Horror directors get to have all of the fun! Because of the very nature of the type of material these filmmakers are shooting, things can get a little wild, messy and ludicrous, but often times, the general vibe on a horror movie set is predominantly positive. Some directors like to go the extra mile and cameo in their own features. The “Master Of Suspense” Alfred Hitchcock was famous for making casual walk on appearances in his movies. For PSYCHO, he opted to cameo as early in the film as possible so as to not distract the audience that had come to expect seeing him pop up in his own films.
The comradery among the “Masters of Horror” directors coming out of the 80’s was something that even fans could feel a part of. So for example, when Clive Barker, Stephen King and Tobe Hooper all share the same scene in Mick Garris’ 1992 cult flick SLEEPWALKERS, it’s hard not to grin from ear to ear. When watching the John Carpenter anthology film BODY BAGS, you can’t help but giggle at the sight of Wes Craven, Sam Raimi or Roger Corman when they briefly show up.
So, because we watch a lot of movies here at Blumhouse.com, here are a few cameo appearances that famous horror directors have made, mostly uncredited, that you may have completely missed!
Tobe Hooper in COMING TO AMERICA (1988)
Director John Landis is primarily known for his comedies, but with titles such as AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON and INNOCENT BLOOD, he’s definitely among the “masters of horror.” So it was fun revisiting one of his funniest movies, 1988’s COMING TO AMERICA and suddenly seeing Mister Tobe Hooper, looking baffled at the eccentric Reverend Brown (Arsenio Hall) doing his spiel. Hooper of course is the director of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, THE FUNHOUSE and POLTERGEIST. And speaking of Landis…
John Landis in SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004)
John Landis and director Sam Raimi have been buddies for a long time and both have worked within the giant Hollywood studio system. So it should come as no surprise that the EVIL DEAD director used Landis as one of the doctors operating on Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) in SPIDER-MAN 2! But wait, there’s more…
John Landis in DARKMAN (1990)
Perhaps Landis is just reprising a doctor role from an earlier Sam Raimi feature? In 1990’s DARKMAN, Landis can be seen among this group of medical students, led by none other than his AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON star Jenny Agutter on their way to examine their “John Doe” burn victim, aka Peyton Westlake.
Mick Garris in THE HOWLING (1981)
Prior to creating the anthology series MASTERS OF HORROR, and directing several Stephen King Adaptation, Mick Garris hosted an interview show for the Z Channel that featured chats with many of his future cohorts. He also made a few documentary featurettes (referred to as EPK’s back in those days) for titles such as THE FOG, THE GOONIES and Joe Dante’s THE HOWLING. It just so happens that if you pay attention to the final scene in THE HOWLING, you’ll spot Mick Garris (with his then-wife) watching the werewolf transformation on live TV and wondering what the hell is going on!
Mick Garris in THRILLER (1983)
Speaking of Garris, were you wondering about the header image to this article? Well, Michael Jackson’s THRILLER was directed by none other than John Landis and featured the FX work of Rick Baker. Among the zombies in the crowd is Mick Garris himself! The little red arrow points to him in disguise!
Rick Rosenthal in BETTER OFF DEAD
This one is so obscure, I had to email director Savage Steve Holland to confirm it! In the 1985 comedy cult classic BETTER OFF DEAD, when Layne (John Cusack) goes to pick up his skis and the owner of the shop is mangled for having attempted to ski the K12, it turns out that’s Rick Rosenthal! The director of HALLOWEEN II and HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION! Turns out he had an office next to Holland’s while he was on pre-production for BETTER OFF DEAD, the two struck up conversation and Savage asked him to be in the movie!
Sam Raimi in MANIAC COP (1988)
This one is fun because it’s the very beginning of production on William Lustig’s MANIAC COP! As told on the Blu-Ray documentary, the St. Patrick’s Day parade was happening in New York City and Lustig wanted to shoot it even though he didn’t have a script yet for MANIAC COP. It was just a matter of getting great production value for nothing with the parade! And so he had his friend Raimi, in town at the time, do this little newscast that ended up in the actual movie. EVIL DEAD star Bruce Campbell ended up also being the lead in MANIAC COP!
Peter Jackson in HOT FUZZ (2007)
At the opening of Edgar Wright’s wacky homage to action cinema HOT FUZZ, Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is recounting the select few times he’s ever had an incident on the job. One of those times was being stabbed by a “Father Christmas,” who is played by none other than Peter Jackson, the director of BAD TASTE, DEAD ALIVE and those little LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT movies.
Leigh Whannell in THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003)
A year before SAW came out and become a huge success, leading to a franchise, as well as DEAD SILENCE and eventually the INSIDIOUS franchise, the writer of all of the above Leigh Whannell appeared in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS! Whannell has since made plenty of appearances in front of the camera and stepped up to direct the latest in the INSIDIOUS series, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 but again, it’s fun to see him here in a huge blockbuster sequel a year before the original SAW was unleashed upon an unexpected audience!
Tim Burton in SINGLES (1992)
It’s been 23 years (!) since Cameron Crowe’s Seattle based apartment complex love story SINGLES came out, which believe it or not went on to inspire the televisions series MELROSE PLACE. At one point, Debbie (Sheila Kelley, THE GUEST) attempts to give a video dating service a try. For an extra $10 bucks, the service is willing to let Brian shoot it because “he’s like the next Martin Score-sez.” Good ol’ Brian is actually Tim Burton who helmed SLEEPY HOLLOW, SWEENEY TODD, BATMAN & BATMAN RETURNS as well as a handful of your other favorite movies!