never be produced because it was too similar to The Ring (2002).
Developed the "evil house" premise for the computer game "Wes Craven's Principles of Fear." Although the game won About Game's Bronze Medal award for Interactive Fiction when the prototype was demonstrated at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta, the game was never completed, due to the financial failure of the game's publisher.
Was set to direct Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) but was replaced after creative differences with star Christopher Reeve.
His vision of Freddy Kruger came from a childhood memory. When he was 10 years old, he looked out the window of the apartment he lived in and a drunk man dressed similar to Freddy was looking directly at him and continued to stay there looking at the window for several minutes. This scared him, so, later on, he decided this will be the look for Freddy.
Profiled in "Hollywood Horror from the Director's Chair: Six Filmmakers in the Franchise of Fear" by Simon Wilkinson (McFarland, 2008).
Directed one Oscar nominated performance: 'Meryl Streep' in Music of the Heart (1999).
He had a highly dysfunctional relationship with his parents, mainly having been raised by his severe, hyper-religious mother, whom he never allowed to watch his films, and never having a close relationship with his distant, violent-tempered father. His mother's judgmental influence caused him to be too terrified to talk to a girl until he was at college and lead him to marry, in his opinion, too young, and arguably contributed to the angry, bleak themes of his early films.
Authored newspaper article about his current, off-the-set downtime entitled "Retirement: Scarier Than Freddy Krueger" in NYTimes. [February 2013]
Based the story of ''A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984)'' on a news report about a group of young men who died in their sleep during horrific nightmares despite having no history of health problems and showing no specific cause of death.
Freddy Krueger's appearance (especially the dirty clothes and hat) was inspired by a hobo who Craven saw staring at him through his window one day when he was age 10.
He is the only person to direct more than one film in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and New Nightmare (1994).
His ex-wife went on to marry Tom Chapin who is a Grammy winning singer songwriter as well as the brother of Harry Chapin who was also a Grammy winner (for the single "Cat's In The Cradle", 1974). His daughter, Jessica Craven is part of the singing trio, The Chapin Sisters, along with Tom Chapin's other two daughters.
He had English and German ancestry.

Personal Quotes (33)

I believe the cinema is one of our principal forms of art. It is an incredibly powerful way to tell uplifitng stories that can move people to cry with joy and inspire them to reach for the stars.
On horror movies: "It's like boot camp for the psyche. In real life, human beings are packaged in the flimsiest of packages, threatened by real and sometimes horrifying dangers, events like Columbine. But the narrative form puts these fears into a manageable series of events. It gives us a way of thinking rationally about our fears."
Horror films don't create fear. They release it.
I like to address the fears of my culture. I believe it's good to face the enemy, for the enemy is fear.
I think there is something about the American dream, the sort of Disneyesque dream, if you will, of the beautifully trimmed front lawn, the white picket fence, mom and dad and their happy children, God-fearing and doing good whenever they can, and the flip side of it, the kind of anger and the sense of outrage that comes from discovering that that's not the truth of the matter, that gives American horror films, in some ways, kind of an additional rage.
In retrospect, it's usually pretty easy to look at horror movies and see the influences of the time. And I think right now, with the post-9-11 world and Iraq, creative people are almost being goaded to look at things in the strongest way possible. If you look at the Academy Awards [movies], those are films about real issues. I think everybody is saying, 'We have to talk about the nitty-gritty stuff here.' It's not the time for confections. [March 2006]
Certainly the deepest horror, as far as I'm concerned, is what happens to your body at your own hands and others.
"If we don't get out of Iraq soon, it'll be like A Nightmare on Elm Street" (April 2007)
If I were interested in reality, I'd be making documentaries.
There is rage in my films, but it's a complete matrix. Sone could be directed at my father, a scary figure.
A producer said, 'Make a horror movie'. I said 'I've never seen one.' He said, 'You're a fundamentalist, you must have demons rattling around.
I think sometimes you might expect or want greater recognition. But to me it's a little like how French Impressionists felt about formal recognition. You know, once you're a member of the academy you never pose any danger or threat. I don't know if I'd like that.
[on A nightmare on Elm Street having sequels] I thought they'll never be a sequel. Boy was I stupid.
[on his 1999 movie Music of the Heart] That's my mom's favorite movie of mine, because it was the only one she saw. It was something that I was really drawn to. Horror films are not me, or they're not all of me. They're a very thin slice of me.
[on his 1996 movie Scream] It's almost on a comic book level as far as the danger. And also kind of soap opera-ish.
[on his 1995 movie Vampire in Brooklyn] That was kind of a screwed-up thing, because I wanted to work with a big star. I suppose it could have been better if it were a horror movie, but it wasn't. Eddie (Murphy) didn't want to be funny. He wanted to be serious and he was very difficult.
[on how he got Drew Barrymore to look scared and crying in Scream] Drew Barrymore told me a story of a boy who tortured his...I think it was his dog, with a lighter and it set it on fire and she burst into tears. And being the exploitative bastard that I am as a director, I said "do you mind if we use that?"

So every time on the set if I wanted her to cry, I'd say "the boy has the lighter" or something like that, and she'd burst into tears and be just frantic.
[on the film business] It's a strange business, because once you finish a film, there's this deafening silence and you say, "I'm not working," and the phone doesn't ring. You utterly panic. It's harrowing. Everything is so short-term, so dependent on the whim of public taste and business things you have no control over, like how the economy is going, and how well your film is distributed, or what ad campaign they come up with, or even what the title is.
[on horror films in general] I think they can work two ways. They can distort the reality of violence in a way that makes it seem very attractive; they can show the Dionysian side, which is a whole orgiastic, cruel thing, getting off on the suffering of other people. I think that's a very dangerous kind of horror film. I try to make the kind that shows the end result of violence is something quite appalling. But in the long view, I'm not so sure anymore what the hell it all means.
When you have an idea that really fascinates you and you can honestly say, 'I've never seen anything like that,' what you get is, you get that first audience goes out and tells everybody. And the reason they do that is they've never seen anything like it. You're trying to be the avant-garde of horror. That's where you want to be.
It was a great pleasure to make [Music of the Heart], and to see Meryl [Streep] nominated [for a best actress Oscar] for it. But most of the people I run into who loved it are surprised that I made it. When you have a name that means scares, you have to live with that.
I've always felt like [Scream's] Sidney or [A Nightmare on Elm Street's] Nancy could never go back to that state of mind that they were in before, but that's the life of a warrior, and in a sense, there are no more civilians anymore. You're a warrior. You're in combat. Because the whole world's in combat.
You have a responsibility to really help the [horror] genre grow, 'cause there's no limit to how profound it can become. If you go back to those guys like [Federico] Fellini and [Luis] Buñuel, talking about really profound things. Now, I don't know whether you can get a big audience with films that abstruse, but you can in horror if you scare the shit out of them about every eight minutes. So you do a fun deal with the devil: I've got to put a lot of interesting ideas, but I'll hide them and I'll also scare people and make them laugh.
For me with all this stuff, both the horror films and thrillers like this, the most interesting thing is what goes on inside people's heads.
The horrors of retirement. These are scarier than any horror movie I can dream up.
'Happy wife, happy life' is a mantra it seems unwise to ignore.
You don't enter the theater and pay your money to be afraid. You enter the theater and pay your money to have the fears that are already in you when you go into a theater dealt with and put into a narrative. Stories and narratives are one of the most powerful things in humanity. They're devices for dealing with the chaotic danger of existence.
Certainly the deepest horror, as far as I'm concerned, is what happens to your body at your own hands and others.
What you want to do is you want to put your audience off-balance. You have to be aware of what the audience's expectations are, and then you have to pervert them, basically, and hit them upside the head from a direction they weren't looking.
It seems like all the powerful people on earth just want to build condos and knock down all the trees... As somebody once said with wonderful succinctness, the golf course is man's boot on the neck of nature.
Horror movies have to show us something that hasn't been shown before so that the audience is completely taken aback. You see, it's not just that people want to be scared; people are scared.
The first monster you have to scare the audience with is yourself.
I learned to take the first job that you have in the business that you want to get into. It doesn't matter what that job is, you get your foot in the door.

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