Stacy here, with yet another top 10 for your U.S. Netflix queues. This week I thought it would be fun to focus on the history and truth behind horror, perhaps learn something new.
Do you ever wonder what your favorite horror folks think of their own work? Where some of the origins of the genre came from? How to make your OWN horror film?
Here are some great horror documentaries that can help answer your questions and are available to stream right now:
Horror and sci-fi veteran Lance Henriksen narrates this fascinating look at the history and appeal of the American horror film, examining the earliest monster movies of the silent era up to the scariest modern-day masterpieces.
The documentary discusses the idea that horror films reflect the times and places in which they are made — illustrating how classic monster movies exploited the anxieties of war-time generations, and how more savage modern horror films stem from the psychic fallout of America’s counterculture movement and the subsequent rise of increasingly conservative political forces. All good stuff!
Highlights include interviews with genre masters Roger Corman, John Carpenter and George Romero, plus clips from classic films like The Exorcist, Night of the Living Dead and Rosemary’s Baby.
In 1974, Tobe Hooper unleashed his notorious study of psychological terror: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Since then, Hooper’s gruesome masterpiece has become a cult phenomenon.
In this documentary on the Texas cannibalism, perverted patriarchy, and other family values, director Brad Shellady’s investigation is founded on interviews with actors Gunnar Hansen [Leatherface], Edwin Neal [the hitchhiker], Jim Siedow [the cook], and John Dugan [Grandfather], and interspersed with clips and outtakes.
Although there is minimal attempt to explore the primal forces of the picture, and it’s missing commentary from Massacre’s director, this documentary is still fascinating and offers a rare glimpse into the making of the film, and fans will appreciate the behind-the-scenes anecdotes.
Youth and inexperience didn’t mean diddly squat to 12-year-old Emily Hagins when she set out to make her first full-length feature zombie film, Pathogen. And this charming documentary chronicles her two-year endeavor from start to finish.
Emily encounters plenty of typical problems that plague first-time low-budget filmmakers – flaky actors, blown schedules, and faulty equipment. Watching her deal with it all, given her age, is fascinating. At times she’s extremely confident, while at other times her immaturity and inexperience shine through.
With cameras focused on Emily and Mom — who acts as agent, crew, producer and No. 1 fan – the film illuminates indie moviemaking challenges and the wonder of being a plucky adolescent to whom anything seems possible.
In Depression-era New York, a cannibal, serial killer, and elderly man [all the same person] named Albert Fish lured children to their deaths, and filmmaker John Borowski tells the true story of the sadomasochistic cannibal in this grisly docu-drama.
Featuring interviews with outsider artist Joe Coleman and true-crime author Katherine Ramsland, Borowski eerily captures Fish’s dark rampage fueled by distorted interpretations of biblical tales that he routinely used to ritualistically torture and murder scores of children.
The film was an official selection at the 2006 Bloodbath U.K. Horror and Exploitation Film Festival.
Explore the unofficial history of Australian cult flick with this documentary on the ‘Ozploitation’ films of the ‘70s and ’80s. Recalling on his own experiences watching films like Snapshot and The Man from Hong Kong, Mark Hartley exploits the violence, sex and nudity rampant during this period of lax restrictions.
Ozploitation films flourished in the wake of relaxed censorship laws down under but went unnoticed. But thanks to the recent success of Australian films like Wolf Creek, Undead, the slasher Storm Warning, and the anticipated remake of Long Weekend, curious filmgoers are finally prepared to discover what they’ve been missing all these years.
Jam-packed with film clips, poster art and international advertisements, the film also features anecdotes from numerous celebrities, lessons in maverick filmmaking, and a genuine love of this dynamic period in Australian cinema.
Exploring the parallels between filmmaking and voyeurism, director J.T. Petty aims his camera at the world of underground horror films, interviewing scream queens and scholars and finding one auteur whose snuff series seems all too convincing.
Eric Rost, snuff filmmaker, stalks women for weeks for his films. And if the women accept his invitation to be a part of his films, they are bound, gagged, tortured, and eventually killed, raising the question of whether or not his films are real.
This thought-provoking documentary constantly compels viewers to question whether the grisly images they’re watching are the real deal or elaborate fakes — and whether Petty himself has ulterior motives. Warning – lots of graphic scenery here if you know what I mean.
Another Mark Hartley exploration on the list! In the ‘70s and ’80s, makers of exploitation films loved to shoot in the Philippines, which offered gorgeous scenery, beautiful extras and cheap fun in the sun for the crew. This intriguing documentary examines the real face of Hollywood in Manila.
Directors shot their crazed jungle epics, women in prison thrillers, bloody horror stories, and violent wartime dramas in the Southeast Asian nation, with the help of Philippine extras and technicians working hard for low pay, and local stuntmen that didn’t worry much about risking their necks for a good shot.
Plentiful movie clips and in-depth interviews are featuring Sid Haig, John Landis, Roger Corman, and Joe Dante, Machete Maidens Unleashed! Is a fantastic watch and was an official selection at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
Take a trip back to a time when late night creature features were all the rage and the personalities that presented them were just as popular as the movies. This documentary pays homage to the flamboyant local hosts who introduced horror and science-fiction movies to the masses and helped them gain cult status on the airwaves.
Beginning in the 1950s, the horror host was a staple of regional television. From ghouls to vampires – to werewolves and crypt keepers – every host had a persona to suit their unique personalities. But their days were numbered as the local television business model began to shift thanks to production demands and the availability of cheaper syndicated material.
Between vintage television clips and reflective interviews with horror hosts and aficionados, you’ll hear from the likes of Svengoolie [Ernie Anderson], Joan E. Cleaver [Jeanne Dietrick], Sir Cecil Creepe [Russ McCown] and many more.
Oscar-nominated actor Robert Forster [Jackie Brown] narrates this explosive toast to the hidden history of the American exploitation film, an admittedly lowbrow art form with undeniably high entertainment value and a staple of so-called grind house cinema.
This documentary digs deep into the often overlooked category of US cinema and unearths the shameless and occasionally shocking origins of this popular entertainment.
Highlights include clips from long-forgotten gems, plus interviews with grind house aficionados Joe Dante, Jack Hill, John Landis, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and Fred Williamson.
Most people don’t set out to produce a horrible film, so how exactly does it happen? This documentary about 1989’s Troll 2, often referred to as the worst movie in history, attempts to answer that question.
20 years ago, a group of inexperienced Utah actors teamed with an Italian-speaking production crew to shoot Troll 2. At the time it seemed like the production was a complete fiasco; little did they realize that they were making cinematic history.
Flash forward two decades, and Troll 2 is playing to packed theaters across America. The films own Michael Stephenson steps behind the camera to explore the phenomenon behind the low-budget horror sequel in this fun exploration into the film being called “the Rocky Horror of our generation”.
This ends our latest installment of horror movies on Netflix worth watching. Stay tuned for next week’s issue.