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The Top 10 Worst Horror Director Collapses!

By now many of us have had the chance to check out M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening, and most are in agreement that it is a far cry from earlier horror gems like The Sixth Sense. So far, in fact, that it is painful to witness the dramatic decline in quality over the course of the once-promising director’s career. This got me thinking: What other acclaimed horror movie auteurs have experienced similar creative freefalls? It turns out, quite a few. So indulge me now as I incite another comments uproar with this collection of notorious director misfires. Hey, at least M. Night has nothing to be ashamed about. He’s not the only one to go from great to god-awful.

The Top 10 Worst Horror Director Collapses

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10. Joe Dante – Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)

I ranked this one low, because it wasn’t a horror movie at all, but still felt the need to acknowledge the sad fate of the great Joe Dante. How is it that the guy who gave us Piranha, The Howling and Gremlins came to this? I’m a fanatical admirer of the Looney Tunes, but this flick represents their ultimate ass-end nadir. As for Dante, we should’ve seen the writing on the wall with Small Soldiers.

9. Sean Cunningham – DeepStar Six (1989)

Not saying that Cunningham is any kind of Orson Welles, but Friday the 13th is such a beloved film amongst horror fans that it’s a shame to see the director put his name to this, the worst of the barrage of underwater monster flicks that hit cinemas in the late 1980s. Still, probably the best thing Nia Peeples was ever a part of. Except for “The Party Machine with Nia Peeples.”

8. Stuart Gordon – Robot Jox (1990)

First he gave us Re-Animator. Then, From Beyond. Then, Dolls. And next came this tale of combat between people in giant robot suits in a post World War III wasteland. If this was meant as a comedy, it would probably be a lot better. But alas, it wasn’t. When it comes to giant robots, leave it to the Japanese. They have the market cornered on this particular strain of awfulness.

7. John Landis – Innocent Blood (1992)

Admittedly, not the worst vampire movie in the world. But coming from the director of An American Werewolf in London (and considering this film was originally going to be titled A French Vampire in America), I expect a whole lot better. And I know I’ve included this flick in two lists in a row now, but what do want from me?

6. Clive Barker – Lord of Illusions (1995)

After the top-notch Hellraiser and the underrated Nightbreed, the acclaimed horror author-turned-director gave us this movie, which helped explain exactly why Scott Bakula never made it out of the TV ghetto. Barker hasn’t directed another movie since.

5. John Carpenter – Village of the Damned (1995)

Carpenter fails miserably at recreating the remake magic that worked so well for him with The Thing. How sad is it that this forgettable schlock was one of Christopher Reeve’s last movies before the accident? And one of Kirstie Alley’s last movies before she ate half the cast of Cheers?

4. George Romero – Bruiser (2000)

After seven years away from the director’s chair, Romero notoriously let down legions of fans with this bizarre revenge thriller. The zombie-meister’s rep has yet to fully recover, although even the harshest critics of his recent living dead installments have to admit they’re improvements over this.

3. Wes Craven – Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)

Right before rising from the ashes with his Scream franchise, Craven delivered this stillborn clunker. Hard to believe the guy responsible for Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Serpent and the Rainbow gave us this lame vampire flick, which sunk a wooden stake into the heart of Eddie Murphy’s movie career.

2. William Friedkin – The Guardian (1990)

This wretched tale of druidic terror was marketed as being “From the director of The Exorcist”–trust me, I still remember seeing it in the theater (along with four other movies on this list, I’m afraid). Must’ve seemed like a good idea to sell it that way, given Friedkin’s solid reputation. However, the film’s evil tree-worshipping nanny is no Regan MacNeil.

and finally, the number-one horror director collapse…

1. Tobe Hooper – The Mangler (1995)

If this film about a possessed laundry folding machine wasn’t based on a short story by Stephen King, there’s absolutely no way it would ever have been made. Nothing, not Hooper, not a starring turn by Robert Englund, not a supporting appearance by Ted “Buffalo Bill” Levine, can save this unmitigated celluloid abscess. It boggles the mind that this came from the once-visionary creator of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as Salem’s Lot, The Funhouse, Poltergeist and Lifeforce. Proof that some great artists can simply run out of things to say.

For more news and opinions on the world of horror, including a review of The Happening, a look at evil kids in horror movies, and the final chapter of the history of the modern zombie movie, check out Brian’s daily blog, The Vault of Horror, at The Vault of



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