Before he shook horror up with his ballsy flying balls horror movie Phantasm in 1979, Don Coscarelli and his crew, including Reggie Bannister and A. Michael Baldwin, made his hilarious and touching little coming of age comedy. Gentle, charming and meandering indie movie that needs much more love.
After breaking all the rules with his 1975 medico-horror masterpiece Shivers and continuing to transgress with 1977`s Rabid, Canadian blood-slinger David Cronenberg took a sharp detour with his ultra obscure 1978 car-racing romp Fast Company. Nobody really cared, but the film is ample fun, has a stable of admirers and you can feel DC`s adoration for the sport shine through. Thankfully, however, he turned back to the macabre and bizarre immediately after with 1979`s The Brood and never looked back. Even his contemporary non-horror work is still dark and challenging and nihilistic.
Before Sean S. Cunningham set the course for the violent, body count slasher flick in 1980 with Friday the 13th, he made this shameless Bad News Bears rip-off that also features Ari Lehman - the first Jason - in a small role. The movie stinks however, a cheap and lifeless and mirthless bit of tone-deaf junk. The same, year Cunningham made his other brainless BNB riff, Here Comes the Tigers. This one is marginally better.
The year after he altered horror history with his juggernaut indie slasher Halloween, John Carpenter made one of his greatest films, this mesmerizing story of the life of The King of Rock`n`Roll. Starring a young, post-Disney Kurt Russell as Elvis, the film also marked the first film where the director and star worked together, one of the most important genre film collaborations in history.
After the worldwide success of Dawn of the Dead, George A. Romero rolled the dice for this magnificent and totally underrated bit of oddball irreverence, a King Arthur tale re-invented with motorcycles and sheer storytelling innovation. Romero has had his share of early career dalliances with non-horror like the weird psych-comedy There`s Always Vanilla and his O.J. Simpson documentary but Knightriders is a smashing success. Shame it never found its audience.
Wes Craven parlayed his wild success in the `90s with the Scream films to make this gentle, passionate docu-drama starring Meryl Streep as the real life Roberta Guaspari, who tirelessly fought for musical education in inner-city public schools. Craven got a lot of flack from hardcore horror fans for this unorthodox (for him) picture, but it`s a lovely, well crafted picture.
Though he`s not traditionally called a horror director, almost all of David Lynch`s films tread deep into the genre and have propelled and progressed the genre. But his beautiful 1999 film The Straight Story is an anomaly, a sweet, melancholy tale of ageism and brotherly love that is gently absurd but genuinely beautiful. A million miles away from Blue Velvet and Eraserhead.
Not counting his recent work in the Fast and the Furious franchise, James Wan (Insidious, Saw) is primarily noted for his work in horror. His work in 2005`s Death Sentence goes generally unnoticed and it offers some of his best directorial flourishes while also giving us a solid, fearless turn by Kevin Bacon as a man pushed well-passed the edge into violence.