A while back, I ranked my Top Directors of All Time. This list digs even further, looking at my favorite directors in one of my favorite genres: horror! (NOTE: Want a more appropriate list of Halloween films for kids? Click here!
His proclivities and perversions notwithstanding, the man has made some of the best psychological thrillers, mysteries and even comedies of any filmmaker alive. I can think of no one else whose films reflect such a deeply nuanced comprehension of paranoia and claustrophobia, whose work resonates with such an immediate understanding of the mechanics of human fear. His Repulsion ranks as one of the most viscerally unsettling movies I have ever seen, and it features almost no dialogue, only one central performance, and not even a whole lot of actual incident or action.
Also Rankedsee more on Roman Polanski
There are so many superior thrillers with his name attached, it's near-impossible to even name them all without IMDB handy. There's so much to say about Hitch's genius, I could write 100 blog posts, but what I've always appreciated about his sensibility best is his playfulness. He was making movies about murder, spycraft, intrigue and betrayal, and yet all of his films find ways to work in humor and a sense of fun, letting you know that there was someone behind the scenes having a terrible amount of fun.
Also Rankedsee more on Alfred Hitchcock
There's just some aspect of human life that is only explored in horror films like those of David Cronenberg - the odd collision of biology and psychology, of brain and flesh, and a sort of universal existential paranoia often referred to as "body horror." Cronenberg films pit protagonists not against some external enemy, but against their own bodies and minds. The enemy is within ourselves, which in many ways is scarier than any sort of black lagoon creature or invisible man. Plus, the man is just a natural filmmaker whose movies are trippy, genuinely frightening, full of tremendous effects work and visual imagination, and even eerily beuatiful in spots.
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Like Big Trouble, and with the exception of his massively creepy remake of The Thing, Carpenter films aren't typically that scary, but they were always amazingly fun to watch, sly and creepy little treasures suffused with Carpenter's sarcastic sense of humor and healthy fondness for camp.
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