4 Great Horror Documentaries


I know exactly what you are thinking as soon as you read the word documentary.  What probably comes to mind is a stodgy old man with a velvety voice speaking over a bunch of images that are slowing panning in or pulling out with sound effects of cannon fire and people yelling in the background.  Well, maybe that’s not what you are thinking but that is what comes to my mind (because I watch the History Channel a lot).  Anywho, I’m here to share with you a little bit of an overview and some insight on a few horror documentaries that are not only informative, but also extremely entertaining.  You’ll get some insight about some of your favorite films as well as discovering some new gems that you never even knew existed.  So sit back, and let me open a window to the world of documentary films with some movies fit for the most hardcore horror fans out there. 

The American Nightmare (Dir: Adam Simon – 2000) The American Nightmare is more on the analytical side of horror than the rest of the entries on the list, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent for you.  I guarantee that if you are a fan of horror, then nothing is going to sail over your head.  Taking interviews with some big names such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tobe Hooper, and John Landis as well as horror scholars like Carol Clover and Adam Lowenstein, the film helps to try an understand why society as a whole has become so interested in horror films in the first place.  Mostly focusing on the 1960s and 1970s heyday of horror, The American Nightmare works to try and determine the appeal of the new generation of the genre as well as acting like a nostalgia filled dream world to the older horror fans out there.  While this documentary is a little less entertaining overall then the rest, I think a lot of the hardcore horror fans out there will still get quite a bit out of it.

His Name Was Jason: 30 years of Friday the 13th (Dir: Daniel Farrands – 2009) Thinking back on it, when Jason and Freddy were in their Heyday, you kind of had to pick a side.  Of course you saw both series of films as soon as they came out, but everyone was either in the Jason or Freddy camp and that’s just how it was.  Well, this right here is a documentary for all of those Jason fans out there.  This has got to be one of the most in depth interview rosters I have ever seen on one DVD which tried its best to interview almost every actor in all of the Friday the 13th films including everyone that has played Jason and a large number of his victims.  Random celebrities such as Seth Green also show up to share their stories on the Friday the 13th Saga and coming in at 90 minutes, this documentary packs a whole lot of history and interesting facts into its running time.  This is a must see for all of the Friday the 13th fans out there.

Not Quite Hollywood: the Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (Dir: Mike Hartley – 2008) While not strictly a horror documentary, Not Quite Hollywood is a fascinating documentary on the world of exploitation cinema in Australia that will keep you enthralled and entertained all throughout its 103 minute running time.  Interviewees include names from past and present including James Wan (director and creator of Saw), Quentin Tarantino, George Miller (director of Mad Max), and even Dennis Hopper.  They go into all types of exploitation films including action films, crazy sexual adventure flicks, and of course horror films that all came from the continent of Australia.  What is so great about this documentary is that I guarantee you will find a number of films that not only have you never heard of, but you immediately want to see.  The gem of this collection though is the behind the scenes stories of films shot on location with no permits, no stunt men, and no money at all which as we can all probably tell, leads to some interesting stories and some really close calls.  If you are a fan in any way of exploitation cinema, check this one out immediately.

Never Sleep Again: the Nightmare on Elm Street Legacy (Dirs: Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch - 2010) Created by the same people that brought you His Name Was Jason comes another documentary that chronicles the entire Nightmare on Elm Street Saga.  Of course they leave out the remake almost in its entirety (which is totally fine), this documentary methodically goes through every one of the Nightmare on Elm Street films from the first installment all the way up to Freddy vs. Jason.  The documentary doesn’t stop there though; this one includes a section on how popular the marketing of Freddy was as well as a section devoted to Freddy’s Nightmares, which was the TV show that existed to tell a little bit of Freddy’s back story.  As for the interviewees, the only person missing from the entire legacy is Johnny Depp, but a clip from an episode of Inside the Actors Studio briefly showed his feelings towards his first feature film role, and although he doesn’t say much about it, he clearly was appreciative for the opportunity and had a great time making the film.  Coming in at just under  four hours, this is a Nightmare on Elm Street fan’s dream compilation which even though it’s a long one, will keep you in your seat for the entire running time with the fascinating on set stories as well as the fun and high energy interviews of the numerous casts.  If you haven’t seen this one yet, seek it out immediately!

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