I have to give you horror fans out there a heads up about a new documentary called NIGHTMARES IN RED WHITE AND BLUE. It covers the entire history of American horror while keeping a sharp eye on the social changes that influenced them. Don’t think you’ve seen this all before because this one bounds past the usual tunnel vision horror fan approach. Not only does it have an awareness of the cultural temperature outside of the air-conditioned theater but it also pays respect to fringe films usually neglected. By damn, they even put Jiminy Cricket and WALT DISNEY in the hot seat for a spell and you know I’m all in support of that.
Seriously kids, after the recent and excellent NEVER SLEEP AGAIN, I figured I’d have to wait a couple years at least for another outstanding documentary on horror and yet here is NIGHTMARES IN RED WHITE AND BLUE. You may be thinking, “How the hell are they gonna cram the whole history of American horror into one film?” and the answer is…editing, like, really good editing. As I check out the IMDb I see that the film was edited by ANDREW MONUMENT the same guy who directed it, two gold stars for you ANDREW. It’s based on a book that has somehow escaped my grasp (and not for long) by author JOSEPH MADREY. You want talking heads? How ‘bout these noggins? JOHN CARPENTER, JOE DANTE , ROGER CORMAN, LARRY COHEN and GEORGE ROMERO, to name just a few. Lordy, my unofficial godfather LANCE HENRIKSEN even narrates! The only thing missing is JAMIE LEE CURTIS spoon-feeding you Activia while you watch it.
Did I mention bloggin’ buddy JOHN KENNETH MUIR is in it yet? If you’ve stopped by REFLECTIONS ON FILM AND TELEVISION or read any of his books then you already know that he is whip smart and knows of what he speaks. In this doc he fires a starting pistol that initiates the best FRIDAY THE 13th kill montage that has ever existed outside of my head. Besides that, he’s a guy who is committed to reading between the lines and digging up cinematic revelations that, if they were snakes, would have bitten your entire face off years ago. He even sings NIGHTMARE IN RED, WHITE AND BLUE’s touching closing theme song…O.K., I made that last part up.
Really, across the board I was impressed by the insights delivered by all involved. (As far as I’m concerned everything that comes out of JOHN CARPENTER’s mouth should be carved in stone.) It may sound silly but the type of discussion within the film makes me proud to be a horror fan. This is a documentary that understands the power of the genre to speak of anxieties we’ve yet to fully confront yet. It looks beyond the violence at the fears and regrets that they represent. Perhaps even more importantly, it points out that many of the issues that are addressed in horror simply aren’t addressed anywhere else and that horror records a secret history all its own. It reminds you that horror is grander than the sum of its parts (even if those parts include the lovely CURTIS and Jason Voorhees’s still riveting upside down handstand hack from PART 3.) Plus is there anything more stimulating than a well-executed montage? Well-executed montages curl my toes.
NIGHTMARES IN RED WHITE AND BLUE is available for preorder HERE but I myself caught it “On Demand” thanks to my local cable provider who I used to hate but now realize I love (is that Stockholm Syndrome?) Now don’t be all cynical thinking I’m raving about this thing just because our buddy MUIR is in it. I honestly think that it would be impossible for any horror fan not to enjoy this informative yet still jocular (there’s a riff on door slamming in THE THING FROM AN OTHER WORLD which is inspired) examination of the history of horror film in America. Miss this one at your own peril.