- The Washington Times - Friday, November 6, 2020

Curious humans who watched scary movies during the Halloween season will love a certain splatter film director’s television show on AMC offering an educational perspective on some of the best of the ghoulish genre.

With help from those who have created the films as well as a few experts, plenty of graphic clips and even a priest, the first season of Eli Roth’s History of Horror (RLJ Entertainment, Rated: TV-MA, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, 294 minutes, $39.98) arrives via a pair of Blu-ray discs to binge on. As the title suggests, it offers an immersive historical overview of the horror film within seven, roughly 40-minute-long episodes.

Intriguing episodic topics cover Zombies, Slashers (two parts), The Demons Inside (possession), Vampires, Killer Creatures and Ghost Stories.

That translates into Mr. Roth in an infinite roundtable discussion with veteran special effects maestro Greg Nicotero (“Day of the Dead,” “The Walking Dead”) and heavy metalist turned schlock horror filmmaker Rob Zombie discussing such classic as “Child’s Play, “Psycho,” “Candyman,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Night of the Living Dead,” “Halloween,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Saw,” “Krampus,” “The Exorcist,” “The Evil Dead,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Omen,” “Insidious,” “Jaws,” “The Invisible Man,” “Poltergeist” and “Gremlins,” just to name a few.

Actually, the talking is minimal at the table with Mr. Roth letting the well-rounded horror creators speak while each episode branches out to an almost encyclopedic amount of other key interviews and movie scenes.



For example, viewers will hear from actresses such as Dee Wallace on “Cujo” and “The Howling,” Tippi Hedren on “The Birds,” Jamie Lee Curtis on “Halloween,” Linda Blair on “The Exorcist,” “Saw” serial killer Tobin Bell or “The Evil Dead” pop culture icon Bruce Campbell.

Technical expertise comes from the likes of “Paranormal Activity” architect Oren Peli, composer Howard Shore, directors John Landis (“An American Werewolf in London”), Karyn Kusama (“Jennifer’s Body”), Richard Donner (“The Omen”) and gore special effects legend Tom Savini.

Archival interviews with masters such as directors Wes Craven and Alfred Hitchcock as well as vampire novel author Anne Rice also cement the information packed deal.

In addition, Mr. Roth sat down with other experts such as directors Quentin Tarantino and Jordan “Get Out” Peele as well as master horror writer Stephen King to offer perspectives.

Overall, Mr. Roth delivers a concise, well researched and satisfying overview of the horror genre in a show that is, by the way, currently in the midst of a second season on AMC.

My only caveat is I suggest watching the films discussed before appreciating the episodes as too many of the narrative twists and scariest scenes are revealed in the cable series.

Best extras: Viewers get an extra Blu-ray disc devoted to more than two hours of additional interviews that did not make the final cut of the first season.

Supplemental analysis comes from Mr. King, filmmaker Roger Corman, Mr. Tarantino and directors Joe Dante (“Gremlins”) and Mr. Landis.

Especially fun is Mr. Corman who manages to cover many career highlights including directing “Attack of the Crab Monsters” in his 20-minute interview.

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