12/20/2014

Fearmakers Vol. 1

 

Written, Directed, and Narrated by: John McCarthy

John McCarthy made a series of short docus on horror filmmakers that was based on his book of the same name: The Fearmakers. This first of two volumes, this one complies the first half of them and is more centered around classic horror. Each of them deal with one director per segment, as various experts, including fellow horror filmmakers, as well as writers in the horror world, talk about the filmmaker, and McCarthy narrates giving us some history on each director. The segments/ directors are as follows:

Tod Browning- One of horrors first masters, Browming's career is documented here. It's interesting to see where he started from and where he went on to. Of course, Dracula is his best-known film, but it's a shame that his actual best movie, Freaks, was the one that killed his career. This was due to all the controversy it caused. This is covered in depth here and is one of the highlights of this volume.

Roland West- The only filmmaker I wasn't aware of before watching this was West. And, this was a fascinating introduction to him. Especially in terms of his lost film The Bat. Finding out what happened to it was definitely a highlight for me. Then we learned about his remake of it, which was called The Bat Whisperer. The cinematic breakthroughs that he came up with here are really interesting, even if the movie itself wasn't an actual success. Most fascinating, though, is the telling of the tragic death of his wife and his possible or not involvement in it.

Jacques Tourneir- Here they discuss this great filmmaker who is sometimes overshadowed by his producer/partner Val Lewton (which is discussed here). Most fascinating, to me, is when they talk about his masterpieces like Cat People and my personal favorite of his Curse of the Demon. The talks with the horror experts on these movies are excellently done.

William Castle- This one is about one of horrors greatest showman, if not the greatest one: William Castle. That said, I wish they talked a little more about the movies and not just focused on the gimmicks. But, they do talk about them, nonetheless, just not as much as I would have liked. Since, I do think he made some solid movies during his career. Still the most fascinating talk here really comes in discussing Roman Polanski's classic Rosemary's Baby, which Castle produced.

Jack Arnold- The classic sci-fi/horror director Jack Arnold is lovingly discussed in this segment. I really enjoyed hearing them talk about movies like Creature from the Black Lagoon, which is my favorite of his. Talks about other classics of his like Tarantula are also fun and captivating.

Robert Wise- Unlike the other segments, this one just has one interview only, that takes up the whole segment, and it's with Wise, himself. I would have loved getting interviews with others in following the same format as the other segments in this volume. Regardless, it is intriguing to hear him talk about his movies like Star Trek: The Motion Picture and my absolute favorite of his, The Haunting.

Roger Corman- My favorite director of the ones featured here, ends up being on my favorite segment. I loved hearing the horror experts talk about all of his classics like Not of this Earth and, of course, his Poe movies.

This is a fun, informative, and well constructed documentary series. I have been a long time fan of John McCarthy thanks to both volumes of his review books The Official Splatter Movie Guide. I highly recommend this documentary for fans of classic horror.

***1/2 out of ****

You can order this DVD here: http://www.oldies.com/

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