scary movies The Best Horror Directors in Film History  

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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.
list ordered by

1
325 66
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Alfred Hitchcock Psycho, Shadow Of A Doubt, The Birds Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE was an English film director and producer. Often nicknamed "The Master of Suspense", he pioneered many techniques in the suspense and psychological ...more

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2
348 67
John Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
John Carpenter Halloween, The Thing, Dark Star John Howard Carpenter is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, editor and composer. Although Carpenter has worked in numerous film genres, he is most commonly associated with horror ...more

3
302 61
Wes Craven is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Wes Craven The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare On Elm Street Wesley Earl "Wes" Craven is an American film director, writer, producer, and actor known for his work on horror films, particularly slasher films. He is the creator of the A Nightmare ...more

4
227 45
George A. Romero is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
George A. Romero Night Of The Living Dead, The Crazies, Martin George Andrew Romero is an American-Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter and editor, best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about a hypothetical zombie ...more

5
183 65
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
JodyTurnbull added Stanley Kubrick The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey Stanley Kubrick was an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, and editor who did much of his work in the United Kingdom. Part of the New Hollywood film-making wave, he ...more

6
171 72
Sam Raimi is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Sam Raimi The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell Samuel M "Sam" Raimi is an American film director, producer, writer and actor, famous for directing the cult horror comedy Evil Dead series, the superhero film Darkman, and the ...more

7
152 66
James Wan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
AmmarFawazDagriri added James Wan Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious James Wan is an Australian film producer, screenwriter and film director of Malaysian Chinese descent. He is widely known for directing the horror film Saw and creating Billy the puppet. Wan has ...more

8
135 68
Tobe Hooper is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Tobe Hooper The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Lifeforce, Poltergeist William Tobe Hooper is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for his work in the horror film genre. His 1974 film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was described by Stuart ...more

9
123 71
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
David Cronenberg Shivers, Videodrome, The Fly David Paul Cronenberg, CC OOnt FRSC is a Canadian filmmaker, screenwriter, and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror or venereal horror ...more

10
87 48
William Peter Blatty is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
m32flvrs added William Peter Blatty The Exorcist, A Shot in the Dark, Exorcist II: The Heretic William Peter Blatty is an American writer and filmmaker. The Exorcist, written in 1971, is his most well-known novel; he also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, for which he won an ...more

11
92 47
James Whale is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
James Whale Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man James Whale was an English film director, theatre director and actor. He is best remembered for his four classic horror films: Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man and Bride of ...more

12
119 65
Dario Argento is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Dario Argento The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Suspiria Dario Argento is an Italian film director, producer and screenwriter. He is best known for his work in the horror film genre, particularly in the subgenre known as giallo, and for his influence ...more

13
103 61
Clive Barker is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Clive Barker Nightbreed, Tortured Souls, Lord of Illusions Clive Barker is an English writer, film director, and visual artist best known for his work in both fantasy and horror fiction. Barker came to prominence in the mid-1980s with a series of short ...more

14
114 74
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Guillermo del Toro Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo del Toro Gómez is a Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. In his filmmaking career, del Toro has alternated between Spanish-language dark fantasy pieces, ...more

15
116 75
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Roman Polanski Repulsion, The Tenant, Rosemary’s Baby Roman Polanski is a Polish and, since 1976, naturalized-French film director, producer, writer, and actor. Having made films in Poland, the United Kingdom, France and the United States, he is ...more

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111 58
Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Brian De Palma Carrie, Dressed To Kill, The Fury Brian Russell De Palma is an American film director and screenwriter. In a career spanning over 40 years, he is probably best known for his suspense and crime thriller films. He directed ...more

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81 44
Robert Wise is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Robert Wise The Body Snatcher, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting Robert Earl Wise was an American film director, producer and editor. He won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for both West Side Story and The Sound of Music. He was also ...more

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73 53
Roger Corman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Roger Corman A Bucket Of Blood, The Fall Of The House Of Usher, The Masque Of The Red Death Roger William Corman is an American independent film producer, director and actor. He has mostly worked on low-budget B movies. Much of Corman's work has an established critical reputation, such ...more

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83 57
Joe Dante is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Joe Dante Piranha, The Howling, Gremlins Joseph "Joe" Dante, Jr. is an American film director, producer, editor and actor. His films—notably Gremlins —often mix fantastical storylines with comedic elements. Dante's films ...more

20
62 35
F. W. Murnau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
F. W. Murnau Phantom, Desire, Nosferatu Friedrich Wilhelm "F. W." Murnau Murnau was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and Ibsen plays he had seen at the age of 12, and became a friend of director Max ...more

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64 42
Hideo Nakata is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Hideo Nakata Ringu, Ringu 2, Dark Water Hideo Nakata is a Japanese filmmaker.

22
67 44
Tom Holland is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Tom Holland Fright Night, Child's Play, Fatal Beauty Tom Holland is an American director, writer and actor known for directing and writing horror movies like Psycho II, Fright Night, Child's Play and Thinner.

23
69 45
Mario Bava is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Mario Bava Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Blood And Black Lace Mario Bava was an Italian director, screenwriter, special effects artist and cinematographer from the "golden age" of Italian horror films. His work kick-started the giallo film genre ...more

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63 37
Terence Fisher is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Terence Fisher The Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Revenge Of Frankenstein Terence Fisher was a film director who worked for Hammer Films. He was born in Maida Vale, a district of London, England.

25
65 45
Lucio Fulci is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Lucio Fulci Zombi 2, The Black Cat, The Beyond Lucio Fulci was an Italian film director, screenwriter and actor. He is perhaps best known for his gore films, including Zombi 2 and The Beyond, although he made films in genres as diverse as ...more

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John Landis is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
John Landis An American Werewolf in London, Into the Night, Slasher John David Landis is an American film director, screenwriter, actor, and producer. He is known for his comedy films, his horror films, and his music videos with Michael Jackson. He directed ...more

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78 53
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
David Lynch Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr. David Keith Lynch is an American film director, television director, visual artist, musician, actor, and author. Known for his surrealist films, he has developed a unique cinematic style. The ...more

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61 44
Takashi Shimizu is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Takashi Shimizu The Grudge, Ju-On: The Curse, Reincarnation Takashi Shimizu is a Japanese filmmaker. He is best known for being the creator of the Japanese Ju-on series and American The Grudge franchise. According to film scholar Wheeler Winston Dixon, ...more

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53 41
Tod Browning is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Tod Browning London After Midnight, Dracula, Freaks Tod Browning was an American motion picture actor, director and screenwriter. Browning's career spanned the silent and talkie eras. Best known as the director of Dracula, the cult classic ...more

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27 9
Dan O'Bannon is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added Dan O'Bannon Alien, Aliens, Total Recall Return of the Living Dead, The Resurrected, Daniel Thomas "Dan" O'Bannon was an American motion-picture screenwriter, director and occasional actor, usually in the science fiction and horror genres.

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22 6
Steve Miner is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Michael Myers added Steve Miner Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th Part 2 Stephen C. "Steve" Miner is an American film and television director, film producer and a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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81 74
Eli Roth is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Eli Roth Cabin Fever, Hostel, Hostel: Part II Eli Raphael Roth is an American film director, producer, writer and actor. He is known for directing the horror film Hostel and its sequel, Hostel: Part II. He is also known for his role as ...more

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52 45
Takashi Miike is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Takashi Miike Audition, Ichi, The Killer Takashi Miike is a highly prolific and controversial Japanese filmmaker. He has directed over ninety theatrical, video, and television productions since his debut in 1991. Miike is credited with ...more

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93 92
Rob Zombie is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Rob Zombie House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Halloween Rob Zombie is an American musician, film director, screenwriter and film producer. He rose to prominence as a founding member of the band White Zombie which formed in the mid-1980s and rose to ...more

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22 9
Robert Aldrich is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added Robert Aldrich The Dirty Dozen, The Longest Yard, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? Whatever happened to Baby Jane?, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte Robert Burgess Aldrich was an American film director, writer and producer, notable for such films as Vera Cruz, Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Knife, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Hush… Hush, Sweet ...more

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49 39
Stuart Gordon is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Stuart Gordon Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls Stuart Gordon is an American director, writer and producer of films and plays. Most of Gordon's film work is in the horror genre, though he has also ventured into science fiction and film noir. ...more

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60 73
M. Night Shyamalan is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
JodyTurnbull added M. Night Shyamalan The Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable Manoj Shyamalan, known professionally as M. Night Shyamalan, is an Indian and American screenwriter, film director, producer and occasional actor known for making movies with contemporary ...more

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20 11
Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Kyle Fowler added Tim Burton Batman, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands Timothy Walter "Tim" Burton is an American film director, producer, artist, writer, and animator. He is known for his dark, gothic, macabre, and quirky horror and fantasy films such as ...more

39
41 37
Jacques Tourneur is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Jacques Tourneur Cat People, I Walked With A Zombie, The Leopard Man Jacques Tourneur was a French-American film director known for a series of low-budget horror films he made for RKO Studios, including Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie and The Leopard Man.

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36 41
Fritz Lang is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Fritz Lang The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang was a German-Austrian filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor. One of the best known émigrés from Germany's ...more

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42 51
Leigh Whannell is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
AmmarFawazDagriri added Leigh Whannell Insidious 3 Leigh Whannell is an Australian screenwriter, producer, director and actor. He is best known for writing films directed by his friend James Wan, including Saw, Dead Silence, Death Sentence, ...more

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18 25
Alexandre Aja is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Alexandre Aja The Hills Have Eyes, High Tension, Piranha 3D Alexandre Aja is a French film director who rose to international stardom for his 2003 horror film Haute Tension. He has also directed the horror films The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors, Piranha 3D ...more

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17 22
Georges Franju is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
mliddell added Georges Franju Eyes Without a Face, The Moment of Peace, Blood of the Beasts Georges Franju was a French filmmaker. He was born in Fougères, Ille-et-Vilaine.

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29 45
Kiyoshi Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Kiyoshi Kurosawa Séance, The Cure, Pulse Kiyoshi Kurosawa is a Japanese film director, screenwriter, film critic and a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts. He is best known for his many contributions to the Japanese horror

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28 41
Michael Haneke is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Michael Haneke Funny Games, Hidden, The White Ribbon Michael Haneke is an Austrian film director and screenwriter best known for films such as Caché, Funny Games, The White Ribbon and Amour. His films often document the discontent and ...more

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17 29
Shinya Tsukamoto is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
levalex88 added Shinya Tsukamoto Ichi the Killer, Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer Shinya Tsukamoto is a Japanese film director and actor with a considerable cult following both domestically and abroad.

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Ruggero Deodato is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Ruggero Deodato Jungle Holocaust, Cannibal Holocaust, Phantom of Death Ruggero Deodato is an Italian film director and screen writer. During his career, he ranged different genres like peplum, comedy, drama, poliziottesco and science fiction, but he is best known ...more

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9 17
Kathryn Bigelow is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker, Point Break, Zero Dark Thirty Near Dark Kathryn Ann Bigelow is an American film director, film producer, screenwriter and television director. Her films include the vampire Western horror film Near Dark, the action crime film Point ...more

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19 28
Robert Wiene is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Robert Wiene Fear, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Raskolnikow Robert Wiene was an important film director of the German silent cinema. He is particularly known for directing the influential German silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and a succession of ...more

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8 21
Kevin Smith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Cablogula added Kevin Smith Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Kevin Smith is a film producer.