5 horror movies directed by Oscar-winning directors, including Jaws
Here is something that may look like an anomaly. I’ve seen every movie that won Best Picture and I really love critically acclaimed prestige movies, but horror movies are my favorite genre of cinema. I speak the bloodier, the better. Of course i want to watch Marty and Parasite. But I want to watch just as much House of 1000 corpses and The monkey shines. And thankfully, thanks to directors like Steven Spielberg, who directed Jaws, I can have my brain soaked in blood and eat it too. Like a zombie!
Oh yes. The author who also cut his teeth in horror films before accepting the most prestigious distinction at the Oscars. There are actually quite a few Oscar-winning directors, like Kathryn Bigelow, who has directed both The Hurt Locker AND Near the dark, there, but wanted to focus on some of my favorite horror movies from some of my favorite directors. Now, you’ve probably seen some of these movies, but there are a few on this list that might surprise you.
Jaws – Steven Spielberg
Here’s an interesting storyline: a horror movie that’s actually in the running for best picture. Jaws is in this rare class of just 6 horror movies that actually went up for the highest honor, only for it to lose to Flight over a cuckoo’s nest. Honestly, it’s a little hard to argue with this loss, but hey, you could argue that Jaws should have won that year.
You already know the movie. Jaws is about three unlikely partners who come together to hunt a killer shark. The film is one of the most recognizable films of all time, and John Williams’ menacing score is enough to trigger fears of going back into the water. Steven Spielberg would later win the award for best director for schindler’s list and Save Private Ryan, but he has also been nominated several other times, for example for films like Encounters of the Third Kind, The Raiders of the Lost Ark, Munich, and a few others. Unfortunately, he was not nominated for his achievement on Jaws, but it should have been. It’s not easy to give the impression that people are very afraid of a mechanical shark.
The Hand – Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone is known as the serious director who shoots serious images. He won the Oscar for best director for films Section and Born July 4, and he was nominated for JFK. In all respects, Oliver Stone is a legend who has made several introspective and thought-provoking films.
But he also made a hammy movie starring Michael Caine about a comic book artist who loses his hand in a horrific car crash, then embarks on a psychotic killing spree. The hand is full of nuts and features Michael Caine in one of his most sinister roles. He suffers from power cuts, and when he wakes up, people die. How not to like a movie like that? In fact, Oliver Stone’s directorial debut was the horror movie, Capture, which is also very good. But for my money, The hand is Oliver Stone’s best film. And no, you didn’t read it wrong. I told you at the start that my favorite genre is horror, right?
Bad Taste – Peter Jackson
These days Peter Jackson is making Beatles documentaries making their way to Disney +, and of course you know his Oscar. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (and also its arguably not as impressive The Hobbit trilogy), in which he won the award for best director for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. And yes, all of these movies are awesome. I especially love Celestial creatures, that I always feel like I’m very underestimated.
That said, Peter Jackson is one of the greatest horror directors of all time. You may have seen Michael J. Fox in the scary ones, because that was a lot of Peter Jackson presentations. But before that he delivered the cult classic Undead (also known as Brain death). Still, I want to talk about his first photo, Bad taste, because you really have to see it to believe it.
It’s a movie starring aliens who want to eat Earthlings for lunch, and it features four “heroes” known only as “The Boys,” who are going to send these aliens back to where they came from. Peter Jackson stars in the film in two roles: one is that of an alien eating someone’s brain like cereal, and the other is that of “The Boys” named Derek (Who Won’t Flee Because “The Dereks don’t run”), and seriously, this is one of the most gloriously ridiculous movies you’ll ever have the pleasure of watching. God I wish Peter Jackson would make another movie like Bad taste.
28 Days Later – Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle is an interesting case study since he’s the kind of director who always seems to have his foot in the shallow grave (that’s a Danny Boyle reference, by the way). Even his dramatic work, like Trainspotting, contained what I consider horror elements (like the baby crawling on the ceiling), and even movies like 127 hours does his best to make the arm removal as gruesome as possible. And Sunshine starts off as a sci-fi movie, but later turns into something of a slasher in its final act. The director did, however, take home the award for best director for his very unscrupulous film, Slumdog Millionaire, which also won the award for best film.
But that’s not what you are here for. You are here for the horror, and Danny Boyle made a name for himself in the zombie genre with his hit movie, 28 days later (Even though, they are not technically zombies since they have the “rabies virus”, but I don’t go into all of that). 28 days later helped popularize fast zombies (as opposed to George A. Romero’s slow, dragging zombies), and Danny Boyle was one of the directors who helped usher in the zombie madness of the 2000s. I don’t know if I should be upset about that or kiss her feet, but anyway, 28 days (and 28 weeks, which he did not realize) Later is legendary.
The Exorcist – William Friedkin
Finally, I want to go back to the horror movies that were also nominated for Best Picture like Jaws, because The Exorcist is the original horror movie to grab that title. William Friedkin is another interesting case study, like Danny Boyle, because he never really strayed from his horror roots once he made a name for himself.
Movies like the one that is vastly underrated Bug, and Killer Joe, are examples of films which, while not completely horror, certainly have a place in the horror pantheon for their storylines and characters. Friedkin will win the award for best director for The French Connection, and side note, did you know that the chicken restaurant, Popeye’s, is actually named after Popeye Doyle from The French connection (Sorry! I love anecdotes!)
Anyway, The Exorcist is one of those rare horror movies that people put out there along with other great 70s movies like The Godfather and Dog day afternoon. You know the story. A young girl is possessed, a priest and an exorcist come to her house, and the young girl hits her private parts with a crucifix and tells a holy man that her mother is giving blowjob in the underworld. A good time for the whole family!
And that’s all. I could also have named other directors like Guillermo Del Toro and James Cameron, but I’m happy with the list as it stands. For news on the best horror movies or upcoming horror movies, be sure to drop by often.