Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Genre Research 1: Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Budget: $83.5K; US box office: $30M

Opening duration: 4:43 91%; IMDB 7.5.

Summary/Ideas I Might Use
Using a radio or media like that to relay information to the audience.
Matching the music to things happening on screen for example the title cards changing.
Showing short snippets of scene or not revealing the whole scene straight away to add tension.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a 1974 American slasher film. It follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. It was marketed as a true story but is fictional.

There are no idents in this movie. 
first set of titles
The titles are kept as few as possible at the beginning of the movie. This is to make it seem as though it is a true story. There are 2 titles before this, which makes it seem more like a documentary rather than a movie (which is what they were going for to make it seem scarier). 

After the opening there are the rest of the titles, which are set out how you would usually see the end credits today but it was quite common to have the titles look like this in older movies. However, the titles are in the usual order of company names, director, cast, crew, then director again.
second set of titles

The colours are mainly red and black, with yellow writing to make it stand out from the background. It looks like blood is leaking everywhere in the background of the titles. This gives anchorage that the movie is a slasher. The music also signifies that the movie is a slasher because when the titles change there is a drum sound which makes you jump a little bit, putting you on edge for the rest of the movie.

... and a decomposing foot on the floor
Decomposing fingers flash on screen...
 The mise-en-scene to start with only shows flashes of the scene because it is like pictures being taken on a camera. Bits of decomposing flesh show on the screen for a split second. It gives you a taster of what there is to come. The scene turns to show a dead body hung up on a gravestone in a graveyard, which we can gather this information from the radio playing in the background. It is a gruesome sight and strongly anchors the genre as a slasher movie by the gory mise-en-scene already shown. You can tell this is not an everyday decomposing body in, for example, a lab, because you can see the body is on the floor. All of this straight away is to gross out the audience and to set the tone of the movie, telling the audience they are in for a gory ride.

The dead body attached to a gravestone in a graveyard

Narrative, Genre, and Exposition
We can find out a lot about the setting/exposition of the film through this opening. The film camera tells us that it was set in the 20th century. The radio presenter's voice is American and this tells us it is set in America. The colour of the graveyard scene is quite yellow, which makes it look hot and could tell us that it is set in a hotter part of the USA. The darkness at the start tells us that that scene is set at night, because it is dark even though they are outside.

The main purpose of this film opening is setting up the dis-equilibrium in the narrative. It shows us that something is wrong, an incident has happened which will affect the main character in some way. The fact that it is reported on the radio tells us it is a big event for the town and this tells us it will be a big event in the movie too.

There are lots of genre signifiers. The soundtrack is very tense and jumpy which signifies a horror movie. There are gory pictures of dead bodies which tells us it will be quite bloody and graphic i.e. a slasher movie. The titles show us that it is a slasher movie too because of the bloody background and shaky-ness of the background too.
There is an audio bridge between the titles and the opening. 

The audio starts with diegetic sounds of chopping, digging, cutting, and a mumbling person. The screen is black so you can only hear what's happening. The flash of a film camera can be heard which corresponds to flashes on the screen of images of decomposing flesh. (This makes it look like the camera has taken a photo). There are continued diegetic sounds of slicing, and a radio is fading in talking about a crime that has happened. 

Non-diegetic music has also faded in, and as the scene changes the diegetic sound stops and only the radio and music remain. We see now that the radio is talking about a specific crime that is shown on screen. The radio is the main focus so we get exposition about the scene that we are seeing. 

The music is long notes with tingling sounds every so often that reminded me of heartbeats because there was usually two jingles in a row. Some drums come in, slowly building up until the second set of titles show. There is lots of music e.g. drums and long notes. The radio is talking about something else like it is just being played in the background and no one is paying attention to it.

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