There are only so many filmmakers who can maintain successful careers, especially genre filmmakers. Mediocre, uninspired "artists" seem to come and go as frequent as the seasons. For every John Carpenter you’ve got a dozen Meir Zarchi’s; for every David Cronenberg there’s a small legion of Doris Wishman’s in tow. It’s just the natural order of things, and most of us have come to accept this as law of the land.
Fortunately for loyal genre followers, a few extremely talented directors have emerged over the last decade, and it’s about time consumers recognized their genius.
10. Jon Knautz: Here we go again, praing Jon Knautz’s work like a giddy fan-boy. I can’t help myself, this fellow has bona fide talent, and he’s dishing it out in the form of kick ass features and appealing shorts. Knautz has already shown a sound understanding of utilizing a minimal budget; both Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer and The Shrine are fine examples of refined horror, and both were shot with shoe-string limitations.
9. Rob Zombie: I can hear the screams of rage already. Yes, Rob Zombie, arguably the most recognizable name on this list, lands near the bottom of the heap. Rob’s proven he’s extremely pasonate about horror, but he’s yet to prove that he can make a masterpiece of a film.
House of 1000 Corpses was fun, but the majority of that story really wasn’t Rob’s. Zombie’s initial Halloween reimagining was an entertaining film, but again, the majority of that story doesn’t belong to Rob. I thoroughly enjoyed the animated comedy/horror/homage piece, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto, while I thought Halloween II was a deluded piece of trash with more filler than genuine substance. Perhaps the upcoming feature, The Lords of Salem will prove to be the picture I’ve been waiting for Mr. Zombie to deliver.
Regardless of my personal opinion, there’s no doubt Zombie’s name will rede on the tongues of fans, for years to come. He’s already earned himself an insane cinematic following, and if he can manage that without having made a genuinely great film, just imagine the posbilities.
Zack Snyder: Zack Snyder truly defines the term “hit or miss”; the 2004 remake of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead was absolutely mesmerizing, and managed to actually improve upon a true clasc feature. 300 lacked genuine depth, but was a lot of fun and offered some incredibly slick visuals, as did Watchmen, though I’m certain the average viewer might hetate to label it “fun”. Snyder’s latest effort, Sucker Punch is another feature to blend numerous genres; sadly the script is borderline intolerable, as is the final product itself.
When Snyder leans on his love of horror, he’s superb and memorable. When he’s given too much free room to explore his own limitations, he seems to fall flat on his face. Here’s hoping Zack steers clear of the screenwriting for a while and focuses on high quality scripts from seasoned scribes; if he does that, and chooses to return to the genre, we’re practically guaranteed a fine film.
7. Matt Reeves: Matt’s been in the buness nce the mid 1990’s, but he opted to (for the most part) steer clear of the genre until recently, when he crashed headfirst on the scene with the impresve found footage flick, Cloverfield.
Cloverfield is a sensational film, but it doesn’t necessarily redefine the monster-attacks-metropolis idea, it just makes for a successful contemporary take on the subject, with some insanely cool visuals (the severed Statue of Liberty head scene is one of the best scenes I’ve caught in some time) and nister creatures on display. Reeves followed Cloverfield up with a solid American interpretation of Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In, aptly titled Let Me In, and he’ll once again travel to the dark de for the recently announced Cloverfield sequel.
6. Neil Marshall: When Neil’s vion is clear and precise, he’s absolutely brilliant. The Descent is one of the greatest monster movies to surface in recent memory, and Dog Soldiers was a fun, freaky little werewolf flick that ranks amongst the best of them. That said, every now and then Marshall seems to miss the mark (a la Doomsday) and offer up confused, jumbled cinema. As long as he’s focused, he’s one of the finest filmmakers in the industry today.
5. James Wan: James is a proming talent that’s had the pedal to the metal from day one. This Malayan mastermind crafted the original Saw, which many will argue is one of the most important genre offerings we’ve seen nce the 1980’s (although I’m not a huge Saw fan, I would surely be one to argue for that point).
The creepy doll flick, Dead lence failed to capture the adoration of the masses, but it’s an enjoyable film, and a sound follow-up to Saw. Death Sentence, though not a horror film is insanely bleak, and Kevin Bacon is as fantastic as he’s ever been. Wan’s most recent feature, Indious, is another fine piece of work that not only exceeded my personal expectations, it performed surpringly well at the box office, which could one day merit a sequel; Here’s hoping Wan is aboard for that, should it ever happen.
4. Christopher Smith: Smith is one of the least appreciated active filmmakers in the buness. Why genre followers have opted to ignore this man is beyond me, as he’s been nearly flawless up to this point. Creep, Severance and Black Death are absolutely awesome pictures that bolster a sense of genuine replay value. Even his weakest effort, Triangle, is an intriguing piece of art that’s rich in story and stacked with noteworthy performances. Whatever this gentleman touches turns into genre gold, it’s just time the masses acknowledged it.
3. Adam Green: You’d have to be stuck in a decade long coma to justify a lack of Adam Green knowledge. The man has been one of the most talked about genre commodities nce the release of Hatchet.
Speaking of Hatchet, Green released an amung follow-up last year; it wasn’t the beautifully vicious tribute that its predecessor was, but it’s a good time all the same. In the four years between the two, Green filmed the chilling (pun intended) Frozen, and the surpringly sleek chiller Spiral, both of which are far superior to the majority of genre flicks to hit the public market these days. With a third Hatchet film in the early production stages, Green (who hasn’t yet committed to directing the third installment) is poised to emerge as the genres top dog.
2. Alexandre Aja: Aja’s first foray into mainstream horror, Haute Tenon, shook the horror community to the core; it was brutally violent, and unforgiving in every sense of the word. A wicked plot twist left many viewers on the fence, but it’s a twist that’s delivered effectively, and it adds to the memorability of the picture.
If Haute Tenon didn’t win you over, perhaps the ultra-violent remake of The Hills Have Eyes (which is actually superior to Wes Craven’s original 1977 feature of the same title), or the goofy, over-the-top raunchfest Piranha 3D tapped a nerve; both are wildly enjoyable pictures. While I’m not a big fan of Aja’s take on the Korean creeper, Into the Mirror (mply titled Mirrors) I know plenty who’d happily challenge me to a fist-fight were I to bash the film in this piece. Any way you shake a stick at it, this is an immensely talented filmmaker with nothing but upde to anticipate.
1. Eli Roth: Eli Roth is inarguably one of the most influential men to bless the genre in decades. His unforgiving Hostel features are eyed as perfectly grim companion pieces to the Saw series, and his feature length directorial debut, Cabin Fever is a fault-free example of a modern gorefest; commercial cinema doesn’t get much more disgusting than this, I absolutely guarantee it.
Roth’s tendency to produce favorable genre pieces has made him an endearing figure, and his occaonal onscreen appearance keeps him fresh in the minds of moviegoers. No matter what angle Roth uses, he’s become a pivotal character to those who cherish genre pieces; it just so happens that in addition to the acting and producing, he’s a damn fine filmmaker.