Scary Movies (and Super Creeps) — Nightmares in Red, White and Blue

Every week Robert Saucedo shines a spotlight on a horror movie worth checking out. Today: All killer — plus filler, too!

I remember about ten years ago when a DVD was released called Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation. This DVD featured clips from nearly 20 slasher films — both classic (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser) and not so classics (Puppet Master, Wishmaster). The DVD was designed for those horror movie fans that loved their kill scenes but didn’t want to wade through trifles such as plot or development.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue takes the idea of a horror movie clip show and adds something Boogeymen was sorely missing — context.

In his new documentary being released on DVD next week, director Andrew Monument takes a look at America’s long fascination with horror movies. From the earliest attempt (an adaptation of Frankenstein by Thomas Edison) to the recent resurgence in horror movies seen in the last decade, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue traces the linage of the modern horror movie — along the way attempting to explain what has made the genre so popular.

The documentary is an adaptation of a book by Joseph Maddrey and features over 200 clips and scenes from a wide range of horror films. Everything from the silent era to the Universal Monsters films to the ‘80s slashers to foreign horror films is covered. Lance Henriksen, a staple of horror movies and an all around bad-ass actor, narrates the film. Providing interviews are such legendary directors as John Carpenter, Larry Cohen, Roger Corman, Joe Dante and George A. Romero.

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is the perfect way to get pumped up about October, my personal favorite month out of the year thanks to the strong proliferation of horror movies that will surface over its 31 days. Besides the novelty of seeing so many well known and cult classic horror movies represented through clips, the documentary truly does have some fascinating things to day about the genre. From tracing the different sub-genres that have risen and fallen based on the real-life fears Americans have faced at the time to the idea of a monster as the hero, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue does an admirable job at providing a sense of history and importance to a genre that is often overlooked or (worse) looked down at.

In fact, my biggest complaint about Nightmares is the fact that, at 96 minutes, it’s too short. I would have loved to have seen more — more exploration into some of the ideas the documentary brings up (I had never thought about Jason Vorhees as a vengeful right hand of God before watching the documentary) and more interview subjects. Besides Saw wunderkind Darren Lynn Bouseman, there aren’t any interviews with the new guard of horror film directors. Likewise, I wish the documentary could have included some vintage interviews with the men behind some of film’s earliest monsters.

Despite the wealth of clips and films discussed, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is a very restrained documentary. It had the potential to be much larger in scope while still retaining its tight focus. Maybe I’m just a horror nut, but I could have sat and listened to the talent recruited for interviews for a day and a half. At a brief 90 minutes, the film seemed to breeze by — leaving me craving much more.

Regardless of its missed opportunities, Nightmares in Red, White and Blue remains the perfect documentary to kick-off your Halloween season. A classier version of Boogeymen: The Killer Compilation, the film will hopefully introduce you to some films you may have never heard of before — and hey, you might just learn a thing or two along the way.

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