GenreDocumentary, Horror Music directorPaul Casper CountryUnited States
Release dateAugust 6, 2009 (2009-08-06) WriterJoseph Maddrey, Joseph Maddrey (based on the book by) CastLance Henriksen (Narrator (voice)), Larry Cohen (Himself), Joe Dante (Himself), John Carpenter (Himself), Darren Lynn Bousman (Himself), Mick Garris (Himself) Similar moviesGoing to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, Full Tilt Boogie, Double Digits: The Story of a Neighborhood Movie Star, (500) Days of Summer, Unknown Chaplin, My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
TaglineAn exploration of the appeal of horror films, with interviews of many legendary directors in the genre.
Nightmares in red white and blue trailer
Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film is a 2009 American documentary film directed by Andrew Monument, based on a book of the same name by Joseph Maddrey. The film is examines the appeal of the horror film genre to audiences and the relationship that the genre has to events in the United States during the 20th and 21st centuries.
The documentary mainly focuses on the connection between events in the United States during the last century and the attraction that horror films have to moviegoing audiences. Filmmakers, producers, and historians such as John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Tom McLoughlin, and Mick Garris examine and give their opinions on such links between occurring events and horror movie themes. The discussion first begins with the connections found between World War I and films featuring human-like monsters and ideas, such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Seventh Victim. The topic then moves on to World War II and the Holocaust, and the widespread atomic paranoia associated with B movies of the 1950s like Tarantula and Creature with the Atom Brain.
Horror films of the late 1960s and the whole of the 1970s are then analyzed, noting how violence in film was becoming not only more common and grotesque, a trend evident in films like Night of the Living Dead, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and various exploitation films, but also garnering mainstream attention through films like The Exorcist and Jaws. The horror subgenre of slasher films is then studied, with connections being shown between nature and promiscuous acts performed by teenagers, apparent in film series like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Horror films of the 1980s are shown to often satirize consumerism and the rise of home video, as seen in Videodrome, The Stuff, and They Live; again tying into the conditions of the United States at the time, parallels are drawn between the charisma and motives of fictional antagonist Freddy Krueger of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise and former United States President Ronald Reagan.
The realistic themes of serial killing, seen in the 1990s and 2000s, are then explored, with The Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, American Psycho, and the Saw films used as examples. The main idea of the documentary then seems to come to a close, offering that the political situations of the United States are reflected in its horror film industry.
The documentary has received mostly positive reviews with a rating of 100% on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 6 reviews, as well as a rating of 7.2/10 on IMDb based on 1,769 reviews.
Dennis Harvey of the Variety website called the film a "comprehensive if uncritical overview of the U.S. horror genre", and notes that "while the focus is primarily on well-known titles and directors, the pic does take time to spotlight a few lesser-known gems, such as Bob Clark’s Deathdream (1974) and David Cronenberg’s marvelous feature debut, Shivers, from the next year; international horror, however, is just briefly touched on."