Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film–The Title Says it All (review)

Documentary of American horror movies. It features interviews with horror fixtures Larry Cohen, Joe Dante, John Carpenter, Darren Lynn Bousman, Mick Garris, Tom McLaughlin, George Romero, Brian Yuzna, and Roger Corman.


Starting in 1910 with Thomas Edison’s adaptation of Frankenstein, it ponders the many meaningful themes explored in horror movies, like the nature of evil, class issues, villains and humanity, the “naked ugliness of violence,” and “middle-class America’s shattered dreams.” The films are also analyzed in a historical context, for example WWI and II, the Depression, and September 11th. Of course, the question of why people like horror movies is addressed. Also examined are MPAA standards of monsters having to be destroyed by the end of the movie and movies becoming gradually gorier with modernity. In addition, they discuss horror films moving to the mainstream.


There is a lot to enjoy here. It’s so hard to find serious discourse on horror movies, but in this film a number of big names in the genre discuss the films in an intellectual way. I like that Disney movies, those scare-mongers, are examined. My favorite title card: “Freddy vs. Reagan.” On the negative side, it highlights the negative clichés about horror movies with a montage of boobs and slaughter. It’s also pretty heavy on plot summary. I feel the filmmakers tried to do way too much in 96 minutes.


But all in all it’s always refreshing to see an analysis of horror movies; it’s deep but accessible to those without a degree in film. It doesn’t add much to the historical viewpoint—it’s fairly common knowledge that Big Bug movies were a reflection of America’s anxiety about atomic weapons. I would have liked to see more connections to 9/11—that’s new. Give it a look for an entertaining view of American horror movies.

Published by GhoulieJoe

I wuvs the horror movies and like to write snarky reviews about them. I also included some pretentious as hell microfiction (don't worry, it's at the bottom).

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