First Blood

Horror directorial debuts so scary you won’t let them rest in peace.
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Horror directorial debuts so scary you won’t let them rest in peace.


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HALLOWEEN HALL OF FAME

Before perks like special effects came along, legendary horror directors relied on their wits—and gallons of ketchup—to strike fear in their audiences’ hearts. We revisit their earliest efforts to see what tricks they pulled to concoct such frightening treats.

1. JOHN CARPENTER

Dark Star (1973) An interstellar crew confronts a sentient bomb and an alien that resembles a beachball (possibly an unbilled Marlon Brando).

Terror technique: With black-hole-level lighting and a soundtrack of elevator Muzak, Carpenter saved a few bucks and conveyed the void of deep space.

Famous last words: “It’s Sergeant Pinback’s turn to feed
the alien.”



2. DAVID CRONENBERG

Shivers (1975) Yuppies take on parasites that induce a maniacal desire to fornicate and, oh, yeah, spawn more parasites in your partner’s body.

Terror technique: Weepy star Susan Petrie cried on cue by having Cronenberg slap her across the face before every single take.

Famous last words: “It will turn the world into a beautiful, mindless orgy!”



3. GEORGE ROMERO

Night of the Living Dead (1968) Hapless humans fight flesh-eating zombies who regard their rustic farmhouse as an all-night diner.

Terror technique: A film investor who worked as a butcher supplied the entrails that the undead chowed on. Animal entrails, that is.

Famous last words: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara!”



4. WES CRAVEN

Last House on the Left (1972) When a deranged gang tortures and murders virginal Mari Collingwood, her white-bread parents exact a shocking revenge.

Terror technique: A few quick edits suggest that Mom has castrated a killer—with her teeth.

Famous last words: “I get the feeling we should be doing something more.”



5. SAM RAIMI

The Evil Dead (1982) Using the Necronomicon, five college students summon demonic invaders who won’t leave till they’ve shared all their stories of touring with the Dead.

Terror technique: The film’s herky-jerky feel is due to the fact that Raimi couldn’t afford dollies and mounted his cameras on wheelchairs and two-by-fours.

Famous last words: “You’re not going to leave me, Ash, are you?”