‘Saturday Nightmares’ doc relives horror history

Saturday Nightmares: The Ultimate Horror Expo of All Time! took place in Jersey City, N.J., in 2010 – Courtesy of Michael Stever

For those who drink Kool-Aid from the seemingly endless cup offered by the horror genre, the new documentary Saturday Nightmares: The Ultimate Horror Expo of All Time! will be a cinematic delight.

The 50-minute film, directed and edited by Michael Stever, goes behind the scenes of a first-time horror convention held in northern New Jersey in 2010. The movie serves as an insider’s look into what it takes to put on a convention, who shows up, who’s on stage and what’s happening around every scary corner.

If you are, in fact, a drinker of the horror Kool-Aid than George A. Romero needs no introduction, but I’ll give him one anyway: As the iconic director of Night of the Living Dead, Martin, Creepshow and Dawn of the Dead (plus a host of other movies), Romero is quite simply the grandfather of the modern horror film. He’s perhaps best known for his zombie flicks, which he is still thankfully directing (Click here for our review of George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead).

At Saturday Nightmares, the guests came from the Romero universe. Kyra Schon, everyone’s favorite zombie girl from Night of the Living Dead, was on hand as was Ken Foree, one of the main characters from Dawn of the Dead. Adriennne Barbeau, from Creepshow, signed autographs, as did Tom Savini, the legendary makeup artist.

Of course, Romero, the main man of the evening, is featured in an extensive panel discussion with the cast of Dawn of the Dead. Most of the other actors are seen either shaking hands with audience members or working their way through the voluminous halls of The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Jersey City, N.J., where Saturday Nightamares was held in March 2010. There’s some great footage of Foree earning some laughs from the audience, and Barbeau offers some insight into her take on Romero’s work and the horror genre as a whole.

For those who missed the three-day convention, and I unfortunately count myself as one of them, the documentary is a living, breathing testament to the great party that was enjoyed by all. For those who were able to attend, the movie is the perfect keepsake.

Stever does a nice job with a relaxed, yet professional, filming style. His access is all-encompassing, and his camera is as interested in the horror elements as it is in the cursory, funny moments. Perhaps the best captured imagery is that of The Landmark itself, a truly astonishing historic theater.

At points, the sound quality could have been better, but, most important of all, the subject matter is always interesting, informative and, at times, unbelievably candid. Each special guest has a unique take on the Dead films and the world of horror.

If you drink this type of Kool-Aid, you’ll love Saturday Nightmares. If it’s not your cup of tea, then you wouldn’t be reading this review anyway.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com

  • Saturday Nightmares: The Ultimate Horror Expo of All Time!
  • 2010
  • Directed by Michael Stever
  • Featuring George A. Romero, Ken Foree, Tom Savini and Adrienne Barbeau
  • Running time: 50 minutes
  • Unrated
  • Rating: ★★★☆

Revised

John Soltes

John Soltes is an award-winning journalist. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Earth Island Journal, The Hollywood Reporter, New Jersey Monthly and at Time.com, among other publications. E-mail him at john@hollywoodsoapbox.com

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