27 October 2009

And Now , Horror Documentaries!

Who Else Needs Documentaries about Horror?
By Kristin Battestella

I need the behind the scenes, history, and conversations that go along with a good scary film all year round. It’s tough to find such informative programming on television, but there are a few specials available on DVD to add that educational spice to your scares. I’m list crazy recently, so here’s a *few* titles for you to pick and choose from.

Tales from the Crypt: Comics to Television – Very insightful special about the ups and downs of the naughty in naughty comic books and how the guts and glory survived in serial television. Maybe not for mainstream fans, but horror and comic enthusiasts will love this.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film – A little too short for the massive area it tackles, but fans of old school slasher series will enjoy this hour plus of interviews and highlights from the classic greats to the new slasher spin.

100 Years of Horror – Dated, but here’s a treasure trove of old footage and interviews celebrating the rise of horror onscreen. This is available on the Netflix Instant Watch, but the audio was out of sync for me. Horror historians should stick with the DVD instead.

His Name Was Jason – Everything you’d ever want to know about the Friday the 13th series, with clips from all the films and extensive behind the scenes interviews with every one who was ever involved with Jason-plus his or her grandma!

John Carpenter: The Man and His Movies – From his early independent work to his avante garde modern films; this special highlights the career of horror master John Carpenter with his own commentary, film footage, and actor interviews.

In Search of Dracula- Christopher Lee hosts this old school look at the history of Dracula and vampire lore. Young folks might not like the old styles and footage, but vintage vampire fans will delight. You don’t catch classics like this on television anymore!

Heroes of Horror – This two disc ‘Biography’ set from A&E celebrates horror masters Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Lon Chaney Jr. A little old and in some respects there’s nothing new here for the cult enthusiast, but great for the classroom with nice narratives and archive footage.

Halloween: A Cut Above the Rest – Available on the Halloween blu-ray disc, this lengthy documentary details the story behind the low budget success of John Carpenter’s 1978 slasher masterpiece. Past interviews with the cast and modern retrospectives highlight the triumphs and tribulations before, during, and after Halloween.

Starz Inside: Bloodsucking Cinema – The fangs come out to play in this special celebrating the vampire in film. Actors and behind the scenes experts share their bloodlust in this hour-long look from the Starz Network. Fortunately, you can catch this one on their premium channels, on demand options, or on DVD.

Biography: The Munsters – This one-hour A&E special provides rare pilot footage and interviews with the late cast in an informative, fun style. There’s also a lengthy DVD set called The Munsters: America’s First Family of Fright that may be part and parcel the same material, with biographies of the cast and behind the scenes features in supplement to the featureless The Munsters season sets.

This list will by no means be exhaustive; but here’s a few more from the A&E and History Channel Archives for the real life horror and history fan. They tend to package their vast programs into lump some, bland collections like ‘History’s Mysteries’ and ‘In Search of’- even if they weren’t part of those original series-but I digress. For the collector, researcher, or classroom, these true to life tricks and treats are worth the hunt.

In Search of History: Salem With Trials
In Search of History: Voodoo Secrets
Ancient Mysteries: Witches
History’s Mysteries: Amityville The Haunting
History’s Mysteries: The Strange Case of Lizzie Borden
History’s Mysteries: The Inquisition
Biography: The Hunt for Jack the Ripper
Biography: Satan, Prince of Darkness
Cities of the Underworld: Dracula’s Underground
Cities of the Underworld: London, City of Blood
The Haunting History of Halloween
The Unexplained: Poltergeists

Haunted Histories, Volumes 1 thru 4 – Available at the History storefront, Amazon, and Netflix; these sets have a myriad of documentaries, from more Voodoo to the actual Haunted History series episodes. They really know how to get us, don’t they? Oiy!

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