Greetings, fellow lovers of horror! For those of you who don’t already know this, I’m a total nerd and a former English major, which means that I’m constantly compelled to find deeper meaning in books, movies, etc. That having been said, I came upon a fantastic documentary on Netflix about a year ago: Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film.
The film examines American horror films as reflections of the cultures and circumstances that produced them. For example, the creation of The Hills Have Eyes is the result of anxiety over the destruction of the American dream and the deterioration of the notion of the nuclear family (not to mention tensions relating to the effects of nuclear testing). NIRWAB is narrated by horror veteran Lance Henriksen (also known as “Bishop” to fellow Aliens fans) and includes interviews with some of the genre’s most respected directors, including: George A. Romero, Joe Dante and John Carpenter.
The documentary tracks changes in the genre from the silent film era through the time of its production (2009). It’s based on the amazing (and much more detailed) book of the same name, written by Joseph Maddrey. As is often the case, the book is (in my opinion) much better than the film, but the movie version still gives a smart, concise summary of the major points covered in its written counterpart. Both the documentary and book are incredibly eye-opening and have forever changed the way I view and think of horror films.
The film is available for streaming on Netflix and is also on DVD for those of you interested.