Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (2006)
By: Devon B. on April 19, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
ThinkFilm (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. English, Spanish Subtitles. 87 minutes
The Movie
Director: Jeff McQueen
Starring: John Carpenter, Rob Zombie, Tom Savini, Was Craven, Sean S. Cunningham, Betsy Palmer, Felissa Rose
Tagline: Every evil. Every nightmare. Together in one film.
Country: USA
Some people might say that horror didn't peak in the 80s. Some people might say that the slasher sub genre wasn't the greatest achievement in the history of cinema. Some people might even say that "Rhythm of the Night" is a really good song. Which all just goes to show, some people are absolute cretins.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film is a documentary about one of my favourite topics, the slasher film (hence that bit about "slasher film" in the movie's subtitle). There wasn't a lot of new information for me, but the doco was a fun trip down memory lane set to some cool clips. Some big names of the genre were interviewed, many of whom are walking around while talking, which gets annoying, but there are also a few surprises in the selection of interview candidates.

Going to Pieces starts covering violence in general, and the Grand Guignol's inspiration of the splatter film. Soon, we're at what many consider to be the definitive slasher, John Carpenter's Halloween, which actually creates a bit of a problem. Halloween has been exhaustively covered between the two Anchor Bay docos, so there's not much new to offer. But then, could you make a doco about slashers and not have Halloween? You could, but then you'd be an fool. This section of Going to Pieces, while essential, is also one of the least interesting, simply for the "been there, done that" factor.

Things pick up with the next major entry, Friday the 13th, but much of the information here can be found in the doco on the R4 DVD of that film. From there, Going to Pieces gets into less heralded, but perhaps no less classic, films like Prom Night, Maniac, and House on Sorority Row. Okay, maybe that last one isn't classic. Anyway, there still aren't any startling revelations, unless you didn't know things like Friday the 13th 2 borrowed heavily from Twitch of the Death Nerve. However, if you're a newbie and don't know a lot about the plots of these slasher films, be warned that spoilers abound.

The standout moments for me were getting to see some of the news footage surrounding the Silent Night, Deadly Night controversy, and the interesting and entertaining interview with Amy Holden-Jones, director of Slumber Party Massacre. Early slasher send up Student Bodies is featured as well, but keep an eye out for one clip from it being presented as though it's a serious film!
Well, there're lots of sources, so this is a bit moot, but the bigger budget clips generally look fine. The interviews were shot on high end video, so look good, but there is some occasional light flicker. A variety of ratios are on hand too, but the film is 16x9 enhanced.
Dialogue is all clear, but as with the video, there're a lot of sources, so a bit of variation. The levels are mixed well, so there're no significant jumps or dips.
Extra Features
Minor features on the Going to Pieces DVD are the trailer plus those for .45 (not a remake of Ms. 45) and The Zodiac, and a written message from Adam Rockoff about his book of the same name being made into a documentary. More substantial extras include a trivia test with three skill levels, additional interviews, and a commentary. The interviewees here include the now sadly deceased Bob Clark, but most of these clips are extended footage from the film. Most of the interviews here run for a few minutes, with the exception of Psycho scripter Joseph Stefano's, which runs about 10.

The commentary is with producers Rachel Belofsky and Rudy Scalese and editor Michael Bohusz. I'm always leery of commentaries on docos, as I figure the filmmakers should've said what they wanted to within the film. Doco commentaries can be done well, as with the recent music movie American Hardcore but the trio here weren't off to a good start when they started calling Rammstein "Rammsteen." Okay, fair enough, not everyone speaks German, but for fuck's sake, they have a whole song where every other line they say is their name! Most of what they say is unnecessary, so it would've been better for the DVD if there were short video interviews that allowed each person to say a few things instead.
The Verdict
This is a tough one to rate, as the topic of Going to Pieces is one I enjoy so much. If you have only a passing interest in slashers, this is probably a three Australia effort. But then, if you only have a passing interest, this film will probably spoil a lot of the films covered, which might make it rate lower. If you really like slashers, this is a four Australia effort, as long as it's approached for entertainment value and not educational. Though anyone who looks to slasher films for education must be a cretin.
Movie Score
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