Horror Docs

I’ve been watching hours of horror documentaries this week. I love knowing why horror directors practice their art, and why they think their art is successful. I also love knowing why horror works for people-or why other cultures’ horror doesn’t look like Americanized fears.

Bravo’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments

I adore this mini-series. I honestly think that this is my favorite Halloween special, ever.  A list style mini-series, the show looks at the scariest moments from horror films from the last 100 years. This aired when I was in college, and I actually have pleasant memories of watching this series during October while knitting. A lot of these films are stereotypical, but it’s still a fairly enjoyable watch.

Masters of Horror A Documentary

Not to be confused with the series of short films by the same name. This was actually really interesting to me, because each director presented in the movie talks about some of his influences and the social factors that influenced his directorial decisions. I appreciated Wes Craven’s discussion of The Serpent and the Rainbow, because regardless of how minority religions are sometimes portrayed in horror the clip highlights that at least some of the directors are aware that they’re still dealing with actual people doing actual things (and more importantly, that the stereotypes in horror are rarely correct). I think that my only issue with this documentary is a weakness highlighted in discussions of other ‘master’ lists-where are the women?

100 Greatest Scary Moments

Admittedly, this show is a little dated, originally airing in Britain in 2003. However, what’s interesting with this list is it’s viewer generated. I really liked this show since so many of the clips were not from the cinema (a great many of them were from television, and British television at that). I was especially interested in what was voted the ‘scariest television ad’ of all time-and a little amused that the main theme is one of my favorites! I also appreciated that this list acknowledged women in genre to a much higher extent than the last few American documentaries that I’ve seen-who treat women in a special category and give them their own specials.

True Asian Horror

In terms of unfamiliar territory, Asian horror is still unexplored for a lot of American viewers. Released by Discovery, this is not an all-encompassing special. With an air time of only 45 minutes, the documentary can only go so far. However, I think that the special covers a lot of material in that run time. It’s very interesting to hear genre directors talk about what they think the main difference between Westernized and non-Westernized approaches to fear, and the documentary actually spends a fair bit of time on the role of gender in both society and genre. Further, while the discussions into folklore are fairly limited I think that the special does a fairly solid job highlighting the differences between the European folklore most Western viewers are familiar with and Japanese folklore, especially. One of the few things I wasn’t fond of with this special is how it highlights only a few large name movies (Audition and Ring, especially)-but on the other hand, this gives the special the ability to pick apart the films.

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