Not enough detail for knowledgeable fans but for the casual viewer of the genre, this is an interesting documentary
This documentary looks back at the era of the horror movies produced by Universal Studios. Starting with the silent classics, we are told the story behind Phantom of the Opera, Dracula through to the later horrors of The Wolf Man etc. With clips of the films, stills from the period and interviews with those involved directly, experts, fans and relatives of the original stars talk about the films and the stars of the period.
Having recently seen several Universal classic horrors (the only good thing about the 'holiday' of Halloween) I was interested enough to watch this documentary about the Universal era. The film is interesting and will engage anyone with a passing interest in the films but not those who already have a good working knowledge of them. This is because the film skims over the surface, talking generally about the main people and films but never really going into great detail about any one of them. What it does well is to look at a lot of films I had heard of/seen most of them but there were one or two that were unknown to me and interested me for that reason. The sweeping approach just about works because there is enough in the way of anecdotes and stories to just about make it feel constantly informative, and I assume that the film is aimed at an audience famialr with the films but not to the point where they will know anything beyond what is on screen.
Usually when a documentary rolls out relatives of dead stars I start to shudder but here it works pretty well. The various daughters etc are only sparingly used, and more time is given over to Branagh's informative narrator, stars of some of the films and the various 'experts' all contribute well. Of course the clips take up most of the running time (again something that may bother those very familiar with the films) but the contributions tend to play over well without feeling too obtrusive.
Overall an interesting film but one that will only really appeal to fans of the films that have not taken their interest beyond just seeing the film. With such a big subject to cover in a short time, very little detail can be given on any one aspect; hence well-informed fans will feel that this documentary is too simplistic. However for me, and the majority of viewers I'd guess, this was an interesting film that used clips and interviews well with just enough interesting stories and snippets to make for a memorable little film.
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