Thursday, October 24, 2013

Shocktober Revisited: Documentaries - Going to PIeces; The Rise and Fall of the Slasher FIlm

 Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film is a pretty good documentary, if a little light on content. Truthfully, it's a pretty good overview of the genre (with the exception of never mentioning Black Christmas and only showing clips of it during a montage of kills), but you could make much longer pieces about any number of sub-sections they spend time on. Sure, there are plenty of lengthy docs about the Friday the 13th series and at least three really good Halloween documentaries, and more Tom Savini featurettes than you can shake a stick at. Still, there's some interesting stuff tucked into the middle section of the movie, including the first acknowledgment of Splatter University's existence I've seen. Some lesser discussed slasher and post-slasher movies get their due; movies like The Prowler, Sleepaway Camp, He Knows You're Alone, and April Fool's Day. Even something as shitty as Return to Horror High gets a quick mention.

As noted above, many devotees to the genre are going to wonder why certain movies don't get as much attention (Alice, Sweet Alice, Black Christmas, and a deeper investigation of Suspiria's influence) and the transitional music is a little distracting, even if it is by Harry Manfredini (he of the ch-ch-ch kill-kill-kill). There's sort of a lull between A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, but the movie is so front heavy you might not notice.

There's also the curious style of interviewing people: the director really must have wanted something different, because some interviewees are constantly walking or being circled by the camera (the editor of Fangoria and Greg Nicotero stand out) and the camera is sometimes uncomfortably close to people like Tom Savini and Robert Shaye of New Line. Still, the line up of people interviewed is pretty impressive. Of particular note are Felissa Rose (the original Angela from Sleepaway Camp) and Fred Walton, who defends April Fool's Day and its twist ending, insisting that Paramount decided to market the film as a slasher movie. Oh, and kudos to Going to Pieces covering the feminist angle on Slumber Party Massacre during the "Critic Bashing" section.

You may not have the same problem that I did with this, but the movie itself would not play from the dvd menu. In fact, nothing would; I had to press stop and then play again to get the film itself to play. None of the special features would play either, which bummed me out because there was a bonus interview with Bob Clark, director of Black Christmas (and, incidentally, A Christmas Story) which leads me to believe there was some coverage of Black Christmas cut from the film. Bummer.

At 88 minutes, Going to Pieces is possibly too short, but if you're a fan of slasher movies or want to give somebody a good primer on the genre, it's certainly worth watching. Some of the stories won't be new, but the inclusion of lesser known entries and the people who made them more than cover for old anecdotes. If you can get the dvd to play, it comes Recommended.

Now bring on the follow-ups!

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