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The Best Horror Directors in Film History

Updated January 19, 2021 16.2k votes 2.0k voters 79.8k views57 items

This list of the best horror directors in film history has ranked by the community as the absolute best in the genre. This list features the film industry’s best horror directors of all time and includes pictures and titles of their best horror films. Who are the absolute best horror directors in film history? The directors on this list have made some of the scariest, most frightening movies ever.

This list details the best horror directors in history and many of these directors have received numerous awards for their best work. The directors featured here are from all around the world and from different time periods in history. Many are still currently creating amazing films in the horror genre today.

This list features the film industry’s best horror directors and includes great directors like Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock, George A. Romero, David Lynch, David Argento, Mario Brava, John Carpenter, James Whale, and Terence Fisher, Roman Polanski.

Vote up the best horror film directors ever or add the director of scary horror movies you think is best, if he or she isn't already on the list.

You might also enjoy this list of action directors.

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  • 1
    782
    187

    John Carpenter

    Halloween, The Thing
    John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter and...  more
  • 2
    694
    165

    Wes Craven

    The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes
    Wesley Earl Craven (August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015) was an American film director, writer,...  more
  • 3
    649
    200

    Alfred Hitchcock

    Psycho, Shadow Of A Doubt
    Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and...  more
  • 4
    519
    131

    George A. Romero

    Night Of The Living Dead, The Crazies
    George Andrew Romero (; February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an American filmmaker, writer...  more
  • 5
    344
    142

    David Cronenberg

    Shivers, Videodrome
    David Paul Cronenberg (born March 15, 1943) is a Canadian filmmaker, writer, and actor. He is...  more
  • 6
    400
    178

    Sam Raimi

    The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness
    Samuel M. Raimi (born October 23, 1959) is an American filmmaker, actor, and producer,...  more
  • 7
    512
    214

    James Wan

    Saw, The Conjuring
    James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is a Malaysian-born Australian film director, screenwriter,...  more
  • 8
    348
    143

    Tobe Hooper

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Lifeforce
    Willard Tobe Hooper (January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017) was an American director,...  more
  • 9
    342
    151

    Guillermo del Toro

    Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone
    Guillermo del Toro Gómez (Spanish: [ɡiˈʝeɾmo ðel ˈtoɾo]; born October 9, 1964) is a Mexican...  more
  • 10
    215
    100

    James Whale

    Frankenstein, The Old Dark House
    James Whale (22 July 1889 – 29 May 1957) was an English film director, theater director and...  more
  • 11
    321
    129

    Dario Argento

    The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red
    Dario Argento (Italian: [ˈdaːrjo arˈdʒɛnto]; born 7 September 1940) is an Italian film...  more
  • 12
    463
    209

    Stanley Kubrick

    The Shining, A Clockwork Orange
    Stanley Kubrick (; July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, screenwriter,...  more
  • 13
    183
    89

    Mario Bava

    Black Sunday, Black Sabbath
    Mario Bava (31 July 1914 – 27 April 1980) was an Italian cinematographer, director, special...  more
  • 14
    223
    115

    Brian De Palma

    Carrie, Dressed To Kill
    Brian Russell de Palma (born September 11, 1940) is an American film director and...  more
  • 15
    197
    101

    David Lynch

    Eraserhead, Blue Velvet
    David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, musician, actor,...  more
  • 16
    244
    127

    Clive Barker

    Nightbreed, Tortured Souls
    Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English writer, film director, and visual artist....  more
  • 17
    190
    117

    Tim Burton

    Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
    Timothy Walter Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American filmmaker, artist, writer, and...  more
  • 18
    141
    77

    Tod Browning

    London After Midnight, Dracula
    Tod Browning (born Charles Albert Browning Jr.; July 12, 1880 – October 6, 1962) was an...  more
  • 19
    180
    89

    Tom Holland

    Fright Night, Child's Play
    Tom Holland (born July 11, 1943) is an American screenwriter, actor, and filmmaker best known...  more
  • 20
    161
    92

    Lucio Fulci

    Zombi 2, The Black Cat
    Lucio Fulci (Italian: [ˈlutʃo ˈfultʃi]; 17 June 1927 – 13 March 1996) was an Italian film...  more
  • 21
    148
    98

    Robert Wise

    The Body Snatcher, The Day the Earth Stood Still
    Robert Earl Wise (September 10, 1914 – September 14, 2005) was an American film director,...  more
  • 22
    117
    71

    Terence Fisher

    The Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula
    Terence Fisher (23 February 1904 – 18 June 1980) was a British film director remembered for...  more
  • 23
    206
    150

    M. Night Shyamalan

    The Sixth Sense, Signs
    Manoj Nelliyattu "M. Night" Shyamalan (born August 6, 1970) is an American filmmaker and...  more
  • 24
    123
    51

    Steve Miner

    Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left
    Stephen C. "Steve" Miner (born June 18, 1951) is an American director of film and television,...  more
  • 25
    169
    96

    Joe Dante

    Piranha, The Howling
    Joseph James Dante Jr. (; born November 28, 1946) is an American film director, producer,...  more