Monday, September 18, 2006

This workout is brought to you by the letter S.

Yesterday, while at the gym, I had my MP3 player set on "random." For the first twenty-five minutes it played nothing but songs by Spirit of the West and Suzanne Vega. Then it played a song by the Smiths, and another by Steeleye Span.

Just when I was beginning to wonder if I'd spotted a sign of artificial intelligence (or artificial stupidity, which is probably scarier), it then played a song by Tenacious D.

It was "Sasquatch."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Horror

I've been watching, and/or rewatching, the old Universal Studios 1930s horror pictures-- you know the ones, The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc. -- lately. Which has led me to two conclusions: 1) that I much prefer Bela Lugosi to Boris Karloff as a horror film actor (sorry Boris), and 2) how just about all of them really, really want to be silent films.

Now, it's easy to attribute the latter point to the fact that they were made in the early 1930s, and so had a cast and crew that were still thinking in silent terms, but it goes beyond that: M , All Quiet on the Western Front and Maedchen in Uniform are all good examples of early sound films which, consequently, look a lot like silents, but still work as sound films, and, indeed, are at least partly improved by the use of sound. Whereas in the Universal horror-pics, the dialogue usually takes away from the enjoyment as far as I'm concerned, being stilted and corny at best, the sort of thing that you might, possibly, be able to get away with on a title card if it's reduced to one line. Think of how much more pathetic the scene in Frankenstein where the father of the drowned little girl staggers into the village to report her death would be if you were left to imagine what he said for the most part, or how much scarier the Mummy would be if Boris Karloff never opened his big mouth to rattle on about Anubis.

Patrick McGoohan, in a 1970s interview, lamented the fact that black and white had gone so far out of fashion, since he thought Ibsen worked much better in monochrome; I'm starting to feel the same about sound as far as some early horror pics are concerned.