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Movies About Movies: Documents of Terror
I love horror movies. They don't even need to be scary per se. I have enjoyed goofy horror movies, overly moralistic horror movies, and action movies thinly disguised as horror movies. I am also fascinated by the process of making movies, which is why I do these segments on movies about movies. So this week I watched two documentaries about the making of horror movies, Full Tilt Boogie and Never Sleep Again.
Full Tilt Boogie
Full Tilt Boogie is about the making of From Dusk Til Dawn. Written by Quentin Taratino and directed by Robert Rodriguez, this is a vampire movie that goes over the top in terms if action and gore. They snagged an on the rise George Clooney for the lead. The documentary begins with Tarantino, who plays Clooney's brother in the movie, and Clooney doing a bit about how cool they think they are, treating fans like shit until they are approached by a hot girl. The documentary soon becomes less staged though, showing a lot of the process that normally gets overlooked, like location scouting.
While the movie drags at times. overall it was an interesting peek behind the curtain. It shows what went into some of the grander special effects, all practical by the way. It shows the interactions between the cast and crew. It really does show some of the nuts and bolts involved. One interesting aspect of the movie, that did ultimately drag it down just a little, was the threatened strike from the unions, due to this being a non-union film. A little too much time was devoted to discussing the politics involved, and though it is an overlooked aspect of movie making, it got to be a bit much.
More interesting and of course glamorous were the scenes showing the cast and crew blowing off steam after a hard week's filming. Seeing George hanging out with a fan at the bar, or Quentin singing songs with the crew poolside was a neat little glimpse of celebrities just being people. It was also cool when they dished on the gossip making the rounds, or discussed who had a crush on who on set. A lot of attention was paid to the special effects team, and deservedly so. Probably not a terribly engaging movie for a non fan of From Dusk Til Dawn, but enjoyable if you are, or just a fan of Tarantino and/or Rodriguez in general.
Never Sleep Again
The other documentary, Never Sleep Again, was about the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise. A very long movie at about 4 hours, this one is really really good. I was intimidated by the length, but it did not feel so long as I was watching it. The animated sequences alone made it worth watching. It also featured interviews with most of the main players involved in making the movies. Plus there were a lot of pictures taken by the cast and crew that had never been shown before. Each movie got it's own segment and was deconstructed. There was a segment about the ill fated television series. Some time was also spent on how the franchise turned New Line into a player in the industry, and on how that all came crashing down.
Wes Craven discusses his thoughts on the sequels. Dokken are interviewed about their theme song for the third movie. Robert Englund and Heather Langenkamp are both featured heavily. Heather produced the movie as well. There are neat little tidbits, like the fact that the rotating room in which they filmed Johnny Depp's death scene in the first movie was later used in Breakin 2 Electric Boogaloo for a scene in which a character dances on the ceiling. Or that Peter Jackson began his relationship with New Line by writing a draft for Freddy's Dead which wasn't used, setting the stage however for the Lord of the Rings trilogy later on. Most of the actors involved in the films are interviewed, with notable exceptions being Johnny Depp and Patricia Arquette.
The flaws in the films are not glossed over. Admissions are made that some things just didn't work. The gay sub-text of the second movie is finally admitted to, though the writer states it was not supposed to be so blatant but is brought to the fore by unintentional choices made by the director. This movie is a love letter to a franchise that entertained countless people over the years. The only film not discussed is the remake. Even the Freddy Vs Jason movie gets its own segment. Overall this movie was a lot of fun to watch, and has me itching to rewatch the movies themselves with some fresh insight. And that is what watching these documentaries should do, remind you of why you loved these movies in the first place, and maybe give some new little nuggets to discover and enjoy as you watch them again.