If you’re a horror movie fan — and in October, who isn’t? — it’s time you learned a little about what you’re watching.  I’d recommend renting “The American Nightmare,” a 2000 documentary that explores several modern horror movies and how they reflect their era.

If you’re a horror movie fan — and in October, who isn’t? — it’s time you learned a little about what you’re watching.

I’d recommend renting “The American Nightmare,” a 2000 documentary that explores several modern horror movies and how they reflect their era.

“Night of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and other films of the 1970s weren’t filmed in a vacuum, after all, and those zombies and crazed killers reflected real-world problems. “The American Nightmare” interviews filmmakers and film experts to get to the heart of the matter. (By the way, that heart is frequently pumping blood, because this documentary doesn’t skimp on the gory film clips.)

If you’ve got a curious mind — and a strong stomach — it’s a fascinating film.

Will Pfeifer reviews new DVDs on Tuesdays and older ones on Sundays. Contact him at wpfeifer@rrstar.com or 815-987-1244.