Everybody’s got their favorite directors, but most if not all of the cinemaniacs among us can point to a few and say “I’d watch anything they put out, no questions asked.” My own list of such directors is surprisingly thin. For one thing, many of my favorite directors, giants like Hitchcock, William Castle, Tobe Hooper, and Ed Wood have gone to that great studio in the sky.
Still, I was able to drum up a number of directors whose movies I’ll watch just because they directed them. Sadly, I chose to leave off non-horror directors like Tarantino, the Coen brothers, and Wes Anderson (though I hasten to add that I can’t wait for The French Dispatch to hit next week). That being said, here are my Top 10 Directors I’ll Watch Automatically.
#10 Lloyd Kaufman
Ah yes, the Mel Brooks of Z-movie horror and a showman every bit the caliber of William Castle. The first time I laid eyes on The Toxic Avenger, I was hooked for good on The Aroma From Troma
#9 M. Night Shyamalan
I’m expecting some grief for this one. He’s batting about .500 (at least that’s the view from up here in the cheap seats). But when he hits, man it’s good. Sure, for every Sixth Sense or Split, there’s a Happening or The Village. But I’m also a fan of some of his more unfairly panned stuff like Signs. Hell, I even kinda like Lady In The Water.
#8 Takashi Miike
Say what you want about Miike, but the man is prolific. He’s also not limited to horror. Regardless, I’ll watch anything the guy shoots. Funny story, back when I worked at the late great Naro Video, a woman came in and asked my co-worker, another big horror fan, what he would recommend for someone just getting started with horror. Me, I’d have gone with something along the lines of Roger Corman/Vincent Price, maybe even some William Castle. But no, my man went straight for Audition. It’s a bold choice, but definitely not where I’d have started. Come to think of it, I don’t recall ever seeing her again.
#7 Jordan Peele
This guy made me a fan right outta the box with Get Out which I saw several times during its initial run, and several more once it hit home media. His follow-up made his inclusion here pretty much a no-brainer. Get it? Brain? Get Out? Anyone?
#6 Ben Wheatley
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that Wheatley is the 21st Century’s answer to Ken Russell. He’s not tied exclusively to horror, but when he does do horror, it can be a trippy, phantasmagorical ride along the lines of Kill List and A Field In England. And damn, it’s gutsy taking on Hitchcock, but I can’t wait to give his remake of Rebecca a shot.
#5 David Cronenberg
No way I could put together a list like this without the undisputed master of body horror. From the drippy gooeyness of The Fly to the much subtler implied abnormalities of Dead Ringers, Cronenberg is a genius when it comes to getting us to squirm in our seats. But this isn’t his only note. A History Of Violence and A Dangerous Method trade the physical for the psychological.
#4 Jen and Sylvia Soska
Also no way I was gonna talk about Cronenberg and leave The Twisted Twins off this list. I was, ahem, hooked the second I sat down and watched American Mary, and jumped immediately from there to Dead Hooker In A Trunk. I may have even been first in line when their remake of Rabid opened down the block at Naro Cinema. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again Croneneberg’s Shivers is dying for a remake, and I’d love nothing better than to see these two sink their teeth into it.
#3 Guillermo del Toro
Here’s another director who’s as versatile as he is watchable. His take on horror is unique in terms of how human and vulnerable he can make his “monsters” and how inhuman and monstrous he can make the same movie’s people. Aside from the superfun kaiju-osity of Pacific Rim, I have yet to see a monster in a Del Toro movie that I didn’t side with at least a little.
#2 Ari Aster
Like Jordan Peele, Aster had me from the opening minutes of Hereditary, and I saw Midsommar at least 4 times in the theater. The misdirected focus on Charlie in Hereditary led to one of the greatest WTF!? moments of all time, and Midsommar just gets creepier every time I see it. There’s a fair bit or rumor-milling about his next project, including talk of Joaquin Phoenix. Whatever it is, I’m here for it.
Pedro Almodóvar, Dario Argento, Charles Band, Mike Flanagan, William Friedkin, Stuart Gordon, Brian Yuzna
#1 David Lynch
If Alfred Hitchcock were alive, he’d be #1. Since he’s not, there’s nobody else I can possibly put here other than David Lynch. What puts him here is how deeply troubling and disturbing his horror can be despite (or maybe even because of) the fact that you generally don’t see a helluva lot of monsters, possessions, or even the paranormal. Sometimes combining body horror, noirish human awfulness, and straight up weirdness, what sets Lynch apart is just how far he can push human behavior to truly bizarro extremes while managing to make his characters remain believably human.
And that’s the Top 10 for this week. How about you? What directors will you run to the second their movie drops without so much as a flicker of doubt? Tell us below in the Comments.