Sunday, 30 November 2014

TH Analysis of Opening Sequence - 'Halloween' (Carpenter, 1978)


The film 'Halloween' belongs to the gore-horror sub-genre. This is established right at the beginning when the scene is presented immediately where after a matter of minutes, a girl is brutally murdered. The title of the film connotes the likelihood of a horror film and this is met in the opening sequence too. The sequence treats the genre seriously, and it is almost a way of showing the audience what they can expect in the rest of the film. It all happens so soon after the start of the film that the audience is led to make assumptions into what will happen later, as they wish to find out what caused such an attack.

Film Language

The first camera shot is at mid-long shot and the movement of the camera pans around the house horizontally, in which a pumpkin carving is shown lit by candle; it is night time. This mise-en-scene therefore signals that the time of the year is halloween, it may lead to something scary occurring already. The movement of the camera is interesting though, as it is not steady entirely. We are then made aware of the fact this is a POV shot too when the camera enters a room and the lights turn on. Before this, the camera focuses through a window and pictures two young people kissing in a living room. After leaving the room, the character returns to the front of the house as the camera tilts up and observes the light in an upstairs room go off, whilst maintaining a slightly wobbly steadicam movement. The character we are situated with in the POV shot 'sneaks' around to the back door, denoting that whoever or whatever this individual is, they are not welcome here. After entering, the character picks up a large knife from a drawer in the kitchen; the audience now knows what is potentially about to happen. The figure shows the knife to the camera at a short distance, as if they are assessing it as a weapon of enough ferocity to kill. When the knife is picked up, the camera angle is pointed down to the drawer with a human hand, leading us to believe that they are a grown person. However, the mise-en-scene here involves the sleeve of the person, which is not conventional clothing for an adult necessarily, it would appear to be a costume perhaps; reflecting halloween. Next, the camera moves upstairs and places a mask over the lens to show the perspective of the person, a clever shot that not only shows us what the character sees, but it is a halloween mask also, and finally it could mean that this person wishes to hide they're identity. After a short distance, the camera focuses on the girl we saw downstairs, apparently oblivious to the presence of this other character. As we get closer to the girl we are still positioned above her; showing our dominance in the situation. Through her vulnerable, non-verbal dialogue, we are now convinced she is the subjected victim of the attack about to take place. She turns around and recognises the person but it is too late as she is murdered, as the camera shakes to represent the violent nature of the attack, as we also see the knife being thrusted back and forth. Once she is dead, the camera moves out of the room quicker than before and leaves through the front door. Two adults are outside, having just arrived in a car and removes the mask. At this point, a jump cut from the same camera shot that has been present throughout this whole scene reveals that this person was in fact a small boy, with knife in hand and dressed in a clown costume. The mid-close up of his face shows his mood which appears to be un-phased by what he has just done; connoting he may be possessed. The camera then zooms out and retreats to include the house and the adults and the boy.
During this whole sequence, the only cut was right at the end, showing the continuous action of the attack. Sound plays a more important role though, as the initial sound is just the diegetic conversation between the two characters in shot. Then, as the individual looks up to the window, as the light goes off a spooky piano screech plays at the same time and ambience is introduced here for the rest of the scene, developing tension. Another screech features when the girl is shown upstairs. During the attack, she screams but the ambience increases in volume and pace.


The main plot is outlined above and the structure is very continuous; it is only consisted of two shots. The main themes are tension being developed and a climax of a violent attack.

Representation and Ideology

Youth is represented in this sequence. The two teenagers are present, along with the small child. The main difference here, through ideological discourse, is the difference between gender. The victim is the teenage girl. She is represented as a vulnerable individual and she cannot put up a fight against the killer.

Media Audiences

The target audience of this film would have been a 15-29 age bracket. This should be the case because of the sub-genre essentially. The gore-horror genre is often targeted at this social group because of the thrills and scares they present. As the film was produced to be a horror film, the dominant audience readings are present as there is already blood and murder in the opening sequence. Personally, I believe that the acting would have been more developed if the film were shot today compared to 36 years ago. Yet, the plot is still a plot that I would expect to see in any modern day horror opening sequence.

Institutional context

A listers of this film include: Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran. It was produced by Compass International Pictures, an independent American studio.


DH `The Amityville Horror` Opening sequence analysis

The Film

My Analysis


DH Research Into The Horror Genre continued...

Reading Source 2

1. Stories that aim to scare their audience have been around for centuries, and their popularity has never really diminished. The reason for this success is probably for several reasons, firstly it confirms and expresses peoples darkest fears, yet also trivialises them as the audience know it is fiction. Also, horror is a timeless genre; people will always find them scary no matter when it was made, while a western for example would be unpopular in modern times.

2. Horror monsters generally reflect the fears of the culture that created it, for example both `Nosferatu` (Murnau, 1922) and `Dracula` (Browning, 1931) were created after WW1. When there was a great hatred for the aristocratic upper class which these characters represent.

3. Nosferatu` (Murnau, 1922) was created in Germany after WW1, at the time the country was suffering from mass unemployment and pestilence, Germany therefore responded to a creature associated with power and disease but physically repugnant, representing the hated politicians  of the time.

4. The year has a great effect on horror films, the 60s saw the rise of human 
antagonists and mundane locations as belief in the supernatural was reduced. The late 60s also saw a black protagonist in the film `Night of the Living Dead` reflecting the vast cultural changes in relation to race. The 70s had many more sadistic characters and more graphic violence as audiences became bored with more tame horror due to the rise of horrific real life images in the news and other media. Modern day horror is generally very graphic and often supernatural due to advances and therefore expectations in video effects. Much like in the 70s there is a large amount of gore and visceral violence due to the increase in news and the common ownership of lightweight cameras which means that real-life violence is seen.

5. According to Steph Hendry, horror remains relevant due to its ability to adapt to each generation’s concerns and views and therefore appeal to everyone. Its metaphors allow people to confront the problems and issues in society making it constantly modern and relevant.

Reading source 3

1. A research project has found that people are repulsed by near human faces, while faces that are human or vaguely human are accepted. The discovery was made in the 70s when scientists wanted to know how realistic robots should be, they found that if they began to resemble humans exactly people found them `sinister`. The modern day study of 3000 people attributed this to a sudden disconcertion as the brain sees human features so expects a human but then realises something is wrong. This effect explains the reasons for the unsettling fear of dolls, zombies and other horror devices.

2. Why people like the 
zombie sub-genre:
·        People wonder if they would survive it and what they would look forward to in the future.
·         Zombies are easy to beat and make people think their prospects would be good
·         No discrimination by religion, gender or race, everyone is in danger and anyone could survive
·         People have the opportunity to be a hero/leader
·         It is an exciting 
fantasy to plot out your movements in such a scenario
·         People are allowed to take or do whatever they want
·         A lot of people like the idea of killing

3. `Why do we love zombies` key points:
·         There are many different ways of presenting zombies
·         The focus of the stories are on the characters
·         It shows normal people in extreme situations; the audience can see characters' personalities
·         The real battle in the stories is deciding how much humanity people must give up
·         Has a lot of commentary about modern society


Friday, 28 November 2014

GROUP Preliminary Task - Evaluation

Evaluation of filming and Editing
-Firstly, using our storyline, we decided we would shoot a meeting between two individuals under a serious tone, until a comedy element featuring at the end. This plot would have to be filmed carefully, as to maintain the two very opposite themes.

-Secondly, when deciding on a location for filming we decided quite quickly that inside would be preferable as there would be significantly less background noise present. However, finding a spot inside, where a character can enter through a door and meet another character sitting down proved harder than expected as lessons were in progress elsewhere. Finally, though, we found a set of stairs in a relatively quiet place. Moreover, we found that this location enabled us to position a character higher up than the other; this would represent a difference in power. Not only this, but at the top of the stairs a balcony provided a highly useful platform to shoot a birds-eye-view shot, which is hard to achieve indoors.

-The actual filming of the sequence experienced a few setbacks and problems, but it was mainly successful first time round. We remembered at all times we had to meet the filming requirements; maintain the 180 degrees rule and continuity filming. We established the scene using a combination of simple mid-long shot pieces and the highly effective track and dolly. This gave our short film a professional-look right from the beginning. Then, we focused on leaving the dialogue, both verbal and non-verbal language, at the forefront of the footage. With this in mind, almost all shots included one of the two characters. The sound of voices was successful in being predominantly present, but some background noise still appeared to creep through. We believe that we explored a range of different camera angles, shots and movements. The mise-en-scene of the characters and the setting represents a formal meeting in the corner of a building somewhere quiet.

-When editing, it was simply combining the shots together well and presenting the footage to be professional. I am personally proud with the sequence of shots we have and also the titles. When editing, the sound was generally good enough, with a small bit of sound mix editing it was complete.

-We are pleased with the outcome of our preliminary film and hope that it represents the plot we initially envisaged.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

GROUP Wilderness Woods Short - 'The Paranormal "Thing"'

-In the editing process of this short epic, we used the timeline view predominantly in Adobe Premiere Elements 9.0 as we found it gave a far more comprehensive overview of all the footage together, along with the sound.

-Utilising the tools available to us, we could cut and paste clips along with sounds very quickly. When splitting sound from video (non-diegetic sounds), there were a few issues with the continuity. Thankfully we overcame this in rendering and using the fading option.

-We found that using the timeline enabled us to edit the volume of the sound.

-One final problem we found when exporting the film is that, when we watched it on youtube, the quality was not what we had envisaged. We filmed on 1080p cameras but the highest resolution we could reach was 480p. We then reviewed what could have gone wrong and discovered that the file type we had saved the film as in the D Drive was on a lower format. Altering this to an MPEG file soon resolved the problem, and now the video (above) is in the highest possible resolution. This has taught us to always check the file type the production is saved as; a factor that could be very easily overlooked.

TH and DH

Sunday, 23 November 2014

TH Institutional Context - 'Paranormal Activity'

-Produced by the independent American company 'Solana Films' before being taken over by Paramount Pictures.
-It was made by Oren Peli, an Israeli-born videogame designer who in fact had no professional film training prior to the production of 'Paranormal Activity'.
-Filmed on a high definition (1080p) SONY camera and printed on 35mm film over digital.
-Astonishingly, he completed all filming in just one week in 2006, for the small budget of $11,000. This mounted to a little over $15,000 after post-production editing and a short period of marketing and exhibition before conglomerate Paramount Pictures focused an interest on the film.

-The movie was noticed over the period of about a year through film festivals.
-Once taken into the hands of Paramount Pictures, the film still essentially stood as independent, as it was independently produced and distributed right up until exhibition when the industrial studio took over to maximise profit.
-The key part of the marketing campaign was so successful due to the genre of the film; paranormal horror.
-This key part of the campaign was a feature screening to a sample of the target audience (core audience - 12-29) that would later be included in the film's trailer. It was so successful because the audience reacted in the best way they could to invite more people to see the film when released and so hype and excitement was developed from an early stage.
-Secondly, the film launched - with the help of Paramount - a website that not only involved what a normal film would include (i.e trailers, information about screenings, actor interviews etc.), but also a revolutionary feature which not only increased anticipation for the film's arrival, but also increased the box office.
-Taking supreme advantage of the viral marketing campaign of web 2.0, this feature was essentially an online voting system used to allow the audience to vote for the film to come to their local city. Once a certain amount of people from an area had selected the "Demand It!" button to screen the film, it would be exhibited in a local cinema.
-This was a highly successful adaptation of the ever-growing inclusive aspect of web 2.0 and it proved massively advantageous for the film's box office, which reached a gross of $107,917,283.

In essence, this film's success came down to the simple yet successful plot often used in paranormal horror. However, accompanied by viral marketing and web 2.0, 'Paranormal Activity' became the first of a current five-part franchise.


TH Research Into The Horror Genre

Reading Log 1
1. At around the time of the 1960s to the late 1970s, women were presented to, instead of generally playing a vulnerable role, they can protect themselves and potentially find any danger and fight it. This reflects the traditional role taken by men in horror films, so it is now a lot more equal between genders.

2. Stalk and slash horrors tend to involve a juvenile-style, with teenagers engaging in youth-associated behavior which then leads to each being killed of one by one. It is often a rather unlikely plot and not to be taken seriously.

3. The audience of these films would have been teenage boys and young men.

4. The author of the article claims that this sub-genre was highly significant in creating horror's 'most enduring icons' and developed the idea of a sustained narrative in horror franchises.

5. The 'Final Girl' is presented as a repressed teenage girl who is frightened or feels vulnerable around her friend's adult behavior. However it is this vulnerability which leads the plot to conclude with her staying alive whilst all her friends have died, apparently due to her intellect and conscious decisions. Ultimately, the 'Final Girl' changes from a weak/passive girl to a strong/aggressive male. It is her boyish nature and natural competence that lead her to become, essentially, the most successful individual of the story.


Friday, 21 November 2014

GROUP Production Log - Wilderness Wood

What we learned
-How to use the camera equipment.
-Making use of filming on location.
-How useful storyboards would be.
-That it takes a lot of time and effort to film on location.

-The woods are a good location to shoot because continuity is very easy to create.
-We used and experimented with some very interesting shots and ideas such as having the antagonist far into the background or revealing him with the protagonist's body.
-Because of the experience we gained we probably would want to do something similar as our final piece.

TH and DH

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

TH Psychological Horror

This is a mood board designed to develop understandings about what a psychological film fundamentally consists of. Enjoy.
This is also a list of famous psychological horror films:
-The Shining
-The Haunting
-The Ring
-The Blair Witch Project
-The Woman In Black



Tuesday, 18 November 2014

DH Paranormal Horror

Paranormal is a major sub-genre of horror, and this presentation displays my research on it.

A very useful resource was this diagram which outlines the many sub-genres of horror and gives examples.


GROUP Location Reccie Planning

To gain an understanding of the limitations of filming on location.
To explore resources available.
To develop our conceptual ideas.
To improve team skills, i.e cooperation.

Risk Assessment
Stay in group at all times.
Make sure to stick to deadlines in order to stay informed with class.
Hazards include: trip hazards, the pond, stings/scratches on foliage, slips on surfaces, weather.

We are going to explore the woods as a final location for our sequence.
We are going to develop our ideas into paranormal/comedy horror sub genres on location and how the wooded setting may affect these categories.
We will consider outside locations to use in our final production setting.

TH and DH