Who are the best horror directors of all time? This top five features some classic names, as well as some up and coming modern directors. Head to Promo Codes For for some discounted horror films and decide on your top five.
1) John Carpenter
Carpenter began his career in the 1970s and 80s as a largely underrated horror director compared to the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Lucus, and Frances Ford Copola. He has not won the awards these directors have, but is undeniably the master of the horror genre, and is only now getting the recognition he deserves. Some of his titles include Halloween (1978), The Thing (1982) and The Fog (1980)
Carpenter is most recognised for Halloween, and the creation of serial killer Michael Myers. Myers is the ultimate masked killer mainly because he is terrifying without the audience knowing anything about him at all. We don’t know why he is a killer, if he has a conscience, a preference for victims, or even his voice or facial appearance. His character does not rely on any of this to be scary. This has made him a greatly recognisable figure in horror and pop culture, giving way to future serial killer characters such as Hannibal Lectar and Fredy Kreuger.
Every Carpenter film is a reinvention of his style where he immerses himself completely in each one, not only directing, but also writing the scores, which for a lot of his films is the most recognisable aspect.
The scariest part of a horror film is not the monster waiting in the room, but the creak from the door, and the drawn out discovery. Carpenter reflects this in his filming style using long suspenseful takes to build tension and foreboding. He also shoots with a sense of paranoia, forcing the audience to always be looking for Myers.
2) Wes Craven
Craven was an American director, actor, producer, and writer who contributed mainly to the slasher and psychological subgenre of horror. Titles of his include A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Scream (1996) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977).
He has had a huge impact on the horror genre and pop culture as a whole in the creation of one of the most recognisable horror villains of all time; Freddy Kreuger. A majority of his films were critical and box office successes had mass audience appeal, which in the horror genre is a rarity.
Scream was another Craven cult classic that has become the highest grossing slasher film of all time. The 90s saw a crash in quality horror, and craven skillfully breathed life into the genre with a film that took all the recognisable cult classics of the 70s and 80s, and used them to make the film more realistic and absolutely believable.
3) George A Romero
Romero Was an American Director, Writer, and Editor best known for The Living Dead Trilogy (1968-1985), The Crazies (1973), and Creep Show (1982).
Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was pipped to the post for the first zombie horror ever created, however he is responsible for creating what modern audiences now recognise as the classic zombie image. If it wasn’t for him, there would have been no inspiration for classics like Dead Alive (1992) or 28 Days Later (2002).
His horror films also always had a more complex meaning than they visually displayed. He used them to tackle social and political issues of the human condition, as well as highlighting the prominent civil rights protests and the Vietnam war. Romero managed to change a lot of horror character stereotypes with two of his main characters being played by black actors; at a time when equal rights were just being established. The Character of Ben in Night of the Living Dead was not only cast in this way, but was also written by Romero to be vastly calm, smart, and resourceful in the horror situation compared to the other characters.
4) Tobe Hooper
Hooper was an American Director best known for directing, screenwriting, and producing in the horror genre. His most influential films include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Poltergeist (1982).
Hooper managed to craft the very first masked serial killer in Thomas Hewitt (leatherface) with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was so controversial that audiences compared it to violent pornography, and it was banned until 1999. He completely opened up the horror genre, and was so ahead of his time introducing audiences to a sub genre that they had never seen before, and were not even ready for until 20 years later.
The way that Hooper separates leatherface from other 80s slasher killers is that he created equally very human characters. Creating a three dimensional villain with an empathetic aspect is a very postmodern idea that hooper pioneered.
5) James Wan
James Wan is an Australian Film director who also produces and writes. He is in the prime of modern filmmaking with his most rated titles being The Conjuring (2013), Insidious (2010), and Saw (2004). Saw was his debut feature length film, and is now one of the highest grossing horror franchises ever. Here he introduced the ‘torture porn’ or ‘splatter’ sub genre to the horror world focusing directly on graphic gore with low budgets, brutal torture devices, and gruesome death and games.
Wan thrives under low budgets, focusing more on achieving scares organically without the expensive lighting and CGI. He is also a master of taking a typical horror trope, and showing the audience something they didn’t expect to see from it. This is what makes James Wan’s films so appealing to a modern audience who have seen a lot of typical horror narratives before as he brings a fresh modern twist to the classic horror.