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My Top 20 Favorite Filmmakers

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One aspect of the Halloween season I enjoy very much is the lining-up of horror movies, as many as possible, to watch throughout the month.  Already this October I’ve sat down to watch two classic Halloween season essentials, Night Of The Living Dead (1968) and The Changeling (1980), plus a not-so-traditional horror film, the much more recent Trollhunter (2010).  

This year, my October must-see viewing list also includes Black Sunday (1960), Psycho (1960), Black Sabbath (1963), The Omen (1976), Dawn Of The Dead (1978), Halloween (1978), Alien (1979), Halloween II (1981), Creepshow (1982), Poltergeist (1982), Psycho II (1983), and Land Of The Dead (2005).

While contemplating which delightfully frightful features to feast my eyes upon this month, I started thinking about my favorite film directors - and what contributions they’ve made to the horror genre.  Behold my Top 20 Favorite Filmmakers list (at this time – subject to change without notice).

20.  Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal.  My favorite films:  Delicatessen (1991), A Very Long Engagement (2004).

19.  Tobe Hooper
Contribution to the horror genre:  Major.  My favorite films:  The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), The Funhouse (1981), Poltergeist (1982), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Toolbox Murders (2004).

18.  Larry Fessenden
Contribution to the horror genre:  Major.  My favorite films:  No Telling (1991), Habit (1995), Wendigo (2001), The Last Winter (2006).

17.  Franklin J. Schaffner
Contribution to the horror genre:  None.  My favorite films:  Planet Of The Apes (1968), Patton (1970), Papillon (1973).

16.  Darren Aronofsky
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal.  My favorite films:  Pi (1998), Requiem For A Dream (2000), The Fountain (2006), The Wrestler (2008).

15.  John Carpenter
Contribution to the horror genre:  Major.  My favorite films:  Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape From New York (1981), The Thing (1982).

14.  Paul Thomas Anderson
Contribution to the horror genre:  None.  My favorite films:  Boogie Nights (1997), There Will Be Blood (2007).

13.  Michael Mann
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal.  My favorite films:  Manhunter (1986), Heat (1995), The Insider (1999), Collateral (2004).

12.  David Lynch
Contribution to the horror genre:  Difficult to tell.  My favorite films:  Eraserhead (1977), The Elephant Man (1980), Lost Highway (1997), The Straight Story (1999).

11.  Ridley Scott
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal but important.  My favorite films:  Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Thelma & Louise (1991).

10.  Alfred Hitchcock
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal but important for horror / major for murder mystery / thriller.  My favorite films:  Saboteur (1942), Strangers On A Train (1951), I Confess (1953), Rear Window (1954), North By Northwest (1959), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), Torn Curtain (1966).

9.  Mario Bava
Contribution to the horror genre:  Major / criminally underrated.  My favorite films:  Black Sunday (1960), Hercules In The Haunted World (1961), Black Sabbath (1963), Planet Of The Vampires (1965), Knives Of The Avenger (1966), Kill, Baby, Kill (1966), Baron Blood (1972), Rabid Dogs (1974).

8.  William Friedkin
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal but important.  My favorite films:  The French Connection (1971), The Exorcist (1973), To Live And Die In L.A. (1985), Bug (2006).

7.  Terrence Malick
Contribution to the horror genre:  None.  My favorite films:  Badlands (1973), Days Of Heaven (1978), The Thin Red Line (1998), The Tree Of Life (2011).

6.  David Cronenberg
Contribution to the horror genre:  Major.  My favorite films:  Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979), Fast Company (1979), The Dead Zone (1983), Videodrome (1983), The Fly (1986), A History Of Violence (2005), Eastern Promises (2007).

5.  David Fincher
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal.  My favorite films:  Se7en (1995), Fight Club (1999), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (2008), The Social Network (2010), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011).

4.  George A. Romero
Contribution to the horror genre:  Major / game changing.  My favorite films:  Night Of The Living Dead (1968), The Crazies (1973), Martin (1976), Dawn Of The Dead (1978), Knightriders (1981), Creepshow (1982), Day Of The Dead (1985), Land Of The Dead (2005).

3.  Francis Ford Coppola
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal.  My favorite films:  Dementia 13 (1963), The Godfather (1972), The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Conversation (1974), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Outsiders (1983), Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Youth Without Youth (2007).

2.  Sidney Lumet
Contribution to the horror genre:  None.  My favorite films:  12 Angry Men (1957), Long Day's Journey Into Night (1962), Serpico (1973), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), Network (1976), The Verdict (1982), Power (1986), Before The Devil Knows You're Dead (2007).

1.  Stanley Kubrick
Contribution to the horror genre:  Minimal but important.  My favorite films:  Paths Of Glory (1957), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Eyes Wide Shut (1999).

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze

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