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Recommendations For August 2014 - Horror Documentaries

Typically, people don't assume I'm the documentary watching type but, I can be really excited about great documentaries of all kinds. Today, I'm going to focus on some horror documentaries - including some you should really skip.

In the definitely watch column

Nightmares In Red White And Blue
I knew of this movie before it came out. I was in this limbo of wanting to hate this movie because it is very close to my undergraduate work. While I appreciate how well done it is, I am so mad that it wasn't released in time for me to reference it for my work AND that it was released before I ever got off my lazy ass and published my own work.

Loaded with great insights and fantastic interviews, a "must watch" for up-and-coming horror nerds and a, "you may know it but will still enjoy it" for die-hard, old-school horror nerds.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: A Family Portrait 

There is no way to love this movie if you're not 110% a die-hard fan of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (TCM). It will also be a disappointment to you if you're looking for Tobe Hooper; he's nowhere to be found in this documentary. What this movie DOES have is candid, bare-bones interviews with cast members interspersed with behind-the-scenes footage of sets and cast antics. 

It offers some terrific insight into the production of the movie with no discussion of the sensation it caused with audiences. Considering the sheer volume of discussion surrounding the cultural response to the movie, I appreciate this more "technical" look at the movie.

I absolutely LOVE this documentary. It's a great companion to Splatter Movies: Breaking The Last Taboo of the Screen (a book that you MUST OWN if you really love horror movies).

You can watch the trailer here.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

Weighing in at 4 hefty hours, this is a must watch for any Nightmare On Elm Street fan but, not something your casual movie watcher will find charming. This documentary digs deeply into each of the movies in the franchise covering special effects, cast stories, cultural love for Freddy, etc.

In the definitely don't bother watching this column

Room 237

I knew. I seriously knew, going in, that some of the ideas in this movie would be running dangerously close to "conspiracy theory" but THAT DID NOT prepare me for the whack-jobs and conspiracy nuts running rampant in this one. Holy shit. These bitches be trippin, yo.

My intrepid documentary watching partner actually tried to get me to turn it off a few minutes in - and we've sat through some pretty looney documentaries before. (Check out Her Master's Voice, for some context on that one.)

I think the worst part about this movie isn't actually the crackpot theories or some of the purely asinine commentary the interviewees make - it's the fact that, on paper, many of the interviewees are solid, smart, reputable, well-educated, well-respected human beings. HOW ARE THEY SO INSANE?!

If you're lacking obsessive behavior in your world, there's plenty to spare in this movie.

My Amityville Horror

One of the things that I appreciate about documentaries is the sharing of facts sans the "emotionalization" of situations. On the other side of that, there are instances where the open honesty of people in front of the camera can be very powerful and very interesting. To be moved by a documentary subject they need to be sympathetic and the guy at the center of this movie is literally anything but.

I also really wanted something new from My Amityville Horror; I am a well-versed horror fan and I know a fair amount of the history behind The Amityville Horror - but what I got, instead, was some self-involved, angry man-child ranting about his hurt feelings, exploring his anger issues, and having bizarre conversations with other people who happened to be involved with the original case. No thanks.

The American Scream

At first, I thought this might be a great exploration of crafty individuals across the country. Instead, I got a bunch of obsessive, white-trash freaks, contentedly bankrupting their families in order to create "elaborate" haunted houses to both impress their neighbors AND to compete with other haunted house creators. There were absolutely no likable humans in this entire movie.


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