If, like me, you love horror films, then there are two documentaries available on youtube that discuss, in length, some of the great films and how they came about. Both documentaries focus on the incredible period of the 1980’s when horror was absolutely everywhere and was routinely raking in the money. I’d consider it the second true renaissance of horror. The first being the Universal monster movie era that spanned from approximately 1920 to late 1960 but that saw its best output between 1923 and 1943, starting with the film The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I’d also include the Hammer Horror films coming out of England as being part of this first horror renaissance though it came a bit later, in the mid 50’s. Nevertheless, the Hammer Horror series continued on with the themes and monsters of the previous Universal monster series while introducing new elements to their horror. We could go back to the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and place the marker of horror renaissance there, after all, they did make remarkable film during the German Expressionist period that were deeply affecting, but for now I’m relegating the selection to movements that were specific to horror. For instance, Metropolis is part of the German Expressionist movement but is not horror.
So, without further ado, I’ll introduce the two players. The first is the documentary Decade of Horror. It’s cut into three parts, 1.3, 2.3, and 3.3. It has interviews with John Landis, director of An American Werewolf in London, Joe Dante, director of The Howling and Gremlins, and Stuart Gordon, director of From Beyond and Re-Animator, among others.
The second is a personal favorite of mine that first aired on IFC as part of their Halloween special programming. It is The American Nightmare: The History of Horror’s Golden Age. It includes interviews with John Carpenter, David Cronenberg, George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, and others as they discuss their films and horror in general. This is probably one of the best explorations of horror I’ve ever seen and has academics discussing the impact horror has had on them and society and how society impacted the horror that was produced.
Enjoy these great looks into the minds of some very talented people.