Combustible Celluloid
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With: Darren Lynn Bousman, John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin, John Kenneth Muir, George A. Romero, Brian Yuzna, Lance Henriksen (narrator)
Written by: Joseph Maddrey
Directed by: Andrew Monument
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 96
Date: 08/06/2009

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Scare Fare

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Recently screened at San Francisco's Another Hole in The Head Film Festival, this is a fun and smart documentary for horror fans, filled with dozens of great clips, ranging from the earliest silent-era chillers to the past decade and films like Saw (2004). It includes many of my favorites, and probably yours too.

Perhaps even non-horror fans could find something to appreciate here: its general thesis is that the horror genre usually manages to tap into the mood of the times, though sometimes it takes a little distance to figure out just how. For example, a certain type of extra-violent film came around during the Vietnam era, and excessive films of the 1980s tapped into Reaganism. Unfortunately, this means that the current era of remakes is left mostly unexplained.

The documentary interviews mostly filmmakers, including John Carpetner, George A. Romero, Joe Dante, Larry Cohen and Roger Corman, though it could have benefited from some more cultural critics as well. Unfortunately, the DVD from Kino Lorber is on the poor side. The interview footage looks pixilated, and the film clips are generally cropped or stretched to fit a widescreen format (for example, the films made before 1950 are chopped at the top and bottom). There are no extras or optional subtitles. Lance Henriksen provides the moody narration.

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