Film4 Frightfest the 13th - Day 3

#13 - Nightmare Factory

rating: 4

Donna Davies' insightful documentary about the world of horror make-up catches up with the legends of the horror industry both in front of the camera (John Carpenter, John Landis, George A. Romero) and behind it (Tom Savini, Greg Nicotero), to examine the process that makes these films come to life. Nicotero is very much the subject of the doc, having worked on just about every notable big-studio horror film over the years, but also branching out to provide effects for the likes of Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds' murder of Hitler was achieved with his help), and also work as a second-unit director on AMC's zombie show The Walking Dead. Here Davies gets from Nicotero and the partners of his production company an account of how they broke into the industry - mostly pestering Tom Savini - and managed to work on some of the most revered horror films of the 1980s (Day of the Dead, Evil Dead 2). Things get really interesting once they discuss how the craft has changed over the years, and it has become industrialised to the point that there is no sense of brotherhood anymore. Also, the release of Spielberg's Jurassic Park in 1993 set off alarm bells for many in the make-up effects industry, as it seemed to in effect close in on their business. With the use of practical effects dwindling, many here feel that there is nobody to "pass the torch to" for the next generation of craftsmen, and that CGI's proliferation will only increase in the coming years. That said, there is not a sense of embitterment here but more one of pragmatism; the interviewees are mostly quick to praise the melding of visual effects with prosthetics and make-up, as it still provides an organic basis for CGI artists to work with. What really impresses is how much passion drips out of the subjects. A must-see for any horror fan.

Frequently sleep-deprived film addict and video game obsessive who spends more time than is healthy in darkened London screening rooms. Follow his twitter on @ShaunMunroFilm or e-mail him at shaneo632 [at]