Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film Movie Review
This Starz-produced documentary (which oddly has no director credited) gives a dutiful breakdown of the slasher flick's birth, death, rebirth, redeath, and so on until we reach the present day. As you might expect, progenitors Halloween and Friday the 13th get the bulk of screen time, with a goodly amount of footage devoted to interviews with the cast and crew (no Jamie Lee, alas). Every angle is covered, from special effects to script, but the film mostly focuses on the cultural impact of the slasher movie: Kids loved 'em, critics vilified them, and parents weren't happy at all when Santa Claus started killing people.
Of course, time moves on, and eventually sequels wear thin (they're blamed, interestingly, on 1980s Reagan-era greed), and the film shifts to discussing the various revivals of the genre in later years. A Nightmare on Elm Street gets plenty of coverage, of course, and much is made of April Fool's Day (perhaps the first "none of it really happened" movie, which many point to as the decline of the genre). Whether Apirl Fool's Day is a good film or a bad one is probably Going to Pieces' biggest debate. The film wraps up around the Scream era, with humor being noted as the latest trick used to revive the slasher movie genre from the dead.
Oddly, Pieces is lacking in what I'd consider some pretty key areas. There's not much mention of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , and though it's not really a "slasher" film, there's only minimal coverage of The Blair Witch Project. In general, independent horror gets short shrift here, and that's too bad, because these two films have been extremely influential. Yet Rob Zombie gets more screen time than both put together.
For a documentary about slasher flicks, the interviews also feel awfully tepid. Though some of the locations are, well, strange (one poor guy is interviewed as he continually walks down an alley filled with garbage cans, in the dark), most of them feel academic and surprisingly dry. I know Wes Craven and John Carpenter can be a lot more exciting than this. I've seen them in person.
If you're a horror fan already, you really don't need to see Going to Pieces, but nostalgia might lead you to rent it and you'll probably have a good time remembering Slumber Party Massacre or Prom Night. But really, I'd say this is a film best-suited for someone with absolutely no cultural awareness, someone who'd not only never seen a horror movie but who'd never even heard of such a thing. His mind would be blown.
The DVD includes commentary track and bonus interviews.