This comes from several years ago, and is not too complicated - this is a look at horror films from the past century of cinema in the United States. This is not to say director Andrew Monument (not sure if that's his real last name, though it's his only pic as director, mostly he's an editor) and writer Joseph Maddrey (based on his own book apparently) don't reach out occasionally; clips from Shivers (Cronenberg's first film in Canada) and films by Hitchcock and Guillermo del Toro are shown. But then this is really about the *impact* of horror films on America, not so much who makes them (though most are).
|Tod Browning's Dracula (1931)|
|Cat People (1942)|
|Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)|
But back to the clip show: in the 60's we see the push-and-pull between keeping the torch up for Hitchcock's new form of The Monster is Living in Our Town and May Be Sympathetic/Understandable (Psycho) and classic-gothic style horror of a literate-nature (Corman's Poe movies; sadly, since they were British, Hammer horror gets just a scant mention here, with fuck-all for Christopher Lee and just barely anything for Vincent Price). Of course, Hitchcock's films are seen more still today arguably (on my side of yes) than the Corman Poe movies, like Pit and the Pendulum, but there is good commentary on both sides of the coin. What it really comes down to in Nightmares is this split, between looking at horror that was reflecting the period it was in - Vietnam, post-Vietnam, Reagan, new audiences, franchises - and what is just straight-up spooky.
|Roger Corman's Masque of the Red Death (1964)|
|John Carpenter's Halloween (1978)|
|George Romero's Day of the Dead (1985)|
The secondary purpose of the documentary is to get the testimony of why a lot of these films matter, and whether you agree or not it's important to hear them out (i.e. Last House on the Left and Saw are bad movies, but have their ardent fans, and they're here). We get some of the major masters - Corman, George Romero, John Carpenter, Joe Dante (yeah, sure, I'll put him in there for The Howling and Gremlins), and then some names you may or may not know like Larry Cohen, Brian Yuzna (producer of Re-Animator, which is a lot of fun to see here in just a few moments), Darren Lynn Bousman and Mick Garris. With Romero and Carpenter, it's always a treat to hear them speak since they talk intelligently and plainly about why they made stuff like Night and They Live, and how those films reflected the periods they were made. For the latter, here's a block quote:
"I had this deal with Universal to make some movies where I would write the scripts and I'd have complete control and such, which was great. And I wanted to do something about Reaganism and... because it pissed me off so much. The crowd was kill a commie for Christ and uh... let's get those commies and kill all of them.Something I grew up laughing at that in Dr. Strangelove. And now here it was again and with this massive enthusiasm behind it, and this unrestrained um... free enterprise."
For that quote, I'm happy a, technically, sci-fi movie is included in this bunch, but anyway...
|HAVE A HEAD with Re-Animator (1985)|
|Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994)|
So, in other words, this is a good primer, a fun clip-show, some excellent talking heads, and blood and guts and boobs and some fun thrown in with knowledge that it's entertainment... though not always (usually best) when connected to the public consciousness. And by the way, here is the FULL LIST of films discussed and shown in the doc.
|Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth (2006)|