Monday, December 20, 2010

Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)

I'm a bad horror fan in some ways.  I don't really watch anything before the 1970s.  Eh, blame it on my upbringing.  I was born in the 80s to young parents.   The first horror movie I ever saw was The Exorcist, which my mom saw in the drive-ins with her best friend and a six-pack when she was in high school.  The next horror movies I wanted to see involved Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers.  In junior high, I stayed up all night at my friend's house by eating spoonfuls of Folgers and washing it down with Coke a la Nightmare on Elm Street 3.   And of course, we watched horror movies until sunrise.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue (which we'll call Nightmares from now on, if you're into the whole brevity thing) gave me an awesome introduction to pre-70s horror.  It's an exhaustive look at the genre, from the very first monster movies, to the stuff that scares us today.  It was really more of a high-level look at horror flicks.  Don't go into this expecting too many fun tidbits about individual movies, like His Name was Jason and Never Sleep Again.  I really liked how this documentary examined the changes that the horror genre went through as audiences and the American landscape changed.  For example, as wars ended, monster movies would go to the wayside for a while, as the American public found themselves more scared by men than beasts.

I will say that this definitely seemed to dwell more on the earlier movies than the more recent ones.  It kind of fell off by the time it got to the 1990s and 2000s.  I know that the current decade has not been so hot for the horror genre, but it didn't really deserve to get cast by the wayside either.

All in all Nightmares is a solid documentary.  It's definitely an academic look at horror movies, as opposed to the gore and obscurity of Going to Pieces.  Definitely worth a watch for the horror enthusiast.