(Photo by Rogue Pictures, Dimension Film, New Line, DreamWorks / courtesy Everett Collection)
All 20 Wes Craven Movies Ranked by Tomatometer
Wes Craven’s debut, 1972’s scarring rape-revenge thriller The Last House on the Left, was among the first cross-cultural grindhouse flicks out there: It cost $87,00 to make and made back 36 times as much. At the time, America was mired deep in a losing Vietnam War slog just as its citizens lost faith in their social institutions, a mood reflected in Last House‘s success, announcing audiences’ new appetite for gritty, grubby, boundary-pushing cinema. Craven, already hardened beyond most normal sensibilities after a previous career directing pornographic films under different nom de guerres, knew how to push the violence, sex, and rage right up to the edge.
With aspirations to emerge from the horror grotto, Craven nonetheless returned to the genre in 1977 with the agitated, belligerent The Hills Have Eyes, which transported the menace of Last House into the desert mountains.
The ’80s were the golden age of slasher movies, with thanks in no small part to Craven. He dipped his toe into the subgenre with 1981’s Deadly Blessing, before making the enormous slashy splash with A Nightmare on Elm Street. Dozens of slashers were being released a year by 1984, but it was Craven’s bright idea to freshen things up by bringing the supernatural into the mix, thus creating one of horror’s great icons: Freddy Krueger, as portrayed by Robert Englund.
Horror films had a tough go at it in the ’90s, both creatively and at the box office, with Craven one of few genre directors to survive with a career intact. Always one to infuse satire and literacy into the shocks wherever he could, Craven turned to meta-textual tricks for New Nightmare and Scream. The latter fit like a knife in snug flesh with the decade’s laid-back cynicism, ushering in a new age of teen slashers.
Highlights of Craven’s post-Scream career include, of course, the well-received first sequel, directing Meryl Streep to an Academy Award nomination in Music of the Heart, and the Certified Fresh thriller Red Eye. Scream 4, in 2011, would become his final movie – and it just recently ticked over onto Fresh territory. Here, we look back on a storied film journey from one of the undisputed masters of horror, with all Wes Craven movies ranked by Tomatometer!
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
In part I, the reason Wes Craven's "hills had eyes" was because the cannibals that lived there were lying in... [More]
Adjusted Score: 11.062%
Critics Consensus: Dull, joyless, and formulaic, My Soul to Take suggests writer/director Wes Craven ended his five-year filmmaking hiatus too soon.
Wes Craven returns to shock audiences with 25/8, a thriller surrounding a deceased serial killer's rise from the grave and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 11.243%
Critics Consensus: Neither scary nor very funny, this misguided effort never lives up to its premise.
Comedian Eddie Murphy tried something different with this 1995 film that he produced and co-wrote, enlisting veteran horror director Wes... [More]
Adjusted Score: 10.09%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Certainly never lauded as one of the best of horrormeister Craven's offerings, there are still enough moments of shock and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 19.663%
Critics Consensus: A predictable plot and cheesy special effects make Cursed a less-than-scary experience.
The team behind the Scream trilogy, director Wes Craven and screenwriter Kevin Williamson, present another entry in the teen-horror genre... [More]
Adjusted Score: 10.683%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Strange events begin occurring when a rural widow (Maren Jensen) is visited by two friends from the city (Sharon Stone,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 24.905%
Critics Consensus: With an intriguing enough premise and horror legend Wes Craven on writer-director duty, the real Shocker here is just how lame the end results turned out to be.
In this horror film, the killer Horace Pinker (Mitch Pileggi) is finally captured and executed, only to be transformed into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 43.092%
Critics Consensus: Despite some surprising twists, Scream 3 sees the franchise falling back on the same old horror formulas and cliches it once hacked and slashed with postmodern abandon.
In the third and final episode of the Scream trilogy, Sidney realizes that she can no longer escape her past.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65.382%
Critics Consensus: The franchise is showing its age, but Scream 4 is undeniably an improvement over its predecessor, with just enough meta humor and clever kills.
In Scream 4, Sidney Prescott, now the author of a self-help book, returns home to Woodsboro on the last stop... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65.425%
Critics Consensus: Its visceral brutality is more repulsive than engrossing, but The Last House on the Left nevertheless introduces director Wes Craven as a distinctive voice in horror.
Based on Bergman's The Virgin Spring, Wes Craven's cult classic is an account of a group of sadistic killers who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 63.304%
Critics Consensus: Held aloft by gonzo black comedy and socially conscious subtext, The People Under The Stairs marks a unique -- though wildly uneven -- change of pace for director Wes Craven.
Wes Craven wrote and directed this surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story of parents keeping their children... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66.58%
Critics Consensus: Meryl Streep's depiction of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things transcends, inspires, and entertains.
When Roberta's husband left her for a family friend, she left the security of her small town and moved to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66.177%
Critics Consensus: Although it's occasionally overwhelmed by excessive special effects, The Serpent and the Rainbow draws on a chilling atmosphere to deliver a intelligent, politically informed story.
Somewhat based on the true-life experiences of ethnobotanist Wade Davis, this provocative horror outing is set in Haiti and offers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65.85%
Critics Consensus: When it's not bludgeoning the viewer with its more off-putting, cruder elements, The Hills Have Eyes wields some clever storytelling and a sly sense of dark humor.
Horror auteur Wes Craven followed his threadbare but horrifically compelling cult classic Last House on the Left with this wonderfully... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69.924%
Critics Consensus: Unabashedly campy -- often to its detriment -- Swamp Thing is not without its charms, among them Adrienne Barbeau as the damsel in distress.
Historia de suspenso escrita y dirigida por Wes Craven sobre el resultado monstruoso de un experimento fracasado. Louis Jourdan, Adrienne... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.082%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's New Nightmare adds an unexpectedly satisfying - not to mention intelligent - meta layer to a horror franchise that had long since lost its way.
Freddy Krueger is back from the grave in another thriller from famed horror director Wes Craven. This film differs from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 82.876%
Critics Consensus: Horror icon Wes Craven's subversive deconstruction of the genre is sly, witty, and surprisingly effective as a slasher film itself, even if it's a little too cheeky for some.
The sleepy little town of Woodsboro just woke up screaming. There's a killer in their midst who's seen a few... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85.364%
Critics Consensus: With solid performances and tight direction from Wes Craven, Red Eye is a brisk, economic thriller.
A woman is kidnapped by a stranger on a routine flight. Threatened by the potential murder of her father, she... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.49%
Critics Consensus: As with the first film, Scream 2 is a gleeful takedown of scary movie conventions that manages to poke fun at terrible horror sequels without falling victim to the same fate.
The crafty Wes Craven follows up lastÕs yearÕs surprise hit with another supremely self-referential but satisfyingly droll thriller.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.913%
Critics Consensus: Wes Craven's intelligent premise, combined with the horrifying visual appearance of Freddy Krueger, still causes nightmares to this day.
A group of teenagers are terrorized by "Freddy Krueger", an evil being from another world who gets to his victims... [More]