Sunday, 9 March 2014

Nightmares In Red, White And Blue: The Evolution Of The American Horror Film (2009)

Based on the book by Joseph Maddrey, this documentary may not provide anything new for major horror fans, but it contextualises the genre throughout the 20th century and beyond, and serves as a nice rebuttal to those who roll their eyes and dismiss horror as something not worth their time.

I cover EVERY movie that I can when it comes to writing reviews. That's because it helps with my OCD and allows me to think that my time here, rooted to my sofa for a lot of my time, has some small sense of purpose. I'm fooling myself, of course, but I'm fooling myself while being able to enjoy lots of great movies. Horror movies, however, will always remain my favourite. And I get tired of defending my love for them to people who think "well, isn't it a bit much to watch all of those horror movies?"

No, no it isn't. It's important to remember that a lot of the independent horror movies, as well as the crime flicks and, yes, adult movies released over the years have done more to buoy the fortunes of film studios than most of the tentpole releases that we may have all enjoyed at a local multiplex. There's nothing wrong with enjoying big-budget, mainstream fare. I do it a lot. But there's also nothing wrong with enjoying any film from any genre, especially anything that delivers so many movies that have perhaps reflected, and adapted with, the culture and politics of the where and when of their conception.

Narrated by Lance Henriksen, this documentary reinforces just how horror has allowed for escapism, how it has (directly and indirectly) dealt with important issues over the years, and how it has remained a constant companion to those held in its thrall. It does this with a number of clips, and chat from luminaries such as John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Roger Corman, Mick Garris, Darren Lynn Bousman, Brian Yuzna, Joe Dante, Larry Cohen and many others.

From the world wars, to the development of nuclear power, to the repercussions of 9/11, Nightmares In Red, White And Blue: The Evolution Of The American Horror Film touches on every major event in the past century that has helped to feed into, and create, horrors of all shapes and sizes. And it serves as a great reminder of how important the horror genre is in helping to filter reality and change it into something more tangible, transforming it from an uncomfortable and unnerving mix of paranoia, facts and hypotheticals into a boogeyman that can be held at bay by a strong closet door and a reassuring night light.


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