Hor­ror maven Eli Roth cel­e­brates and pre­serves the his­tory of the genre

Texarkana Gazette - - REAL TALK | LATE LAUGHS - By Ken­neth An­deel

Killer ed­u­ca­tion: In 2018,AMC ex­panded its Vi­sion­ar­ies line of doc­u­men­tary se­ries, wel­com­ing di­rec­tor Eli Roth as cu­ra­tor-host of “Eli Roth’s His­tory of Hor­ror.” A new episode of the sev­en­part event airs Sun­day, Nov. 11, on the ca­bler, as Roth con­tin­ues his self-ap­pointed task of laud­ing the great hor­ror film­mak­ers who pre­ceded him and in­spired his own for­ays into the genre.

Pre­vi­ous in­stall­ments un­der the Vi­sion­ar­ies ban­ner in­clude “James Cameron’s Story of Sci­ence Fic­tion” and “Robert Kirkman’s Se­cret His­tory of Comics.” Each en­try in this fam­ily of docu-se­ries al­lows an au­teur known for his work in a par­tic­u­lar field or genre to guide fans through a per­sonal in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the his­tory and cul­tural rel­e­vance of that genre. The for­mat de­pends heav­ily on in­ter­views with other cre­ators who made last­ing first­hand con­tri­bu­tions to the same field.

Roth is best known for his first two fea­ture films, “Cabin Fever” (2002) and “Hos­tel” (2005), a pair of gory but in­spired slasher movies that earned Roth ac­claim for be­ing a re­spect­ful stu­dent of the genre who also strove to add his own flair. While Roth has stayed out of the hor­ror game in re­cent years (2013’s “The Green In­ferno” was his most re­cent film in that mode), he still ev­i­dently iden­ti­fies as a hor­ror buff and is ea­ger to use his po­si­tion to honor the his­tor­i­cal im­pact of other di­rec­tors, ac­tors and con­trib­u­tors to the genre.

“Eli Roth’s His­tory of Hor­ror” casts a wide net and vis­its many of the ma­jor sub­gen­res of the hor­ror movie in­dus­try. There are rep­re­sen­ta­tives from ev­ery cor­ner of the hor­ror land­scape, in­clud­ing zom­bie flicks, ghost sto­ries, mon­ster movies and Roth’s own pre­ferred nook of hu­man-on-hu­man slasher films. The se­ries brings to­gether in­di­vid­u­als from a mul­ti­tude of dis­ci­plines, invit­ing writ­ers, di­rec­tors, ac­tors, makeup artists and oth­ers to present their thoughts on the iconic hor­ror films they helped cre­ate.

The list of stars sched­uled to ap­pear of­fers an em­bar­rass­ment of riches; it in­cludes author Stephen King, fel­low di­rec­tors Quentin Tarantino (“Death Proof,” 2007) and Jor­dan Peele (“Get Out,” 2017), and be­hind-the-scenes col­lab­o­ra­tors such as spe­cial ef­fects cre­ator Greg Ni­cotero (“The Walk­ing Dead”). There will also be ap­pear­ances from a num­ber of ac­tors known for their iconic per­for­mances, such as Jamie Lee Cur­tis (“Hal­loween,” 1978), Linda Blair (“The Ex­or­cist,” 1973), Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger of Night­mare on Elm Street lore) and Tobin Bell (Jig­saw from the Saw fran­chise).

Watch Eli Roth’s cel­e­bra­tion of the most im­por­tant peo­ple and creations in the world of hor­ror when a new episode of “Eli Roth’s His­tory of Hor­ror” airs Sun­day, Nov. 11, on AMC — if you dare.

Re­turn to the Red Planet: On Nov. 12, sci­ence fic­tion/doc­u­men­tary hy­brid “Mars” launches its sec­ond sea­son on Na­tional Geo­graphic, re­turn­ing to its fic­tion­al­ized story of hu­man­ity’s first at­tempt at col­o­niz­ing the planet next door (while stay­ing grounded with in­ter­spersed non-fic­tional com­men­tary from real-life fig­ures in the con­tem­po­rary realms of sci­ence, me­dia and jour­nal­ism).

“Mars’” 2016 pre­miere was an in­ter­est­ing ex­per­i­ment and pre­sented a show with two very dis­tinct halves. One half is a scripted sci-fi nar­ra­tive de­pict­ing a hy­po­thet­i­cal six-as­tro­naut ex­pe­di­tion to Mars in the year 2033 with the goal of pre­par­ing the planet for col­o­niza­tion by hu­mans.The other half con­sists of un­scripted in­ter­views with real-world “Big Thinkers” from sev­eral dis­ci­plines who hold in­sight into the re­al­is­tic pos­si­bil­i­ties and out­comes of fu­ture in­ter­plan­e­tary travel. “Mars” rep­re­sented Na­tional Geo­graphic’s will­ing­ness to ex­per­i­ment with the kind of con­tent they’re ex­pected to pro­duce, adding a scripted ele­ment to the doc­u­men­tary-style ma­te­rial that’s nor­mally syn­ony­mous with the chan­nel.

The six episodes of the first sea­son didn’t shy away from the bleak pos­si­bil­i­ties of a mis­sion to an­other world, and the maiden ex­pe­di­tion to Mars ex­pe­ri­enced dis­as­ter with the early loss of their com­man­der.As the colony de­vel­oped (and the time­line moved for­ward a hand­ful of years) other set­tlers dealt with is­sues such as the men­tal strain of iso­la­tion and its deadly con­se­quences.

The sec­ond sea­son of “Mars” seems equally pes­simistic. Sea­son 2 will again wind the colony clock a few years for­ward, to the year 2042, a pe­riod fol­low­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of a full-fledged Mar­tian set­tle­ment and the start of a new Earth/Mars re­la­tion­ship.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Ron Howard (“Solo: A Star Wars Story,” 2018) re­turns to en­sure that the show presents it­self with a pol­ished look and feel. Some of the pop-sci­ence “Big Thinkers” slated to con­trib­ute con­tex­tual in­ter­views in­clude long­time sci­ence evan­ge­list Bill Nye, fu­tur­ist and physi­cist Mi­chio Kaku, and tech en­tre­pre­neur Elon Musk, but also some less rec­og­niz­able names (but pos­sessed of su­pe­rior cre­den­tials) such as for­mer NASA chief sci­en­tist Ellen Sto­fan and author/his­to­rian Jared Di­a­mond.

Sea­son 1 of “Mars” was about the tech­ni­cal feats re­quired to pull off such a huge mis­sion, but sea­son 2 will fo­cus on the hu­man ele­ment of in­ter­plan­e­tary col­o­niza­tion, as greed and reck­less­ness threaten to com­pro­mise dis­cov­ery and nat­u­ral preser­va­tion. See which forces tri­umph when sea­son 2 of “Mars” be­gins Mon­day, Nov. 12, on Na­tional Geo­graphic.

Eli Roth hosts “Eli Roth’s His­tory of Hor­ror”

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