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The Best Horror Directors in Film History  

Ranker Film
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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.

You might also enjoy this list of action directors.

list ordered by
1
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Psycho, Shadow Of A Doubt, The Birds
Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and producer, widely regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known ...more
2
John Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Halloween, The Thing, Dark Star
John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter and composer. Although Carpenter has worked with various movie genres, he is associated most commonly with ...more
3
Wes Craven is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare On Elm Street
Wesley Earl Craven (August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015) was an American film director, writer, producer, and actor. He was known for his pioneering work in the genre of horror films, particularly ...more
4
George A. Romero is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Night Of The Living Dead, The Crazies, Martin
George Andrew Romero (; February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an American filmmaker, writer and editor. He is best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about an imagined ...more
5
Sam Raimi is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell
Samuel M. Raimi (born October 23, 1959) is an American filmmaker, actor, and producer, primarily known for creating the cult horror Evil Dead series, and directing the Spider-Man trilogy ...more
6
James Wan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
AmmarFawazDagriri added Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious
James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is a Malaysian-born Australian film director, screenwriter, and producer.Wan is known for directing the horror film Saw (2004) and creating Billy the Puppet. He ...more
7
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
JodyTurnbull added The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick (; July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. He is frequently cited as one of the most influential filmmakers in cinematic ...more
8
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, Pan’s Labyrinth
Guillermo del Toro Gómez (Spanish: [ɡiˈʝeɾmo ðel ˈtoɾo]; born October 9, 1964) is a Mexican filmmaker, author, actor, and former special effects makeup artist. He is best known for ...more
9
Tobe Hooper is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Lifeforce, Poltergeist
Willard Tobe Hooper (January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017) was an American director, screenwriter, and producer best known for his work in the horror genre. Among his most recognized films are The ...more
10
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Shivers, Videodrome, The Fly
David Paul Cronenberg (born March 15, 1943) is a Canadian filmmaker, writer, and actor. He is one of the principal originators of what is commonly known as the body horror genre, with his films ...more
11
James Whale is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Frankenstein, The Old Dark House, The Invisible Man
James Whale (22 July 1889 – 29 May 1957) was an English film director, theater director and actor, who spent the greater part of his career in Hollywood. He is best remembered for several horror ...more
12
Dario Argento is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red, Suspiria
Dario Argento (Italian: [ˈdaːrjo arˈdʒɛnto]; born 7 September 1940) is an Italian film director, producer, film critic and screenwriter. He is best known for his work in the horror film genre ...more
13
Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Kyle Fowler added Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Dark Shadows
Timothy Walter Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American filmmaker, artist, writer, and animator. He is known for his dark, gothic, and eccentric horror and fantasy films such as Beetlejuice ...more
14
Clive Barker is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Nightbreed, Tortured Souls, Lord of Illusions
Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English writer, film director, and visual artist. Barker came to prominence in the mid-1980s with a series of short stories, the Books of Blood, which ...more
15
Robert Wise is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
The Body Snatcher, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting
Robert Earl Wise (September 10, 1914 – September 14, 2005) was an American film director, producer, and editor. He won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for both West Side Story ...more
16
William Peter Blatty is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
m32flvrs added The Ninth Configuration, The Exorcist III
William Peter Blatty (January 7, 1928 – January 12, 2017) was an American writer and filmmaker best known for his 1971 novel The Exorcist and for the Academy Award-winning screenplay of its film ...more
17
Tod Browning is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
London After Midnight, Dracula, Freaks
Tod Browning (born Charles Albert Browning Jr.; July 12, 1880 – October 6, 1962) was an American film actor, film director, screenwriter and vaudeville performer. Browning's career spanned the ...more
18
Mario Bava is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Black Sunday, Black Sabbath, Blood And Black Lace
Mario Bava (31 July 1914 – 27 April 1980) was an Italian cinematographer, director, special effects artist and screenwriter, frequently referred to as the "Master of Italian Horror" ...more
19
F. W. Murnau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Phantom, Desire, Nosferatu
Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (born Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe; December 28, 1888 – March 11, 1931) was a German film director. He was greatly influenced by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and ...more
20
Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Carrie, Dressed To Kill, The Fury
Brian Russell de Palma (born September 11, 1940) is an American film director and screenwriter. With a career spanning over 50 years, he is best known for his work in the suspense, psychological ...more
21
Roman Polanski is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Repulsion, The Tenant, Rosemary’s Baby
Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański (born 18 August 1933) is a French-Polish film director, producer, writer, and actor. Since 1978, he has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system, ...more
22
Tom Holland is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Fright Night, Child's Play, Fatal Beauty
Tom Holland (born July 11, 1943) is an American screenwriter, actor, and filmmaker best known for his work in the horror film genre, penning the 1983 sequel to the classic Alfred Hitchcock film ...more
23
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Dr.
David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, musician, actor, and photographer. He is best known for the acclaimed films Blue Velvet (1986) and Mulholland Drive ...more
24
Dan O'Bannon is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added The Return of the Living Dead, The Resurrected
Return of the Living Dead, The Resurrected, Daniel Thomas O'Bannon (September 30, 1946 – December 17, 2009) was an American film screenwriter, director, visual effects supervisor, and occasional actor, usually in the science fiction and ...more
25
Steve Miner is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Michael Myers added Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left, Friday the 13th Part 2
Stephen C. "Steve" Miner (born June 18, 1951) is an American director of film and television, film producer, and a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is ...more