Monday, March 18, 2013

Film review: Nightmares in Red, White and Blue

I've been hanging on to NIGHTMARES IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE for a while, waiting for the right time to watch it. Not that I knew some way to identify the right time, because in retrospect I didn't realize how appropriate it would be to watch it right now. The past few months I've had some of the most in-depth conversations with people (and admittedly, sometimes myself) about storytelling, themes, what makes them compelling to a reader/viewer and what the films mean to them. This particular documentary touches on all of that, specifically within the horror genre.

NIGHTMARES is about the American horror film, how it has evolved over the past century, and what horror has reflected about American culture over that time. Several big horror film writers, directors and producers are interviewed to get their take on everything from the silent horror films of the 20's through the current day (current for this film being 2008-9ish). They include people like George Romero, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, and John Carpenter.

Given the 96 minute run time and the many time periods covered, NIGHTMARES just can't give the kind of in-depth analysis that any of these decades really deserve. But they follow some really interesting threads throughout the years, some specific to a particular cultural event or certain politics, others following an arc that spans decades. I loved hearing the thoughts of the men interviewed, because they think about horror and movies and stories the way I love thinking about them. I find it fascinating to hear what they thought about the movies they grew up with, films done by their colleagues, their own stories and what motivated them to make them.

The only thing that was missing, in my opinion, is what I just said: these were all men. I'm not suggesting the filmmakers of NIGHTMARES purposely excluded women, in fact I doubt that very much. It's just a fact that many of the most famous and prominent horror filmmakers are men. I think it could be a fascinating experiment to do this same sort of thing, but with an all-female group of horror filmmakers and see what's different about their analysis, their interpretation of the evolution of American horror and what it's meant to them, compared to the men. Would it even be different? What would they end up talking about? What films would they focus on? Interesting project, hint hint...! I'd watch it in a heartbeat!

But I really loved NIGHTMARES. Some horror fans may not get much out of it, but at the very least everyone will probably find a film they haven't seen yet that they'll want to get their hands on after watching this. They cover so much ground, there's bound to be something you'll be glad you discovered through the documentary.

Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue via Netflix

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