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

The slasher film has been a juggernaut of a subgenre over the years. From its meager beginning, it was met with shock and controversy as this new breed of horror was unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace. In Think Films Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film we take an in depth look at the subgenre, and the history and controversy that has helped to shape it into the beast that many have come to know and love today.

Going to Pieces manages to serve many purposes. From the very beginning, the film presents an educational look at how this horror subgenre was born. With many interviews from the great directors such as Wes Craven and John Carpenter, we soon learn that believe it or not, the slasher film often has a moral stance behind it, not just blood and violence for the hell of it. Often times, the slasher films were in response to many events going on in the world, such as war, political climate and social climate. Going to Pieces strives to show, that yes indeed, the slasher film has a point.

Not just a dry educational documentary, Going to Pieces is filled with a healthy dose of humor as well. Interviews with those such as Sean Cunningham, director of the classic Friday the 13th, highlights a man filled with childlike excitement over his work of art. Tom Savini, twisted maven of blood gore, shows up through out the film with detailed stories from behind the scenes. Fleshing out the theories behind the various killings, deaths and props used throughout his career, Savini regales the viewer with details such as the hairy knuckles seen on the hands of Pamela Vorhees during her death, (since it was one of Savini’s male partners). Stories such as these, detailing the creative process and often random discoveries during the preparation for these films, help breathe new life into many of these forgotten gems.

Highlighting much of the controversy surrounding the genre, we are shown details of the more prominent public outcry towards the slasher films throughout the years. With the public picketing and phone campaign against the imagery of a killer Claus in Silent Night Deadly night, we are shown an in depth look on how public campaigns against the film studios affected the release of many of the classic slashers. With a lengthy clip of Siskel and Ebert, a fair portion of the film is dedicated to the public view of the slasher film as a sexist display inciting cruelty to women. Going to Pieces shines however, as we are shown interviews with the directors of these films, and their response to these claims of sexism, wanton violence, and their mission of corrupting the nations youth. As Rabbi Herb Freed, director of Graduation Day states: “Would the world be better without slasher films? I think there are more important things for the world to be without, such as politicians who lie or avarice and greed.”

Going to Pieces is a must see for fans of horror in general, and even more so for the fans of the much maligned slasher flick. With so much detail, information and story telling packed within, this documentary transcends from the often dry and sometimes droning tone of a documentary, to an entertaining history lesson that helps to dispel some of the evil aura surrounding the genre and its fans. I will go as far to say that you will indeed learn something from this experience, and for the naysayer’s, they may even turn over a new leaf.

Four and a half educating madmen out of Five.

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