I have always wanted to do a list like this but at the same time I know I'm going to hate the outcome. To pick only five from a whole list of directors who have had an impact on me personally is a real bitch but hey, I like lists in general and any excuse to get something up on the blog is OK for me. I will tell you now that these are in no particular order and this list could be completely different in a few hours! I'm sure you guys feel me on that one. Let's get started shall we?
My first experience with Radley Metzger was The Private Afternoons Of Pamela Mann. After experiencing the intelligence and sophistication of this film I had to see more and look into the world of Radley Metzger. His earlier films are European drenched soft core classics and his later films (under the name Henry Paris) are hardcore classics that are considered the best of the genre. What I love about Radley's work is just how classy and beautiful they are. Don't get me wrong I love 70's roughies where the sex is dirty and the characters are scuzzier than the toilet from Trainspotting but every so often, I do appreciate to be intellectually cared for. Basically, if you like 70's high end Italian cinema you should definitely seek him out. Films to look out for are Camile 2000, The Opening Of Misty Beethoven and Score amongst MANY others.
To many, Umberto Lenzi could be considered a hack director. This is entirely unfair because aside for being infamous for films like Cannibal Ferox and the fact that he has directed around 65 films over his career Lenzi is a true genius in my eyes. For those who primarily know him for his horror and cannibal stuff I would definitely suggest looking at his poliziotteschi efforts because they really do show just how amazingly talented Lenzi is as a director. You also just have to see the many interviews up on Youtube and you will definitely appreciate how his mind works. I love him for making films that gross me out and make me unintentionally laugh but I adore him for providing me with some of my Italian crime flicks. You should check out The Cynic, The Rat, The Fist, it's one of my personal favourites!
Here is a director who needs know introduction to any of you gore hounds out there. All I need to say about Fulci is he was the king of gore and yeah, some of his films made no sense but man did he know how to make an interesting and entertaining film. I did a whole piece of him a couple of days a go (as of writing this) to celebrate his work on the anniversary of his death. Please check out that post if you are a Fulci fan. Films I would definitely urge you to check out are Conquest and Black Cat.
I remember first watching the Americanised shot for shot remake of Funny Games and really not liking it. Needless to say, my first taste of Haneke was a very bitter one. That was one of the many times in my life where I become a dick and disregarded his other work... until I actually watched it and actually see what he was trying to say in his films. After watching a couple of his films in my Film Studies course I thought it was only fair to give him a chance and I picked up the ten film box set from Artificial Eye. After watching more of his work and actually listening to interviews and what he has to say... I was just blown away and slapping myself at the same time. What Haneke does is challenge his audience both during and after most of his films. You are ultimately the person who has to finish the film the way you see it. At first I thought he was just a self obsessed academic who completely had his point lost in ridiculous cinematic moments but now I am finding myself spending hours reassessing the film I just watched. A director that pushes the boundaries but never goes past them just for the sake of it. Be careful what film you start with but highlights from his filmography include The Piano Teacher, Caché and Benny's Video. In fact do yourself a favour and pick up the fantastic box set from Artificial Eye!
The thing I love most about Herzog is how he can take a story or personal account, turn it into an almost documentary style film that has a sense of fantasy to it. I know bigger Herzogians than myself will probably be shouting "That's not what he is about!" but that's how his films make me feel. I will admit some of his recent documentary work such as Into The Abyss really doesn't do it for me and just feel like opinionated video essays more than anything. I am of course nitpicking. The term "dangerous filmmaker" gets thrown around a lot but it fits perfectly with Herzog... on a literal scale. The technical feats and dedication to his films Aquirre: The Wrath Of God and Fitzcarraldo shot in Peru are testament to that. Filming in an almost inaccessible location and living off the land to make a film is just astonishing. Herzog really throws himself into his films and doesn't take advantage of the director role. Giving up his rights to luxuries such as trailers and studio lackeys. His early films have a fractured and rough feel to them which appeals to me and talk about breathtaking visuals! Some of the most genuinely beautiful landscapes in cinema can be found in Herzog's films throughout. I have so much time and respect for Herzog and his films touch me in a way most others have never done so. My all time favourite has to be The Enigma Of Kasper Hauser and another one worth checking out is the beautiful Heart Of Glass.