DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #10 – #6
My 50 Favourite Directors #10 – #6
The final list will be posted on Friday, August 10!
*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*
#10. George A. Romero
What I’ve Seen: Survival of the Dead (2009), Diary of the Dead (2007), Land of the Dead (2005), Bruiser (2000), The Dark Half (1993), Monkey Shines (1988), Day of the Living Dead (1985), Creepshow (1982), Knightriders (1981), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Martin (1976), The Crazies (1973), Hungry Wives (1972), Night of the Living Dead (1968)
I have seen 14 of George A. Romero’s 15 full length feature films (I have not seen There’s Always Vanilla from 1971). Although I have seen Two Evil Eyes, I did not include it in George Romero or Dario Argento’s list. Two Evil Eyes is a collaboration between Dario Argento and George Romero featuring two horror tales based on short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Romero contributed “The Facts in the Case of Mr. Valdemar” and Argento “The Black Cat“. The films are not quite short films but are not full length features either. Just wasn’t really sure what to do with Two Evil Eyes. While it is not the perfect representation of either man’s work, it is still a bit of fun and it is certainly one of the more entertaining flicks to come out in the 90s! Romero has fewer films I gave a perfect rating to than other directors I ranked. It isn’t all about quantity; it is also about quality and passion. And I am passionate about my zombies!! Besides the original Godzilla, Dawn of the Dead is probably my most watched film of all time. I am well past counting on my fingers and toes how many times I have seen Dawn of the Dead. I have also seen Night of the Living Dead and Day of the Dead multiple times. Romero’s dead trilogy is epic. Romero basically wrote the zombie playbook. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead came out in 1968 and 100s of zombie films later, very few can top it! Really, I would say only Romero himself has ever topped his own masterpiece with my aforementioned favourite Dawn of the Dead. And “top” would be strong language as I think these two films are equally perfect. Beside Romero’s trio of undead perfection I loved The Crazies, Martin, Creepshow and Knightriders! Romero’s intense, scary and gory visions have made the world a better place to live! George A. Romero is the undisputed King of the Zombies!
#9. Ingmar Bergman
What I’ve Seen: Fanny and Alexander (1982), Autumn Sonata (1978), The Serpent’s Egg (1977), Cries & Whispers (1972), The Passion of Anna (1969), Shame (1968), Hour of the Wolf (1968), Persona (1966), The Silence (1963), Winter Light (1963), Through a Glass Darkly (1961), The Devil’s Eye (1960), The Virgin Spring (1960), The Magician (1958), Wild Strawberries (1957), The Seventh Seal (1957), Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), Summer with Monika (1953), Summer Interlude (1951)
I have seen 19 of Ingmar Bergman’s 36 full length feature films and have dug every last one. Reviewing Ingmar Bergman’s IMDB page it appears he has written the screenplays for the majority (if not all) of the films he has directed. The immensely talented Swedish director generally uses his home country for his backdrops. A cast of regulars that include Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand and Erland Josephson helped make Bergman look good with their talent and easy chemistry. Their characters question faith, morality and death whilst confronting, isolation, sexual desire, illness, duplicity and loss. Bergman’s camera gets up close and personal with long lingering close-ups of his performers. Bergman takes advantage of shadows and uses them to their full effectiveness. I am probably the only one who thinks it is a shame Bergman didn’t do horror! Bergman’s only real foray into horror was Hour of the Wolf about a man’s descent into madness; which is one of my favourite films from the director. Bergman’s crime-drama The Virgin Spring was remade by Wes Craven as a horror film and re-titled Last House on the Left. My personal favourites are the aforementioned Hour of the Wolf and The Virgin Spring, along with Shame, Persona, Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal and Through a Glass Darkly. Bergman’s films can drain me emotionally but always captivate me. Ingmar Bergman films are poetry in motion and his library is one of the finest collections I have ever had the pleasure to behold.
#8. Dario Argento
What I’ve Seen: Giallo (2009), Mother of Tears (2007), The Card Player (2004), Sleepless (2001), The Phantom of the Opera (1998), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996), Trauma (1993), Opera (1987), Phenomena (1985), Tenebre (1982), Inferno (1980), Suspiria (1977), Deep Red (1975), The Five Days (1973), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971), The Cat o’ Nine Tails (1971), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
I have seen 17 of Dario Argento’s 18 full length feature films. I have not yet seen Argento’s newest film Dracula 3D. It is more difficult these days getting excited about Argento’s new projects. His work over the last several years has been a disappointment. It is unlikely Dracula 3D will get a theatrical run here, or perhaps anywhere outside of Italy. So far 116 users on IMDB rated the film giving it an average 4.3/10. Now that we got that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, let me add that I never miss seeing an Argento film. I find a way to see every last one even if that means having to purchase it. Dario Argento is the director of three of my all-time favourite horror films; Deep Red, Tenebre and Suspiria. I have seen this trio of Argento films many times over the years and I love them as much now as I did when I discovered them in the 80s! In fact, all of Argento’s pre-90s films are superb; I would recommend any of them without hesitation. Dario Argento’s visuals are nothing short of spectacular. His wandering camera travelling along walls and windows, the way he uses color to its utmost potential, his use of light and shadow and most importantly his elaborately staged death scenes all come together to create wonderful horror masterpieces! Let us not forget the soundtracks! I have several tracks from Argento films posted on my YouTube channel and I absolutely love all his collaborations with Goblin! A good piece of music can add so much to the mood and overall feel of a film; particularly a horror film. Dario Argento is one of horrors most influential directors and is one of the prime reasons I am the huge horror fan I am today.
#7. David Lynch
What I’ve Seen: Inland Empire (2006), Rabbits (2002), Mulholland Dr. (2001), The Straight Story (1999), Lost Highway (1997), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Wild at Heart (1990), Blue Velvet (1986), Dune (1984), The Elephant Man (1980), Eraserhead (1977)
I have seen all 11 of David Lynch’s full length feature films. Lynch’s twisted, trippy, violent, dark and beautiful visions are truly one of a kind. Lynch’s hugely popular TV show Twin Peaks helped bring him to the masses. Evidently, I am a humongous fan of his television series Twin Peaks and think it is one of the best TV shows to grace the airwaves. A goddamn shame it was so short lived! I am still perplexed by the fact that David Lynch has actually had any commercial success; his stuff is pretty freaking bizarre. I am always torn on which Lynch is my ultimate favourite; Blue Velvet or Wild at Heart. Blue Velvet’s violent psychopath character Frank played by the great Dennis Hopper is one of the most memorable bastards in the history of cinema. And I think Wild at Heart is the greatest love story ever told! I also gave Lynch’s The Elephant Man, Eraserhead and The Straight Story perfect marks. The Straight Story is shockingly sentimental and accessible for Lynch but I found it positively charming! I enjoy everything Lynch has directed in varying degrees (okay Dune is iffy, but I did enjoy the visuals). Lynch has never directed a film that could be called straight-up horror but he certainly is not shy about including violent and macabre images. My biggest complaint about David Lynch is he just hasn’t directed enough films. I implore Mr. Lynch to direct at least one more great film! Lynch, like everyone in my top 10 has long been a favourite. No one but no one is quite like David Lynch; I will enjoy repeat visits to his dark paradise for the rest of my days.
#6. Alfred Hitchcock
What I’ve Seen: Family Plot (1976), Frenzy (1972), Topaz (1969), Torn Curtain (1966), Marnie (1964), The Birds (1963), Psycho (1960), North by Northwest (1959), Vertigo (1958), The Wrong Man (1956), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Trouble with Harry (1955), To Catch a Thief (1955), Rear Window (1954), Dial M for Murder (1954), I Confess (1953), Strangers on a Train (1951), Stage Fright (1950), Under Capricorn (1949), Rope (1948), The Paradine Case (1947), Notorious (1946), Spellbound (1945), Lifeboat (1944), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Saboteur (1942), Suspicion (1941), Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941), Foreign Correspondent (1940), Rebecca (1940), Jamaica Inn (1939), The Lady Vanishes (1938), Young and Innocent (1937), Sabotage (1936), Secret Agent (1936), The 39 Steps (1935), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Waltzes from Vienna (1934)
I posted a couple of pieces of music from Psycho and Vertigo on my YouTube channel early April and commented that I had not seen any of Alfred Hitchcock’s pre-1934 films; unfortunately I still haven’t. I have seen 38 of Alfred Hitchcock’s 54 full length feature films. That is the most films I have seen from any director on this list. Of course, I have a lifetime of watching Hitchcock films as both my parents were fans. Seriously, how can you not like Hitchcock? Funny, moody, thrilling, quirky, mysterious, frightening and of course, suspenseful; Hitchcock can do it all. Not only can he do it all, but he does it all so very well! Although it has been quite a few years since I watched a few of these titles, I don’t believe I have disliked a single one of the 38 titles I have seen! That is quite the amazing feat! There are definitely a few I feel particularly cozy with like Psycho, Vertigo, The Trouble With Harry, Notorious, The Wrong Man, Rope, Frenzy and The Birds. Hitchcock films are inventively filmed, they have superb stories and outstanding character development and primo performances from some of the best actors and actresses who ever lived. Alfred Hitchcock makes it okay to be voyeuristic! Hitchcock is an innovator of the highest order and is probably the most influential director on this list. Hitchcock is indeed the master of suspense and in my opinion is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time!