The casualty: director Charles Laughton

As an actor, England native Charles Laughton was a talented, class act. Horror heads will always remember him as the wonderfully deranged Dr. Moreau in the underrated gem Island of Lost Souls (1932), and followers of awards season history fondly recall his work through his Best Actor win for The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) and nominations for Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957). As a director, though, Laughton wasn't quite as triumphant. At least not in life.

Laughton's directorial debut, the dark 1955 thriller The Night of the Hunter, premiered with a hulking, excellently frightening Robert Mitchum in the lead role, and foolish critics weren't all that kind. Nor were audiences, who, for the most part, ignored the film during its theatrical run.

Due to The Night of the Hunter's being such a letdown, Laughton never directed another movie. Which, in hindsight, is a damn shame, since his film, along with Mitchum's masterful performance, has stood the test of time to hold up as one of the better psychological horror films ever. One of its biggest fans, in fact, is Spike Lee, who took inspiration from Mitchum's "LOVE" tattoo (seen above) when giving his Do the Right Thing character Radio Raheem's his "love and hate" brass knuckles.