Elite docus a real monster effort

Upcoming DVD sets to explore history of horror genre

Elite Entertainment, a 13-year-old independent supplier known for restoring and distributing horror, science-fiction and cult DVD titles, is about to unmask some of the horror genre's most despicable villains.

The company is turning the cameras inward with the upcoming release of two documentaries, "The Fearmakers Collection" and "Creature Features."

"Fearmakers," a triple-disc set featuring 10 half-hour episodes spotlighting the works of such directors as Tobe Hooper, Roger Corman and Roman Polanski, is due out May 8. The program is based on the book "The Fearmakers," by John McCarty.

On June 12, Elite will release "Creature," a docu that explores the history of monsters in cinema through three installments: "The Beasts," "The Machine" and "The Dead." Each features an assortment of film clips from appropriate movies; "The Dead," about killers who come back from the dead, has clips from such classic films as "Nosferatu," "The Mummy" and "Night of the Living Dead."

"Creature" originally aired on Bravo.

Elite Entertainment president Vini Bancalari said it is a natural progression that a DVD company known for its horror movies should venture into documentaries about the genre.

"I think that due to the vast amount of special effects usually involved in horror films, fans are very curious about 'how they did it,' " he said. "There is also the history behind the genre, which fans find very interesting. Everyone has their favorite movie monsters, but to learn about their roots is quite amazing."

Bancalari said "Creature" in particular is like a class on the history of horror movies.

"You can learn so much about their history and evolution over the years," he said. "For example, everyone knows 'Frankenstein,' and we all associate that character with Boris Karloff. But to see scenes from the 1915 film 'Der Golem,' you come to realize that this creature was the original Frankenstein monster, just as 1922's 'Nosferatu' was the very first Dracula."

Bancalari said that the horror genre is enjoying one of its periodic bursts in popularity thanks in large part to the theatrical success of such edgy slasher films as the "Saw" trilogy and "Hostel." He considers those types of films -- in which the killer is a human being -- much scarier than traditional monster movies.

"These are people who could live in the house next door to you," he said. "Think about that. When you see a horror movie that features this type of monster, you can't help thinking that this could really be happening ... somewhere. Films like Rob Zombie's 'House of 1000 Corpses' and 'The Devil's Rejects' really get to me."

Accordingly, Bancalari said, "as these documentaries gain in popularity, I'm certain that you will be seeing more volumes that delve into the bloody and disturbing world of the slasher film."