23 October 2014

October 23rd

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006) produced by Michael Ruggiero
Hat tip again to Kaedrin for another movie watching idea. I guess I've watched a lot of "making of" documentaries over the years, as there wasn't much that I hadn't heard before. I'm tempted to say it's more than that, at this point. These stories have solidified into a horror canon of sorts. These canonical stories and ideas are told over and over again in documentaries like this one, at horror convention panels, and in books. We horror fans internalize them and they become part of the enjoyment of the genre for us. I'm thinking of things like:
  • Wes Craven reading the newspaper article about the man dying in his sleep after telling his family he was afraid he'd die if he slept.
  • Tom Savini mentioning how the gruesome stuff he saw in Vietnam informed his work.
  • Debra Hill explaining the Halloween grew from a demand to make a horror movie about babysitters.
  • The idea that slasher villains seemingly punish teen immorality.
  • The idea that the '80s slasher cycle was a reaction to the Reagan era.
  • The idea that horror series venture more and more into self-parody the longer they last.
  • The controversies and protests over Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Maniac, etc.
It seems like certain things are always covered in these documentaries and always with the same perspective. I think I'd be most interested in a horror documentary that came up with a new angle of attack on this material. But, again, I've seen a lot of these things over the years.

Speaking of the controversies, I found this section of the documentary to be odd. It cuts between 25-year-old footage of Siskel & Ebert expressing their disgust over the then-current horror films, 25-year-old footage of the lady who tried get Silent Night, Deadly Night yanked from theaters, and modern footage of people arguing against this. I found it strange to see the modern pro-horror side debating against these ghosts. The argument has been over for quite a while at this point. We won. Ebert ended up championing Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and I can buy Silent Night on blu-ray if I choose. There's a zombie show on television, of all places, as gory as Dawn of the Dead. Halloween is now the second biggest American holiday after Christmas. There's nothing to be angry about anymore. Folks, you've gotta let it go.

I'm being overly critical. This is a perfectly serviceable overview of the history of the slasher genre that manages to talk to quite a few of the major players. And, thanks to this documentary, I know that I now need to watch The Burning soon. Wow, that scene with the shears...

Watch this whole thing for free on the Youtube:

Tales from the Darkside 2.04: "Parlour Floor Front" (1985) directed by Richard Friedman
A ham-handed metaphor for Western colonization of Africa. Evil white people buy a building but cannot force out a black tenant living in their parlor due to fair housing laws. Naturally, there's voodoo involved and people end up dying. Not my favorite episode.

1 comment:

  1. For whatever reason, I really love that documentary. I think it's because I saw it right around the exact time I really got into slashers in a big way, so it drove a fair amount of my viewing for a few years (and it worked pretty well as a guide). To your point, you do see the same stories come up again and again, but even so, I thought this was a pretty well executed version. It's certainly not perfect, but I still enjoy it greatly!