man is the warmest place to hide.

eighties horror you might have missed

synth score

Rodney Ascher's documentary feature Room 237 (2012) is not only a search for hidden meanings within THE SHINING, it is also an exploration of our relationship with the films that we love and demonstrates how an exceptional film can inspire methodical analysis, even obsession. Room 237 also extends the techniques that Ascher experimented with in his first film, The S From Hell (2010), a documentary short about the Screen Gems title card from 1964. Both films rely on a series of unseen interviewees as narration, recontextualized footage from other films, a synthesizer score and superb editing. I talked with Rodney about eighties horror films, electronic music, Errol Morris documentaries, and of course, Room 237...

By the mid-80s, most holidays had already been co-opted for horror films, following in the tradition started by Halloween and Friday the 13th. And that's why in 1986 there were three different films in production based on April Fool's Day; only one of them, directed by Fred Walton, was released as "April Fool's Day". The other two were retitled: Slaughter High and Killer Party...

I love camping - even more than I love watching horror films! Several years ago my wife and I started going on regular camping trips, at least once a year, mainly on Mount Hood and in Eastern Oregon. Growing up, I camped sporadically, both with the Boy Scouts and on my own (in a dark-red dome tent, often curled up in a mummy bag). And all of that must be directly related to why Camping Horror is my favorite sub-genre of 80s horror. While Sleepaway Camp, The Burning and Friday the 13th are all favorites,  I enjoyed Just Before Dawn more than any of those. There is so much great stuff going on in this film, that it's hard for me to properly encapsulate it, but I'm going to try...

In 1984, Charles Bernstein composed the score for Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street and established what is probably the most recognizable theme of 80s horror film. During his music career, Charles has worked on over 100 films (in a variety of genres), won an Emmy, scored a documentary about Maya Lin, taught courses at USC and UCLA, and written two books on film music. Quentin Tarantino has used cues from his scores in Kill Bill Vol.1 and Inglorious Basterds. Some of the other horror films he has scored include: The Entity (highly recommended), Deadly Friend (which we discussed a few weeks ago), April Fools Day, and Cujo. Charles was kind enough to take some time to discuss his score for A Nightmare on Elm Street with us, including some details about the synthesizers and unique sound design he used to construct it...

While Mike has this filed under "Thrillers", I would say it really belongs on the "Horror - Stalkers" shelf (that is an actual section at my video store). The opening scene starts things off...

When the first shot of a film shows a robot gripper strangling a car thief, you know you're in for something special. Deadly Friend is a Wes Craven film that I hadn't heard of until just recently...

While I might occasionally write about films that I've seen more than once, most of the things featured on this blog I'm seeing for the first time. As with anything else, the most fun comes from discovering something new (and then sharing it, of course). That was definitely the case with The Hitcher...

I think we can all agree that synthesizers are an integral, defining element of late seventies and early eighties horror (so much so that vintage synths are being used in current films to reference that period). This alternative (or augment) to a traditional symphonic score offered a new palette of textures and at a cost that even modest sized productions could afford. As with all horror film music, these instruments were used to establish mood, heighten tension, and enhance the visceral impact of onscreen gore.

In 1977 Sequential Circuits (based in San Jose, CA) released the Prophet 5 synthesizer...

The score for Halloween III is my favorite John Carpenter (and Alan Howarth) soundtrack. If you've seen the film, you know that it has little to do with the rest of the Halloween franchise and trades Michael Myers for a more sci-fi-evil-mad-scientist approach; it was the first in the series not to be directed written by Carpenter. He did compose the soundtrack, however...

At first you might think this one is a slight variation on Halloween with a tiny bit of The Excorcist thrown in - that's what I thought too, until I got about halfway through. At that point, it becomes something much more; we get to see some pretty great ideas ...

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