Tuesday, June 19, 2007

HORROR BUSINESS (2005) Documentary Review


The genre of horror offers something unique and wonderful for both the viewer and filmmaker. For the viewer, it allows an emotional exposure - whether it be the willful submission to fright or the ability to confront ones own mortality and the reality of death - that can not be found in any other genre. For the filmmaker, it is the most "accessible" genre to begin making movies that only requires a camera, a few friends or cheap actors, some fake blood, and a half-decent concept to bring a story to life. While some filmmakers use horror as a springboard to bigger and better things, there are some that are compelled to the point of obsession, to make horror movies no matter the obstacles and insurmountable odds.

It is these filmmakers that documentarian Christopher P Garetano follows in HORROR BUSINESS, a creation two years in the making. Garetano focuses his effort on several micro-budget filmmakers living on the fringes of cinema's society, including Ron (NECROMANIAC) Atkins, David (ZOMBIE HONEYMOON) Gebroe, David (CATHARSIS) Stagnari and Mark (SCARE ME) Borchardt, who was previously the subject the 1999 documentary AMERICAN MOVIE, which chronicled his journey to make his first short film, COVEN. Garetano also spends some time with special effects creator Tate Steinsiek, who is "living his dream". Each of these men have such a raw devotion to making movies, the power of cinema, and horror in particular, that even for those who have never had the desire to pick up a camera will be moved by their unwavering allegiance to celluloid (or at least magnetic VHS tape).

Garetano gives us a fly-on-the-wall perspective of movie making. Here, we see the process of setting up shots, the stress of controlling the shooting environment, and most intimately, the thoughts of these directors and their own battles with self-doubt and self-conscious criticism. Their biggest detractors are themselves, and all they want to do is make sure that their final product is not just another piece of crap. Beyond the behind-the-scenes footage, each director is extensively interviewed and gives us their thoughts on the horror genre, their feelings on Hollywood, "independent" films, critics, viewers and basically anyone that comes in contact with the genre.

HORROR BUSINESS also takes a look at how horror is perceived and Garetano scores some impressive, if brief, interviews with some big names that give their thoughts on what the genre means. Herschell Gordon Lewis, the "Godfather Of Gore", takes a huge stab at current movie makers who have forgotten that a movie's most important goal is to entertain. Sid Haig gives a rallying call to those determined to make it. Joe Bob Briggs, everyone's favorite cult film critic, give us the three rules for any beginning director. Lloyd Kaufman, president of Troma and legendary maverick director, offers his take on movie making. Editor of Fangoria Magazine Tony Timpone steps in to offer the prerequisite defense of horror movies against those who may believe the genre to create real life killers.

There is a huge world of underground filmmakers just waiting their audience to find them. Much like the documentary HYPE! did for the "Seattle Scene" back in 1996, this documentary offers a compilation of sorts via clips and trailers to directors and films that fall below the radar of the average citizen, who are waiting to be discovered by those that have grown tired of a system that regularly churns out one tired and watered down film after another. These are the punks of the movie world, who play a low-slung digital camera instead of an out-of-tune guitar, and refuse to play by the rules. If you like it, they'll be your best friend. If you don't, well you can just go fuck yourself back to the multiplex.

The DVD has recently released by Image, which presents the film as it originally played on the festival circuit and is presented in its original widescreen ratio. Director Garetano gives a heartfelt introduction before the feature and promises a follow-up documentary to see where his subjects have gone since he last saw them.. The DVD also includes Garetano's short film 365 Ways To Cook Chicken, the documentary short The Escape Of Horror Business, a trailer reel, and art portfolio.

Special thanks goes to Christopher Garetano for sending me the copy for review. You can find him here on MySpace.

HORROR BUSINESS is currently available on Amazon.com


Cora said...

Nice Review

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