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Nightmares in Red, White and Blue

Year of Release: 2009
Theatrical Release Date:

Director: Andrew Monument
Writing Credits:
Joseph Maddrey
Run Time:
96 Minutes
Studio: Lux Digital Pictures

Cast: John Carpenter, George Romero, Roger Corman

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Summary: An exploration of the appeal of horror films, with interviews of many legendary directors in the genre.

Reviewer Film Ratings:
Plot: 1 | Fun Factor: 2.5 | Gore: 3 | Nudity: 2.5 | Scare Factor: 2 | Overall: 4/5

Probably the Best Overall Horror Documentary I Have Seen
Reviewed by Gavin Schmitt

Horror and sci-fi veteran Lance Henriksen narrates this look at the history of the American horror film, examining the earliest monster movies of the silent era up to the scariest modern-day masterpieces. Highlights include interviews with genre masters Roger Corman, John Carpenter and George A. Romero, plus clips from classic films like The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead and Rosemary's Baby.

I have seen my share of horror documentaries, I have read my share of interviews and interviewed my share of people in the horror industry. I have met most of the people personally. So, my thought on this film going in was: this is going to be fun and a bit of a refresher for things I already know, a good thing to kick back to. Nothing new to be learned here!

Well, that may not have been completely true. While it covered a lot of the same ground as things I was familiar with: the politics, the culture, how films of the 50s reflected nuclear fears... it had some new angles, too. Who thought we would see a horror documentary that brings in "Easy Rider" and the James Bond films? I never thought so.

As I said, there is much talk of politics, particularly Reagan. Vietnam comes in, the Cold War to a point. But the 1980s dominate, from John Carpenter's "They Live" to "American Psycho". There is even an argument made (which I find very dubious) that the 80s were a decade of excess, and this is in part why there is such an excess of blood in "Evil Dead 2". I doubt Sam Raimi would agree.

The documentary also touched on numerous many overlooked films (such as "Atomic War Bride"), some that ought to have been overlooked ("Uncle Sam") and some lesser-known modern ones such as "The Devil's Backbone". The focus was on American films, so Hammer is not here, or the current foreign films of Japan. No Italian giallo. I think Vincent Price received far too little screen time, but overall the film covered just about every film you could name that affected the history of horror in some way.

Reviewer Film Ratings:
Plot: 3.5 | Fun Factor: 4.5 | Gore: 3.5 | Nudity: 3 | Scare Factor: 1.5 | Overall: 4/5

Great documentary on history of American horror
Reviewed by Gavin Schmitt

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is a fascinating exploration on the growth, development and fascination of American horror films. Narrated by Lance Henricksen and featuring interviews by such brilliant filmmakers as Joe Dante, John Carpenter and George Romero, Nightmares leaves few tombstones unturned by reviewing the early black and white silent horror films starring Lon Chaney right through to modern day horrors such as Hostel and The Mist.

Directed by Andrew Monument, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue weaves interviews, horror film scenes and trailer snippets which take us back in a time capsule to a time before most of us were born. We get to watch the evolution of horror and the social impacts that influenced the genre on screen.

In a segment titled Bugs, Body Snatchers and the Bomb, we learn of how fear of the atomic bomb and the impact of radiation gave us such great thrill-fests as Them!, Attack of the Giant Leeches and The Thing from Another Planet. There are some great vintage film scenes that will make you long for the cheesy and poorly crafted films of large creatures and Roger Corman creations.

Most casual or younger horror fans will discover how Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho catapulted the genre to new levels. After Norman Bates terrorized audiences, directors began pushing the limits to either keep pace or out shock the masterpiece. And then how the Vietnam War jump initiated a counter-culture movement that brought us films such as Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead.

Things really pick up with a segment titled, Land of the Free, where Nightmares begins with showing us overlooked titles such as The Last House on the Left and Death Wish before the genre began angling towards mainstream big budget horror thanks to Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975.

The final quarter of the documentary is set in more familiar territory. Old Monsters and New Flesh focuses on more iconic films and villains as Friday the 13th, The Stuff and Freddy Krueger.

Some of the political parallel’s expressed in Nightmares in Red, White and Blue seem awkwardly forced – comparing Ronald Ragan and Freddy Krueger or how Leatherface is like Osama Bin Laden – but Monument doesn’t spend too much time on any one subject or film (with the exception of Friday the 13th which was a treat) for the film to get off base for anything more than a few sentences here and there.

With so much content and film references in Nightmares, it is hard to criticize the film for missing any particular film title. But I thought it was unfortunate that An American Werewolf in London, Child’s Play and any of the American remakes of Asian horror didn’t get their due.

But that is hardly a criticism. Nightmares in Red, White and Blue will take you through a century of horror and shines just enough light on each decade or period of the genre to make you wish that you grew up with each and every incarnation of the horror genus.

For any true horror fan, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue should not be missed.

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