DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #5 – #1

My 50 Favourite Directors #5 – #1

This is it…the final five! Two things bothered me a wee bit when I reviewed my final list; I only had two Canadian directors and no women at all in my entire top 50. I did shortlist the Canadian directors Denys Arcand, Bruce McDonald and Atom Egoyan, but to be honest I did not have any women shortlisted. I even tried to reach for a woman or two to add. I loved Mary Harron’s American Psycho, Patty Jenkins’ Monster, Sophia Coppolla’s Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation and Lucrecia Martel’s The Headless Woman. Alas, at the end of the day the women just did not have enough credits for films I loved. So the list is what it is. You can really consider every single director in my top 10 a number one! Starting on Monday August 13 it will be all about the zombies in anticipation of the 2012 Vancouver Zombie Walk on August 18! Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! Zombies right through to the end of the month! If you have any zombie art, books, trailers, shorts or pics I would be happy to post them during the next few weeks with a link! BRAINS!!!!

*NOTE: I did not include any made for TV movies in the numbers I used for each director’s full-length feature films.*

#5. Mario Bava

What I’ve Seen: Shock (1977), Rabid Dogs (1974), Lisa and the Devil (1974), Baron Blood (1972), Bay of Blood (1971), Hatchet for the Honeymoon (1970), 5 Dolls for an August Moon (1970), Danger: Diabolik (1968), Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966), Kill Baby, Kill (1966), Viking Massacre (1966), Planet of the Vampires (1965), Blood and Black Lace (1964), The Whip and the Flesh (1963), Black Sabbath (1963), The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963), Hercules in the Center of the Earth (1961), Black Sunday (1960), I vampiri (1956), Ulysses (1954)

I have seen 20 of Italian director Mario Bava’s 30 full length feature films. Mario Bava paved the way for every great horror and Giallo director. His film The Girl Who Knew Too Much is generally considered the first Gialli and his film Bay of Blood is considered one of the first of the slasher sub-genre! Apparently Bava’s Planet of the Vampires was the inspiration for Ridley Scott’s Alien! Horror in Italy might have been a completely different looking beast if it was not for the groundbreaking film work and effects of Mario Bava; evidently Bava created all his own special effects for his films! My personal favourite Bava is Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Bay of Blood, Kill Baby, Kill, The Girl Who Knew Too Much, The Whip and the Flesh and Black Sabbath. I actually enjoyed in varying degrees all 20 of Mr. Bava’s films I’ve seen! I highly recommend checking out the documentary Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre. I happen to think “Maestro of the Macabre” is a great title for the brilliant multifaceted Mario Bava!

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#4. Akira Kurosawa

What I’ve Seen: Dreams (1990), Ran (1985), Kagemusha (1980), Dersu Uzala (1975), Dodes’ka-den (1970), Red Beard (1965), High and Low (1963), Sanjuro (1962), Yojimbo (1961), The Hidden Fortress (1958), Throne of Blood (1957), I Live in Fear (1955), Seven Samurai (1954), Ikiru (1952), The Idiot (1951), Rashômon (1950), Stray Dog (1949), The Quiet Duel (1949), Drunken Angel (1948), No Regrets for Our Youth (1946)

I have seen 20 of Akira Kurosawa’s 31 full-length feature films. Kurosawa is probably Japan’s best known director; he was certainly one of the first I had ever heard of. Kurosawa is hard-core hands-on in the making of his films. Kurosawa acts as not only director, but screenwriter, producer, and editor. He was a stickler for accuracy in everything from his period piece costumes to his fight scenes and went to infamous lengths to achieve perfection. Kurosawa was well-known for using multiple cameras which had the most phenomenal effect; particularly in fight scenes like the spectacular battle in the rain in Seven Samurai! Not every Kurosawa film is about Samurai/Ronin but a good chunk of my personal favourites are. What can I say? I love a Samurai! My favourite Kurosawa films are Seven Samurai, High and Low, Yojimbo, Throne of Blood, The Idiot, The Hidden Fortress and Rashômon. Every single film on this list is at very least good. Every freaking single one! I am also extremely fond of Kurosawa’s three handsome regular actors Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura and Tatsuya Nakadai! Akira Kurosawa’s films are stunning and engrossing masterpieces; the man is a bloody legend!

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#3. Sergio Leone

What I’ve Seen: Once Upon a Time in America (1984), A Genius, Two Friends, and an Idiot (1975), My Name is Nobody (1973), A Fistful of Dynamite (1971), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), For a Few Dollars More (1965), A Fistful of Dollars (1964), The Colossus of Rhodes (1961)

I have seen 9 of Italian film director, producer and screenwriter Sergio Leone’s 13 full-length feature films. I was really surprised when I initially learned Leone had only directed 13 full length feature films! The man is such a legend in my mind and heart I guess I just expected the list to be more grand. It may be a small list but it sure is mighty! Sergio Leone is best known for his considerable contributions to the “Spaghetti Western” genre. I am still exploring the Italian westerns but with just about every Django film and perhaps a half dozen others, I am still waiting for one to top Leone’s quartet of perfection; Once Upon a Time in the West, A Fistful of Dynamite, For a Few Dollars More and My Name is Nobody. I literally love every single one of the 9 films I’ve seen from Sergio Leone; outside of the quartet of perfection I am especially keen on Once Upon a Time in America and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly! So much is said with visuals in Leone’s films which have very spare dialogue. Leone also understands the importance of music in a film and Ennio Morricone’s brilliant scores truly are the ultimate compliment! Whilst perusing another blog, I found myself watching Grover from Sesame Street explaining “near” and “far” with visuals. It made me think of Sergio Leone! Yep. Sergio Leone and Grover should have teamed up because Leone also likes to visualize “near” and “far”! Extreme close-up on Clint’s face, a distance shot of three duellers, close up shot of another face, and another distance shot. You get the gist! I also happen to think that Leone more than anyone else has put the slow-mo shot to its best and most effective use! And of course the cast of amazing talented actors is icing on the cake. I absolutely love Sergio Leone and his beautiful, violent epic contributions!

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#2. Lucio Fulci

What I’ve Seen: Voices from Beyond (1991), Demonia (1990), Nightmare Concert (A Cat in the Brain) (1990), Zombi 3 (1988), Touch of Death (1988), Aenigma (1987), Murderock (1984), The New Gladiators (1984), Manhattan Baby (1982), The New York Ripper (1982), The House by the Cemetery (1981), The Beyond (1981), The Black Cat (1981), City of the Living Dead (1980), The Smuggler (1980), Zombi 2 (1979), The Psychic (1977), The Four of the Apocalypse (1975), Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972), The Eroticist (1972), Lizard in a Woman’s Skin (1971), Perversion Story (1969)

I have seen 22 of Lucio Fulci’s 53 full length feature films. Fulci has directed films in a variety of genres but I have concentrated mainly on his magnificent horror entries. From his brilliant 70s Giallo Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling and The Psychic to his groovy gorefest Zombi 2 which would unleash a series of gruesomely entertaining delights like City of the Living Dead, The Beyond, House by the Cemetery and The New York Ripper. Four of Fulci’s films are on my top 100 favourite horror films of all time; Lizard in a Woman’s Skin, Don’t Torture a Duckling, The Beyond and Zombi 2. Not all of Fulci’s horror is as magnificent as the aforementioned but what shines is 100% gold! Practical gore effects really turn me on! Fulci’s visuals are superb. He does some pretty trippy stuff in his early 70s films and of course there is his deliciously gag-worthy gore effects and makeup in his later stuff. His zombies are the cream of the crop with the addition of real worms and maggots! I freaking love it!! One of the great masters of the horror genre who has earned his nickname The Godfather of Gore!

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#1. David Cronenberg

What I’ve Seen: Cosmopolis (2012), A Dangerous Method (2011), Eastern Promises (2007), A History of Violence (2005), Spider (2002), eXistenZ (1999), Crash (1996), M. Butterfly (1993), Naked Lunch (1991), The Fly (1986), The Dead Zone (1983), Videodrome (1983), Scanners (1981), The Brood (1979), Fast Company (1979), Rabid (1977), Shivers (1975)

I have seen 18 of Canadian director David Cronenberg’s 20 full length feature films. I have not seen David Cronenberg’s first two films; Crimes of the Future (1970) and Stereo (1969). I dig this term “body horror” that has been associated with Cronenberg’s horror films big time. Although “venereal horror” also has a nice ring to it! Cronenberg so beautifully melds the physical with the psychological and it certainly makes for a unique viewing experience. The kind of experience that burrows under the skin and stays with you for days on end. I recently did a post called Fifty Wishes: The horror film edition. My number twenty-five wish was that David Cronenberg would make another horror film. Not that Cronenberg’s non-genre films haven’t been good. As a matter of fact I loved Naked Lunch, Eastern Promises and especially Dead Ringers. I know there is a strong argument that Dead Ringers is a horror film but I really consider it more of a psychological thriller. In any case, it is a freaking awesome film! But Cronenberg won my heart with his horror films; Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Videodrome and The Fly. That is a hell of a horror quintet! Cronenberg’s wild, weird, wonderful and grotesque films are the holy grails of horror. Not only is David Cronenberg a bloody Canadian national treasure he is one of the most dauntless, imaginative and unique directors working today.

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23 Responses to “DUNGEON DIRECTOR PROJECT: My 50 Favourite Directors #5 – #1”

  1. Very awesome way to cap off this feature!

  2. Great conclusion, After reading it I need to watch more of Cronenberg’s movies

    • Cronenberg is awesome…if you like horror you definitely should check out his early stuff…I think it is all fantastic!

  3. THis has been a pretty awesome feature. You’ve come up with a pretty unique list that screams “cinephile”.

    Akira Kurosawa – Oh yeah… Like Hitchcock he has made a lot of films that are classics that every cinephile should have watched like Seven Samurai, Stray Dog, Throne of Blood, Dreams. Those are my favourites. Sometimes I find him a little too heavy handed when compared to his contemporary directors.

    Sergio Leone – I had no idea he made so few films either. I grew up on spaghetti westerns thanks to my mother’s taste in films and I always have time for his films.

    Lucio Fulci – Better than Sono, Miike, and the other Japanese directors on this list? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! You’re a horror fan though so it’s understandable – not John Waters though… City of the Living Dead and Zombi 2 are entertaining enough.

    David Cronenberg – Nice choice for your number 1. His films are intelligent, imaginative and pretty influential. And very icky. Out of the few films of his I have not seen I need to watch The Brood.

    • Zombi 2 and City of the Living Dead…entertaining enough? What the?? I’ll always be a horror fan first and cinephile second. Fulci is freaking awesome! Cronenberg is immensely talented…you should definitely check out The Brood! But I think you know by now, I way prefer the older stuff to the newer stuff. A good chunk of these 50 directors shuffled off of this mortal coil some goodly time ago! The top 10 have all been directors I have loved most of my life if not all of it.

      • Could you explain the ending to City of the Living Dead for me. I was totally with it until after the survivors got out of the catacombs and then the film lost me. Also… that city was not full of the living dead enough to justify the title 😛

        • Not really! Frankly I don’t think Fulci could answer that question! They have to close the gate to Hell before All Saints Day and everything else is gore and atmospheric filler as far as I can figure.

          • I can go with that… Although I don’t need a film to explain everything to me, after I watched City of the I really wanted to know why it ended that way…

            I mean… I was totally okay with the ending to Kurosawa’s film Retribution.

          • Some of Fulci’s films are infamously illogical….you are not the first viewer nor will you be the last to question the illogicalness.

  4. No shout out to Spider? That’s gotta be my favorite “Crone”…

    • I liked Spider…but I’m all about the horror when it comes to Cronenberg. I really should revisit Spider again though, it has been a few years since I last gave it a watch.

  5. Excellent list, I love all 5, and it’s great too see Cronenberg on top. Also somehow I never noticed you were a fellow Vancouverite, cool.

    • Mutual…I also did not know you were a Vancouverite! In my 3 + years of having this blog, I had not met a single Vancouverite until I started the twitter thing last December! Most of my traffic has come from US and UK! I bet we have been at plenty of the same Film Festival events! I usually make a point of seeing at least one film for the Latin American film fest and Queer Film Fest, and try to see as many as I can afford at DOXA and VIFF! I see at least one or two films every month at Cinematheque too! Some nice weather we’ve been having ain’t it?!

      • It’s strange, I expected there to be a lot more of us around. I live in the burbs so I don’t get out to a ton of events, but do try to see as many at VIFF as I can too. And yes, it’s been great weather the last few weeks. Hope it stays this way for most of September.

  6. Great finale to this awesome project. Once again,all five are favorites. Mario Bava is probably my all-time favorite director. I’ve loved his work since I was a kid in the 1960’s. I think I’ve seen just about everything Bava directed. I sorta,kinda knew he was going to be in your top five,and I’m very happy about that! Same with Lucio Fulci! House by the Cemetary and The Beyond(and that knockout ending) are two masterpieces of 1980’s horrordom.

  7. These are all awesome choices, and I love that they’re very Goregirl-y, if that makes sense. Kurosawa is easily one of my top five. I’ve got a friend right now who’s just now diving into his stuff and he keeps coming back to me- “Yojimbo was awesome! What should I do next?”. Then a few days later: “Rashomon was awesome!”… “Ikiru!”… “Seven Samurai!”

    You can never ever go wrong with Leone, although I have to admit that (like Fulci and Bava) I need to see much more from him.

    I started hitting up Cronenberg movies about a year ago. I don’t think I’d ever seen anything he’d made. Then within a few months, I’d banged out almost everything. He’s a really cool director, sort of a smart viewer’s horror maven.

  8. Ah, you’ve been busy lately. You’re probably not the only film buff that has a hard time getting female directors on their list of fave directors. I think I only have one female director on my list of fave directors – Catherine Breillat. (You’re probably already familiar with her, but I will assume you’re not, just so that I can clearly explain why I’m a big fan of her’s). Well, I do need to see more of her movies, before she earns an official spot on my list. But the two films I’ve seen – were terrific. Those films were so pessimistic, and even nihilistic – that she can give the best male director a run for their money, as far as making bleak films goes. She is often accused of misogyny – and I would say Romance was a misogynistic film. But as long as you don’t agree with the misogynistic viewpoints in her films, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy her movies. And I REFUSE to believe that she herself is misogynistic!

    As far as my fave (and possible fave) Canadian directors go:

    I can tell that Denys Arcand will make my list SOMEDAY (I’ve had my eye on a bunch of his movies for years, BUT I haven’t seen any yet!).

    I’ve seen a few Atom Egoyan films (The Adjuster, The Sweet Hereafter) and loved them (and I liked a few other movies he did). Egoyan will end up on my list, after I see more of his films – I KNOW IT!

    Bruce McDonald is officially on my list – after I saw Hard Core Logo, there was no way he could be kept off the list (and I have enjoyed a few of his other films as well).

    Someday, I hope to add Bob Clark to the list (even though a bunch of his movies look embarrassingly bad).

    I also hope to add Denis Villeneuve someday (I’ve only seen August 32nd on Earth – but LOVED it).

    I’m not sure if Ryan Nicholson is Canadian – but I loved Gutterballs so much, I hope he’ll make the list someday.

    James Cameron should be on my list – just because he hasn’t directed many movies, and I pretty much enjoy what he’s done. Urgh… but I am avoiding Avatar – I’m afraid to watch it. It’s pretty much a case of me being reluctant to place a director with such huge mainstream success on my list. But if I end up liking Avatar – there won’t be any way I can keep him off the list.

    And Cronenberg! I am VERY impressed by how you ranked him. Yeah Canada! I haven’t seen many of his recent films – even though they all look really good! Even Cosmopolis looks incredibly awesome! And Cronenberg is probably the only director on Earth, that could help Robert Pattinson break out of being forever stereotyped by the Twilight series. Cronenberg movies are movies I prefer to buy, rather than download. He MIGHT be my #1 fave director – but it’ll probably be a decade (or longer) before I can properly rank my fave directors. I’ve been slacking off on my blogging lately, and I haven’t even watched many movies this year. That must change! I need to be more focused!

    Rabid Dogs – that was one of the most awesome movies I’ve ever seen. That is why I must aspire to see more Bava movies. I also saw A Bay of Blood, but I wasn’t a fan (it is also worth noting, I’m not a fan of the Friday the 13th movies either, except for the one with the telekinetic girl). I am making a note of that Bava documentary that you recommended.

    Boy, is my face red. I haven’t seen ANY Kurosawa movies. Well, when I was a teenager, I kept the titles Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and Rashomon on my mental check list. And it’s been over a decade later – and I still haven’t seen them!

    The only Leone films I’ve seen were the Dollars trilogy – but loved it! So it’s great to see that Leone ranked so highly on your list.

    I am INCREDIBLY impressed that Lucio Fulci ranked so highly! If someone says they’re a Fulci fan, that lets me know they’re a film buff who IS NOT pretentious. However, I don’t consider myself a Fulci fan. I’ve only seen Zombi 2 and The Beyond. I liked his movies, but didn’t love them – and then I felt kind of sad that I didn’t love them. That has surprised some of the people that know me. One Flixster friend suggested that it could be Fulci’s style of making his films in a strangely surreal/otherworldly/dreamy way, that keeps me from embracing them.

    Funny – I saw Videodrome when I was fifteen, and I HATED it. It was so bizarre, that I couldn’t appreicate it. Cronenberg “Body Horror” was too freaky for me! Then one day I saw Rabid on TV – and I was shocked by how much I loved it! Then I gave Videodrome a second chance – and I ended up considering it one of the best movies I had ever seen.

    • I did not know who Catherine Breillat was so I looked her up on IMDB. I have only seen one film on her list and that is Fat Girl. I was not put off, but I felt somewhat lukewarm about that one. That being said, she certainly has some interesting sounding titles, I will put Romance in my queue!

      I really loved MacDonald’s Hard Core Logo and Highway 61…Pontypool for that matter.

      Bob Clark made my shortlist for his early horror films. I thoroughly enjoyed his very corny and low budget Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things, also loved The Night Andy Came Home and Black Christmas. And of course A Christmas Story, which is one of the best damn Christmas movies ever! I liked Porky’s when I was a kid, I suspect that one may not resonate with me any longer.

      I’ve never seen Gutterballs…although it has been in my queue for some time now!

      I loved Cameron’s Terminator and Judgement Day (although Judgement Day slightly less) as well as Aliens, but he kinda loses me after that.

      I am definitely a horror fan first. Although Cronenberg has not made a genre film in some time he is still one of a handful of names that immediately pop into my head when people ask me who my favourite horror director is. Cronenberg, Fulci, Bava, Argento, Romero; all directors I have loved for many many years. This list of 50 could have been all horror directors.

      As many movies as I have seen there is an endless stream of films I have not! You should see some Kurosawa though…Seven Samurai is a damn fine start!!

      • Oh, haha! If you didn’t like Fat Girl much – you’ll really hate Romance. And Gutterballs is a movie that wants you to laugh at the horrifically gory ways the victims are killed – so I loved it!

        I also noticed I said “stereotyped” when I meant to say “typecast”. But in my defence, “typecast” is a word I rarely use, and I temporarily forgot what it meant. My apologies.

  9. […] term “body horror” has become synonymous with the work of director David Cronenberg. David Cronenberg has long been a favourite director and could handily overpower a top ten “body horror” […]

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