Cover image for Wes Craven : the art of horror
Wes Craven : the art of horror
Muir, John Kenneth, 1969-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferon, N.C. : McFarland, [1998]

Physical Description:
viii, 319 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1998.3.C72 M85 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Filmmaker Wes Craven has consistently and imaginatively scared movie audiences since the early 1970s. His films encompass a variety of styles, elements and themes, from the nihilistic existentialism of The Last House on the Left to the successful A Nightmare on Elm Street (which sent horror in a bold new direction), to the hallucinatory dreamscapes of The Serpent and the Rainbow. And in the nineties, Craven returned with the Scream films, which were simultaneously funny, clever and scary films that overturned the horror cliches of the eighties.The present work provides a history of Craven's film career since 1972, examining all the themes and techniques the filmmaker explored. For each film, a synopsis, cast and credits, historical context, and critical commentary are provided. Also covered in detail are Craven's forays into television, including movies such as Stranger in the House and work on such series as The New Twilight Zone.

Author Notes

John Kenneth Muir is the author of more than a dozen reference books covering science fiction and horror on film and television

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Muir's gushing panegyric to the "savior of an entire genre" may seem excessive on initial consideration, but this dedicated study exploring the singular career of Wes Craven actually evinces a degree of respect and credibility for the director of scary and repulsive films. From his low-budget debut in 1972 (The Last House on the Left) to his recent, popular, intertextual Scream 2 (1997), Craven has reinvented the horror picture. Muir carefully shows how Craven incorporates underlying themes of social violence, voyeurism, and dysfunctional families to shock (or "liberate") his audiences with the wicked nightmares of contemporary life. Though it lacks the personal interviews that mark works on filmmakers (e.g., Tony Williams's Larry Cohen, CH, Jan'98), this volume describes and discusses Craven's feature films and television shows with impressive persuasiveness and clarity (Muir avoids the pitfall of critical jargon). Though the final chapter on censorship seems a rushed afterthought, not written with the thorough care of the rest of the book, and the few photographs are of unexceptional quality, this is a worthy investigation of (and apologetic for) this monumentally moral director of horror films. All collections. T. Lindvall; Regent University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
1. Career Overviewp. 7
2. The Feature Filmsp. 39
The Last House on the Left (1972)p. 39
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)p. 58
Deadly Blessing (1981)p. 74
Swamp Thing (1982)p. 85
The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1983)p. 95
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)p. 105
Deadly Friend (1986)p. 120
The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987)p. 131
Shocker (1989)p. 145
The People Under the Stairs (1991)p. 159
Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)p. 171
A Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)p. 186
Scream (1996)p. 196
Scream 2 (1997)p. 210
3. The Television Moviesp. 221
A Stranger in Our House (1978)p. 221
Invitation to Hell (1984)p. 228
Chiller (1985)p. 238
Night Visions (1990)p. 246
4. Craven as Executive Producerp. 247
A Nightmare on Elm Street Part III: Dream Warriors (1987)p. 247
Wes Craven Presents Mind Ripper (1995)p. 256
Wes Craven Presents Wishmaster (1997)p. 266
5. The Television Seriesp. 275
The Twilight Zone (1985)p. 275
Nightmare Cafe (1992)p. 279
6. The Battle Over Censorshipp. 291
Epiloguep. 295
Appendix A Movie References in Screamp. 297
Appendix B The Family in Craven's Filmsp. 299
Appendix C Recurring Imageryp. 301
Appendix D Rating the Filmsp. 303
Notesp. 305
Bibliographyp. 309
Indexp. 311