The American Nightmare
Film: The American Nightmare
Director: Adam Simon
Writer: Adam Simon
Starring: George A. Romero, John Carpenter and Tom Savini
This is a documentary film reflecting on horror films that changed the landscape of not only genre itself, but films in general. We get to see interviews of directors as they talk about their famous films, a little bit of the background where the ideas of them came from and we hear from other directors and people in the academic community on how that film influenced them.
The first film that is explored is Night of the Living Dead. We hear from George A. Romero and where his influence came from for this film. We also see how society was at the time and things that people thought about after seeing it. Something big from it was casting an African-American, Duane Jones, as the lead.
The film also interviews Tom Savini, who would go on to work in horror films and a lot with Romero. He tells about his experiences in Vietnam and how it influenced him with his career.
We then move on to learn about Wes Craven and what inspired him to make the disturbing film, The Last House on the Left. From there we go to director Tobe Hooper as he details where he came up with the ideas of Leatherface and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Romero is brought back to talk about his classic film, Dawn of the Dead, the sequel to his previous one. He parallels human nature to what we see in the film and how the masses are not that much different from the zombies that see in the film. This documentary then features David Cronenberg. It shows a lot of his films, but focuses on Shivers, which is a tale that is similar to Dawn in that there is a fear of being different from the masses, but in a much different way.
The last film featured in this one is Halloween and we get interviews from John Carpenter about his masterpiece. He speaks on creating one of the first and most important modern slasher films. We finally then get that all of these directors grew up fearing the end of the world, but by the time that Halloween came out, the world seem to have moved on from sci-fi based horror films from their childhood to the much more real horrors from these directors.
This also features director John Landis, who created An American Werewolf in London. As well as Tom Gunning, Carol J. Clover and Adam Lowenstein, who are all professors or have professions in academia and give their impressions and reactions to seeing these films.
As a huge horror film fan, I was excited to check this out. I’ve seen all of these movies at the time of writing this aside from Shivers. It is fun to hear from the directors about what influenced them to make these legendary films, but it also great to hear from other horror icons as their impressions of seeing these films. There is a lot of good information in this documentary and it was highly enjoyable to me.
The only real drawback is that they really don’t delve as in-depth as I would have liked them too. This has a running time of 73 minutes and they move pretty quickly through each film. It also states on the case that An American Werewolf in London is included, but I think they are only pointing it out because Landis is interviewed. That film came out in the 1980s and isn’t covered in this. I’m a big fan of it so I would have liked to hear more behind it.
I would highly recommend seeing this documentary if you love horror films, especially classics from this golden age that shaped cinema to how it is today. Hearing these directors take on their own films as well as the films of their contemporaries is definitely worth it. It has a low running time so it is a quick watch. They do not as in-depth as I would have liked, but it is still fun to hear their thoughts. This one is definitely worth a view to horror fans or those who like to hear the back-story and in the insides of the filmmaking process.
My Rating: 8 out of 10