Hollywood's 20 Masters of Horror: The Twisted Talents Raising the Most Hell
Williamson has a special place in the slasher canon. His 1996 shockbuster Scream (directed by Wes Craven) helped usher in an era of irony in popular entertainment. Scream grossed $173 million worldwide and helped to revive the teen-horror genre, which would also include Williamson’s I Know What You Did Last Summer franchise.
Williamson took a hiatus from horror after writing and directing 1999’s Teaching Mrs. Tingle, but he returned in 2009 with The Vampire Diaries, which he wrote and produced with Julie Plec and which remains The CW’s most popular program, averaging nearly 4 million viewers per episode last season.
Meanwhile, The Following — about a fallen FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) tracking a murderous cult leader (James Purefoy) — was the No. 1 new drama of the 2012-13 season, pulling in close to 12 million viewers an episode for Fox. “To me, The Following has always been about rebirth,” explains Williamson. “In a lot of ways, I think it’s one big allegory for one man’s midlife crisis.”
It was his mother — a homemaker and voracious reader — who inspired Williamson, 48, to become a writer. She bought him a typewriter when he was 10. But it was John Carpenter’s 1978 classic Halloween that inspired him to become a filmmaker. “It was the first time I watched everyone collectively band together and participate in a film,” he recalls. “The audience was screaming at the screen: ‘Don’t drop the knife! Don’t drop the knife!’ They were so invested!”
Read THR's complete Masters of Horror list here.