Born August 2, 1939 in Cleveland. In 1963, he took a degree in writing and psychology and in 1964 he took a Masters from J. Hopkins University. Craven briefly served as an English professor at Westminster College and taught humanities at Clarkson University.
Wes left his job as a teacher, and after employment as taxi driver, he became a sound editor for a post-production company in New York. And after the co-direction of Together (1971) with Sean S. Cunningham, Wes made the horror movie The Last House on the Left (1972). The movie, released in August 1972, was a big success as was his second movie, The Hills Have Eyes (1977), winning the critic’s prize at the Sitges Film Festival.
Wes has gone onto win many more awards, including one for the best movie at the Avoriaz Film Festival for A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). In 1999 he directed Music of the Heart (1999), a change of direction from the horror genre for which he is known.
Lives in Los Angeles. Has a production company with his professional partner Marianne Maddalena, called Craven/Maddalena Films.
“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.
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/I) because the first scene with Drew Barrymore reminded him too vividly the climax sequence of The Last House on the Left (1972), his first film.
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/I) 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/I) 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.
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).