One of the horror genre's best-known and most celebrated directors, Wes Craven has been widely credited with reinventing the teen horror movie. Initially gaining fame and notoriety for his Nightmare on Elm Street series in the 1980s, Craven enjoyed a second wave of popularity in the 1990s with his phenomenally successful Scream series, which spoofed the teen horror genre even as they revived it. The films kicked off a trend in teen horror films, inspiring any number of imitators that, for the most part, failed to live up to Craven's own work.
A product of a strict Baptist upbringing in Cleveland, OH, Craven received a B.A. in Psychology and Education from Wheaton College and earned an M.A. in Philosophy from Johns Hopkins University. After teaching humanities for awhile, Craven plunged into filmmaking as a production assistant and editor for several "B" companies. He made his directorial debut with Last House on the Left (1972), a gruesome little effort that, to put it mildly, affected different people in different ways. Some viewers found this repellently staged "revenge for rape" story profound, citing the fact that Craven based the movie on Ingmar Bergman's Virgin Spring; others, including such mainstream commentators as Leonard Maltin, have condemned Last House on the Left as utter excrement. No matter how one felt about Craven, however, one could not deny his power to manipulate his audience. This power was further evidenced with The Hills Have Eyes (1977), which again met with radically divided opinions -- and made a fortune.