It is always difficult to whittle down such a list to a mere ten people. Someone will always be left out. With mind-bending cinema, this certainly holds true. So many great films have been made over so many years, that it was difficult to choose where to draw lines when making this list.
I have chosen to limit myself strictly to modern directors, most of whom are still alive today, and still producing films (with one notable exception). I have also chosen to limit myself to directors who make films in the English language.
I expect some criticism for these choices, and a large number of comments about directors that have sadly been left off of this short list. Please feel free to add your comments. They’ll help many people to find great works of mind-bending film that they might not otherwise have discovered, and that’s the whole point of this blog. Comment away! Let me know who I left out. Perhaps you’ll even spark some follow-up articles about other great directors of cinema.
Now, on with the list:
10. Wes Craven
Director Wes Craven is probably most famous for originating the Nightmare on Elm Street series of horror movies, as well as the infamous character Freddy Krueger, or for his tongue-in-cheek mind-bending series of films that began with Scream.
No other director of mind-bending horror movies has been nearly as successful, nor as prolific, as Wes Craven. Craven has a knack for getting inside the head of the viewers, and creating ideas and images that infect the mind, disturbing the sleep of a viewer for several nights, or possibly weeks. He also has a way of telling a story that conceals from even many astute viewers exactly what is coming next. With clever plot twists and turns, and a new scare around every corner, Craven has created some of the most haunting mind-bending motion pictures in history.
Craven has to his credit a number of the better mind-bending horror films made to date, beginning with A Nightmare on Elm Street in 1984, and followed by The Serpent and the Rainbow in 1988, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare in 1994, and the Scream series in 1996, 1997, 2000, and presumably ending with Scream 4 in 2011. He also directed the mind-bending thriller Red Eye in 2005.
I feel the three movies in this group of mind-bending tales stand out as his best: A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, and Red-Eye.
Whatever else you can say about Wes Craven, either good or bad, you must recognize him as a powerful director simply for what you see on the streets on any given Halloween in the USA. Thousands of people, every single year, will dress as Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare films, or as the Ghostface Killer of the Scream series. They have become two of the greatest and most well-known icons of Hollywood horror, and are loved by fans around the world.