Director: Donna Davies
Running Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
A look behind the scenes at the special effects work of KNB studios and how its founders were inspired to get into the movie makeup and effects business.
One of the most interesting parts of movie making is special effects and makeup work. BigJ and I have always been fascinated with movie magic and makeup, so we were excited to watch "Nightmare Factory," especially being such huge fans of the horror genre. Epix Films takes a peek at a couple of the men behind said magic of movie making.
KNB studios have worked on films like the "Evil Dead" series, the "Predator" films, "The Chronicles of Narnia," "Sin City," "Grindhouse," "Piranha 3D," and most recently, "The Walking Dead," one of the most popular shows on television. The founders of the studio are Robert Kirkman, Greg Nicotero, and Howard Berger, and if you're a tried and true movie fanatic, you'll recognize at least one if not all of these names. As kids, these men had a passion for monster movies. They are the self-proclaimed geeks who were thought of as the 'weird kids' in life, the ones who would spend their time in their parents' basement learning to sculpt, creating their own special effects for homemade movies. While vacationing in Europe with his parents, Nicotero had the fortunate experience of running into famed horror movie director George Romero at a cafe just by chance. He expressed what a huge fan he was and learned Romero was going to be making a sequel to "Night of the Living Dead" in his hometown. After some correspondence, Romero invited the guys to the set. It was there Nicotero met special effects master Tom Savini, who took him under his wing and started showing him the ropes of effects makeup. Soon, Nicotero was working for Savini along with Kirkman and Berger. These men eventually broke off and made their own studio and started to work on horror films by themselves. Surprisingly, their big break didn't come from Hollywood, but from making a medical instruction video where they were forced to construct lifelike cadavers which displayed how realistic their work could be.
"Nightmare Factory" gives a neat and informative look at the effects business. It has interviews with many filmmakers and special effects legends who discuss how difficult and competitive the effects business is and what kind of skills one needs to be successful in their chosen craft. It also addresses a serious issue that has plagued Hollywood over the years as studio number crunchers and lazy directors have become more interested in speed rather than quality. This has given way to lower quality effects as movies have started to rely on the overuse of unrealistic computer generated graphics rather than solid practical effects and better looking makeup work. "I'll fix it in post production" has become a mantra for these lazy directors who have, in many ways, cheapened the film industry in terms of quality for your money.
Despite having some interesting moments, overall, this documentary is pretty poorly paced and feels extremely long as one by one, many different people with the same background and general story are talked to to the point where it all starts to feel redundant. It really boils down to an interesting subject matter presented in a sometimes uninteresting way. It's not a bad documentary, but it's not the best one we've ever seen.
My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ---%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?