Scott Donaldson writes..

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…
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