50 Greatest Horror Directors

by LickMyPlate | created - 26 Mar 2013 | updated - 01 Apr 2013 | Public

50 of the greats

1. Tobe Hooper

Director | The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

Honored with many awards for his films and achievement in the horror genre, Tobe Hooper is truly one of the Masters of Horror (2005).

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 ...

2. John Carpenter

Soundtrack | Escape from New York

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 ...

3. George A. Romero

Writer | Land of the Dead

George A. Romero never set out to become a Hollywood figure; by all indications, though, he was very successful. The director of the groundbreaking "Living Dead" films was born February 4, 1940 ,in New York City to Ann (Dvorsky) and Jorge Romero. His father was born in Spain and raised in Cuba, and...

4. Dario Argento

Writer | Profondo rosso

Dario Argento was born on September 7, 1940, in Rome, Italy, the first-born son of famed Italian producer Salvatore Argento and Brazilian fashion model Elda Luxardo. Argento recalls getting his ideas for filmmaking from his close-knit family from Italian folk tales told by his parents and other ...

5. Alfred Hitchcock

Director | 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 ...

6. Sam Raimi

Director | Spider-Man

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 (1981). From his childhood, Raimi was a fan of the cinema and, before he was ten-years-old, he was out making ...

7. Steve Miner

Director | Warlock

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, Miner ...

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 (1982) and the Robert Bloch- inspired Psycho II (1983), the latter starring Anthony Perkins as the menacing psychopath, Norman Bates.

Tom gained more notoriety, however...

9. Rob Zombie

Director | Halloween

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 ...

10. Neil Marshall

Director | Dog Soldiers

Neil Marshall was born on May 25, 1970 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. He is a director and producer, known for Dog Soldiers (2002), The Descent (2005) and Doomsday (2008). He was previously married to Axelle Carolyn.

11. Clive Barker

Writer | Hellraiser

Clive Barker was born on October 5, 1952 in Liverpool, England. He is a writer and producer, known for Hellraiser (1987), Nightbreed (1990) and Candyman (1992).

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: ...

13. Eli Roth

Producer | Cabin Fever

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 ...

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 ...

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 (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935). He also directed films in other genres, including what is ...

16. Hideo Nakata

Director | Honogurai mizu no soko kara

Hideo Nakata was born on July 19, 1961 in Okayama, Japan. He is a director and writer, known for Dark Water (2002), Ringu (1998) and The Ring Two (2005).

17. Takashi Miike

Director | Koroshiya 1

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, ...

18. Lamberto Bava

Director | Body Puzzle

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 ...

19. Wes Craven

Writer | A Nightmare on Elm Street

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 ...

20. John Landis

Director | The Blues Brothers

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 (1970). Remaining in Europe, Landis found work as an actor, extra and stuntman in many of the Spanish/Italian "...

21. Darren Lynn Bousman

Director | Saw II

Darren Lynn Bousman was born on January 11, 1979 in Overland Park, Kansas, USA. He is a director and producer, known for Saw II (2005), Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008) and Abattoir (2016). He has been married to Laura Bousman since January 2, 2009.

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,...

23. Joe Dante

Director | Innerspace

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 ...

24. Guillermo del Toro

Writer | El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro was born October 9, 1964 in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico. Raised by his Catholic grandmother, del Toro developed an interest in filmmaking in his early teens. Later, he learned about makeup and effects from the legendary Dick Smith (The Exorcist (1973)) and worked on making his ...

25. Peter Jackson

Producer | The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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,...

26. Jeff Burr

Director | Straight Into Darkness

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 ...

27. Christopher Smith

Director | Triangle

Christopher Smith was born in 1970 in Bristol, England. He is a director and writer, known for Triangle (2009), Severance (2006) and Black Death (2010).

28. Lucio Fulci

Writer | Murderock - Uccide a passo di danza

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 ...

29. James Wan

Writer | Saw

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 (2004) and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has also directed Dead Silence (2007), Death Sentence (2007), Insidious (2010)...

30. William Castle

Producer | Homicidal

William Castle was born on April 24, 1914 in New York City, New York, USA as William Schloss. He was a producer and director, known for Homicidal (1961), Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Bug (1975). He was married to Ellen. He died on May 31, 1977 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

31. Jack Arnold

Director | The Incredible Shrinking Man

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...

32. Robert Rodriguez

Producer | El mariachi

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 (1981), none ...

33. Mick Garris

Writer | Amazing Stories

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 ...

34. Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Director | Tokyo Sonata

Kiyoshi Kurosawa was born on July 19, 1955 in Kobe, Japan. He is a director and writer, known for Tokyo Sonata (2008), Kairo (2001) and Bright Future (2002).

35. Roger Corman

Actor | The Silence of the Lambs

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...

36. Herschell Gordon Lewis

Producer | Monster a-Go Go

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, ...

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 ...

38. Terence Fisher

Director | Dracula

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 ...

39. Mario Bava

Cinematographer | Ecologia del delitto

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 ...

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...

41. David Lynch

Writer | Twin Peaks

Born in precisely the kind of small-town American setting so familiar from his films, David Lynch spent his childhood being shunted from one state to another as his research scientist father kept getting relocated. He attended various art schools, married Peggy Lynch and then fathered future ...

42. Michael Haneke

Writer | Caché

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 ...

43. Frank Darabont

Writer | The Walking Dead

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 ...

44. Danny Boyle

Director | 127 Hours

Danny Boyle was born on October 20, 1956 in Manchester, England as Daniel Boyle. He is a director and producer, known for 127 Hours (2010), 28 Days Later... (2002) and Slumdog Millionaire (2008).

45. Greg McLean

Director | The Belko Experiment

Greg McLean is a writer and producer, known for The Belko Experiment (2016), Jungle (2017) and Rogue (2007).

46. Stanley Kubrick

Director | 2001: A Space Odyssey

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 ...

47. Mitchell Altieri

Writer | The Hamiltons

Mitchell Altieri's first feature, the comedy Lurking in Suburbia, was discovered by senior Sundance programmer Trevor Groth and earned him international buzz on the festival scene. As part of the horror duo, The Butcher Brothers, he wrote and directed the award winning films The Hamiltons (...

48. Lucky McKee

Director | May

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 ...

49. Brian De Palma

Director | Dressed to Kill

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 (1972) and his voyeuristic style. Restlessly he worked on big projects with the ...

50. Larry Cohen

Writer | God Told Me To

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...



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