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, 10.23.11

Like Lenny Mastrandrea, I’ve got nothing but Horror movies on my brain this month.

Horror films seem to be constantly revisited as each generation feels that what scared their parents is ‘hokey’ and ‘cheesy.’ However, rather than revisiting and revamping themes, Hollywood often repackages existing horror brands. What I’m interested in looking at today is how the marketing for those films has changed by examining the posters from the originals and the remakes. This is a little long, so click below to read more: Read the rest of this entry »

, 10.21.11

William Basinski, an ambient musician who has been composing and playing for over 25 years, woke up one day and decided to digitize his old analogue tapes. These tapes contained music he had made at the beginning of his career. Back then, William would look for found analogue tape, ranging from old classical stuff to Muzak. He would then literally cut out sections and tape them back together to create these endless ethereal, abstract loops. These ambient pieces of music are sublime in their own right where the music itself creates a space, audible to the ear but visual within the mind, while the looped phrasing does not change over time.

William was digitizing these pieces and he stepped away for a minute with his analogue tape playing over and over while it was being transcoded onto a CD.  When he returned, the music had changed. At first he didn’t know what was going on and then after listening for a few minutes, he figured it out. The tape itself was so old, the iron oxide powder glued onto the tape was beginning to shed each time the tape passed through the reader head. His loops were actually disintegrating before him as iron oxide dust gathered in the air and fell to the floor. Listening to the resulting digital recordings, of these pieces of music dying before your very ears, never to be heard from again in their original form is romantically tragic. On NPR’s Radiolab William elegantly comments, “I was recording the life and death of a melody, it made me think of human beings, and how we die.” The loops become like our own lives, beautiful and present for only the briefest of time.

The time has come. The ghouls, the ghosts and the beasts abound. Seemed like the perfect time for a horror movie appreciation blog.

Horror movies have changed so much over the decades. Much of it, I believe, has to do with the introduction of color into the landscape. In some ways this was a good thing, but in others…….

Now an explanation

Before the introduction of color, we had films like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman. Of course, these films had very limited “special effects”, makeup and the most rudimentary camera tricks. Yet, these films were quite Eerie. Even after the introduction of color into the genre, Horror gave us incredible films like The Fly, Psycho (Hitchcock opted for black and white) and my personal favorite Night of the Living Dead (“They’re coming for you, Barbara”) My oldest son is 10 and I would not dream of letting him watch any of these films. Nightmares would soon ensue. These films were based on an incredible story. I absolutely believe that they retain the “scare” factor despite the technical limitations of their age.

Then came an influx of color in horror films of the 70s and 80s.  The Exorcist, The Omen, The Amityville Horror and Poltergeist were all terrifying, all great because the story was still the primary factor. Of course there were many flops, but there were enough that the genre was not in crisis. The effect capabilities were now better, but not a crutch rely upon to sell the film.

We even had films that eventually made fantastic use of color to enhance the story.  In Se7en and Sleepy Hollow color was a tool for ambiance used very effectively.

Unfortunately these days the crutches are out. Color and effects are relied on too much. Color not relied upon to enhance, just shock. How much blood and gore can we put in here?  The first Saw was very creative and macabre.  Followed by SIX sequels. These were all about Shock Value and Gore.  We now have FIVE Final Destinations.  We don’t have enough 6th Sense. Hopefully some creativity will resurface, and I pray it is not in the home movie amateur footage style. Unfortunately, these days, if it’s decent, it’s probably a remake.

, 10.14.11


One of the nicest surprises at the Motion 11 conference was Erica Hu’s gorgeous thesis film Seasons.  Hand painted textures, seamless transitions and unexpected landscapes make up a lush world of beauty that is easy to lose yourself in.  Check it out here.

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