Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (DVD)

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (click for larger image)Starring John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Rob Zombie, Tom Savini, Bob Clark, Stan Winston, and many more horror greats

Produced by Rudolf Scalese

Distributed by THINKFilm

It has been one hell of a ride over the last thirty years in the horror business. Fans have witnessed ups, downs, and near stops on the roller coaster ride of slasher pictures. Now, with the new era of faux-grittiness increasing and consuming much of the genre, it is time to take a step back and look at what really made scary movies work so well. There is only so much that extreme violence and blood splatter can make up for, and quality is not one of those things.

Enter Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film, a documentary based on Adam Rockoff’s book of the same name that looks back at all the years of blood, mayhem, and madmen that managed to do so much with so little. Not only is there nostalgia to be had but also a spark of what is to come and what filmmakers can do to ensure quality over quantity.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film launches with a look at why we are so infatuated with the macabre. More than just a few people went to see Christians eaten by lions, and though that kind of blood lust has tamed, there is still that side of humanity that wants a taste of death.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (click for larger image)As the documentary continues along its chronological path, the audience is treated to the first great slasher, Psycho, all the way up to the genre’s rebirth with Scream. There is no lack of interviews and clips from all the greats here to help paint a picture of how things started off so strong in the Sixties and managed to get pulled down to hell in the late Eighties.

Going to Pieces does a great job of never becoming a contest of who made the best slasher film. Each filmmaker has his own strengths, and the debate on remakes weakening the horror pool is not brought up in even the slightest aspect. Though some of the remakes in question are shown, little to nothing is said about them other than displaying how the films must keep growing and progressing to meet the needs of modern moviegoers.

Even if the technical aspects or cultural relevance is not to your liking, this DVD could be viewed as a best of the best clips fest. All the goriest uncensored clips are arranged around well edited interviews that never drone on and on. If nothing else it is a great teaching tool to inform the younger audiences of today that a good horror movie does not have to be loaded with big names and CGI to provide entertainment value. Hell, in some cases blood isn’t even needed to make a classic.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (click for larger image)It does pain this reviewer to say that the extras of this DVD release do not match up pound for pound with the amount of bloody meat found in the actual feature. While the combination of commentary, bonus interviews, and a trivia game sounds like a lot, they somehow don’t amount to something one would expect from a documentary that encompasses decades of horror films.

It goes without saying that the feature itself is something that could be watched over and over, but does it retain that same replay value with the commentary track playing? Producers Rachel Belofsky and Rudy Scalese join with editor Michael Bohusz to lay down the track that would hopefully shed some light on what went into making this film. Sigh. Well, it would have been nice to hear some new information, but these three folks regurgitate an abundance of the same facts and trivia the viewer has already seen in the documentary itself. The thrill-less talk about how interviews and footage had to be cut down to make it into the project also aids in watering down the audio track. Redundant is what best describes the commentary track … redundant and tame.

If you make it through the commentary track and are in need a boost to keep the blood pumping, then it would be high time to check out the largest section of special features: the bonus interviews. It isn’t really fair to call these bonus, as extended would be a much more truthful word or even the term deleted. When conducting an interview, there may be times that the interviewee may go off on a tangent and spill info that may not even pertain to the horror or slasher genre. In some cases the facts and trivia could be seen by some to be totally boring. We certainly get a mixed bag of that here.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film (click for larger image)John Dunning and Joseph Stefano provide some interesting material on their respective films, but it is obvious why these were struck from the final film. The same cannot be said about Bob Clark’s segment. Clark dishes out the same quality observations and points as to why the original Black Christmas broke some molds in the slasher genre. Porky’s fans should pay attention during the end of his segment for more info on the remake. Paul Lynch lets us all know, in less than three minutes, how Prom Night was invented and how the Canada of a few decades ago is not like the Canada we know of today. Also in the under three-minute category comes Stan Winston. One of his many creatures is here to tell you Stan Winston’s view on Stan Winston, which could have been improved by allowing Pumpkinhead to express its views on how his character has been raped by bad sequels. Then there is Fred Walton. He could warrant an entire paragraph of his own. Out of all the extended interviews, his sheds the most light on his film, a little gem known as April Fool’s Day! Fred sold his grandmother’s Tiffany engagement ring to fund the small film as a means to help get studios interested. Holding the tears back is hard.

The last special feature to cover is Horror Trivia. This interactive game is split into three parts: True or False, Novice, and Advanced Multiple Choice. Many of the questions stem from the things the audience can learn by watching Going to Pieces, but a few may stump even the most hardcore of genre fans. Horror Trivia really puts the commentary and some of the bonus interviews to shame by giving the viewer what they are looking for.

Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film is a must have. The extra features may not be the kind one would expect, but the quality of the documentary and the vast amount of films covered make this something that belongs on each horror fan’s shelf.

Special Features

Filmmaker commentary
Message from author Adam Rockoff
Bonus interviews
Trivia game


5 out of 5

Special Features

3 out of 5

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Mike Phalin

Mike Phalin is a contributing writer, reality television star and engineer.

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