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.