Thursday, March 22, 2007

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film is just like the book by Adam Rockoff it was based on – fun, entertaining, interesting and a must for all horror fans! I cannot stress how much horror fans will love this film!!

Going to Pieces is a documentary that focuses on the delightful sub-genre of horror, slasher films. It explores early films in the ‘60s like Peeping Tom and Psycho and ‘70s films like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Last House on the Left that paved the way for slasher films, which exploded on the scene when Halloween hit theaters in 1978. Halloween gained so much popularity that it soon became a template for other slashers, which soon flooded movie screens across the country. Going to Pieces shows the golden age of slashers in the ‘80s and how eventually the public became disenchanted with the genre in the late ‘80s and into the early ‘90s. That is, until the genre was reinvented and re-energized with Craven’s Scream and continued to evolve with new films such as House of 1000 Corpses, Hostel, Saw, The Devil’s Rejects, etc. Through film clips, still photos, behind-the-scenes and interviews with both the greats of the genre and the more obscure participants, Going to Pieces is pure, unadulterated joy to watch!

The archival footage of classic, obscure and controversial slasher films was a treat to see, as well as interviews with directors Wes Craven, Amy Holden Jones, John Carpenter, Sean Cunningham, Rob Zombie, special effects masters Stan Winston and Tom Savini, actors Felissa Rose and Betsy Palmer, and many, many more familiar (and not so familiar) faces all talking about their craft and love for horror.

Through interviews and footage, the documentary also delves into the socio-political implications of slasher films, including how Vietnam, the Reagan administration, a society of mass consumption and other turmoil in America influenced horror films. Archival footage of parents’ outrage at the killer Santa flick Silent Night, Deadly Night and a classic Siskel and Ebert show that decries and belittles horror films as misogynistic, sick and nasty are also included. I love this in-depth look at horror films, because, like it or not (I’m looking at you, Siskel and Ebert!), horror films usually mirror the fears of a particular time and place in society. These how’s and why’s of horror reveal that the genre goes much deeper than just hacking and slashing barely clothed co-eds. This aspect of Going to Pieces reminded me of another great horror documentary, American Nightmare, which explores more of the historical turbulence that gave rise to so many horror films in the ‘70s and onwards.

The interviewees offer some great commentary on their films and what went on behind the scenes, before and after a film was made. You can tell each of them has a real passion for the horror genre and it is so cool to see that spark in their eyes when talking about it. Each and every one of them has great viewpoints and most are pretty humorous! Check out what Rob Zombie has to say about the titles he chose for his films!

One small warning – the documentary does give away some big plot points and endings to several horror films, so if you haven’t seen many slashers I suggest you catch up with your viewing before checking out Going to Pieces. Other than that, I have no other complaints with this documentary…it’s pretty much drool-worthy for fellow horror fans!

If you are a fan of horror, you will dig this documentary and I highly recommend you pick it up. It’s a fun, entertaining and nostalgic look back (and a hopeful look forward) at the slasher film.

DVD available on Amazon!

Also, check out the book the documentary is based on, available from Amazon!

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