Graveyard Shift The Best Horror Directors in Film History  

Ranker Film
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11.6k votes 1.3k voters 61.7k views 55 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.
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list ordered by

1
570 139
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
506 108
Wes Craven is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
508 135
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
368 91
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
327 138
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
281 128
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
323 121
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
245 113
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
242 100
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
224 109
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
227 97
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
171 91
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
136 82
William Peter Blatty is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
141 77
James Whale is listed (or ranked) 14 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

15
169 85
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
164 113
Roman Polanski 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
121 66
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
119 67
Tom Holland is listed (or ranked) 18 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.

19
129 78
Joe Dante is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
109 81
Roger Corman is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
142 71
David Lynch is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
127 70
Mario Bava is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
117 67
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
117 75
John Landis is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
98 71
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.