Chris Vander Kaay and Kathleen Fernandez-Vander Kaay's blog

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: JACK SHOLDER

Sometimes, the best horror filmmakers are the ones who never wanted to be horror filmmakers. A filmmaker who wants to make great drama, thrilling suspense, or penetrating comedy can often bring elements of those genres to a horror film that elevate it above the expected entry in the genre. Jack Sholder always said that he didn’t set out to be Wes Craven; he wanted to be Jean Renoir. And although neither of those is true, because he is very much his own filmmaker, there are elements of both within his work.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: FREDDIE FRANCIS

Given that the horror genre is one that is driven primarily by the image and the experience rather than the dialogue or plotting, it comes as no surprise that many cinematographers have made their way to directing by working on low-budget horror films. It is rare, however, that a cinematographer is as well known for his entries in the horror genre as he is for his cinematography in classic mainstream films. Karl Freund was one of the first, and Freddie Francis is a close second.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: TAKASHI SHIMIZU

It’s hard to have a definitive horror hit in America. It’s even harder to have a definitive horror franchise in America. And it’s most difficult of all to create a franchise in a country other than America, one which has a distinct culture and flavor that doesn’t translate easily, and have it become such a runaway success that the film is remade as an entirely new and successful remake series for American audiences. Takashi Shimizu is one of the few filmmakers who has been able to do it.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: RONNY YU

It is often the case that the directors who have become synonymous with well-known films in the horror genre often had no interest or expectation to work in horror to begin with.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: CHARLES BAND

It’s hard to create a horror movie that will connect with audiences enough that the property is seen as a potential franchise starter; and even if that happens, it is unlikely that the director or writer is brought back for subsequent installments, because the producers aren’t interested in paying higher wages to the people who made them a success. So when a single writer/director/producer is in some way responsible for no less than fourteen different film series, he must be noted, regardless of the quality of all the franchises. And that producer is Charles Band.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: Adam Green

Usually, horror filmmakers end up descending into the work-for-hire world of television direction after their career has waned a bit and the studios are no longer calling. In the case of Adam Green, he began in television, made his segue to the big screen, and used that clout to go back to television for the most popular work of his career.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: LEWIS TEAGUE

The skills to become a successful mainstream filmmaker are not always the same skills that make for a great horror film. There are exceptions in the case of directors like Steven Spielberg and Sam Raimi, whose style and execution elevated the horror films in which they worked. Another, lesser known name in those ranks is journeyman director Lewis Teague.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN

One of the true but unspoken shames of the horror convention industry is that, if you make one horror film that is moderately well known, you will be able to live off that moderate level of fame for the rest of your life, signing autographs and paying the bills when you’re unable to continue a career or move into a more populous genre of film. William Friedkin may be one of the only film directors who made one of the most iconic horror films in American history, and has never in his career settled back on that comfort.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: LARRY FESSENDEN

There is no better friend to the independent horror filmmaker that Larry Fessenden; his work as producer and actor in many of the early films of the new indie horror movement, and his dedication and devotion to horror filmmaking as one of the only places left for a true film auteur, have made him something of a patron saint to the independent horror filmmaking world. It’s just the icing on the cake that he also happens to be a great filmmaker, too.

Horror Icon Mini-Marathon: Bob Clark

It is unusual that a filmmaker who made classic entries into the horror genre would be as well-known for creating films (and film franchises) that fall into so many other genres. Bob Clark is the unique and versatile filmmaker who stakes claim to that honor more than nearly any other director.

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