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AMC Visionaries: Eli Roth's History of Horror (TV Review)

AMC Visionaries: Eli Roth's History of Horror (TV Review)
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TV Review, AMC, Eli Roth, Stephen King, History of Horror, Documentary, Horror

SYNOPSIS: Executive produced by award-winning horror film director, writer, producer and actor, Eli Roth (“Cabin Fever,” “Hostel”), the documentary series brings together the masters of horror – the storytellers and stars who define the genre – to explore its biggest themes and reveal the inspirations and struggles behind its past and present. Each one-hour episode of the seven-part series will take viewers on a chilling exploration of how horror has evolved through the eras and impacted society, as well as why loyal fans remain addicted to fear. 

TV Review, AMC, Eli Roth, Stephen King, History of Horror, Documentary, Horror

REVIEW: As a dedicated fan of the horror genre, I love learning about the history of scary movies. There are countless documentaries that have been made over the years about specific films, subgenres, and even filmmakers, but few have assembled the roster of talent that AMC's latest series has lined up. Similar to their recent Story of Science Fiction hosted by James Cameron, History of Horror chronicles the most iconic and influential horror movies of all time with commentary from fans, filmmakers, and historians to make this a must watch event perfectly timed to the Halloween season. Featuring a stunning array of commentators including Stephen KingQuentin Tarantino, Jordan Peele, Jason Blum, Robert Englund, Linda Blair, Tippi Hedren, Rob Zombie, Haley Joel Osment, Jack Black, John Landis, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elijah Wood, Slash, Catherine Hardwicke, and Norman Reedus, this series is a great introduction to the legacy of horror movies.

Spread over seven episodes that each tackle a specific sub-genre, Eli Roth's docu-series covers everything from zombies, slashers, and vampires to demons, ghosts, and monsters. Roth provides voice-over narration for the entire show and also moderates conversations with the guests. Roth himself is no stranger to the genre and has a divisive resume of films both beloved and hated by horror fans. Still, he speaks the language and is able to garner some great insight from legends like Tom Savini, John Landis, and Stephen King. My favorite recurring grouping is Roth along with The Walking Dead's Greg Nicotero and Rob Zombie who make for one hell of a fun roundtable and delve into both the fan perspective on films as well as professionals providing insight to how these movies got made.

What I really appreciate about History of Horror is the fact that it doesn't gloss over major landmarks in the history of the genre. Within the premiere episode about zombies, there are callbacks to the earliest films featuring the undead like WHITE ZOMBIE with Bela Lugosi. There is a great amount of time spent on the films of George Romero as the experts dissect just how influential NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD were. But, instead of just talking about SHAUN OF THE DEAD as the successor to those Romero films, Roth and company actually got Edgar Wright to speak to his film's influences. They then jump into 28 DAYS LATER and feature Max Brooks, the author of WORLD WAR Z and big time horror fan himself. There are also moments with Quentin Tarantino and Chris Hardwick talking about why these movies impacted them so much.

With each episode focused on a specific type of horror film, there is a great deal of attention paid to the lesser known films that true horror fans would be familiar with and how they influenced and were influenced by the major hit films. The two part slasher episode obviously spends a lot of time breaking down HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13TH, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, SCREAM, and more. But, they also cover CANDYMAN, MANIAC, HOSTEL, SAW, and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. The analysis of these films don't talk down to the quality of the films as better or worse than non-genre movies but get to the core of what the filmmakers were trying to tell through the gore and jumpscares. In one case, RE-ANIMATOR director Stuart Gordon makes a fairly profound comparison to his movie and the loss of his father, cementing that just because a movie is scary doesn't make it less personal or emotionally relevant than a traditional drama film.

TV Review, AMC, Eli Roth, Stephen King, History of Horror, Documentary, Horror

Eli Roth's History of Horror is unlikely to tell die-hard horror fans anything they didn't already know, but seeing an all-star ensemble of talented performers and creators talk so lovingly about scary movies is worth the time alone. From the most scholarly dissertation to the moments of fanboy love these panelists exhibit, every moment will make you want to go out and rewatch each and every film they talk about. As for the more casual horror viewer, this is a perfect breakdown as to why this genre has so much to offer. With episodes airing from now until November, this is a great Halloween gift that will carry you almost to Thanksgiving. I just hope that they bring it back for a second season and dive into even more areas of horror left unexplored.

AMC Visionairies: Eli Roth's History of Horror premieres October 14th on AMC.

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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