If you watch Netflix on your iOS device or game console, you know that the browsing function on those apps is a pain to use. And unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, it can be annoying to find something new.
So as a service, we’re going to recommend some things you can watch on Netflix right now. This time around, we have three fascinating documentaries about the horror genre. But even if you’re not a fan of scary monsters and super creeps, they still have plenty to offer.
Nightmare Factory (2011)
Director: Donna Davies
Runtime: 90 minutes
Nightmare Factory tells the history of KNB Effects, a studio known for its makeup and practical work on shows like The Walking Dead and films including Sin City, The Green Mile and Kill Bill.
KNB’s founders have decades of experience working on hundreds of projects, so odds are you’ve seen their work even if you didn’t realize it. Nightmare Factory gives you a pretty comprehensive look at the past 30 years of movies and makeup.
You get a great look into how much creativity and thought goes into effects that might only take up a few seconds of screen time, and you also get to see actor Elijah Wood completely nerd out when he comes to visit the studio.
Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2009)
Director: Andrew Monument
Runtime: 96 minutes
This fascinating look at horror cinema in these United States features an impressive panel of directors, screenwriters, and critics, and even features narration from actor Lance Henriksen (Bishop in Aliens).
It’s a lot of fun to watch people like John Carpenter (above), George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) and Joe Dante (Gremlins) discussing their favorite scary movies and offering great insight into what horror means and how it has evolved over time.
Nightmares contextualizes trends and themes within the time periods in which they were created, demonstrating how the scares that audiences sought in theaters reflected the things that worried them in everyday life. The films become valuable snapshots of what people were freaking out about and why particular works resonate more than others.
But even more basically, you get to hear a lot of horror fans and creators talk about what has moved and influenced them — Romero has a particularly fun analysis of the importance of doors in the sci-fi classic The Thing from Another World (1951).
Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy (2010)
Directors: Daniel Farrands and Andrew Kasch
Runtime: 240 minutes
That is not a typo up there: This is a four-hour-long documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street series. It is ridiculously comprehensive and features interviews with most of the directors, writers and stars of each film. And it’s also one of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched.
It doesn’t shy away from the bad entries and walks you through the complete development of every film including screenwriting, choosing directors and most of the special effects for the series’ trademark dream sequences.
Whether you like the films or not, you might still appreciate everything that goes into developing and maintaining such a long-lived and influential series or more general stuff like art direction and shooting techniques. This documentary has something that will interest anyone (as well it should at four damn hours), and some of the behind-the-scenes stories are hilarious.
Be sure to look out for the savvy set decorator who knew what the second film was really about and included several Easter eggs to nudge viewers in that direction.