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