Saturday, October 17, 2009

Music and horror

As any horror fan will tell you, music is vital to most horror movies. Sure, there are movies that go for a raw, realistic style that abolishes the music all together, movies like [REC], and those can be quite terrifying, in fact, some times more so. Still, when the intrepid heroine climbs the stairs, still wearing her borderline scandalous nightwear, brandishing a flashlight against the certainly hostile things that go bump in the night, and the music intensifies, telling you "yes, there's something fanged and hungry out there, yes, it does not wish this poor girl well." Sure, it's a cheap form of thrill, but it works well, even if you know what's comming. I would actually say it gets more effective if you know what's next. To get to my point though, can music be scary all by its lonesome.

Short answer: Yes, very, very much so. Of course, the market for music that is primarily scary is a lot smaller than the horror movie-loving demographic, still, there's a lot of music out there that's just plain freaky. Spotify URL'd for your convenience.

First band highlight goes to the presumably anthropoid humanoids known as "Throbbing Gristle," a British industrial metal band. I haven't checked all of their stuff yet, mostly because of lacking courage. And considering the first song I heard was Hamburger Lady, a deeply disturbing song, partially because it's hard to hear exactly what the lyrics are. From what I can tell, it's about a severely burnt woman, and disturbing enough on its own, let alone if you only hear bits and pieces of it properly. The non-vocal music's pretty damn scary too.

Next up, our old friend Tom Waits, a man who according to some can sing "Happy Birthday To You" and make it sound like a death threat made by Satan himself. Needless to say, when Waits decides to make it scary, it becomes scary. The crowning song of scary will to my mind always be What's He Building In There?, a true exercise in paranoia. It's chillingly effective, a poster child for the slow-building horror so long forgotten in American horror. The most effective bit about this song is that pretty much no matter where you're from, there's a town recluse, someone who just doesn't get along with everyone else, someone who the rumors fly about, someone that just might have a deadly secret. Playing this song when you're new in the neighbourhood might make you notice the neighbours seem... odd, maybe? Even after you've watched it, the question remains, what IS he building in there?

Next band, move down, move down. Early synth-pop duo Suicide (unsurprisingly with a name like that) has one, Frankie Teardrop, honestly, this song freaks the hell out of me. It's not so much the lyrics, although they certainly aren't plesant, but the repetitive, merciless background beat is extremely unnerving. Also, it's the longest song in this entry yet, running 10'26''.

This is, however, not the longest scary song I've got. Sike on you, I guess. The avant-garde metal band Fantômas more than one-upped Suicide in that regard. The song/album Delirium Cordia is 74 minutes long, and is a concept album revolving around (to quote wikipedia) "the theme of surgery without anesthesia." Owch. It's a fairly good job done too. Had it not been for the unpredictability of having one long track, I'd definitely recomend this as mood-music for an horror-related RPG. It wasn't quite as focused on creepy hospital-related sounds as I thought, but it was still pretty damn creepy. The last 15-20 mins are especially tense, because there's almost no sound there at all, just the sound of a LP-player left on too long. Could just be me, but I was expecting one last mindfuck before the song was over. In one way, I got it, no spoilers though.

I guess a passing Marilyn Manson mention is in order. Sure, some of his stuff is kinda creepy, most notably his take on the poem from the tunnel scene of the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. I feel the impact is somewhat lessened because one expects Marilyn Manson to be scary, while with Wonka... it just comes right outta nowhere, screaming like a bat outta hell. But enough about that.

Upcomming posts will be about the following: Me blasting S. Darko into oblivion, my take on Zombieland and finally, Slowzombie Vs. Antichrist.

1 comment:

Rudié said...

"What's He Building In There?" is really cool