50 Most Important Horror Directors

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1.
George A. Romero
George A. Romero never set out to become a Hollywood figure; however, by all indications, he was very successful. The helmer of the groundbreaking "Living Dead" films was born February 4, 1940 in New York City, New York, to Ann (Dvorsky) and Jorge Romero. His father was born in Spain and raised in Cuba...
 
2.
David Cronenberg
Director, The Fly
David Cronenberg, also known as the King of Venereal Horror or the Baron of Blood, was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 1943. His father, Milton Cronenberg, was a journalist and editor, and his mother, Esther (Sumberg), was a piano player. After showing an inclination for literature at an early age (he wrote and published eerie short stories...
 
3.
John Carpenter
Writer, Halloween
John Howard Carpenter was born in Carthage, New York, to mother Milton Jean (Carter) and father Howard Ralph Carpenter. His family moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, where his father, a professor, was head of the music department at Western Kentucky University. He attended Western Kentucky University and then USC film school in Los Angeles...
 
4.
Tobe Hooper
Honored with many awards for his films and achievement in the horror genre, Tobe Hooper is truly one of the Masters of Horror. Tobe Hooper was born in Austin, Texas, to Lois Belle (Crosby) and Norman William Ray Hooper, who owned a theater in San Angelo. He spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman...
 
5.
Dario Argento
Dario Argento was born in Rome, Italy on September 7 1940. He is the son of producer Salvatore Argento. He began his career as a movie critic for the Rome daily newspaper "Paese Sera". A professional screenwriter by the tender age of 20, he joined Bernardo Bertolucci to write the screenplay for Sergio Leone's epic western "Once Upon A Time In The West" in 1967...
 
6.
Wes Craven
Director, Scream
Wes Craven has become synonymous with genre bending and innovative horror, challenging audiences with his bold vision. Wesley Earl Craven was born in Cleveland, Ohio, to Caroline (Miller) and Paul Eugene Craven. He had a midwestern suburban upbringing. His first feature film was The Last House on the Left, which he wrote...
 
7.
Stuart Gordon
Writer, Re-Animator
Stuart Gordon started his film directing career in 1985. After graduating from Lane Technical High School, Gordon worked as a commercial artist apprentice prior to enrolling at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Unable to get into the film classes, he enrolled in an acting class and ended up majoring in theater...
 
8.
Mario Bava
Cinematographer, A Bay of Blood
Italian director Mario Bava was born on July 31, 1914 in the coastal northern Italian town of San Remo. His father, Eugenio Bava (1886-1966), was a cinematographer in the early days of the Italian film industry. Bava was trained as a painter, and when he eventually followed his father into film photography...
 
9.
Frank Henenlotter
Director, Basket Case
Writer/director Frank Henenlotter was born August 29, 1950, in New York City. He gleefully "misspent" his youth watching a large array of blithely cheap'n'cheesy low-budget exploitation flicks in various seedy grindhouse theaters on Mahattan's 42nd St. He began making 8mm films as a teenager. His 16mm black-and-white short Slash of the Knife actually played at a 42nd St...
 
12.
Freddie Francis
Cinematographer, The Elephant Man
During his last years at school he spent most of his time writing a thesis on 'the future of film' On leaving school he joined Gaumont British Studios at Lime Grove as an apprentice to a stills photographer for a year. He claimed this taught him more about the art of photography than any other form of training could...
 
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14.
Lucio Fulci
Lucio Fulci, born in Rome in 1927, remains as controversial in death as he was in life. A gifted craftsman with a sharp tongue and a wicked sense of dark humor, Fulci achieved some measure of notoriety for his gore epics of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but respect was long in coming. Abandoning his early career as a med student...
 
15.
Jack Arnold
Jack Arnold reigns supreme as one of the great directors of 1950s science-fiction features. His films are distinguished by moody black and white cinematography, solid acting, smart, thoughtful scripts, snappy pacing, a genuine heartfelt enthusiasm for the genre and plenty of eerie atmosphere. Arnold was born on October 14...
 
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17.
Terence Fisher
Terence Fisher was born in Maida Vale, England, in 1904. Raised by his grandmother in a strict Christian Scientist environment, Fisher left school while still in his teens to join the Merchant Marine. By his own account he soon discovered that a life at sea was not for him, so he left the service and tried his hand at a succession of jobs ashore...
 
18.
Tod Browning
Director, Dracula
Belonging to a well-situated family, Charles Browning fell in love at the age of 16 with a dancer of a circus. Following her began his itinerary of being clown, jockey and director of a variety theater which ended when he met D.W. Griffith and became an actor. He made his debut in Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages...
 
19.
James Whale
Director, Frankenstein
James Whale was an English film director, theatre director and actor. He is best remembered for his four classic horror films: Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man and Bride of Frankenstein. He also directed films in other genres, including what is considered the definitive film version of the musical Show Boat...
 
20.
Joe Dante
Director, Gremlins
Joseph Dante Jr. was born on November 28, 1946 in Morristown, New Jersey, and raised in the nearby borough of Parsippany. His father was a professional golf players and his father wrote some books on the instructions of playing golf some of which included Four Magic Moves to Winning Golf, and Stop that Slice...
 
21.
Herschell Gordon Lewis
Only one film-maker can claim the title "Godfather of Gore." That peculiar but apt identification seems to be the exclusive property of Herschell Gordon Lewis. With an unusual background that included teaching English Literature to college students, producing and directing television commercials, and voicing radio and television commercials...
 
22.
Roy Ward Baker
Roy Ward Baker's first job in films was as a teaboy at the Gainsborough Studios in London, England, but within three years he was working as an assistant director. During World War II, he worked in the Army Kinematograph Unit under Eric Ambler, a writer and film producer, who, after the war, gave Baker his first opportunity to direct a film...
 
23.
Roman Polanski
Director, The Pianist
Roman Polanski is a Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few truly international filmmakers. Roman Polanski was born in Paris in 1933. His parents returned to Poland from France in 1936, three years before World War II began...
 
24.
Norio Tsuruta
Director, Yogen
 
25.
Michael Haneke
A true master of his craft, Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film artists working today and one who challenges his viewers each year and work goes by, with films that reflect real portions of life in realistic, disturbing and unforgettable ways. One of the most genuine filmmakers of the world cinema...
 
26.
Michele Soavi
Director, Cemetery Man
Born in Milan, Italy in 1957, Michele Soavi's parents separated when he was little and he lived with his mother who remarried a painter. Interested in his stepfather's interest in painting, Soavi began an interest in creative arts in his school. During his teenage years, he decided that the cinema was his true calling after attending several movie screenings and developing a taste for acting...
 
27.
Umberto Lenzi
Director, Cannibal Ferox
Born in Massa Marittima, Italy on August 6, 1931, Umberto Lenzi was a movie enthusiast since his early grade school years. During those years, he founded various film fan clubs while studying law. Lenzi started out as a journalist for various local newspapers and magazines. Lenzi put off his law studies to pursue the technical arts of filmmaking at the Centro Sperimentale de Cinematografia...
 
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29.
José Mojica Marins
José Mojica Marins was born on March 13, 1936 in San Paulo, Brazil, to a family of simple means. José's love of movies began at an early age. He spent a great deal of his time with his family at the local movie house, which his father helped manage. By the time he was eighteen, he had completed over eighty films...
 
30.
Alejandro Amenábar
Writer, The Others
Is the son of a Spanish mother and a Chilean father. His family moved back to Spain when he was 1 year old, and he grew up and studied in Madrid. He wrote, produced and directed his first short film La cabeza at the age of 19, and he was 23 when he directed his feature debut Thesis. His film Open Your Eyes was a huge success in Spain and was distributed worldwide...
 
31.
Roger Corman
Producer, Death Race
Roger William Corman was born April 5, 1926, in Detroit, Michigan. Initially following in his father's footsteps, Corman studied engineering at Stanford University but while in school, he began to lose interest in the profession and developed a growing passion for film. Upon graduation, he worked a total of three days as an engineer at US Electrical Motors...
 
32.
Larry Cohen
Writer, Phone Booth
Larry Cohen was born July 15, 1941, in Kingston, New York, a small town north of New York City. At a young age, his family moved to the Riverdale section of the Bronx, and he eventually majored in film at the historic City College of New York, graduating in 1963. An independent maverick who got his start in studio-based television...
 
33.
Ruggero Deodato
Ruggero Deodato was born on May 7, 1939, in Potenza, Italy, and grew up outside Rome. One of his close friends at the time was Renzo Rossellini, the son of famed Italian director Roberto Rossellini. Knowing Ruggerio's love for the movies, Renzo persuaded him to work as a second unit director on some of his father's productions...
 
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36.
Álex de la Iglesia
A cult director, his work is reminiscent in tone and style to that of Guillermo del Toro. At one point, scheduled to shoot the Doom (based on the video game) movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, but it fell through. His films have a kind of comic edge to them that is very similar to the early films of Peter Jackson...
 
38.
Danny Pang
Director, Gin gwai
The twin brothers Oxide and Danny Pang started their career in Hong Kong, where Oxide worked as colourist and Danny as editor. After moving to Bangkok, Oxide made the experimental film Who's Running. Bangkok Dangerous is the first film in which the brothers combine their talents.
 
39.
Oxide Chun Pang
Oxide Pang started his career in Hong Kong, where he worked as colourist. After moving to Bangkok, he made the experimental film Who's Running.
 
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41.
John Landis
John Landis began his career in the mail room of 20th Century-Fox. A high-school dropout, 18-year-old Landis made his way to Yugoslavia to work as a production assistant on Kelly's Heroes. Remaining in Europe, Landis found work as an actor, extra and stuntman in many of the Spanish/Italian "spaghetti" westerns...
 
43.
Bruno Mattei
Born in 1931, Bruno Mattei grew up in Rome, Italy, where his father owned a small film editing studio. At age 20 Bruno started working odd jobs at his father's company as his assistant, then went on to other small spots. He wanted to follow in his father's footsteps as a film editor, and soon found himself working as an editor for a number of directors...
 
44.
David Lynch
Born in 1946 in Missoula, Montana, David Lynch was raised in small-town America. After high school, he went to Boston to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Shortly after that, he planned a three-year trip to Europe to work on his art, but didn't take to it and left after 15 days. In 1977...
 
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46.
Mick Garris
Writer, Hocus Pocus
Born in Santa Monica, California, on December 4, 1951, Mick Garris grew up with his mother in the San Fernando Valley neighborhood of Van Nuys from age 12, following his parents' divorce. Garris was making his own 8mm home movies around that time, and when he got older be became a freelance critic for a number of film and music celebrities...
 
48.
Sam Raimi
Writer, Spider-Man 3
Highly inventive U.S. film director/producer/writer/actor Sam Raimi first came to the attention of film fans with the savage, yet darkly humorous, low-budget horror film, The Evil Dead. From his childhood, Raimi was a fan of the cinema and, before he was ten-years-old, he was out making movies with an 8mm camera...
 
49.
Takashi Miike
Takashi Miike was born in the small town of Yao on the outskirts of Osaka, Japan. His main interest growing up was motorbikes, and for a while he harbored ambitions to race professionally. At the age of 18 he went to study at the film school in Yokohama founded by renowned director Shôhei Imamura, primarily because there were no entrance exams...
 
50.
Sion Sono
Director, Ai no mukidashi
Shion Sono is a Japanese director, writer and poet. Born in Aichi Perfecture in 1961 he started his career working as a poet before taking his first steps in film directing. As a student he shot a series of short films in Super 8 and managed to make his first feature films in the late 80s and early 90s...