I’ve had the documentary Nightmares in Red, White & Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film in my Netflix queue for months. I finally decided this was the perfect season to watch and review it.
Glad I finally did. Sorry I waited so long.
Nostalgic Horror Movies Trip
I’ve loved horror movies for as long as I can remember. I was a child of the 1970s. There was no cable TV back then. There was just good old fashioned TV.
Luckily some channels played the old horror movies from the 1930s through the 1950s. Sometimes it was during catchy theme days like Friday Night Fright Fest or Saturday Afternoon Chiller Matinees.
If I was home, no one else wanted to watch something on our one TV, and there was a horror movie on? My butt was planted in front of the set.
Nightmares in Red, White & Blue talked about so many movies I’d seen in my youth: Frankenstein (1931), The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), The Wolf Man (1941), Cat People (1942), The Leopard Man (1943), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Godzilla (1954), Them! (1954)…and the list goes on.
It was fun to jaunt down memory lane like that.
Horror in the ’70s
As for films being released when I was a kid in the 1970s, the ones I remember my sister (she’s 14 years older than me) and her friends talking about most were the Exorcist (1973), Carrie (1976) and The Omen (1976).
I remember standing in a long line that wrapped around the outside of the theater with my parents as they tried to get tickets to see the “it” movie the summer of 1976: Jaws. They were unsuccessful, which was probably a good thing, because in retrospect I was just five (almost six). Still, when I finally saw it on TV several years later, I jumped behind our couch and fought the urge to throw up after the scene where one of the characters dives down to a sunken boat at night and finds body parts.
The Slasher Film Franchises of the 1980s
Then came the 1980s. I came of age during the time when Freddy, Michael and Jason reigned. My friends and I eagerly awaited the next sequels (as bad and predictable as they were).
They were fun. They were naughty. (The boys especially liked all the T&A.) For the most part our parents disapproved and that made them all the more appealing.
And thanks to the technology of the day, VCRs, I was able to catch up on all kinds of horror movies with a simple trip to my local video store. (Which in time turned into my local Blockbuster.)
Ah, those were the good old days…
Comprehensive History Lesson Through Horror Movies
The thing I liked most about Nightmares in Red, White & Blue was the history. As the movie’s full title suggests, there really has been an “evolution” from where horror movies have started to where the are now.
But even more interesting was all the biggest name horror movie writers, directors and producers talking about what has influenced horror movies over the years. Namely, culture and society.
World War II; Vietnam, equal rights, the drug culture of the 1960s; the desperate times of the 1970s; and the excess of the 1980s all shaped the movies of their times. I wasn’t expecting to get an American history lesson from a movie about the history of horror movies, but it was a fun way to do it!
Favorite Quotes from the Movie
“Many of Hollywood’s earliest filmmakers were immigrants from Europe. They brought mythic monsters from the Old World to new shores.” Lance Henriksen, narrator
“If you meet all the people who make horror films, you discover that they are very non-violent, politically active and knowledgeable and anti-war. They have opened themselves up to all these possibilities. And it’s the people who repress them that you have to look out for.” Mick Garris
“In my mind, what makes a good horror movie is something that stays with you after the credits roll and you’re in the car on the way home and that next morning when you’re waking up.” Darren Lynn Bousman
Five out five stars. No question. If you love horror movies and have watched them all your life, you’ll enjoy seeing them through this view.
Watch on Amazon Instant
Did you know Nightmares in Red, White and Blue is also available on Kindle? I didn’t until I stumbled across it while searching to see if the movie as on Amazon Instant. Kindle price is only $3.99. (Thinking I’m going to have to buy it.)