For Episode 143, The Scariest Things examines the works of three directors that we think you should know more about. Under the radar? Maybe. Horror masters? Definitely.
The way we typically do a Podcast show, the three of us each pick three films. So, when we wanted to showcase a director, we realized we needed NINE horror films to talk about. And the list of great horror directors with that many horror-specific films are but a few. John Carpenter, Roger Corman, Guillermo Del Toro, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, William Castle, Stuart Gordon… and then who?
If you look at the greatest horror movies of all time you will quickly recognize that these films were done by directors who only had a few horror films under their belts. Some, like William Friedkin (The Exorcist), Stephen Spielberg (Jaws), Ridley Scott (Alien), Katheryn Bigelow (Near Dark), and Stanley Kubrick (The Shining) only do horror movies on occasion. Others like Jordan Peele (Us), Ari Aster (Hereditary), Mike Flanagan (Dr. Sleep), Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Julia Ducarneau (Raw), and Robert Eggers (The Witch) have created masterworks in the genre, but are reasonably early in their careers.
What we quickly recognized was that we should highlight directors that have made some of our favorite movies that might not get enough credit for being masters within the genre. So, we each picked a director who had at least three horror titles to their name that we believed deserved to be discussed.
Brian DePalma: The Thriller Master
He’s one of the greatest directors of all time, regardless of genre. DePalma emerged from the 70’s school of New Hollywood directors that included Spielberg, Lucas, Scorcese, and Coppola. A man so inspired by Alfred Hitchcock, that Mike even thinks he surpassed the original. DePalma is synonymous with the crime drama, and his associations with the likes of Al Pacino, Robert Deniro, Sissy Spacek, and Tom Cruise he has had the opportunity to work with the brightest lights in Hollywood. We do hope he will come back to horror sometime soon, as he’s very good at directing within the genre.
Alexandre Aja: The Unheralded Talent
He’s a jack of all trades within the genre. He can do raunchy lowbrow horror-comedy (Piranha 3D), successfully reboot a venerable horror franchise (The Hills Have Eyes), and do a quirky star-driven dark fantasy (Horns). Aja knows how to edit a punchy exciting film, infusing it with strong and smart protagonists, and tops it off with an ability to absolutely shock the hell out of you. And yet, he’s not yet been elevated to being a household name. With the audience and critic pleasing Crawl, perhaps he’ll get a big studio production that will elevate him to the upper pantheon of horror directors.
Pascal Laugier: The French Extremism Auteur
He doesn’t do movies very often, releasing a film every four years or so. But when he does, those movies are brilliant. His shocking, female-forward films are searing and can be hard to watch, but there is a deep intellectualism behind the shocks. Martyrs is Liz’s #1 horror movie of all time, and wanted to make sure that Mr. Laugier got his due credit.