Why Hitchcock Films Rock

As I am now finishing off the assignment part of the blog, I have decided to discuss what makes a film great. Perhaps, there is no better director than Alfred Hitchcock to learn an answer to this question, and as we have just watched a selection of his more famous films, I decided to look up what makes Hitchcock films great. I came upon this interesting website
that discusses some of Hitchcocks in making a great film. I do recommend going to this website to check it out, but I will discuss some of techniques listed as well. I have also decided that I will use Rear Window as the basis of my discussion (only one exception), because as of now it is my favorite Hitchcock film (this is very subject to change, as my favorite Beatles song does from time to time)

Frame for Emotion- This is in my opinion one of things Ive noticed this term that Hitchcock did better than the rest. What make us connect to the film, is so much how we connect on an emotional level to the characters.
Its almost like shes kissing me!
Its almost like shes kissing me!

Camera is not a camera- The genius behind Rear Window is that we too are trapped in the wheelchair, we are bounded to the room, and see what Jimmy Stewart sees. It has a certain feel to it, as we see evrything through his eyes.
It feels like were looking through our window
It feels like were looking through our window

Dialouge Means Nothing & Point of View Editing- Throughout Rear Window, the most important things being said, are said through watching Stewart’s eyes, his reaction to his surroundings made the film much more tense.
Montage- (Here I will discuss Psycho because I think its the law that when discussing a Hitchcock montage you must discuss “The Shower Scene”)
One if the great things about this scene is the fact that we never see the knife hit her, however, beacuse of the quickc uts and pacing of the scene, an even higher sense of violence is felt. I like the quote this page attributes to Hitchcock, that this montage effect is “transferring the menace from the screen into the mind of the audience.”
Suspense is Information-
In Rear Window we are not certain if the neighbor actually murdered his wife until the very end. The film keeps jerking us into defferent directions, as to whether there has been a murder, or that Stewart is being paranoid. We are definately guided into thinking a murder has taken place, but the authorites do not know this. It adds so much to the film, that we have certain unconfirmed beliefs that are not confirmed until the end of the film.
Murderer or Innocent Neighobor? wait till end of film to confirm your suspisions.
Murderer or Innocent Neighobor? wait till end of film to confirm your suspisions

Suprise and Twist-
We all love the suprise/twist ending and with the nighbor coming over to try to silence Stewart and ironically breaking both of his legs, we were given one. The suprise ending is improtant in films as since we tend to have short memories, the ending of the film is what gives us the lasting appeal ( I think M Night Shymelan only like this technique).
As were are all now amatueur filmmakers, we can learn from the genius of Hitchcock to make our films great.

Vestige- A Homage To Memento

This is my video, it is a homage to Memento (parts of the volume are lower than other parts for some reason so make sure your computer volume is loud).

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The Final Girl

In class the other day we noted that often in the sub-genre of slasher films, the girl who survives is The Good Girl” the virgin, while all the more promiscuos girls are surely going to be killed. In this clip from Scream, we are taught some of the rules to survive a horror movie.

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From the first two rules layed out in this slasher film parody, we learn sinning (by either sex, drugs, or alcohol) is what get you killed. This might support the approach that the slasher film is preaching conservative ideals, and that the killer (much like Thursday’s group discussed about Michael Myers) is restoring order amongst the chaos.

However, there are many other
explanations that offer a different perspective in explaing the virgin survives phenomenom. One thing to note is that almost always, the lead of a slasher film is a female. In fact there is a phrase coined for the final survivor of horror flicks, as The Final Girl. Therefore, the female lead needs to be explained.

One popular explanation helps explain why the Final Girl is often a virgin. In horror films in order to deepen the anxiety and terror of the film (which is the point of horror films, either that or to laugh at them but thats a different story) the main charachter has to show terror, fear, and essentially scream; which a man lead can not do (as men are never allowed to be afraid even when chased by an axe bearing lunatic). However, as this genre is more male orientended, and the lead at the end has to portray some characteristics more often associated with males, such as the bravery and aggression to use violence and weaponry, it is important for the lead to not to be too feminine. Therefore, her sexuality is mininimized and she often is made into virgin , often with a unisex name, so the male viewer can view her as a somewhat more masculated hero. That is why the more feminine characters are killed off. (This idea is somewhat derived from Carol Clover theory on the Final Girl, the term she coined).

I also found this song on youtube that is written about the Final Girl of horror flicks from 70s and 80s. Doesn’t offer much content but thought I’d share it.
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Presidential Campaign Ads

In our last class, we watched the famous LBJ “Peace, Little Girl” commerical, where fear was used to collect votes. This was still during the time in the Cold War, when the American people were afraid of a nuclear holocaust. It is intresting to compare this ad with another Presidential  campaign ad, that of (the great) Ronald Reagan.

Remember that the bear is the symbol for Russia.

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  It is interesting to see these ads reflected each ones respective time period, within the cold war.  LBJ – fear of the USSR, Reagan – prepared for peace.

Night of the Living Dead

In Phillips’ chapter on Night of The Living Dead, the author discusses a connection between Living Dead and Psycho. He notes that while in Psycho, Hitchcock revolutionized the horror theme by tearing apart the safety the audience expected from cinema; Romero’s zombies shredded the remaining hope that remained. I believe that Romero clearly tried to one up the thrill brought by Psycho. One scene that while I was watching Living Dead, made me think of Psycho was the scene where Karen kills her mom. It seemed somewhat oddly reminiscent of the famous shower scene in Psycho.
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Not only does the stabbing scenes look somewhat familiar: as a similar stabbing motion is performed, the female victims screams, and eerie music is playing in the background; but Romero’s scene has something more awful attached to it. Not only is the character killed gruesomely, but it is done by the victim daughter. I think Romero is saying to Hitchcock, I see your horror and I raise you.

Interesting enough but it seems that Romero’s took some idea out of Hitchcock’s book. Romero also makes this film in black and white, just like Psycho. Also, the blood in Living Dead was really chocolate syrup, just like the blood in the famous shower scene in Psycho was. Although, I do not believe Living Dead was as artistically pleasing as Psycho was, I feel that there is a clear attempt to push the boundaries of horror, further than Psycho had done.