Seems like I’m doing lotsa lists lately (and apparently using a lot of alliteration along the way). I’m also somewhat surprised it’s taken me this long to talk about my favorite horror directors. Let’s take a few minutes and correct this rather egregious oversight.
#10 Rob Zombie
I’m a big fan of House Of 1000 Corpses, 31, and The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto. And Devil’s Rejects is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s sick. It’s violent. It’s like Tobe Hooper meets Quentin Tarantino. What I love most about Rob Zombie is how he so clearly wears his love for classic horror on his sleeve. Both in terms of his films and his music, I feel like he spent many a late Friday and Saturday night as well as Saturday afternoon watching the exact same stuff I did.
#9 The Soska Sisters
I love all their movies, but my top two are American Mary and their remake of Rabid. I don’t know who these misogynistic gatekeeper fuckwits are who try to get all dismissive about women in horror, but they need to be smacked with a trench shovel and left bleeding in a drainage ditch. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that with one Cronenberg remake under their belts, I’d love to see them take a stab at Shivers. Seems right up their alley. Plus I don’t mind admitting that I think they’re gore-juice.
#8 Jordan Peele
Only two movies so far but oh what a beginning. I was happy to see Get Out garner its best original screenplay Oscar a few years ago, but I think it might shoulda done a little better than that. I was believin’ for best director. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone to see a movie, left the theater when it was over, bought another ticket, and went right back in to see it again.
#7 Ari Aster
Also two feature-length films thus far but, again, good god damn. Hereditary made me more tense than any movie I’ve seen since Alien, and Midsommar was an awesome answer to the question “How can we take the concept behind the original Wicker Man even more horrifying?” And if you haven’t seen his short, The Strange Thing About The Johnsons, well sweet long-haired jeebers, do yourself a favor and go watch it right now. I’ll wait.
Yeah, see? Told ya.
#6 Ken Russell
For those slow, quiet evenings around Castle Blogferatu when I wanna kick back in my smoking jacket with a nice Peterson briar full of Cornell & Diehl Haunted Bookshop pipe tobacco and watch and absolute mindfuck acid trip of a film, I dig into my Ken Russell section. Lair Of The White Worm, The Devils, Crimes Of Passion, Altered States, hell even Tommy, Russell always puts me back on the warped, twisted ground on which I feel most at home.
#5 Guillermo Del Toro
I’ve been hooked on this guy since Cronos. When he gets it right, he knocks it out of the park, like with Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape Of Water. But even when he doesn’t, I have yet to be disappointed. I know a number of his movies like Hellboy and Crimson Peak got panned, but so far I think the man can do no wrong. I also hope to one day make enough money off a book or screenplay that I can buy a house and fill it, or at least one floor of it, with weird shit like he does.
#4 Tim Burton
Jack Skellington is my hero. Or one of them. So is Sweeney Todd. I’m in awe of how funny Burton is when he’s being dark and how dark he is when he’s being funny. Think about Beetlejuice: possession, threatened suicide, depictions of hanging and wrist cutting, summoning demons, murder, and all hilarious. Sleepy Hollow is darker, but Ichabod Crane is caricature-like as a bookish, intellectual detective.
#3 William Castle
Castle was the undisputed master of gimmickry and marketing. Percepto, Emergo, Illusion-O, The Fright Break, The Punishment Poll, Coward’s Corner–when it came to cinematic hucksterism and showmanship, the man was the cinematic equivalent of P.T. Barnum. John Waters cites Castle’s influence and has a great story about looking for the Percepto buzzers when they showed The Tingler in Baltimore and getting his “ass buzzed” all day.
#2 And speaking of John Waters…
If you don’t think John Waters is a horror comedy director, then you haven’t been paying attention. Look at Pink Flamingos. Yes, it’s definitely shock shlock, especially that notorious last shot, but how is it not a horror comedy? Cannibalism, possession (of sorts), and a baby breeding ring that makes Law And Order: SVU look like feel-good family fare.
These folks are here mainly because they’ve only got one horror movie. Anna Biller (Love Witch), Kathryn Bigelow (Near Dark), Bill Gunn (Ganja & Hess).
#1 Alfred Hitchcock
Surely you knew he was gonna top out this list. I even have a tattoo of the above image. To be fair, much of Hitchcock hinges on suspense rather than straight up horror, but I still count him here. Psycho, of course, is a mainstay, as is The Birds. But there’s also Babs’s murder in Frenzy, undertones of necrophilia in Vertigo, Mrs. Danvers–one of the creepiest individuals ever written, and countless Charles Addams kinds of moments everywhere.
And there ya go, 10 directors for y’all. Rest assured there’s more a-comin’ soon. As always, drop some of your faves in the Comments.