Halloween and Horror Documentaries

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.

Some notes:

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, biographies, etc. 

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.

The Documentaries...

The 50 Best Horror Movies You've Never Seen (2014 TV Movie)

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 more analysis.

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.  (Though it misses the Star Wars rip-offs that characterized most of sci-fi 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.

The American Nightmare (2000) -
Another of many documentaries to feature interviews and analysis by
John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, Tom Savini, etc.  It attempts to tie historic trends to horror films of their day.  Rather than a scattershot overview, this one hones in on just a handful of the most notable films in the horror canon.

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.  (Recommended!)

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!  (Recommended!)

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 the 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.  I would have liked to have heard more the from 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.  (Recommended!)

Blood, Boobs & Beast (2007) - A profile of/documentary about low-budget director Don Dohler, who made such films as The Alien Factor, The Galaxy Invader, 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 to see 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) - ..

Boogeymen II: Masters of Horror (2002) - Hosted By Bruce Campbell, it's a collection of interviews with horror directors such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George Romero, Guillermo del Toro, Tobe Hooper, John Landis, etc. plus Rick Baker.

Bride of Monster Mania (2000) - Again hosted by Elvira as the third part of the trilogy of "Monster Mania" documentaries.  This one focuses on depictions of women in horror films and their transformation over time.  (Recommended!)

Burnt Offering: The Cult of the Wicker Man (2001) - ..

Clive Barker: The Art of Horror (1992)
- ..

Clive Barker's A to Z of Horror - 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 transitions, reenactments, media overlays, etc.), which doesn't play well today.  Still, it's roughly six hours of more in-depth 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!)

Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel (2011) - ..

Creature Designers - The Frankenstein Complex (2015) - ..

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th (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 behind-the-scenes documentaries ever produced.  (Recommended!)

Dario Argento: 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.

Doc of the Dead (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.

Document of 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.

The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision, and Phenomenon of H.P. Lovecraft (2003) - Interviews with several 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 Unknown (below).

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.

Every Other Day Is Halloween (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 Monsters of 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. Lovecraft and his works.  Features a surprising number of quality interviewees such 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 information.  (Recommended!)

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 as a 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).

Halloween: 25 Years of Terror (2006)
-  A flat and uninteresting overview of the Halloween movie series.  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.

The Harryhausen 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 little 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 (2009) 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 than many other titles when I know from other sources, there are great behind-the-scenes stories.

Hi There Horror Movie Fans (2011) - ..

His Name Was Jason (2009)
- A retrospective on the entire the Friday the 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 to death.  Only recommended for fans of the series, though I guess they would watch anything, really.

Horrible Horror (1986) - Not 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!)

Horror Business (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 many 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, and it's a fascinating look at would have 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 work.  (Recommended!)

John 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.

Just Desserts: The Making of 'Creepshow' (2007) - ..

Machete 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 Living Dead (1968), The Harder They Come (1973), Pink Flamingos (1972), The 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 even I still haven't gotten around to viewing.  (Recommended!)

Monsterama (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) - ..

Monsterkids: 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.

More 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 we're 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 participated.

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.

The Perfect Scary Movie (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.

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) - ..

The Sci Fi Boys (2006) - 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 professional filmmakers.  A very endearing portrait.  A lot of very genuine mutual admiration among influences.  (Recommended!)

Scream Greats, Vol. 1: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects (1986) - ..

Scream Greats, Vol. 2: Satanism and Witchcraft (1986)
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The Shark Is Still Working (2007) - ..

Sleepless Nights: 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 endearing 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.  (Recommended!)

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.

Tales from the Crypt: From Comic Books to Television (2004) - 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)
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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.

Under 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) - ..

See also:


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