Who says being scared can’t equate to having a good time? Argentinian Documentary filmmaker, Gustavo Mendoza explores the global fascination for the morbid and the macabre in this fantastically assembled film told through the genre festival circuit. Speaking to some of the most established names in horror, Mendoza investigates what is it that draws us to the dark side of celluloid and why it has upheld such a prominent legacy as one of the world’s biggest fandoms.
Cult of Terror is the quintessential documentary for fans who embrace blood, guts and gore with the knowledge that there is so much more to horror than the visual carnage. Through interviews conducted with the most influential genre figures of our time such as Robert Englund, Barbara Crampton, Mick Garris and Bruce Campbell, Mendoza digs deep to discover why horror makes us scream and why we always return to experience the fear and the terror time and time again.
Cult of Terror is a passion project through and through. Filmed at several genre festivals and conventions from Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival to Argentina Comic Con to the UK’s very own Frightfest; Mendoza establishes the universal love for horror movies which proves translatable, uniting fans from all over the world
The striking common denominator amongst enthusiasts is that their fascination for our beloved genre is rooted within childhood. Many of us can relate to that nervous trepidation we experienced when approaching those fear inducing VHS covers on the Video Store shelves, or if we secretly stayed up to watch a Hammer movie on late night television with our eyes curiously peering through our fingers. Those images are etched into our primary consciousness and once engrained, they can never be shaken, thus evolving into the fans we have become today. Mendoza captures unbelievably relatable content, validating that no matter what country you’re from or where you watch horror, there is something deeply resonating about the shared experiences we learn from both genre stalwarts and fans alike.
Mendoza delves into the impact of iconic terror in the shape of Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and William Friedkin’s, The Exorcist (1973) and how their influence propelled the careers of the Masters of the Macabre from Garris to Carpenter that still inspires us today. We take a fond look at Wes Craven through the eyes of Robert Englund and how he struck gold through three decades of his career with The Last House on the Left (1972), The Hills Have Eyes (1977), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) right through to Scream (1996).
Englund discusses the cultural impact of Freddy Krueger- the wise-cracking horror villain and the first to obtain a personality of his own. It’s evident that he relishes in his iconic status as a symbol of the horror genre which leads to the discussion of blending horror with comedy attributing to the idea that bringing in the laughs alongside the scares is what heightens the experience of placing ourselves through an on-screen ordeal. Each segment of the documentary seamlessly flows into each other giving the film depth and structure as Mendoza expertly encapsulates his subject matter.
The prime unifying aspect that is discussed along the way, is the notion of real life horror events vs. the fictional monsters. While some of the most horrific images may unfold on screen, it is incomparable to the atrocities of real life violence, therefore horror allows its audience to create a safe space to observe the carnage while guaranteeing their survival once the credits roll.
Horror is an innate, visceral and escapist experience that embodies a sense of catharsis for the viewer, allowing us to confront our own mortality without receiving a hacksaw to the head like the poor on-screen victims! This concept is such an important aspect when discussing the genre along with its science fiction and fantasy counterparts; proving there is far more meaning underneath the surface in what it is to be a genre fan.
An outstanding documentary created for the horror community, Mendoza offers up a comprehensive insight into the subject, featuring aesthetically-nostalgic, psychedelic visual sequences from psychobilly rock band, MotorZombies which proves a delightful addition to the proceedings; capturing the fun in fear. Extensively well thought out, Mendoza reaffirms that there is no better place to be than watching horror movies in the darkness amongst like-minded people.
Frightfest presents the UK Premiere of ‘Cult of Terror’ at the paragon of cult cinema, The Prince Charles Discovery Screen 2 on Sunday the 26th August at 8:30pm. Fans of the UK’s prestigious horror event may even spot a familiar face during the film!