October 21, 2010

Oct 21, 2010: Cause & Effect : John Carpenter and other Musical Masters of Horror

Not sure where it came from but I have never been big on Halloween and I don't mean as in the John Carpenter film series but the play dress up holiday. I have blogged about my lackluster interest in the occasion before so I won't dwell on it however if there is one thing to be said for Halloween, it makes for great music. In fact music and sound is in my humble opinion what makes so many okay horror movies great ones. Have you ever watched a slasher film or thriller with the sound down? The fear factor diminishes tenfold yet if you close your eyes and just listen to the music / sounds of a film...even without the visuals, your ears feed your imagination and terror enters in without the sight of blood and gore. My intent isn't to bash the cinematography of the horror genre but in the end, I am a music person, not a film fanatic, and keeping the spirit of the kind of radio show I do, music is my focus.

Growing up I had on older brother who was obsessed with soundtrack music and as a kid, it never remotely crossed my mind that a score would be something worth listening to minus the movie. My brother Chris had a few different soundtracks he really loved but it was The Shining that lured me into his doorway late one evening to ask him what on earth he was listening to. I was scared shitless. Unlike his usual choice of playing metal records loudly and in turn bothering me, the volume this time wasn't too loud, it was the content itself that made me tremble in bed. I didn't need to see the movie to feel scared to death. It was the scraping strings, the use of silence against abrupt eruptions of noise that was the truly horrifying part. The suspense and terror for me was in the music. This music to be more specific.

And so began my understanding of just how powerful and important music is to film and my association ever  since with things that go bump in the night are not visuals at all, they are sounds.  Maybe that is why I grew up to love certain kinds of metal, because they are my version of a rollercoaster. Scary music is my thrill ride and as an adult, the only way you can get get my blood pumping for Halloween is to listen to the music found in films like Halloween, Psycho, Suspiria, and The Shining,

It was interesting to work on this week's show, mainly because there was little to be found on John Carpenter the musician. On line there is mostly talk about him as a cinematographer behind the camera, not his keyboard. Even though his music is iconic and has influenced modern day filmmakers and musicians alike (Zombi, Rob Zombie, Mike Patton), he is not toted as much of a musician and as far as I can tell in interviews, doesn't spend much time talking about his music or influences in depth. So with little to work on I used my ears and music history knowledge to guide me through most of this week's show. Even perhaps more so than Carpenter, the films of Dario Argento offer a bevy of horrific beauties to listen to so the music for tonight come from many of his films as well as some of the classics like Jaws.  

WRIR.ORG or in RVA 97.3FM from 7pm to 9pm EST, listen my my show Cause & Effect, every Thursday.

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