The 13th Floor

Ten of Horror Cinema’s Greatest Actor-Director Duos

It’s no secret that directors often find comfort in working with certain performers. Directors trust these particular actors, so they tend to cast them as often as possible. There are a slew of examples we can point out, but we wanted to place the focus on ten of the most accomplished and recognizable genre duos out there. So… without further ado, check out our picks for the greatest recurring director-actor team-ups out there!

John Carpenter and Kurt Russell

Collaboration credits for these two include ELVIS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, THE THING, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, and ESCAPE FROM L.A.. That’s a relatively diverse set of films — which not only solidifies our faith in this duo, it also proves that neither Carpenter nor Russell are afraid to tackle an atypical role every once in a while. Among all their mutual ventures, the only questionable one in the lot might be the sketchy ESCAPE FROM L.A…. which nevertheless  has a way of inspiring the imagination.

John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis

John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis have been working together for years: First, Curtis stole the show as the leading lady of HALLOWEEN; THE FOG would follow, though Jamie and John would not collaborate again in the future as a director-actor team. As it is, Curtis was the heroine in HALLOWEEN 2, which Carpenter wrote, and she appeared in HALLOWEEN: H20, which Carpenter had little to do with — outside of the fact that it’s yet another installment in the canon he created.

Jane Levy and Fede Alvarez

Lately, rumors have been swirling that there has been some form of falling out between Alvarez and Levy; we certainly hope that’s untrue, because whenever these two join forces, they’ve given us two of the best horror films released post-2010: THE EVIL DEAD and DON’T BREATHE. They’re both top-notch films, and Levy seems to inspire the best in Alvarez, while the director seems capable of inspiring the best from her in turn. It’s a match made in heaven that could very well lead to an all-time great duo… assuming those rumors are unfounded!

Wes Craven and Neve Campbell

After the SCREAM franchise got moving, it was evident that Wes Craven and Neve Campbell had a fantastic working relationship. They seemed to know each other, and even further, like each other. Campbell’s big-screen transition is owed to Craven, who turned her into an absolute superstar, portraying his tough but vulnerable heroine Sidney Prescott in four separate SCREAM pictures.

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell

I don’t even want to think of all the magic we might not have seen over the last 30-plus years had Raimi and Campbell not united to create a project that would soon go on to become of the greatest franchises in history. There are three original EVIL DEAD flicks (with one being titled ARMY OF DARKNESS), as well an immensely popular series currently airing on Starz, which has received an enormous amount of praise. The EVIL DEAD franchise even bleeds (pardon the pun) into the realm of merchandise and apparel.

Chan-wook Park and Min-sik Choi

Chan-wook Park may possess one of the single most depraved creative minds on earth. This absurdly talented gent concocts ideas that bring bile up into the throat from merely imagining them, much less seeing them onscreen. He’s not only a unique talent, however — he’s also highly prolific. In Choi, he’s also found a composed actor who is a serious gem in his own right, who seems to understand the twists of Park’s mind, as evidenced by his masterful work in OLDBOY and LADY VENGEANCE. Given the seamless working relationship between these two, expect Choi to surface in at least one more Park flick.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp

Is there a more dedicated duo than Depp and Burton? Probably not, at least not in this day and age. It’s obvious that both men like to think out of the box, so it’s no surprise the two have joined forces on a whopping nine pictures (MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, DARK SHADOWS, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, SWEENEY TODD, CORPSE BRIDE, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, SLEEPY HOLLOW, ED WOOD and EDWARD SCISSORHANDS). This partnership is not likely to crumble any time soon.

Stuart Gordon and Jeffrey Combs

Gordon and Combs absolutely had to land on this list — these bad-asses of the ‘80s have treated us to some outrageous genre flicks. They may be the only professional duo capable of rivaling Burton and Depp, as they’ve gifted us seven awesome collaborations: RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, FORTRESS, CASTLE FREAK, EDMOND, and THE BLACK CAT.

Jeremy Saulnier and Macon Blair

One of the youngest teams on this list, neither Jeremy Saulnier nor Macon Blair falter for a moment when it’s business time. The two are terrific together, and clearly understand each other’s quirks — which makes for some gorgeous slices of masterful cinema. These two will likely be at it for years to come; as it is, they’ve already teamed up for MURDER PARTY, BLUE RUIN, GREEN ROOM and the upcoming HOLD THE DARK.

James Wan and Leigh Whannell

There’s no need to dive too deep into the history these two share; Wan and Whannell work together so often, it comes as a shock when they aren’t united for a picture in some capacity. SAW, INSIDIOUS, and INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2 all feature Whannell’s participation on screen… but here’s the kicker: He’s written the vast majority of the films James Wan has directed. A match made in heaven? We think so!