On Facebook earlier I asked our community members who do you consider a new Master of Horror which was a preparation piece for this editorial. Many directors claim to be masters of horror but lets be honest that is not a title they can bestow on themselves it is one that we as fans give to them.
What makes a master of horror? Well that truly is the million dollar question. The first thing about a master of horror is it has NOTHING to do with money. Some of the greatest genre directors of our time have not made any significant dent at the box office but have managed to create some of the most memorable horror movies of our time.
Please make note I said ‘New’ Masters of Horror which is why names like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper and George Romero are not on the list. Perhaps we will do another list looking at the greatest masters of horror of all time and those names will surely make the list.
So with that said here is my list of 10 New Masters of Horror. Some have had some serious contributions and others are just getting their feet weet. All of them however are incredible talents. Whether you agree with this list or disagree with it I think we can all agree that every director on this list has contributed positively to the horror genre.
TI West is well on his way to becoming a legend in the genre. He has directed many genre titles that have polarized passionate fans. The Innkeepers split fans 50/50 with half of fans loving it and the other half groaning. The House of the Devil however which Ti West wrote and directed is quickly becoming a genre classic with fans.
Ti West has two more horror films in development The Sacrament and The Side Effect and it is safe to say that all horror fans should keep their eyes peeled on both projects.
Xavier Gens has only just begun putting his toe into the horror genre and I cant wait until he really gets a chance to throw himself into the genre. His first film the french terror flick Frontiere’s is a classic good vs evil crime thriller with a mixture of political intrigue, neo-nazi’s and a deranged family of killers all wrapped in a 90 minute blood bath.
Xavier Gens followed up Frontiere’s with the apocalyptice nightmare ‘The Divide’ which is one of the 10 best apocalyptic films I have ever seen. Its violent, visceral and very real and will make you feel sick to your stomach. Its a violent and real look at how the end of the world might go down. Although Xavier’s films have not raked in huge box office dollars his talent is immense. Xavier Gens has two horror films in the works The Farm and Cold Skin both slated for a 2014 release.
Adam Green is a genius because of his flexibility as a filmmaker. He is not a one trick pony like so many genre directors these days. Most of you will know him for his American horror HATCHET which was a huge hit with genre fans. Hatchet was and is a throw back to classic American horror like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. HATCHET was fun but it was by no means the movie that put Adam Green on the top of my list for his filmmaking skill. SPIRAL did that.
Adam Green followed up HATCHET with SPIRAL which is a jaw dropping film. SPIRAL is the closest thing to Hitchcock that modern horror fans can experience and showed that Adam Green can do much more then just splash blood on the screen. Hatchet was pretty mindless so imagine my shock when he turned around and released SPIRAL which was the complete opposite.
Adam Green’s last film FROZEN was an ecological horror film that impressed the hell out of me but admittedly turned off some horror fans who prefer their terror more classical in nature. When the New York Times interviewed me and asked me what my favorite ecological horror films are Adam Green’s FROZEN was on the list. Adam Green is incredibly talented and is definitely a modern master of horror.
Steven C Miller first hit horror fans radar with his indie zombie film Automaton Transfusion. Boy did I hate that movie for its nauseating ‘grindhouse grain’ effect. Regardless of the fact it made me sea sick horror fans loved it and it instantly pushed him to the top of peoples minds as a talented up and coming film director.
That was in 2006 and he made his return in 2012 with two big movies a remake of Silent Night and an original horror film Aggression Scale. Remakes make us all groan but lets not forget that not all remakes are garbage some filmmakers have managed to take the classics and rework them while still showing respect for the original and its fans.
Silent Night is a remake of a classic christmas terror from the 80′s and Steven managed to add his own brutal spin to it while still paying respects to the original. The reason I think that Silent Night works is primarily because they tapped a director that loves the genre as much as we do. Steven’s passion for horror showed in Silent Night where he managed to create his own elements without destroying the classic.
Soon as the remake was released Steven Miller released The Aggression Scale and original horror film shot on a limited budget. Aggression Scale made my list of Top Horror Films of 2012 and can be best described as Halloween meets Home Alone. The writing and visual style of this film demonstrated Steven Miller’s unique vision and the final product is the main reason Steven Miller is on this list.
Steven Miller’s next kick at the genre can will be Under The Bed a monster movie that appears to pay hommage to the classic teen monster flicks of the 90′s. I think that Steven C Miller is an under rated director who may not have earned Master of Horror status but will if he keeps making movies like Aggression Scale and Automaton Transfusion. His many excellent horror short films alone will prove that point!
Alexander Aja first hit my radar with High Tension. Brutal, well written and a real thrill ride it was the first French film I had seen in many years that got me excited. Aja then went on to write the parking garage thriller P2 which to me was alot of fun and a great twist on the ‘stalker’ genre.
From there he did Mirrors with Keifer Sutherland which is one of the few recent supernatural ghost story films I can say I really enjoyed. Aja really hit a high mark when he directed Piranha 3D which was the ultimate 3D b-movie. Alexandre Aja’s films have made over $110million at the box office which is a staggering amount of payola!
I find some of Eli Roth movies incredibly over hyped but you cant take away from the fact that he was really one of the first to get the mainstream press buzzing in North America about extreme horror and how it was ‘torture porn’.
Eli Roth has directed three noteable horror films, Hostel, Hostel Part 2 and Cabin Fever.
I really enjoyed Cabin Fever despite its haters and although HOSTEL was way over hyped on how ‘terrifying’ it was it was still a solid movie and one of Eli Roth’s best works. Eli Roth’s films have grossed over $100million when you include The Last Exorcism which he produced.
Tough to put Neil Marshall on a ‘New Masters of Horror’ list but considering he has only recently really started to crank out movies I think its fair. He made the classic horror movie Dog Soldiers in 2002 and then followed up with The Descent in 2005 and Doomsday in 2008.
He also has credit as writing The Descent Part 2 which holds the unique distinction of being one of the few sequels almost as good as the original. All 3 films that he has directed are the definition of fantastic filmmaking and show Neil’s clear talent for filmmaking and why he deserves to sit in the directors chair. His horror films have made just over $50million at the Box Office.
James Wan is a name that deserves to make the list for SAW alone but unfortunately one good film cant make a director a master of horror even if that movie is SAW. James Wan who wrote and directed SAW followed it up with another killer puppet in the form of Dead Silence which frankly sucked.
His follow up to that though put Kevin Bacon back on the map in Death Sentence. SAW was a thrill ride from start to finish, Dead Silence was complete garbage and Death Sentence was a throw back to classic revenge films of the Bronson era and in two words, kicked ass.
James Wan’s last kick at the box office was with Insidious which was a polarizing film. Fans either loved it or they hated it and there seemed to be very little middle ground. Insidious was a huge success however bringing in $50million at the box office. Overall James Wan’s films have made studios over $140million.
Pascal really hasn’t done alot of films but he has been in talks to do a TON of films including at one time the Hellraiser remake. His big claim to distinction is Martyrs one of the most disturbing horror films ever made. He also directed House of Voices which unfortunately I have not seen.
His latest kick at the horror movie can was The Tall Man which starred Jessica Biel. It was an interesting and complex thriller which did not live up to Martyrs level quality but was still a solid movie. Pascal Laugier’s contribution to the box office has been very small but much like Richard Stanley that doesn’t take away from the fact that he is a hybrid of all the best traits of Eli Roth and Neil Marshall.
I cant wait to see what Pascal does with his next film.
There is no denying that despite what his haters might say Rob Zombie did a great job with his early films. The Devils Rejects and House of 1000 Corpses are fantastic films that define good genre horror filmmaking. Unfortunately Rob Zombie also got himself involved in a remake of Halloween which I think was his undoing with some of the die hard horror fans.
I will be the first to stand up and say that Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween was actually pretty solid. I expected a train wreck and he turned in a solid flick which added a new spin on one of the most iconic horror characters. Unfortunately Rob Zombie’s followup Halloween 2 was not something worth talking about.
Love or hate Rob Zombie he has made studios and producers a ton of money raking in over $140million at the box office with the bulk of that coming from his Halloween remake. In the process of making studios a boat load of money Rob Zombie has also made some very innovative horror films including his latest Lords Of Salem.
Now that you have read my list who have I forgotten? Who would you have added or removed?