Written by: John Edward Betancourt
I don't often watch documentaries to be honest. They are usually biased with an opinion or agenda if you ask me, so if by chance I do sit down to watch one, it is because it is either about something incredible that has happened in our world or in this case, about a topic that completely interests me.
In fact, this is a documentary I've been meaning to write about for some time and now seems like the right time since I made mention of it in my article The Renaissance of Horror and because The American Nightmare is one hell of a documentary.
It's excellent because you will find no bias here, no opinion or agenda, just seventy three minutes celebrating the wonder of the horror films of the late 1960's and 1970's. As I mentioned in my other article it does examine the connection between horror's success and the state of our society but in reality this documentary does so much more.
In addition to pointing out the ties that bind us when it comes to horror, you'll find rare vignettes that break down some of the most influential horror films of the era. Now when I say break down, this picture pulls no punches, taking its time to tie Dawn of the Dead or Shivers to specific themes and events of the times, showing how films that we didn't think provided us with social commentary instead were filled to the brim with it.
Yet while a piece by piece breakdown of horror's finest offerings is enjoyable enough on its own, The American Nightmare goes farther, taking the time to speak to the men behind the camera. George Romero, Tom Savini, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, John Landis and David Cronenberg are all interviewed in this feature and each and every one of them take the time to speak not only of their films but what influenced them while making them and at times...what scares them.
It's an incredible look behind the scenes at films that have terrified so many of us and it is handled in such a unique manner that I am stunned this magnificent documentary didn't see a wider release in theaters. In fact the only place it can be found now is on DVD and I was lucky enough to snag a copy from a local shop a few years ago. But if you're a horror fan, buy it, it really is worth it to see the passion of these filmmakers first hand and to really get a good understanding of how much horror is truly made from the fabric of our daily lives...all it takes is the stuff of nightmares.