John McNaughton

Director, Writer, Producer
A talented independent filmmaker whose bleak, chilling vision of society has garnered him considerable critical praise, John McNaughton has also engendered at least an equal amount of controversy. His first feature ... Read more »
Born: 01/13/1950 in Chicago, Illinois, USA


Director (15)

The Harvest 2015 (Movie)


John from Cincinnati 2007 (Tv Show)


Masters of Horror 2006 (Tv Show)


Without A Trace 2003 (Tv Show)


Condo Painting 2000 (Movie)


Speaking of Sex 2000 (Movie)


Lansky 1999 (Movie)


Wild Things 1998 (Movie)


Homicide: Life on the Street 1993 - 1996 (Tv Show)


Normal Life 1996 (Movie)


Mad Dog and Glory 1993 (Movie)


Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll 1991 (Movie)


The Borrower 1991 (Movie)


Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer 1990 (Movie)


Girls in Prison (TV Show)

Actor (2)

American Storytellers 2003 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Murder By Numbers 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Producer (2)

Speaking of Sex 2000 (Movie)

(Executive Producer)

Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer 1990 (Movie)

Writer (2)

Condo Painting 2000 (Movie)


Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer 1990 (Movie)

Camera, Film, & Tape (1)

Condo Painting 2000 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)
Music (1)

Henry: Portrait of A Serial Killer 1990 (Movie)



A talented independent filmmaker whose bleak, chilling vision of society has garnered him considerable critical praise, John McNaughton has also engendered at least an equal amount of controversy. His first feature film, "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," was not distributed for over three years after its completion in 1986--partly as a result of its precarious financial provenance, but also because of its relentless but nonjudgmental examination of the pathology of the real-life Henry Lee Lucas. "Henry" was the first film over which a production company sued the MPPA for the X rating it received. Eventually, McNaughton's powerful and insightful if extremely unnerving film, with its final shooting cost of only $120,000, became a cult hit on the art house circuit and even made the annual "Top 10" lists of TIME, USA TODAY and the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.


University of Illinois

Urbana, Illinois 1967 - 1972
also studied TV production



Helmed "Speaking of Sex"; premiered at Chicago Film Festival


Reteamed with Murray (in a supporting role) for "Wild Things"


Directed first TV-movie, "Girls in Prison"


Helmed the quirky "Mad Dog and Glory" which teamed Bill Murray and Robert De Niro


"The Borrower" finally received (reasonably) widespread US distribution


Shot third feature film, "Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll" in four days


"Henry" finally received (reasonably) widespread US distribution


"Henry" chosen by filmmaker Errol Morris, guest director of the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, as one of his two personal picks to be screened there


Filming on "The Borrower" completed in December two weeks after Atlantic Releasing went under


Arranged to make second feature film, "The Borrower", for the financially strapped Atlantic Releasing Co.


Production completed on "Henry", McNaughton's directorial debut (which he also produced and composed the score)


Began co-writing the screenplay for "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" with Richard Fire

McNaughton and Steven A. Jones engaged by MPI Home Video to produce a low-budget horror film about a serial killer

Spent all his money on video equipment; directed a syndicated TV series on famous gangsters, narrated by Broderick Crawford and titled "Dealers in Death"

Distribution on "The Borrower" held up after it was acquired by Cannon Pictures; exhibitor at Chicago's Music Box Theater finally offered to pay to have a print struck for his theater to use; film became modest cult success

Directed four episodes of the latenight TV police drama, "The Street"

Designed an animated logo for MPI Home Video, a company formed by friends from college

Worked for a year in the audio-visual department of Campbell-Mithun, an ad agency in the Chicago area

Directed episodes of the NBC primetime crime drama series, "Homicide: Life on the Street"

Left his job and traveled, working along the way in various capacities as a jewelry maker, sailboat builder, carnival pitchman, among other jobs

Returned to Chicago and began working in video production; also handled occasional projects such as producing laser light shows and remodeling hamburger stands; met and befriended Steven A. Jones, then a producer of commercials

Bonus Trivia


McNaughton's longtime collaborator, producer Steven A. Jones, has noted that "Both of us share a cynicism in the way we look at the world. We don't celebrate the darker side of humanity, but we are interested in it." McNaughton, too, is aware of this interest and that it might not be to everyone's taste. Speaking about "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer", he noted, "I figured they'd either flock to our door or put us in jail." (Quoted in the LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 1, 1991)