One of the very best things about going to a horror-oriented film festival is the titles of the blog posts pretty much write themselves. On Sunday I saw the thoughtful and carefully considered documentary Nightmares in Red, White and Blue. The strong point about the film from my own selfish perspective is that it more or less validates my own perspective that the horror genre reflects what's going on in our culture. Changes in the U.S. psyche show up on the screen, and the film tracks these evolutions in a ways I was and wasn't aware of.
Edited and directed by Andrew Monument, it features clips from hundreds of films between interviews with directors John Carpenter, George Romero, Joe Dante, Larry Cohen, Roger Corman, Tom McLoughlin and producer Brian Yuzna. The interviews are revealing and entertaining. Carpenter may be the most intellectual of the bunch and the variety found in his films reflect the curiosity of a keen mind. Documentaries like this, of which this one is far better than most, are fun because they remind us of films we may have long forgotten about and how really great the classics are. And if they're really good, they leave us with a list of movies we have to see again or watch for the first time. I made a list of more than fifteen films I need to review or watch for the first time based on clips or comments in the movie. That's time well-spent.
I was really interested in the last segments which discussed how horror has changed since 9/11 because I've been thinking about this for awhile now. The genre has turned to the 70's for inspiration, yet it's a far darker view this time around. Thinking about recent films, many of which are obviously destined to be considered classics (Saw, Hostel and The Devil's Rejects to name the three most obvious ones) and sub genres that have emerged since then, it's interesting food for thought. Make the analogies for yourself- there are so many places to start. Also, for a documentary focused on American film making, there's an interesting analysis of how foreign horror is different from our own. Especially in the past decade, as European horror grows increasingly sophisticated, Asian horror borders the fetishist extremes and ours becomes increasingly violent and nihilistic.