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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.
Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Caroline (née Miller) and Paul Craven. He was raised in a strict Baptist family. 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.
Career before film industry
Craven briefly taught English at Westminster College and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College of Technology (now Clarkson University) in Potsdam, New York. His first job in the film industry was as a sound editor for a post-production company in New York City.
Directing and writing career
Craven left the academic world for the more lucrative role of pornographic film director. 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. In 1972 Wes Craven directed his first feature film The Last House on the Left.
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. At one point in the film, we see 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. 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. 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. He directed Scream 4.
Craven also 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. 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.
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.
Recently Craven has created Coming of Rage, a graphic novel, with 30 Days of Night comic book writer Steve Niles. The comic will be released by Liquid Comics in 2013 with a possible film adaption directed by Craven and produced by Live Free Or Die Hard producer Arnold Rifkin and Liquid Comics CEO Sharad Devarajan.
Awards and nominations
Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Wes Craven
During his career, Wes Craven won nine cinematic awards and received three nominations.
In 1977, he won the 'Prize of the International Critics' Jury' in the "Sitges – Catalonian International Film Festival" for his film The Hills Have Eyes.
In 1985, his horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street won the 'Critic's Award' at the "Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival".
In 1992, the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film presented him the Pegasus Audience Award for the thriller The People Under the Stairs. His Fantasporto won the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Screenplay while the Best Film award went to his film Wes Craven's New Nightmare, the final A Nightmare on Elm Street film he directed. His Shocker was also nominated for Best Film in 1990.
The Gérardmer Film Festival granted him the Grand Prize in 1997 for Scream.
He was nominated for Best Director for Scream at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, in 1997.
In 2006, he was honored at Spike TV's Scream with the Mastermind Award (the tribute was presented to him by Neve Campbell).
Craven designed the Halloween 2008 logo for Google, and was the second celebrity personality to take over the YouTube homepage on Halloween.
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.'
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. 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 has stated in interviews that the marriage dissolved after he discovered it "was no longer anything but a sham."
In 2004, Craven married Iya Labunka. She frequently worked as a producer on Craven's films.
Craven was a birder. In 2010 he became a member of Audubon California's Board of Directors.
On August 30, 2015, Wes Craven died of brain cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 76 years old.
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Full Name at Birth
Wesley Earl Craven
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.
Actor, film director, writer, producer
Place of Death
Los Angeles, California
Cause of Death
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