50 Greatest Horror Directors

50 of the greats
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1.
Tobe Hooper
Before becoming a filmmaker, Tobe Hooper, a native of Austin, Texas, spent the 1960s as a college professor and documentary cameraman. In 1974, he organized a small cast that was made up of college teachers and students, and then he and Kim Henkel made The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. This film changed the horror film industry...
 
2.
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...
 
3.
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 a Cuban father and a Lithuanian-American mother. He grew up in NY, until attending the renowned Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania...
 
4.
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...
 
5.
Alfred Hitchcock
Actor, Psycho
Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was born in Leytonstone, Essex, England. He was the son of Emma Jane (Whelan; 1863 - 1942) and East End greengrocer William Hitchcock (1862 - 1914). His parents were both of half English and half Irish ancestry. He had two older siblings, William Hitchcock (born 1890) and Eileen Hitchcock (born 1892)...
 
6.
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...
 
7.
Steve Miner
Steve Miner has had a very popular career in making films and remains one of Hollywood's most prolific directors and has worked with a variety of stars that includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Leslie Nielsen, C. Thomas Howell, Tom Arnold, Rick Moranis, and Bill Pullman. Before becoming a director...
 
8.
Tom Holland
Writer, Fright Night
Tom Holland is an American director and screenwriter of horror and thriller films. His early writing projects include Class of 1984 and the Robert Bloch- inspired Psycho II, the latter starring Anthony Perkins as the menacing psychopath, Norman Bates. Tom gained more notoriety, however, as a director...
 
9.
Rob Zombie
Soundtrack, The Matrix
Robert Bartleh Cummings, more famously known as Rob Zombie, was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts on January 12, 1965. He is the oldest son of Louise and Robert Cummings, and has a younger brother, Michael David (aka Spider One; b. 1968), who is the lead singer of Powerman 5000. Growing up, Zombie loved horror movies...
 
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12.
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...
 
13.
Eli Roth
Producer, Grindhouse
Eli Raphael Roth was born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Cora (Bialis), a painter, and Sheldon H. Roth, a psychoanalyst, psychiatrist, and clinical professor. His family is Jewish (from Austria, Hungary, Russia, and Poland). He began shooting Super 8 films at the age of eight, after watching Ridley Scott's Alien and vomiting...
 
14.
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...
 
15.
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. Whale also directed films in other genres, including what is considered the definitive film version of the musical Show Boat...
 
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17.
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...
 
18.
Lamberto Bava
Director, Demons
Lamberto Bava was born in Rome, Italy, and was the first of a third generation of Italian filmmakers. His grandfather, Eugenio Bava (1886-1966), was a cameraman and optics effects artist during the early days of Italian silent cinema. His father, Mario Bava (1914-1980), was a legendary cinematographer...
 
19.
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...
 
20.
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...
 
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22.
Don Coscarelli
Writer, Bubba Ho-Tep
In much the same way that director George A. Romero creative output has been primarily centered around the highly successful "Dead" series of zombie films, then fellow fantasy director Don Coscarelli has for over two decades seen his universe swirling around the lesser successful, but equally cult, and much loved "Phantasm" series of horror movies...
 
23.
Joe Dante
Director, Gremlins
Joe Dante is a graduate of the Philadelphia College of Art. After a stint as a film reviewer, he began his filmmaking apprenticeship in 1974 as trailer editor for Roger Corman's New World Pictures. He made his directorial debut in 1976 with Hollywood Boulevard (co-directed with Allan Arkush), a thinly disguised spoof of New World exploitation pictures, shot in ten days for $60,000...
 
24.
Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. In his filmmaking career, Del Toro has alternated between Spanish-language dark fantasy pieces, such as the gothic horror film ; El espinazo del diablo (2001)_, and El laberinto del fauno (2006)_, and more mainstream American action movies...
 
25.
Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson was born as an only child in a small coast-side town in New Zealand in 1961. When a friend of his parents bought him a super 8 movie camera (because she saw how much he enjoyed taking photos), the then eight-year-old Peter instantly grabbed the thing to start recording his own movies, which he made with his friends...
 
26.
Jeff Burr
Director/writer/producer Jeff Burr was born in 1963 in Aurora, Ohio. He grew up in Dalton, Georgia. Burr avidly watched low-budget independent movies at the local drive-in theater and made Super-8 pictures as a kid. Burr attended the University of Southern California for three years, where he met fellow student and aspiring filmmaker Kevin Meyer...
 
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28.
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...
 
29.
James Wan
Producer, The Conjuring 2
James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is an Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence, Death Sentence, Insidious, The Conjuring and Furious 7...
 
31.
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...
 
32.
Robert Rodriguez
Producer, Grindhouse
Robert Anthony Rodriguez was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, USA, to Rebecca (Villegas), a nurse, and Cecilio G. Rodríguez, a salesman. His family is of Mexican descent. Of all the people to be amazed by the images of John Carpenter's 1981 sci-fi parable, Escape from New York, none were as captivated as the 12-year-old Rodriguez...
 
33.
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...
 
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35.
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...
 
36.
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...
 
37.
Jacques Tourneur
Director, Out of the Past
Born in Paris in 1904, Tourneur went to Hollywood with his father, director Maurice Tourneur around 1913. He started out as a script clerk and editor for his father, then graduated to such jobs as directing shorts (often with the pseudonym Jack Turner), both in France and America. He was hired to run the second unit for David O. Selznick's A Tale of Two Cities...
 
38.
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...
 
39.
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...
 
40.
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...
 
41.
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...
 
43.
Frank Darabont
Three-time Oscar nominee Frank Darabont was born in a refugee camp in 1959 in Montbeliard, France, the son of Hungarian parents who had fled Budapest during the failed 1956 Hungarian revolution. Brought to America as an infant, he settled with his family in Los Angeles and attended Hollywood High School...
 
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46.
Stanley Kubrick
Director, The Shining
Stanley Kubrick was born in Manhattan, New York City, to Sadie Gertrude (Perveler) and Jacob Leonard Kubrick, a physician. His family were Jewish immigrants (from Austria, Romania, and Russia). Stanley was considered intelligent, despite poor grades at school. Hoping that a change of scenery would produce better academic performance...
 
47.
Mitchell Altieri
Mitchell Altieri began his film career at the age of 19 when he wrote and directed the short film 'King's River,' which earned him a Bay Area Cable Excellence Award. From there, he went on to produce national print ads with such clients as Levi's, Verizon Wireless, Kodak, Pringles, and Zenith TV and won The Communication Arts Award of Excellence for Writing...
 
48.
Lucky McKee
Director, The Woman
Born and raised in the small riverbank town of Jenny Lind in Calaveras County, California, Edward Lucky McKee grew up mostly in poverty with little access to modern forms of entertainment. When McKee was age ten, he used an old video camera to videotape his sister's birthday party which put him on a path for an interest in film making...
 
49.
Brian De Palma
Director, Scarface
Brian De Palma is the son of a surgeon. He studied physics but at the same time felt his dedication for the movies and made some short films. After seven independent productions he had his first success with Sisters and his voyeuristic style. Restlessly he worked on big projects with the script writers Paul Schrader...
 
50.
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...