Horror Documentary: The Splat Pack (2010)

The horror documentary is a difficult one to pull off successfully.  There’s times when those being interviewed come off sounding arrogant (like in HIS NAME WAS JASON; see my review) and sometimes the material isn’t really examined in enough detail (again, HIS NAME WAS JASON).  On the other hand there are times when a horror documentary comes along and completely blows ya outta the water (as is the case with NEVER SLEEP AGAIN; see my review), I find that most horror documentaries focus on the heyday of the horror genre … you know; when slashers roamed free and everyone thought the word “misogyny” was some kind of new massage technique complete with full release.  But what about the 2000’s?  Sure there were a fuck-ton of horrible genre flicks that came out that decade (I should know; I saw most of them).  But what about the good ones?  In case you have a bad short-term memory, the 2000’s saw a resurgence of not just the “horror film” but of the bloody and gory horror film.  This is exactly what THE SPLAT PACK focuses on.

Co-director Frank H. Woodward (the short one).

This documentary take us back to the 2000’s and examines how this resurgence came about.  According to writer Mark Henry (who is also the co-director along with Frank H. Woodward) this resurgence was due to the backlash from the SCREAM films.  There’s no denying that the SCREAM trilogy was financially successful, but as Harry Knowles of Ain’t it Cool News points out, “They weren’t very good films.”  So the SCREAM flicks served as a catalyst for a lot of young horror directors out there to make an actual scary and bloody genre flick that wasn’t safe and rated PG-13.  So just who are these directors who make up “The Splat Pack” (a term that was coined by UK film critic Alan Jones)?  These directors include Alexandre Aja (HIGH TENSION), Neil Marshall (THE DESCENT), Adam Green (HATCHET), Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER), Rob Zombie (THE DEVIL’S REJECTS), Greg Mclean (WOLF CREEK), and Darren Lynn Bousman (a few SAW sequels).  Yeah; a pretty solid bunch of horror directors!!

Director Darren Lynn Bousman being interviewed.

But one of the great things in this documentary are the interviews.  Henry and Woodward get some extremely profound insights out of everyone and proves that these are some pretty damn intelligent guys making these splatter flicks.  For example, when Bousman is asked if he feels his films are too extreme he points out that comedy directors never get shit for making their films “too funny” and that drama directors don’t have to defend their films for being “too dramatic or sad.”  So why, Bousman asks, do horror directors have to defend themselves when their flicks are hardcore, bloody, and violent?  Excellent point Darren!!  Its intelligent comments like this that’ll have you glued to the screen.  Last weekend I had to fly up to New Jersey (horrifying in itself) and I actually watched this documentary on the flight to NJ and the flight back home … it’s that good.

French splat pack member Alexandre Aja.

But this isn’t all talk … hell no!!  Henry and Woodward fill the screen with the greatest, goriest moments from the above-mentioned films (and more).  Its an insightful bunch of interviews as well as a “greatest hits” reel of the bloodiest flicks from the 1990’s!!  But perhaps best of all is that we finally get an acceptable explanation from Alexandre Aja himself about why the ending of HIGH TENSION was so fucking lame.  In a nutshell Aja tells us that the main producer who was financing the film (Aja explains that, “Without him there wouldn’t have been a film”) wanted that ending.  Plain and simple.  Aja goes into more explanation about the events, but that is the bottom line.  I can accept that; I can accept that it was some rich douchy producer who skull-fucked the ending.  Finally after all these years I got the closure I needed about that horrible ending.

Not to sound cliched, but the only negative thing about THE SPLAT PACK is that it was way too short.  I know “they” say “always leave ‘em wanting more,” but fuck that … this documentary needed to be at least another hour long (it runs only 48 minutes)!!  But it’s amazing how much insight and info the filmmakers packed into those 48 minutes.  Now don’t go trying to find THE SPLAT PACK on netflix … it ain’t there.  This incredible documentary is only available at the filmmaker’s website:  http://wyrdstuff.com/ Go visit this site now and download this documentary; you’ll thank me.

HOSTEL director Eli Roth getting a taste of his own medicine.

The 2000’s will forever go down in genre history as a pivotal decade.  There were some truly fucked up, extreme, and disturbing films made in that decade.  If you’re having trouble remembering what those flicks are or you think I’m fucking crazy about the 2000’s then you definitely need to watch this documentary.  This is an extremely fun, insightful, and really well-made horror documentary.  Don’t miss this one!!

My Summary:

Directors:  Mark Henry & Frank H. Woodward

Plot:  5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  10 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

10 Responses to “Horror Documentary: The Splat Pack (2010)”
  1. Deggsy says:

    Excellent review, Scott – I too seem to have a block in my memory about horror in the 90s, a block set by the Scream phenomenon. That movie was like having some generic popstar take a hardcore metal song that I loved and few others had ever heard about, make it anodine but famous, and have the general public accept that watered-down version as what defines “harcore”. I’ll have to keep an eye for it…


    • You always have the best analogies Deggsy!! I did make 1 error though; the docu focuses on horror in the 2000’s & not the 1990’s. Not sure how I fucked the date like that!! But your comment still stands.


  2. l3pr3chaun says:

    The 90’s were a mixed bag in my opinion. On the crappy side you had “Scream”, “Blair Witch”, “Jason Goes To Hell” & “Halloween H2O” and on the truly entertaining side you had “Silence of The Lambs”, “Cemetery Man”, “Army of Darkness”, “Dead-Alive”, and “Candyman” . I believe the decade was mediocre at best, instead of an entire lost decade for the genre. Now if you are just talking the sub-genre of splatter films then yes I agree that part of the 90’s truly did suck.


    • You’re right Bill; those flicks nots labeled “horror” were better & more disturbing than actual genre flicks. It still blows my mind that SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is tagged as a drama & psychological thriller!!! It was fucking horror people; I don’t care what you labeled it!!! But the MPAA always cones down harder in a genre flick. Always have, always will.


  3. Demian says:

    Cool I will check this out! I also was dissapointed with the 90’s horror. The never sleeps doc was outstanding. I was dissatisfied with the Jason doc. Did u ever see going to pieces the rise and fall of the slasher film? It’s pretty good.


    • I haven’t had the chance to see GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM yet. Although I must say that title is a little off … slasher films have always been around and I think they’ll continue to stay around!! I’m gonna check it out regardless.


  4. Great review! I hope to see this one, as well as the documentary, Every Other Day is Halloween. Which is on the career of Horror Host/actor Dick Dysel aka Count Gore De Vol.
    I love documentaries, I did watch His Name is Jason, which was decent enough. I would love to see someone do a review of American Scary http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0371530/
    Every Other Day is Halloween http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1727789/
    Unconventional http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0420285/ (which was just ok IMO)
    Vampira the Movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816694/
    Pretty Bloody: The Women of Horror http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Bloody:_The_Women_of_Horror
    Welcome to My Darkness http://www.lastdoorwayproductions.com/womeninhorror/index.html
    Dreaded Dreams
    Petunia Scareum


    • I’m the opposite Petunia … I usually hate documentaries. But after seeing such amazing ones like NEVER SLEEP AGAIN and THE SPLAT PACK, well I’m more inclined to give some other horror documentaries a shot. The guys who did THE SPLAT PACK also have a docu about Lovecraft … I’m dying to see that one.

      Thanks for the list!!


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  2. […] NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET franchise; THEY CALL HIM JASON about the iconic killer Jason Voorhees; and THE SPLAT PACK about the rise of the torture-porn sub-genre in the 1990’s.  But I’ve never reviewed a film […]


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