Nightmares in Red, White & Blue – The Evolution of the American Horror Film

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is a documentary which, as its tag line implies, tells the tale of the American horror film from it’s earliest origins (1910 short of Frankenstein) through to modern day remakes of the classics.

The documentary, narrated by Lance Henrikson, starts with the movies made after the real horror of World War 1 and moves along swiftly in to the gothic era of Lon Chaney (Phantom of the Opera et al), Bela Lugosi (Dracula) and  the creature features of Frankstein and King Kong. Along the way we see clips from all the relevant movies with brief thoughts from directors such as Joe Dante, Brian Yuzna, John Carpenter and, of course, George A Romero.

A third of the way in to the 92 min doc and we move in to the colour era with Blood Feast and down into the depths with Last House on the Left and the other shocker movies of that time, including the more recent The Exorcist. The next batch is the slasher era with Friday 13th (good batch of clips showing plenty of boobage), Halloween and all that bunch, returning to the classic monster theme with The Howling. Next is George Romero explaining the meanings behind his numerous zombie epics and moving along in to the more comedy based horrors (Ghostbusters, Gremlins and the like) with, of course, mentions of the horror icons such as Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street) and Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs) and what made them the heroes, rather than the villains that they should have been.

As the documentary winds down it tries to justify remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which actually wasn’t that bad) and several others. It also very briefly mentions the little nuggets of gold that are also coming out of non-American countries with clips from Pan’s┬áLabyrinth and (one that I hadn’t seen, but need to track down) The Devil’s Backbone, both directed by Guillermo Del Toro (who’s name I’ve more than likely spelled horribly wrong) and with that, it ends.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue runs at, as I said, 92 mins, but it was interesting enough that I didn’t have to check my watch out of boredom, so kudos to the makers for keeping me interested for over an hour. They got all the big name directors in there for comments, showed clips from the films I expected to see, gave the history in chronological order (which kept things flowing nicely), gave me some knowledge and, as a bonus, a couple of movies to look out for. Can’t complain there!

Rating: ★★★½☆

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About Ronnie

Having survived the UK's 'video nasty' (prohibition) era I'm eager to catch up with all previously unseen sleaze and filth. I revel in mixtape oddness, boobage, gore, and proper latex special effects, don't get me started on CGI... - email Ronnie
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