Last time we’ve met we dabbled a bit in “the written word“ concept of our favorite genre. It was clear right from the beginning that we can’t base our conclusions on just one art form. This becomes even clearer if we keep in mind that there are those among us who don’t really like to read, but are devoted horror movie fans, and vice versa. So, with the purpose of being as objective as possible, we are here to gather more evidence in order to reach the proper and just verdict. So, let’s talk about our favorite movies and their directors.
If you don’t know the last name of Britain’s most influential horror director of all times, you can tune out right here. Go read a chick-lit novel or something, because you most certainly are not a true horror fan. For those of you who stuck around, yes, it’s his highness, Alfred Hitchcock. One of the most innovative and prolific figures in the history of cinema, he made movies that thrived on suspense and true deep horror. From creepy ones like Spellboud (1945), that root themselves in your subconscious fears, to those openly horrifying like, The Birds (1963), Hitchcock gave us some true gems that set course for the genre.
We can’t talk about the British horror and fail to mention the work of great James Whale. Whale gave us four biggest classics of horror: Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), and his unprecedented masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein (1935). His name is less known than Hitchcock’s probably because he was so adamant about leaving his “horror director shadow” behind him in his later work.
Some say that repetition is the mother of skill. I’ll try to exercise that notion by mentioning our beloved Clive Barker again. In 1987, Barker brought his bold, nightmarish vision to life when he directed the iconic Hellraiser. This movie managed to mix dark sensuality with the grossest visuals of the 80s, and as a result, we got a cult movie that will gain followers for decades to come. Barker moved on to direct Nightbreed (1990) which flopped, but it featured yours truly David Cronenberg in one of the supporting roles, so it wasn’t all bad. In 1995, Barker directed the awesome Lord of Illusions, which I warmly recommend. Currently, Barker is developing a movie based on his novelette, Tortured Soles, famous for its terrifyingly realistic action figures.
Last, but not least, we have to recognize the great work of Neil Marshall. He gave us the impressive and entertaining, Dog Soldiers (2002), which quickly gained worshipers all over the world and became a cult movie. Later on, he directed some other great films such as The Descent (2005) and Doomsday (2008). Right now, he’s working on a movie about legendary Hellboy, so there’s another thing we can look forward to.
Michael Powel, Peeping Tom (1960)
Nicolas Roeg, Don’t Look Now (1973)
Robin Hardy, The Wicker Man (1973)
I’ve decided to start with the director whose work made me fall in love with movies in general, Wes Craven. His enormous impact in the horror genre remains undisputed. He revolutionized horror moviemaking technique and bent the genre until he reinvented it. With his directorial debut, The Last House on the Left (1972), it was clear that Wes was either headed for stardom, or he was never going to work again. He was ostracized and boycotted due to the heavy, graphic violence and scandalous content. Luckily, that didn’t stop Craven. He moved on to direct The Hills Have Eyes (1977), and eventually A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) which became one of the most fertile franchises to date. Wes Craven made many more movies that became horror classics, but we must mention Scream (1996), whose fourth sequel was Cravens last effort as a director.
Next, we have a director whose influence will echo through the genre for years to come, Tobe Hooper. From the undeniable high-quality gore in the magnificent The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), to spine-chilling eeriness of Poltergeist (1982), Tobe Hooper gave us solely the best of horror genre traits. Ridley Scott once said that his work on Alien was majorly influenced by Hooper’s, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Nevertheless, we should also mention the terrific Salem’s Lot (1979), which was based on the famous Stephen King’s novel, as well as the Funhouse (1981), Night Terrors (1993) and much more.
By now you’re probably starting to get worried that I forgot John Carpenter. Fear not my fellow horror freaks, here he is. John Carpenter is a living legend of horror moviemaking. His unique, utilitarian approach as a soundtrack composer and as a director, set the templates on which the best horror movies are made. Always raw and blood-curdling, some of his masterpieces include Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), The Thing (1982), Vampires (1998), and much more.
We end this unique journey through horror movie genre with another icon, Sean S. Cunningham. He made our favorite first Friday the 13th in 1980, and he’s been an ongoing movie making success since then. A Stranger is Watching (1982), The New Kids (1985), DeepStar Six (1989) and Trapped Ashes (2006) are just some of his notable directorial works.
William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist (1973)
Stanley Kubrick, The Shining (1980)
Sam Raimi, The Evil Dead (1981)
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