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Tag: Psycho

Editorials

The Greatest Horror Villain of Each Decade

March 18, 2020
horror-movie-villains-collage [Source: shnakebite91 Wordpress]

Horror cinema has many iconic villains and today we’ll be counting down 10 of the greatest merchants of menace. I will choose a single villain from each decade, look at a bit of the villain’s background and how they managed to traumatize audiences who watched their films. So, let’s get spooky.

1920s: Count Orlok – Nosferatu (1922)

Originally made as a Dracula stand-in, Count Orlok has become a great villain in his own right. With actor Max Schreck’s towering frame, creeping shadow, sharp teeth, and keen unblinking eyes Orlok has become an instantly recognizable cinematic predator that has lasted almost a century. Not even Stoker’s estate could prevent him from becoming a cinematic nightmare.

Count Orlok one of Cinema's greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]
Count Orlok one of Cinema’s greatest early horror villains from Nosferatu (1922) [Source: PopHorror]

1930s: Frankenstein’s Monster – Frankenstein (1931)

The archetypal mad scientist creation. The monster isn’t necessarily evil but because of continual abuse and a lack of moral guidance, he begins violently lashing out at the world. Frankenstein’s Monster has a legendary look courtesy of makeup artist Jack Pierce. And thanks to Boris Karloff’s animalistic performance, which makes the character threatening and sympathetic, Frankenstein’s Monster has been cemented as one of horror’s most tragic monsters.

Frankenstein's Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki - Fandom]
Frankenstein’s Monster prowling through the woods in Frankenstein (1931) [Source: Movie Monster Wiki – Fandom]

1940s: The Wolf Man – The Wolf Man (1941)

Like Frankenstein’s Monster, the Wolf Man garners great sympathy because of host Larry Talbot’s (Lon Chaney Jr’s) inability to control the monster within him. But unlike Frankenstein the Wolf Man is vicious. Murdering innocent people and leaving Larry to deal with the consequences. With Jack Pierce’s brilliant makeup making the monster the midpoint between man and beast, the Wolf Man is an iconic example of the darkness in all men.

One of cinema's most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]
One of cinema’s most iconic werewolves. The Wolf Man (1941) [Source: Fiction Machine]

1950s: Godzilla – Godzilla Series

Cinema’s biggest monster. Starring in 35 films since 1954 Godzilla is a Japanese icon. He’s a prehistoric monster awakened by hydrogen bomb testing and was created as a symbol for the destructive powers of the atomic age, though lately, he has become a metaphor for nature striking back at humanity. He’s the embodiment of destruction and for 66 years he’s shown that for all our advances annihilation is never far away.

Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954)
Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. Gojira (1954) [Source: USA Today]

1960s: Norman Bates – Psycho (1960)

The grandfather of all slasher villains. While seemingly normal, Norman hides another personality that forces him to kill anyone who threatens the illusion that his mother is still alive. Thanks to Anthony Perkins’ understated performance and Alfred Hitchcock’s direction Norman Bates (based on murderer Ed Gein) terrified audiences by showing that even the quiet good-looking boy next door could turn out to be a murderer.

Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960)
Norman Bates and his mother in Psycho (1960) [Source: Bloody Disgusting]

1970s: The Caller – Black Christmas (1974)

Black Christmas‘ sorority house killer remains perhaps horror’s most terrifying villain. Because nothing about him is explained. His victims are random. The only insights we get into him are his disjointed, threatening ramblings. And his appearance, voice; name remain a mystery. Inspired by the urban legend of “the babysitter and the man upstairsthe Caller embodies the fear that you’re never safe. Even in your own home.

The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974)
The mysterious killer from Black Christmas (1974) [Source: The Dead Meat Wiki Fandom]

1980s: Freddy Krueger – The Nightmare on Elm Street Series

The burnt, razor glove wielding, Christmas sweater and fedora sporting dream killer has been scaring viewers since his 1984 debut. Inspired by stories about young people suddenly dying in their sleep and brought to life in skin-crawling fashion by Robert Englund, Krueger takes sadistic pleasure in twisting his victim’s dreams into nightmares. And the sheer glee he takes in his cruelty is what makes him cinema’s most iconic bogeyman.

The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Springwood Slasher from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) [Source: NME.com]

1990s: Candyman – Candyman Series

Originally, Daniel Robitaille, Candyman became a vengeful spirit after he was killed over a 19th-century interracial love affair. His hand was mutilated, his body smothered in honey and he was stung to death by bees. Now he kills anyone who dares say his name five times in a mirror. With his imposing figure, hooked hand and Tony Todd’s intimidating voice, Candyman is a true terror titan.

The urban legend Candyman (1992)
The urban legend Candyman (1992) [Source: The Clive Barker Podcast]

2000s: Jigsaw – Saw Series

Jigsaw is the horror villain of the 2000s. Embodying post 9/11 anxieties about the morality of torture Jigsaw, aka John Cramer managed to carve out a gruesome legacy for himself. His use of ironic traps to reform/eradicate those who he believes don’t appreciate life, Tobin Bell’s commanding voice and his animatronic mascot made him the face of torture horror. And his legacy has continued through multiple accomplices and successors.

Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask
Jigsaw and his iconic billy puppet mask [Source: Screen Rant]

2010s: It/Pennywise – It (2017)

Stephen King’s iconic horror creation made a huge impact with Its 2017 reimagining. The creature that haunts Derry, Maine can change into many forms that will give anyone nightmares. His most recognizable form is Pennywise The Dancing Clown (Bill Skarsgard) whose smile hides a desire to devour children. It exploits our fear of the unknown and attacks the sanctity of childhood innocence all at once. Making It the perfect modern horror villain.

Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017)
Pennywise tormenting children in It (2017) [Source: Entertainment Weekly]

So ends my list of horrors 10 best villains. Which horror villains did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

Also Read: 7 Reasons Characters Die In Horror Films

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Editorials

The Music Behind Great Films

May 12, 2019
JAWS

There is something magical about the music that accompanies a film. A film’s score can lift it to new heights, distinguish its villains from its heroes, give you goosebumps during otherwise forgettable moments. It’s impossible to imagine Darth Vader without the Imperial March song or to picture the opening sequence to The Lion King without its powerful opening number. Here are a list of six other films and the scores that made them.

Jaws: The opening scene – John Williams

A name that holds weight in the film scoring world, there are plenty of pieces by John Williams that could have been chosen. However, with a risk of this list simply becoming ‘Seven Great John Williams Scores’ it had to be narrowed down to one. One definitive score. It’s different for everyone. For me, that one is the opening scene of Jaws.

Tasked with making an invisible monster terrifying, this could have easily gone wrong for John. But with two notes, Williams created the ultimate scare. It’s simple, subtle and for lack of a better word, iconic. Those two notes created nightmares and sent shivers down the audience’s spine as if they were in the freezing cold ocean with poor Chrissie. Though the reveal of the shark might have been terrifying to audiences at the time, no one looks at that rubbery machine now and feels fear. That scene remains in minds for two reasons: the unknown killer and the music that accompanies it.

Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring – The Bridge of Khazad-dûm- Howard Shore

For anyone that knows me well enough, they know I have a love, passion, affinity (some may call it an obsession) for the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have adored it from a young age and one scene that always sticks out in my head is in the first film, where Gandalf battles the Balrog.

It’s the scene where you feel the Fellowship is truly in peril. Trapped in the Mines of Moria, surrounded by orcs, trolls and Balrog alike, there seems to be no way out for the nine companions. Howard Shore’s accompanying score reflects the fight the group puts up, the panic as they try to flee and of course, Gandalf the Greys sacrifice. The painful grief the Hobbits feel as they lie in the snowy mountains, mourning their friend, is made all the more powerful with the final minute of Shore’s score. It’s a piece that pushes you through the same emotional roller-coaster the characters are going through themselves.

Batman 1989: Batman Theme – Danny Elfman

DC hasn’t always had the best run with their films. For every Wonder Woman, there’s a Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice waiting to happen. However, before the threatening shadow of the formidable MCU loomed over them, DC had started to reboot their legendary heroes. In 1989, from the camp ashes of Adam West’s Batman rose Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight – following him, Danny Elfman’s theme.

It was probably a hard image to shake when Tim Burton’s reboot was first announced. Though the comics had started to portray a ruthless, complicated hero, the on-screen version was the antitheses of this (although a lot more fun). In order for the new Batman to shake its predecessors’ goofy image, it needed a few things – a revamped theme being one of them. Elfman’s song understands the weight on Batman’s shoulders and creates a triumphant, heroic song with it. A score that has defined Batman now for at least thirty years, Elfman’s dark, brooding theme set the tone for the many reincarnations that followed (except George Clooney).

Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman Theme – Junkie XL & Hans Zimmer

Speaking of Wonder Woman, the hero reboot was amazing for many reasons, but none more so than the theme that came with her. That electrifying energy that flowed through it almost rippled through the audience, creating a feeling of power even in the ordinary man. The moment that created that emotion, was when she first arrived in the DCEU.

Superman and Batman are struggling in their fight against Doomsday. At one point, Doomsday has Batman cornered. Who should come to save him? The Amazonian herself. As Diana lands in front of the Dark Knight, defending him from the stream of fire Doomsday is spewing at him, her absolutely incredible theme plays, and you almost feel as powerful as the warrior. Listening to it can make you feel invincible like you can finish that ten-minute run or that book you’ve been putting off. Maybe even defeat the God of War. An epic entrance with an epic theme.

Up: Married Life – Michael Giacchio

The beginning of Disney Pixar’s Up is a joyous sequence purely because of how it was played out. Rather than delve into the lives of Carl and Ellie, we were given a glimpse into their marriage. Ellie, an extroverted explorer and Carl, the introvert with the inquisitive spirit, build a house and a life together. We see it all, from the beginning as kids to the very end of Ellie’s. It’s an emotional sequence and the score is no different.

There are no words in this montage, all we have to understand what’s happening on the screen is the body language and actions of the characters as well as the music. The challenge to get the audience to feel connected to the lives of the married couple enough that we also mourn the loss of Ellie was no doubt a difficult one. However, with such gorgeous visuals to guide him, Giacchio created a beautiful score that summed up their unique relationship in the four minutes we have to see it.

Psycho: The Shower Scene – Bernard Hermann

If there is a film that defines Alfred Hitchcock’s career, it would be hard not to argue in favour of Psycho. The 1960 thriller lifted the auteur to new heights – it was, for a time, one of the most frightening movies on the big screen. So what made it so for terrifying for that audience and what makes it so memorable for us? The iconic shower scene, of course, paired with the impeccable score supplied by Bernard Hermann.

The silence in the scene, to begin with, is deafening. Marion Crane is getting ready to shower, after meeting the sweet but undoubtedly creepy, Norman Bates. As soon as the mysterious figure that enters the bathroom opens the shower curtain on poor, vulnerable Crane, you know it’s already too late, due to the fantastic music provided by Hermann that slices through you as easily as the knife. Wild and savage, the string instruments grab hold of that moment in such a way that is unforgettable. That whole scene could have been easily glanced over if it wasn’t for that fantastic piece by Hermann that captured the death of Marion Crane in the violent, desperate act it was.

Also Read: Women In Horror: An Ode To Laurie Strode