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TH!INKFilm presents
Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)

"We have a reptile brain way down inside, and that brain is cold blooded...that part of the brain, and it kills, and it doesn't care."
- John Carpenter

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 30, 2007

Stars: John Carpenter, Wes Craven
Other Stars: Rob Zombie, Tom Savini, Amy Holden Jones, Betsey Palmer, Felissa Rose
Director: Jeff McQueen

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (language, graphic violence, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:28m:01s
Release Date: March 20, 2007
UPC: 821575548359
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-BB- C+

DVD Review

Documentaries about the widely adored horror genre aren't exactly churned out on a yearly basis. Many classic horror films have come to DVD with newly-produced, interview-filled reflections, but when it comes to the genre as a whole, fans have gone without. Until 2006, that is, when the Starz Channel premiered Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film. On first viewing back then, this film whet the appetite of this particular die-hard horror fan. Unfortunately, a second viewing via THINKFilm's new DVD brought quite a few flaws to the surface.

While fairly comprehensive, horror buffs still can't get that "perfect" documentary about any aspect of their favorite genre. The quintessential horror doc is still 1984's Terror in the Aisles, and there have been a whopping 23 years of scary movies to chronicle since that study hit theaters. In this new interview and clip compilation, the filmmakers seem too wrapped up in the creepy look of the interview footage then they are in the actual content. Quite a few big names have been tracked down to wax nostalgic about their films, but there's a certain flair missing to make this worthy of repeat viewings.

This slasher movie history begins with a brief talk about the influence films like Psycho have in regards to on-screen violence. We then hear about the evolution of such violence, as films of this type eventually became known as "slasher movies." John Carpenter's classic Halloween is touted here as being the film that really kick-started this subgenre, but aside from a short clip, Black Christmas, which was released years earlier, is hardly given its due. Filmmaker Jeff McQueen veers off in various directions from this point forward, looking at obscure 1980s slasher films, as well as the franchises Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The best section here focuses on forgotten flicks like April Fools Day and The Prowler. Even the biggest horror buffs will find clips here that will have them filling up their Netflix queue. Snippets of Happy Birthday to Me and My Bloody Valentine are also offered, which sent this reviewer on a personal trip back to the days of sneaking some R-rated films under my parents' noses. The only issue with this segment is McQueen's decision to discuss the ending of April Fools Day; this whopper of a twist is one of the best of '80s slashers, so you if you have yet to see it, be warned.

The interviews come from a surprisingly eclectic group of people. John Carpenter and Wes Craven participate, but there are also rare talks with Betsey Palmer, Slumber Party Massacre director Amy Holden Jones, and the infamous Angela from Sleepaway Camp, Felissa Rose. But it doesn't get any better than Tom Savini's interviews—he's the kind of guy who could make a shoe-tying seminar interesting, and here he shares amazing stories about his pioneering special effects work.

My disappointment lies in the omission of the Italian giallo films of Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci. These pioneering filmmakers are mentioned in passing, but there's no detail about any of their works, let alone footage; I suppose they deserve a doc all of their own.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation varies in quality from clip to clip, but the newly filmed interview segments look quite good. They feature sharp, detailed images that create a nice contrast between old and new footage. Colors are rendered well throughout, regardless of the source material, and there are very few blemishes such as dirt and grain.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is far from flashy, but it does the job. The dialogue is crisp and clear throughout the interview segments, and the music is vibrant. During the actual movie clips, all of the audio elements vary, depending on the age and state of the source material.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring .45, The Zodiac
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Producers Rachel Belofsky and Rudy Scalese, and editor Michael Bohusz.
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. A Message from Author Adam Rockoff - Text-based introduction to the film.
  2. Horror Trivia: True or False - Interactive game
  3. Bonus Interviews
Extras Review: The extras include a textual introduction to the film by the author of the book it was based on, Adam Rockoff. He gushes about the adaptation, saying he feels that seeing the subjects of his book on the screen is far better than simply reading about them.

An audio commentary track is also on board, with producers Rachel Belofsky and Rudy Scalese, and editor Michael Bohusz participating. This discussion seems rather superfluous, given that they're discussing what is essentially a collection of interviews. Still, we do hear some interesting stories about their encounters with the interviewees.

There are six bonus interviews that last about 33 minutes and include a wonderful talk with late writer Joseph Stefano.

We also get an interactive game of horror trivia, which features two levels of difficulty, both containing some challenging questions. Rounding out the extras is the trailer and previews for other THINKFilm releases.

Extras Grade: C+


Final Comments

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film doesn't always fire on all cylinders, but there are quality interviews to keep things interesting for an hour and a half. Some nice clips keep the terror quotient high, and we hear from legends both known and forgotten who made these films possible.


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