After the BFI event on 27 November, Scott offered some thoughts about various clips we’d been looking at:
cat people ‘invented’ horror type suspense (David corrects me that suspense really means something else, but you know what I mean: how horror films make you jump). If you compare cat people with dracula (separated by only 11 years) you can see the difference eg the chase sequence on the transverse – shows use of closing camera distance, having stuff off-camera, cross cutting, and sound (the bus) – cf dracula (eg his first appearance) which is spooky but not at all jumpy. Invention of the ‘bus’ technique described in ‘val lewton, the reality of terror’ (bfi monograph)
funny sound anecdote: the only music in dracula (1931) is diegetic – an orchestra at a concert where a scene takes place (plus titles music of course). Apparently they hadn’t worked out that the audience would accept non-diegetic music, would instead be looking round to see where the music was coming from! (relevance to shown/hidden? – the hidden orchestra!)
tourneur and lewton wanted to show no panther at all and leave it entirely ambiguous – but were forced by ‘the front office’ to include it. Same thing with the rubber demon in tourneur’s otherwise wonderful night of the demon (1957) (dana andrews yes, but niall macginnis is great – great scary effects too).
for hidden, you could also check out the extraordinary final scene of the RKO horror unit’s final film, the seventh victim…