my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   The American Scream
Director:   Michael Stephenson
Year:   2012
Genre:   Documentary
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   09.23.12

Other Movies Seen By This Director (1)
- Best Worst Movie

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
09.23.12Alamo South LamarThis Screening is part of event: FantasticFest 2012
A documentary (produced by Alamo Jack!) by the kid from Troll 2 about a handful of guys who put on amateur hanted houses in their back yards every year for Halloween. This is the first of three stand-out documentaries that I saw this year, each one really blew me away.

The cool thing about this movie is that all three main subjects live within a mile of eachother in the same small COnnecticut town. That's insane. Talk about lucky kids. I'd never even heard of people doing amateur haunted houses. I know there's always someone in the neighborhood that go all out with the decorations (me during middle and high school) but I'd never dream to actually have an attraction and make people stand in line or hire actors. that's insane! And here's this one small town in New England where there's 3 6 blocks from one another!

With every doc that follows this structure, it lives or dies by its subjects and the families profiles here are amazingly sympathetic and entertaining. One guy's fanatic striving toward perfection (born from a strict religious childhood), another's easy-going counterpoint, and a third eccentric father and son who are best friends although, truth be told, completely inept in their decorations. All three are bursting at the seems with heart and you want so desperately for them all to succeed.... and here's the thing: there's no real tension! Succeed against what? not completing their decorations? having no kids show up on Halloween? I have no clue! but I was still rooting for them way more than any character from any other movie I saw at the fest!

I really want to compare this to American Movie but it's not really a good comparison because I was pretty sad for those characters and watching them try and fail (much like Anvil) felt a little exploitative to me because I felt like the movie was trying to get me to laugh at the characters. This movie never made me feel that, even when particular decorations fall apart or break or look terrible. The film is unstoppably optimistic and kind toward its subjects, and there was real heartfelt emotion for me at the end of the film seeing people enjoy their hard work. I feel like I wasn't alone in almost crying. A day or two later Tim League floated the idea on twitter of chartering a bus to drive from Austin to Connecticut to support the main subject's first foray into professional haunted house production. If I could get off work I'd totally do it because I want that guy to find stable financial success in doing something he truly loves.

If not my favorite movie of the fest, it was certainly in the top five.


After the movie, Zack said that someone barfed right outside the theater so we all had to use the emergency exit. It sounded suspiciously like we were being routed into a really quick haunt put up by one of the film's subjects. That brought back my most vivid memories of going to haunted house as a teen (waiting in very long slow-moving lines) and resulted in a nice enough little tour of Halloweenabilia to bring in the season. The most awkward part was when it dumped us out into a party at the end of the ride where people were just hanging out in this smoke-filled low light room. When I finally found the exit it led us to the alley behind the Alamo and we had to walk around the whole building to get back to the safety of the crowd. Fun.
  Comments?
  You can use this form to send me an email. Name and E-mail Address fields are optional, but in order to prove that you are not a heartless spam robut, you must answer this simple movie trivia question.
???: What's the movie with the killer shark where Roy Scheider says "We're gonna need a bigger boat?"
Name:
E-mail Address:
Comment: