The Kings of Horror: The Best Horror Movie Directors of All Time

In the history of cinema, a lot of directors have made names for themselves crafting spooky tales of horror to scare the living daylights out of moviegoers of all ages. Out of these wide selection of horror maestros, only some have attained popularity with their films. And even out of those, only a very select few attain iconic status.

Top Horror Movie Directors Who Redefined the Film Genre

The iconic directors of horror films tend to be those who dedicate themselves to the genre, perfecting the art of scaring people and creating a historic piece of cinema at the same time. Here are the 10 best horror movie directors of all time:

1. Roger Corman

Memorable films: The Pit and the Pendulum, House of Usher, The Raven

Horror Movie Directors

Variety

Although he also did a sting of thrillers, science fiction, and adventure films, this director is best known for his horror adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. His film legacy extends beyond the horror genre, as it is thanks to him that many legendary actors and directors got their start in Hollywood. 

2. Guillermo del Toro

Memorable films: Mimic, Pan’s Labyrinth

IndieWire

IndieWire

As a goth horror director, del Toro is known for taking the genre of goth horror and turning it into high art, combining lavish production values with his unique storytelling skills. He is especially skillful at introducing a richness of theme into his productions along with maturity of execution.

3. Tobe Hooper

Memorable films: Poltergeist, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

avclub.com

avclub.com

Hooper has a diverse body of work, and he is one of the directors who is known for constantly changing up his approach to horror filmmaking. He also greatly influenced a lot of contemporary directors, such Rob Zombie, Hideo Nakata, and Wes Craven.

4. Sam Raimi

Memorable films: Drag Me to Hell, Evil Dead trilogy

Hollywood Reporter

Hollywood Reporter

Sam Raimi’s expertise as a horror director is his ability to finely meld horror and comedy elements in his films. He is one of the few directors who know how to achieve the right balance of the truly horrifying and the laugh-out-loud elements in a scene. 

5. Lucio Fulci

Memorable films: City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, The New York Ripper

Bloody Disgusting

Bloody Disgusting

Known as the Godfather of Gore, Fulci is known for his reputation to push the horror genre much further than most of his contemporaries. In one of his films, for instance, instead of using a shark animatronic, he opted to drug a shark and threw a stuntman into the waters alongside it.

6. David Cronenberg

Memorable films: The Fly, Rabid, The Brood

Film Inquiry

Film Inquiry

Among all horror directors, Cronenberg is known to be of the most cerebral. His horror films are recognized as black satire on modern society, and there are also hints of sexual depravity thrown in. 

7. George A. Romero

Memorable films: Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Creepshow

IndieWire

IndieWire

Romero’s Dead trilogy is recognized as three of the most influential films in horror history. His legacy has led to thousands of zombie movie imitations, although none of those iterations ever come close to the impact of his films.

8. John Carpenter

Memorable films: Halloween, The Thing, Prince of Darkness, In the Mouth of Madness

Vulture

Vulture

Back in 1978, when slasher films were still in their infancy, John Carpenter proved himself a master of the genre with his movie Halloween. He is known as one of the directors who are skillful at using practical effects in a convincing manner.

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