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The Best Horror Directors in Film History

Updated January 19, 2021 16.2k votes 2.0k voters 78.8k 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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  • John Carpenter1
    785
    191

    John Carpenter

    Halloween, The Thing

    BirthplaceCarthage, New York, United States of America

    Age71

    John Howard Carpenter (born January 16, 1948) is an American filmmaker, screenwriter and...  more
  • George A. Romero2
    520
    134

    George A. Romero

    Night Of The Living Dead, The Crazies

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Age79

    George Andrew Romero (; February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an American filmmaker, writer...  more
  • Wes Craven3
    699
    168

    Wes Craven

    The Last House On The Left, The Hills Have Eyes

    BirthplaceCleveland, Ohio, United States of America

    Age80

    Wesley Earl Craven (August 2, 1939 – August 30, 2015) was an American film director, writer,...  more
  • Alfred Hitchcock4
    661
    204

    Alfred Hitchcock

    Psycho, Shadow Of A Doubt

    BirthplaceLeytonstone, London, United Kingdom

    AgeDec. at 81 (1899-1980)

    Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980) was an English film director and...  more
  • Sam Raimi5
    398
    180

    Sam Raimi

    The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness

    BirthplaceRoyal Oak, Michigan, United States of America

    Age61

    Samuel M. Raimi (born October 23, 1959) is an American filmmaker, actor, and producer,...  more
  • Dario Argento6
    322
    128

    Dario Argento

    The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, Deep Red

    BirthplaceRome, Italy

    Age79

    Dario Argento (Italian: [ˈdaːrjo arˈdʒɛnto]; born 7 September 1940) is an Italian film...  more
  • James Wan7
    518
    214

    James Wan

    Saw, The Conjuring

    BirthplaceKuching, Malaysia

    Age43

    James Wan (born 26 February 1977) is a Malaysian-born Australian film director, screenwriter,...  more
  • David Cronenberg8
    341
    145

    David Cronenberg

    Shivers, Videodrome

    BirthplaceToronto, Canada

    Age76

    David Paul Cronenberg (born March 15, 1943) is a Canadian filmmaker, writer, and actor. He is...  more
  • Guillermo del Toro9
    341
    155

    Guillermo del Toro

    Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone

    BirthplaceGuadalajara, Mexico

    Age56

    Guillermo del Toro Gómez (Spanish: [ɡiˈʝeɾmo ðel ˈtoɾo]; born October 9, 1964) is a Mexican...  more
  • James Whale10
    212
    101

    James Whale

    Frankenstein, The Old Dark House

    BirthplaceDudley, United Kingdom

    AgeDec. at 68 (1889-1957)

    James Whale (22 July 1889 – 29 May 1957) was an English film director, theater director and...  more
  • Stanley Kubrick11
    473
    213

    Stanley Kubrick

    The Shining, A Clockwork Orange

    BirthplaceNew York City, Area code 917, Contiguous United States, New York, United States of America

    AgeDec. at 71 (1928-1999)

    Stanley Kubrick (; July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, screenwriter,...  more
  • Tobe Hooper12
    350
    147

    Tobe Hooper

    The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Lifeforce

    BirthplaceAustin, Texas, United States of America

    Age76

    Willard Tobe Hooper (January 25, 1943 – August 26, 2017) was an American director,...  more
  • Mario Bava13
    182
    90

    Mario Bava

    Black Sunday, Black Sabbath

    BirthplaceSanremo, Italy

    AgeDec. at 66 (1914-1980)

    Mario Bava (31 July 1914 – 27 April 1980) was an Italian cinematographer, director, special...  more
  • Brian De Palma14
    222
    114

    Brian De Palma

    Carrie, Dressed To Kill

    BirthplaceNewark, New Jersey, USA

    Age80

    Brian Russell de Palma (born September 11, 1940) is an American film director and...  more
  • David Lynch15
    192
    98

    David Lynch

    Eraserhead, Blue Velvet

    BirthplaceMissoula, Montana, United States of America

    Age74

    David Keith Lynch (born January 20, 1946) is an American filmmaker, painter, musician, actor,...  more
  • Clive Barker16
    242
    128

    Clive Barker

    Nightbreed, Tortured Souls

    BirthplaceLiverpool, United Kingdom

    Age67

    Clive Barker (born 5 October 1952) is an English writer, film director, and visual artist....  more
  • Tod Browning17
    140
    75

    Tod Browning

    London After Midnight, Dracula

    BirthplaceLouisville, Kentucky, United States of America

    AgeDec. at 82 (1880-1962)

    Tod Browning (born Charles Albert Browning Jr.; July 12, 1880 – October 6, 1962) was an...  more
  • Tom Holland18
    182
    90

    Tom Holland

    Fright Night, Child's Play

    BirthplaceNew York City, USA, New York, Poughkeepsie

    Age76

    Tom Holland (born July 11, 1943) is an American screenwriter, actor, and filmmaker best known...  more
  • Tim Burton19
    188
    116

    Tim Burton

    Sleepy Hollow, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

    BirthplaceBurbank, California, United States of America

    Age62

    Timothy Walter Burton (born August 25, 1958) is an American filmmaker, artist, writer, and...  more
  • Lucio Fulci20
    163
    91

    Lucio Fulci

    Zombi 2, The Black Cat

    BirthplaceTrastevere, Italy

    AgeDec. at 69 (1927-1996)

    Lucio Fulci (Italian: [ˈlutʃo ˈfultʃi]; 17 June 1927 – 13 March 1996) was an Italian film...  more
  • Terence Fisher21
    118
    72

    Terence Fisher

    The Curse Of Frankenstein, Dracula

    BirthplaceMaida Vale, London, United Kingdom

    AgeDec. at 76 (1904-1980)

    Terence Fisher (23 February 1904 – 18 June 1980) was a British film director remembered for...  more
  • Robert Wise22
    144
    100

    Robert Wise

    The Body Snatcher, The Day the Earth Stood Still

    BirthplaceWinchester, White River Township, Indiana, United States of America

    AgeDec. at 91 (1914-2005)

    Robert Earl Wise (September 10, 1914 – September 14, 2005) was an American film director,...  more
  • M. Night Shyamalan23
    209
    144

    M. Night Shyamalan

    The Sixth Sense, Signs

    BirthplaceMahé, India, India

    Age50

    Manoj Nelliyattu "M. Night" Shyamalan (born August 6, 1970) is an American filmmaker and...  more
  • Steve Miner24
    118
    54

    Steve Miner

    Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left

    BirthplaceUSA, Westport, Connecticut

    Age68

    Stephen C. "Steve" Miner (born June 18, 1951) is an American director of film and television,...  more
  • William Peter Blatty25
    178
    119

    William Peter Blatty

    The Ninth Configuration, The Exorcist III

    BirthplaceNew York City, New York, United States of America

    Age91

    William Peter Blatty (January 7, 1928 – January 12, 2017) was an American writer and filmmaker...  more