Being a child of the "slasher" era of horror filmmaking, I was eager to check out this nifty documentary. Yes, it was not so long ago when movie theaters were stuffed by routine and formulaic pictures of teenage death--each trying to outdo the last entry in terms of creative killing. And whenever there was a new and creative burst of energy in the genre, that newness and ingenuity were quickly copied and reproduced under a different title. So, let's face it--I love the slashers and I hate the slashers. It's not like these films were art! But they more than satisfied my young lust for blood. But more than a like or dislike anyone might have about a particular film, these low budget affairs were generally independently financed and released. They, in fact, are an extremely vital part of the history of independent filmmaking. For the first time, significantly, multiple pictures made outside the mainstream studio system generated great financial success.
"Going to Pieces" promises a bit more than it can deliver, ultimately. Outlining the rise and fall of the slasher film, one might expect a more comprehensive history than is presented within the film. But, that said, this movie is a fascinating and nostalgic look back. Clocking in at just 90 minutes, the film can cover only so much--and, of course, most of the time is spent with films and filmmakers who agreed to participate in the documentary. So while many of the clips presented are from well known classics, an equal amount of time is spent on films with lesser profiles. It is an intriguing, if sometimes arbitrary, compilation--and I relished the chance to see many of these films again. The documentary is never less than entertaining and the clips chosen represent the genre well. Many big and small names from the era offer interviews and insight, and those are nicely done. Wes Craven is, arguably, the biggest name to contribute to the film--but my favorite recollection comes from the star of "Sleepaway Camp" and how that film's stunning (and absurd) ending affected her young life. (Look it up if you haven't seen it!)
Anyone who enjoys the slasher genre, horror, or even film history might want to check this film out. It's fast and fun. I can't say I walked away knowing more than I did going in (which I had expected), but as a diversion and a bit of nostalgia--it worked exceedingly well. KGHarris, 01/07.