Monday, February 20, 2012

Whispers in the Night

I've been splicing and dicing all week as I learn how to edit sound on Garage Band.  As a project, I'm constructing an opening sequence for my podcast.  It's a montage of sound bites from various horror films.  The best tool I've discovered in this project has been a website that converts You Tube clips into mp3's.  Since most of a movie's best lines are in the trailer, I've been scouring You Tube for horror movie trailers, hoping to find clips of characters verbalizing their situation (like Clint Howard in The Wraith letting us know that he was up against, "A wraith, man!  A ghost!  An evil spirit and it ain't cool!")

The most discouraging part of this process is discovering how softly people talk in horror films, especially dialogue that addresses the movie's specific terror.  I was hoping for dialogue where people spoke loudly and clearly about psycho killers, vampires, zombies, werewolves, etc.  I'm discovering that in most horror movies, before the rampage really gets going, characters speak very quietly when first mentioning monsters, so as not to appear crazy.  Then, when they find themselves in serious danger, they speak softly so the monster in the next room can't hear them.  After that, the loud dialogue is usually just a lot of screaming.  Some great lines that I went looking for are softer than I remember.  Like, when Fred Gwynne lets us know that, "Sometimes, dead is better."  And the majority of Heather Langenkamp's performances are delivered in cautious whispers.

The movies that delivered the best sound bites were the horror-comedies.  Going for a laugh, the characters of these self-aware movies will speak clearly and frankly about whatever monsters are giving them trouble.  One of the best is Dom DeLuise as Aunt Kate in Haunted Honeymoon, getting everyone's attention at dinner to announce, "I know that one of you is a werewolf."  In Near Dark no one even uses the word "vampire" through the entire movie.  But, in Dracula: Dead and Loving It vampires are mentioned in the first five minutes.  So, most of my completed montage is from horror comedies and, put together, will start the podcast with a jolly tone.

For well-annunciated straight talk about the undead that you can weave into a sound bite montage, the best source is the horror movie trailer announcer.  When I went looking for clips, the first thing I located was an old trailer for Plan 9 From Outer Space.  Before I'd ever heard of Plan 9, I'd heard "Cosmic Monsters Inc" by White Zombie.  Under a bed of metal guitar was the 1950's trailer declaring, "They come from the bowls of hell.  A transformed race of walking dead..."  Years later, watching an Ed Wood documentary, I delighted in discovering the source of that sample.

So, I've included the Plan 9 clip in my montage, along with some other fun drops that you might recognize... just as soon as I record a podcast and make it available to download.

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