Graveyard Shift

The Best Horror Directors in Film History  

Ranker Film
Originally by
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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.

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list ordered by
1
Wes Craven is listed (or ranked) 1 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 "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
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 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
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
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 is an American-Canadian film director, film producer, screenwriter and editor.
5
James Wan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
AmmarFawazDagriri added 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
6
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
JodyTurnbull added 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
7
Sam Raimi is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
8
Tobe Hooper is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
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, 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
11
Dario Argento is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
12
Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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 thriller films. He directed successful ...more
13
Clive Barker is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
William Peter Blatty is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
m32flvrs added 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
15
James Whale is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
16
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
17
Tom Holland is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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.
18
Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Kyle Fowler added 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
19
Mario Bava is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
20
Steve Miner is listed (or ranked) 20 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 is an American film and television director, film producer and a member of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences.
21
Dan O'Bannon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added 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.
22
Joe Dante is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
23
Robert Wise is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
24
Lucio Fulci is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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
25
Hideo Nakata is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Ringu, Ringu 2, Dark Water
Hideo Nakata is a Japanese filmmaker.