Graveyard Shift 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
529 127
John Carpenter is listed (or ranked) 1 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

2
471 124
Alfred Hitchcock is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
471 102
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 "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
348 84
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
297 130
Stanley Kubrick is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
257 124
Sam Raimi is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
293 114
James Wan is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
226 109
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
217 97
David Cronenberg is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
204 102
Guillermo del Toro is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
206 93
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
155 86
Clive Barker is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
133 71
James Whale is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
126 77
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
159 80
Brian De Palma is listed (or ranked) 15 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

16
154 107
Roman Polański is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

17
115 61
Robert Wise is listed (or ranked) 17 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

18
105 75
Roger Corman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

19
120 64
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
108 61
Tom Holland is listed (or ranked) 20 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.

21
116 75
Joe Dante is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
125 69
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
106 64
Lucio Fulci is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
94 65
Hideo Nakata is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Ringu, Ringu 2, Dark Water Hideo Nakata is a Japanese filmmaker.

25
104 72
John Landis is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

26
80 54
F. W. Murnau is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

27
58 23
Dan O'Bannon is listed (or ranked) 27 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.

28
84 54
Terence Fisher is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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.

29
85 63
Takashi Shimizu is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

30
80 59
Tod Browning is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

31
69 39
Tim Burton is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
139 127
Rob Zombie is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

33
78 63
Takashi Miike is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

34
107 108
M. Night Shyamalan is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
JodyTurnbull added 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

35
78 54
Stuart Gordon is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

36
119 107
Eli Roth is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

37
49 25
Steve Miner is listed (or ranked) 37 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.

38
57 52
Jacques Tourneur is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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.

39
52 57
Fritz Lang is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

40
37 41
Alexandre Aja is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

41
28 31
Robert Aldrich is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added The Dirty Dozen, The Longest Yard, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? 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

42
54 73
Leigh Whannell is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
AmmarFawazDagriri added Insidious 3, Upgrade 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

43
46 61
Ruggero Deodato is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

44
38 60
Michael Haneke is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

45
13 13
Mike Flanagan is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
Mike Flanagan Oculus, Absentia, Before I Wake Mike Flanagan is a film director, editor, producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, film score composer, and actor.

46
35 67
Kiyoshi Kurosawa is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

47
21 41
Georges Franju is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
mliddell added 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.

48
31 44
Robert Wiene is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
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

49
21 49
Shinya Tsukamoto is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
levalex88 added 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.

50
17 39
Kathryn Bigelow is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Horror Directors in Film History
punksnotdead added 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