Halloween and Horror
I describe/review these as I track them down
and view them, but the list is useful for Halloween aficionados looking
for things to put in their queue about horror/sci-fi films and
Halloween in general. Many of these can be found on YouTube and
virtually nowhere else anymore. If they aren't reviewed on this
list, then I haven't seen them yet but plan to. The titles are
place-holders. Documentaries listed so far: 105 (I'm counting
sequels/series as one title, not separate films). I've
watched/reviewed 57 of them.
For the time
being, I'm retaining this as simply an alphabetical list.
However, in the future I plan to better organize these titles so that
they are grouped by subject. Categories may include: "Best of,"
single movie (or series) as subject, about the industry, Halloween,
Most of these titles are stand-alone films, although there are some
that were included as DVD extras (and maybe originated as such).
As stated above, I found quite a few on YouTube, so it isn't always
readily apparent how/where the work was originally released.
Conversely, a few of these have never been released other than via
limited theatrical showings, but I retain the title on this list in the
event they do eventually find their way online or to home media.
100 Years of Horror with Christopher
Lee (1996) - Hosted by Christopher Lee, it's a good overview
of notable (if not necessarily widely-seen or "essential") horror
films, but because it takes on so much material in under two hours, it
feels rushed beyond purpose. It's almost a random series of clips
(sometimes from very dated trailers) with occasional interviews and/or
trivia about the film. Films are loosely grouped by subject
matter rather than chronologically or by quality. In fact,
there's nothing to indicate whether the film is actually worth viewing;
it's just a series of "Here's another horror film."
Interestingly, this documentary was either re-edited or simply spun
into a series of straight-to-video 30 min documentaries about
sub-genres (e.g., witches, aliens, etc.). I haven't seen any
installments of that series, but perhaps they do less showcasing and
Alien Makers I through V (2009-2012) -
A series of five documentaries produced by Dennis Lowe, who was a
special effects technician on Alien.
In each he interviews several of the crew who worked on the
movie. Lots of anecdotes about the film, some largely tangential
but interesting nonetheless. I enjoyed them, but they are
recommended only for fans since they're largely just oral history with
only a very little editing other than some inserts of footage that
illustrate the relevant shots being discussed.
American Grindhouse (2010) - It's a little scattershot because it takes on
too broad a topic. The documentary reaches all the way back
to Thomas Edison's early films (among the first films ever!) through
the trends and influences of decade after decade and scores of
producers and directors. It's just too much to cover effectively
because there's more than a single lineage to trace. It also
bounces between legitimately grindhouse films to the better-known
mainstream films that exemplify the topics covered in grindhouses,
which is not only a bit of a cheat; it clutters the documentary with
still more titles in an already crowded overview. At the very
least you get some titles for your "must see" lists and some insights
from interviews with John Landis, Joe Dante, Fred Olen Ray, and other
directors, plus several film critics/historians who actually know their
stuff. Also featured are creators/actors like Herschell Gordon
Lewis, Fred Williamson, Judy Brown, and so on. I'm including this
among horror documentaries, but they're only a small piece of a long
history of low-budget exploitation films that only have as their common
denominators their low budgets and ambition to exploit a subject
graphically. There's an element of horror in many of the
sub-genres, though they cover quite a few: crime pictures (which
evolved into noir), "educational" films, nudie cuties, gore, beach
movies, drug movies (from at least a couple eras), rebelious teen/biker
movies (from at least a couple eras), blacksploitation, women in prison
films, '70s shlock horror movies (which continue into the man vs.
animal Jaws rip-offs), hardcore mainstream porn, etc.
it misses the Star Wars rip-offs that characterized most of
for at least a decade afterward!) It's surprising that the movie
is only about 76 minutes long (plus credits) given all it tackles, but
that's at the expense of saying something more than "this sub-genre was
a reaction to [insert social movement of the era]." There's much
more to explore about each of these areas, and it's unfortunate the
film fails to delve more deeply at any point.
American Movie (1999) - Terrific, engrossing documentary of a
struggling amateur filmmaker trying to put together his own great
American horror movie. It has been described as something of a
filmmaking bible, but rather than a technical document, it's simply an
amazing demonstration of how much determination is required to put
one's vision onto a screen. (Recommended!)
The American Scream (2012) - A great look at three "home
haunters" in the same Mass. neighborhood. At least one of the
families is unintentionally entertaining, but I found myself nodding at
a lot of the observations from one of the others. Lots of good
ideas for decorations, and the film as a whole is good celebration of
the home-haunting phenomenon.(Recommended!)
The American Nightmare (2000) - Another of many documentaries to
feature interviews and analysis by John
American Scary (2006) - A terrific
overview of the history of horror hosts and the current state of this
peculiar art form. It's a broad subject, so the coverage of most
hosts is too superficial to satisfy the appetite of fans of the genre,
but it will whet it for those who never really thought much about what
horror hosting is all about.
Attack of the
50ft Monster Mania (1999) - Again
hosted by Elvira as the second part of the trilogy of "Monster Mania" documentaries. (Recommended!)
The Aurora Monsters: The Model Craze That
Gripped the World (2010) - ..
A History of Horror (2010) - A
terrific survey of the genre in three parts with personal touches
(e.g., autobiographical bits) by its host. Produced by the BBC, a fourth part was added sometime later. (Recommended!)
Back in Time (2015) - Not so much
about the making of Back to the
Future as it is about the impact it has had on
fans long after the fact. Covers quite a few aspects like
collecting, conventions, cosplay (including converting Delorians into
time machines... which is technically cosplay for cars). Includes
interviews with the majority of the cast and crew. Nothing
essential here, but it's an interesting overview of the BttF phenomenon.
Ban the Sadist Videos! (2005) - ..
Ban the Sadist Videos! Part 2 (2006) - ..
Beast Wishes: The Fantastic World of Bob and Kathy Burns (2013) - ..
The Beast Within: The Making of Alien
(2003) - A
very thorough documentary about the creation of the film all the way
from early drafts of the script through to its release. All the
principal players behind the scenes are interviewed extensively: Dan
O'Bannon, Ridley Scott, H.R. Giger, many producers, etc. as well as
most of the cast, and the material is appropriately cut up into topics
arranged in chronological order in the filmmaking process. Very
thorough and effectively presented!
Best Worst Movie (2009) - An
exploration of the phenomena
surrounding the cult who love Troll
2), the latest contender for the "worst movie ever made."
The documentary is well-liked, but it honestly isn't as interesting as
I'd hoped, and it fails to bring any insights to anyone who has seen
movie already. More than anything, it simply allows fans to catch
up with the cast of the Troll 2.
Birth of the Living Dead (2013) - A
good dissection of the now-classic Night of the Living Dead.
the remaining members of
the cast and crew, but fortunately George Romero is sharp and endlessly
entertaining, so he carries the documentary, bolstered by analysis from
several other minor filmmakers and film critics. It inexplicably
fails to even mention the sequels, giving more time to The Walking
Dead than Dawn of the Dead. Still, it's the best
overview out there for looking at the material in all possible terms:
as a horror film, an independent film, as political commentary, the
racial angle, and so on.
Blood, Boobs & Beast
(2007) - A profile of/documentary about low-budget director Don
Dohler, who made such films as The Alien Factor, The Galaxy
Nightbeast, and Blood Massacre. If you've never seen
any of them,
they're a mix of determination and imagination with insufficient acting
talent or money for effects and most other filmmaking
necessities. His films almost qualify as "outsider art" in a way
due to the prevalence of amateurs in so many capacities. The
documentary gives an overview of his earlier work, moving on to all the
troubles with his then-current production to his unfortunate cancer
diagnosis and death. Interviewees include J.J. Abrams, Tom
Savini, and even Dick Dyszel (aka Count Gore De Vol) who was in four of
Dohler's film (He played a
recurring role as the mayor in three of them!). I was fortunate
most of Dohler's films
through the DVD movie packs of
public-domain films and they stand out as something more than just bad
movies, though they're definitely bad.
Bob Burns' Hollywood Halloween (2009) - ..
Bride of Monster Mania (2000) - Again
documentaries. This one
focuses on depictions of women in horror films and their transformation
over time. (Recommended!)
(2001) - ..
Barker: The Art of Horror (1992) - ..
- A six-part mini-series hosted by Clive
Barker and originally airing on BBC2. It goes in-depth on the
making-of a number of horror films such as The Exorcist, Texas
Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, etc. as well as books (e.g., The
Haunting of Hill House) and authors (e.g., there's a very good
piece on Lovecraft) and even other arts such as profiling a
photographer or a series of sculptures or the abandoned practice of
photographing the dead. The content is varied and
quite good, but the approach is very '90s (think Current Affair-type
coverage of some of these topics than you'd otherwise find anywhere
else, so I'd recommend it on the basis of that alone even if I'm put
off by the borderline-sensationalist presentation. (Recommended!)
(2011) - ..
Designers - The Frankenstein Complex (2015) - ..
(2013) - ..
Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner
(2007) - A making-of extra included with the release of the
"Final Cut" version of the original film. It's only 3 hours long,
and yet you just know there's a wealth of material they didn't have the
room to get to. While it isn't as compelling as something like
Hearts of Darkness, this easily ranks among the best
documentaries ever produced.
An Eye for Horror (2000) - ..
Dark Dreamers (2011) -
A 26 episode interview series with loads of horror creators: writers,
producers, effects people, actors, etc. Guests include Clive
Barker, Forrest J. Ackerman, Richard Matheson, Peter Straub, Bernie
Wrightson, Bob Burns, Charles Band, Wes Craven, Julie Strain, John
Landis, KNB Effects Group, and plenty others! I haven't tracked
this down yet (I know it's available on dvd though), but I'm including
it here since it's the equivalent of a couple dozen documentaries.
Dead Teenager Movie (2006) -
It's only about 20 minutes in length, but this one offers up some good
analysis. Roger Ebert has some good commentary and drops a few
lingering questions. Concentrates heavily on the "Final
Destination" series which was current at the time it was made (I'm
guessing this was an extra on the dvd of one of those, but I didn't
check), but it at least acknowledges the other movie series that
invented and developed the formula.
(2014) - Very thorough overview of the
zombie phenomenon in film and other media. In a little over 80
minutes, it manages to cover the reality of zombies and the history of
zombies in film, while still tossing in some fun bits like a few
sketches that were surprisingly not cringey and spotlighting
zombie-themed events like apocalyptic walk-throughs and zombie
walks. Includes loads of interviews with the likes of George
Romero, Robert Kirkman, Simon Pegg, Bruce Campbell, Stuart Gordon, Tom
Savini, and loads of others who have been involved in undead/zombie
media in some capacity. The surprising thing is that they devote
a fair amount of coverage to discussing the science of zombie (e.g.,
examples of parasitic/mind-controling organisms such as the famous
fungus that controls ants). However, there isn't much that
specifically highlights many zombie films without ever dwelling very
long on any in particular (which is good; I'd rather that over it
playing favorites). It's about zombies in
general. There are good points made, but if you want more about
any given film, you'll have to look elsewhere.
the Dead (1985) - A look at a few of George
Romero's films ("Night," "Martin," and mostly "Dawn"), probably made or
at least released to promote "Day of the Dead" that came out the same
year. The narration is at times too distant and analytical rather
than specific and anecdotal (or at least conversational), but most of
the material is pretty good. Romero is profiled really well as a
filmmaker, whereas more recent attempts tend more toward treating him
as a character. [Note: I'm reviewing the original 66 minute
version, but the IMDb indicates that it has since been expanded two
times. In 1989 new interviews from the set of Two Evil Eyes were added
(total: 84 minutes). Then, in 2012, it was released as The
Definitive Document of the Dead (102 minute runtime), featuring new
footage filmed through 2006.]
Don't Scream: It's Only a Movie! (1985) - ..
Dr. Shocker's Vault of
Horror (2014) - by Daniel Roebuck.
(2003) - Interviews
authors (and others)
including Ramsey Campbell, Neil Gaiman, and Brian Lumley as well as
Lovecraft scholar S.T. Joshi about the Lovecraft's life and what
influenced his writing. It doesn't spend much time on the work
itself though, so it's more like a biography of his work than a
biography of the author, if that makes any sense. Some silly
interludes with others that I won't dwell on. It's enjoyable for
any Lovecraft fan, but not really interesting for anyone not already
thoroughly familiar with his work. See instead Fear of the
Eurotika - A series
of short retrospectives about European filmmakers and styles.
While not specifically about horror, various episodes cover directors
such as Jean Rollin, Jess Franco, and Michael Reeves, as well as
episodes devoted to Italian and Spanish horror films. The
episodes are under 30 minutes each, so depth is sacrificed for a very
superficial overview. However, that serves as a good introduction
or to whet horror afficiandos appetites for offerings many might not
yet be aware of. The biggest thing that's missing is that they
fail to identify the "must see" titles from a filmmaker's oeuvre.
All the titles are treated as more or less equals.
(2009) - .. (about
horror host Count Gore de Vol)
Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman (2007) - A
very short film (48 mins) about the legendary writer/editor of Famous
Filmland. It's a very charming portrait that
makes you wish for more, but I think the length was chosen wisely since
it is easy to drift from creating context for the biographical material
to just the opposite. Forrey and the sci-fi/horror community are
so inextricably intertwined that it would be easy to turn this into
something more like The Sci-Fi Boys (see below).
Fantastic Flesh: The Art Of Makeup Efx
(2008) - Not really an overview of the history of makeup, it's
instead more of a collection of anecdotes by people in the profession
(both makeup artists and the filmmakers who employed their talents over
the years). Only 60 minutes long, but very enjoyable. (Recommended!)
Fear in the Dark (1991) - ..
The Fear of God: 25 Years of 'The Exorcist'
(1998) - ..
Fear of The Unknown (2009) - A
biography and analysis of H.P.
and his works. Features a surprising number of quality
as Neil Gaiman, John Carpenter, Guillermo Del Toro, S.T. Joshi (of
course!), Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Robert M. Price, and
others. I'll bet more were intended, but there honestly wasn't
enough room. It is fairly thorough in its scope and honestly
could have been expanded into perhaps three parts to allow adequate
space for all the discussion required for everything they would have
liked to have covered: discussion of the works, Lovecraft's influence
on their work and culture in general, as well as all the biographical
The Fearmakers Collection (2007) - ..
Finding the Future: A Science Fiction
Conversation (2004) - ..
Flesh and Blood, The Hammer Heritage of Horror (1994) - ..
Flying Saucers Over Hollywood: The 'Plan 9' Companion (aka "The Ed Wood
Story: The Plan 9 Companion," 1992) - Made a couple years
before the Tim Burton-directed biopic, this documentary is in its own
way far superior. It has so many interviews with as many
principal participants in the production, including Vampira herself,
Maila Nurmi. It is probably the most authoritative source of
information about the making of the film since it was produced in time
to access many people who have since passed away. It was released
bonus on some dvd releases of Plan 9
from Outer Space (1959).
Full Tilt Boogie (1997) - ..
The Future of Fear (2011) - ..
Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006) -
Great overview of the history of slasher films (with the notable
absence of the Phantasm and Hellraiser series which admittedly
are original enough that they perhaps can't be easily lumped in with
the rest of the subgenre). Loads of
great interviews with insightful filmmakers and other folks tied to
movie (e.g., stars, critics, horror magazine writers/editors). (Recommended!)
Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006) -
What's surprising is that there actually is really good material here:
loads of interviews with cast members from all the films, convention
panel discussion, behind-the-scene footage (including on-set home
movies), and so on. However, there's simply no direction to the
assembly of all this material. It merely tries to give complete
coverage of the course of the films (and does so honestly, revealing
mis-steps along the way), yet it fails to appreciate that the flaws
make this a case study about film series in general. It's a point
that's lost and that a better filmmaker would have known how to channel.
Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest (2003) - ..
Halloween Journey (2006) - ..
Halloween: The Happy Haunting
of America! (1997) - ..
Hammer: The Studio That Dripped Blood (1987) - A history of how
this small studio became the successor to Universal in the monster
movie business. I think it would be more self-aware had it been
made today, but the documentary was fortunately filmed at a time
when the principal players (i.e., actors and studio execs) were still
around to provide firsthand accounts of the creation of their
works. Features a lot of interviews with greats like Peter
Cushing and Christopher Lee.
Chronicles (1988) - A great overview of Ray Harryhausen's body of
work, including many uncompleted projects and test footage. It's
only an hour in length, so I think it could have benefited from
additional footage that went more into the technical end of his
work. For the most part, we only get to see the most
aesthetically-interesting aspects: everything from production sketches
to very polished completed scenes, so we don't get to appreciate how
they were created. It also under-emphasizes that Harryhausen was
a painter and sculptor, a lighting technician and camera-man, not just
an animator. We do get a fair amount of testimonials from his
successors in the industrial about Harryhausen's influence on them, but
the film is primarily an appreciation of what he produced and less on
how he produced it. (See instead Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan
(2011) covered below.)
The Haunted History of Halloween
(1997) - A History Channel production dating from a time when
they weren't so obsessed with aliens and pawn shops. It's a
too hung up on the religious back-and-forth in Halloween's origins, but
that's an essential party of the story. Less emphasis is placed
on the evolution of many of the customs we engage in today; there is
only brief mention of their emergence, which means it fails to resonate
with modern viewers who are expecting the dots to eventually connect to
what we call Halloween in the United States in the then-20th century.
Herschell Gordon Lewis - The Godfather of
Gore (2010) - A retrospective of the entire film career (and a
little afterward) of the man who invented the gore movie.
However, a significant chunk at the start of the movie focuses on the
nudie flicks he and his parter made early on. It's essential to
the story and is entertaining (especially if you like naked women...
which of course I very much do), but it feels a little out of place
considering the whole "Godfather of Gore" title! In fact, that
most infamous period of his career turns out to be just a few minutes
in the retrospective because so many other films came later, most of
which featured little gore. This documentary was directed by
Frank Henenlotter, most famous as the writer/director of the Basketcase
films and Frankenhooker, but he's also a very knowledgable film
histortian. He only appears occasionally as well other
commentators such as critic/horror host John Bloom (aka Joe Bob Briggs,
who is probably the only person who knows more about this subgenre than
Frank Henenlotter) and John Waters, the Pope of Trash. Had I made
the film, I would have used Blood Feast as the centerpiece,
in a manner similar to other docmentaries such as Best Worst Movie
or Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) or better still: Inside Deep
Throat (2005), which examined the contents of a particularly (no
pun intended) seminal film, the
making-of, and the contexts of all of the above, and then moved outward
to explore its influences and consequences. Instead, the
most notorious film of Lewis' career gets barely any more treatment
many other titles when I know from other sources, there are great
Hi There Horror Movie Fans (2011) - ..
His Name Was
Jason (2009) - A retrospective on the entire the Friday
13th movie series (up to that point) that brings together the
various directors, screenwriters, and seemingly dozens of D-list actors
who played the massacred teens over the years. Spends a little
too much time celebrating the formula without acknowledging that,
frankly, the worst killing occurred off-screen by boring its audience
death. Only recommended for fans of the series, though I guess
they would watch anything, really.
really a documentary so much as a compilation of clips of bad horror
movies (and even some bloopers), all hosted by the legendary
Zacherley. The whole thing is a modern (for its time) recreation
of his shtick, including the bit about the pet amoeba, which is worth
the price of admission if you're a fan (I am, obviously). Most of
these trailers could today be found in pieces on YouTube, but it's fun
to have it
all in one place with the Zacherley segments to break it up. (In
fact, you can probably find Horrible Horror in its entirety on YouTube!)
(2005) - A little scattered. It
bounces from one filmmaker to another, all of whom have platitudes to
spout about their "art." Mark Borchardt from American Movie
(see above) features prominently. Unfortunately, with so
relative unknowns, why not concentrate more on the process and less on
pontificating? Why interview people whose body of work is too far
removed from the mainstream for anyone to care about their philosophies
about a Hollywood they've yet to break into? They're constantly
talking about other horror movies or the business. I'd rather
learn how they achieve their vision and see firsthand how they get
their work done, especially since most of them are either uninteresting
and/or unlikeable, so there's not much to indicate untapped talent or
even the resourcefulness you'd expect from indie directors. The
film itself is overly reliant on camera tricks and rapid editing to
compensate for the relatively static material of talking heads.
The Houses October Built (2011) - Not to be confused with the
2014 horror film with the same title and director.
In the Teeth of Jaws (1997) - ..
Jaws: The Inside Story (2010) - ..
Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) -
I'm not sure this qualifies as a
"Halloween movie," but there were certainly horrific scenes intended in
this aborted and fairly loose adaption of Frank Herbert's Dune,
been an amazingly
over-the-top (and potentially just plain amazing) film.
Additionally, I would point out that it is surprisingly funny and
entertaining on top of the coverage of the design and storyboarding
Carpenter: Fear Is Just the Beginning... The Man and His Movies (2004) - The
latter portion of the title is a good summary, actually. Starts
out with the obligatory biographical bits (e.g., his childhood, film
school, etc.) before moving on to details about the movies
themselves. Unfortunately, the whole documentary is only about an
hour, so each film is only given a few minutes of discussion when,
really, several of them deserve much deeper analysis and those involved
in each could have given many camera-worthy anecdotes. It's good
for what it is, but mainly as an introduction to the director.
Desserts: The Making of 'Creepshow' (2007) - ..
Maidens Unleashed! (2010) - ..
The Making of 'Psycho' (1997) - ..
Masters of Horror (2002) - ..
Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) - (About: El
Topo (1970), Night of the
Dead (1968), The Harder They
Come (1973), Pink Flamingos (1972),
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and Eraserhead (1977).)
Monster Mania (1997) - Hosted
by Elvira as the first
part of the trilogy of "Monster
Mania" documentaries. This one generally surveys the history of
monster movies. Nothing special here except nostalgia, but it
doubles as a "must see" checklist for films in the genre, some of which
I still haven't gotten around to viewing. (Recommended!)
(2003) - 24 episodes
(about 15 minutes each) focusing on different personalities and pop
culture plastic such as collectibles, Don Post Masks, the Aurora
monster models, etc., all
hosted and narrated by Elvira. These were clearly done for fans
by fans of the genre. (Recommended!)
Monsterama: A Tribute to Horror Hosts (2004) - ..
Impact of Things That Go Bump In the Night (2015?) - ..
Monsters Among Us (2014) - A 30
minute documentary that briefly examines monster fans through the lens
of the Monster Bash convention. Interviews quite a few
established characters on the convention circuit (e.g., Son of Ghoul,
the Munster "kids," Tom Savini, etc.). Enjoyable if you're
already a fan, though it's directed toward those outside of the scene.
Brains! A Return to the Living Dead
(2011) - Very fun overview with a
celebratory tone that fans will enjoy. Its biggest flaw is that
it suffers from the noteable absence of late director Dan O'Bannon, so
left primarily with anecdotes rather than a sketch of the vision behind
the film. (This also gets awkward later where they're basically
trash-talking O'Bannon, and he isn't around to give his side.)
Overall this doc is essential viewing if you're a fan of the film, but
I was disappointed that it offered few insights into the
filmmaking. That said, it's a good-looking documentary that
features nearly the entire cast plus producers and effects guys.
Lots of artwork in the style of EC comics or Bernie Wrightson based on
the film serving to illustrate or punctuate interviews with the cast
and crew, and the interviewees are surrounded with artistically-placed
props and effects that evoke the feel of the original movie, so those
are nice touches. Not as good as seeing Return of the Living Dead itself
though, so I recommend just watching that instead.
Never Sleep Again (2010) - A
thorough overview of the
entire Nightmare on Elm Street series, including New
Nightmare and the Vs. spin-off. Astoundingly, this
film is four (4!) hours long, so there is tons of discussion about each
movie. In particular, there is a lengthy and hilarious analysis
of the gay overtones in "Nightmare Part 2."
It's better than His Name Was Jason (above) by the same crew,
possibly because the Nightmare series was simply more interesting on every level.
Enjoyable even if you aren't a fan. I'm not especially, but I
watched the series growing up, so this was an interesting way to
revisit it. (Recommended!)
Nightmare Factory (2011) - ..
Nightmare in Canada: Canadian Horror on
Film (2004) - ..
Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue (2009) -
A dissection of the
American genre from its beginnings almost a hundred years ago.
Note: Some of the interviews are recycled from Boogeymen II:
Masters of Horror (above), which is
a bit disappointing, but the
footage works, and it's a very thorough survey that connects the films
to their respective historical context. (Recommended!)
The Omen Legacy (2001) - ..
One by One We Will Take You: The Untold
Saga of the Evil Dead (2007) - To be honest, there aren't a lot
of revelations in this 60 minute feature. I could have stood
hearing more behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Instead, it seemed to
be mostly general comments of the "conditions were terrible," "the
shoot was exhausting" variety. There was no shortage of
personality among the people in front of the camera, but the material
just wasn't interesting or insightful. Also: Major disappointment
at the absence of both Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell, though the others
The Pagan Invasion: Halloween - Trick or
Treat (2007) - A
hilariously pathetic attempt to denounce
Halloween as a satanic holiday, produced by a Christian propaganda film
company. Particularly dubious claims about satanic cult murders,
etc. that come from out of nowhere when the documentary purports to be
about a holiday. The scariest thing about it is there are people
who will believe this bullshit.
(2005) - ..
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan
(2011) - A very thorough retrospective on Harryhausen's films
and his influence. A number of Hollywood heavies (directors and
effects folks as well as longtime friend Ray Bradbury) are interviewed
about how they were influenced, but the biggest draws are the analysis
of Harryhausen's artistic choices (e.g., why a particular monster was
modeled as such, etc.) and the technical details about how scenes were
created. Fortunately, the film was made while its subject was
still alive to offer firsthand accounts of the creation of his work. (Recommended!)
Re-Animator Resurrectus (2007) - ..
A Regular Frankie Fan
(2000) - According to the IMDb, the whole
film was shot with Canon XL7 Cameras and edited with Final Cut
Pro. And it shows. There's also only one or maybe two
cameras in circulation, meaning there isn't a lot of variety in the
footage in any given scene. Overall the documentary itself is
poorly structured or is barely structured at all. It's not like
this material couldn't have been better organized (e.g.,
chronologically to tell a story, organized around subtopics, etc.
They do a bit of the latter, but feels a bit all over the place); it's
just a stream of footage without much direction. On the other
hand, the footage is at least honest. It's the most in-depth
material I've seen on the theater experience rather than merely
catching shout-outs from fans on the set, buying tickets, or yelling
audience participation lines. We get the broad experience of what
it's like to be in the show, watch the show, and generally be a fan of
the show. I would have liked it more if the filmmakers had
established at couple anchor characters to focus the viewer's
experience, something to give it heart, but it's good for what it is: a
good look at the state of the phenomenon 25 years on, even if what
we're given is an unpolished version of what might have been a better
movie in the right hands.
The Rocky Horror Treatment
(1981) - A tie-in promotional television show publicizing the
"sequel" Shock Treatment, and gives roughly equal time to both
movies. Early on, a very young Sal Piro proudly proclaims, "The
RHPS has been a midnight phenomenon in this country for almost four
years now. Four years!" It's very mainstream in its
approach, but that dates from the fact that this was still a new thing
on the cultural landscape, something to be viewed objectively as an
"other." There's some good behind-the-scenes footage of "Shock
Treatment" with the shared members of the cast talking about RHPS, then
promoting the "sequel."
Room 237 (2012) - ..
A terrific look at the childhood
projects of the generation who grew up watching Ray Harryhausen movies
and reading Famous Monsters of Filmland, then matured into
filmmakers. A very endearing portrait. A lot of very
genuine mutual admiration among influences.
Scream Greats, Vol. 1: Tom Savini, Master
of Horror Effects (1986) - ..
Scream Greats, Vol. 2: Satanism and Witchcraft (1986) - ..
The Shark Is Still Working (2007) - ..
Revisiting The Slumber Party Massacre (1982; 2010) - Catching up
with the filmmakers and some of the actors as well as some die-hard
fans. This and the retrospectives of the two sequels collectively
form a single documentary with three distinct chapters. (See also
Sleepless Nights: Revisiting Slumber Party Massacre II (1987;
2010) and Sleepless Nights: Revisiting Slumber Party Massacre
III (1990; 2010).) It's
actually a good, worthwhile film from an era where so many of these
were cranked out without heart, so the documentary follow-up is
enjoyable as well.
Spine Tinger! The William Castle
Story (2007) - About the life and times of the most inventive
gimmick-driven director in B-movie history (more about that on this page). It's a very
portrait of the man, told from the perspective of those who worked with
him, fans who grew up to work in the business (including the
always-entertaining John Waters!), as well as personal details from one
of his daughters.
Stan Lee: Here Come The Heroes (2002?) - Kevin Smith interviews Stan the Man about the
creation of his favorite characters during Marvel's early
years. Stan is a great subject, and as much as Smith is famous
for being a big talker, he's actually a really effective and
knowledgeable interviewer who keeps Stan on track. (Recommended!)
Superior Firepower: The Making of Aliens (2003) - See also The
Beast Within: The Making of Alien (above). Both documentaries
were made as part of a box set of the film series (and also released on
the deluxe editions of the respective films). Both are extremely
thorough discussions of the making of these films. Of note is the
extensive interview footage alternating between 2003 and during/around
the time of the film's production.
A very thorough overview of all of EC
Comics (not just that one title) that covers the entire history of the
company. In spite of the documentary's title, the majority of the
show focuses on the original print edition: its inception, evolution,
and demise, followed by adaptations (direct and indirect in the form of
Creepshow) and the eventual
reprints. Excellent contributions by filmmakers and writers who
grew up under the influence of the books. (Recommended!)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth
(2000) - Pretty good story of the making of the movie.
Nothing especially revealing. It's good, but I didn't find it
essential viewing and certainly not shocking.
That $#!% Will Rot Your Brain: How the Monster Kids Transformed Popular
Culture (2012) - ..
The Thing: Terror Takes Shape (1998) - ..
Turn Blue: The Short Life of Ghoulardi
(2012) - A history of the infamous horror host from Clevland
played by Ernie Anderson. It gives a thorough history and context
and behind-the-scenes stories, but it really fails to just let
Ghoulardi's material speak for itself. I can only recommend it
for anyone already familiar with the character and his act since you
get to see so little of it here. At an hour in length, there was
certainly room for more Ghoulardi himself if only to understand what
the interviewees are talking about. This was produced on YouTube
(there's no IMDb listing), so it's worth the cost of admission, I guess.
the Scares (2010) - ..
Val Lewton: The Man in the Shadows (2007) - ..
Vampira: The Movie (2006) - ..
Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship
& Videotape (2010) - ..
Vincent Price: The Sinister Image (1988) - ..