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Going to Pieces
on 10 July 2007
The slasher movie has always been looked upon with much disdain by critics, fans of 'real' film and even some horror fans for many years, which is strange considering its endurance; there are well over 500 in existence from the roots of 'Psycho' all the way up to forthcoming features like 'All the Boys Love Mandy Lane' and a remake of 'April Fool's Day'. As an advocate of the genre with an academic background in film, I was glad that somebody finally took the time to make a serious documentary that didn't spend all its time telling us things we already knew.
'Going to Pieces' is based on Adam Rockoff's book (which restricted itself to covering the years 1974-1986) and goes through the central elements of the genre with interjections from individuals who have contributed landmark productions to it (Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Sean Cunningham, even Amy Holden Jones!) and clips from a large cross-section of films. The only possible flaw is that it focuses much of its time on the well-known franchises. Even through tribute is paid to the likes of 'Happy Birthday to Me', 'Graduation Day', 'The Burning' and the ultra-trashy 'Pieces', where is 'Hell Night'? More importantly, where is the original 'Texas Chain Saw Massacre'? While this is a minor point, it's more than compensated for with some previously banned footage, most notably the pitchfork-shower scene from 'The Prowler', which was heavily scissored by the BBFC.
Time is taken to attempt to defend the genre somewhat, by drawing analogies between 'A Nightmare on Elm Street' and Buddhist properties and making a case for (most of) these films really being more than simplistic body count gorefests; slasher movies CAN be cathartic. Genre-haters Ebert and Siskel appear in their famous rant about sleazy horror, which centered around misogyny and the lack of art - I wonder what they'd make of this?
Definitely worth a look for those curious about the genre; even my anti-horror friend was slightly humbled that there could be intellectual thought surrounding these films!