DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

The title sequences of 56 mostly horror movies *

* (restored)

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Ginger Snaps (2000)
‘When Ginger Snaps, the cult horror-comedy directed by John Fawcett and written by Karen Walton, was released in 2000, it was an outlier among outliers. In a genre oozing with regressive and often outright sexist portrayals of women, Ginger Snaps was a monstrously funny film about two teenage girls whiling away the beige of suburban Bailey Downs. Ginger and Brigitte did this in their own special way: through elaborate tableaux of suicide and death, photographed and presented as a slideshow for a school assignment. These tableaux form the opening title sequence to Ginger Snaps, introducing the world to the Fitzgerald sisters through a masterpiece of title design. These staged scenes are the girls’ ode to and rejection of suburbia, the sequence becoming a mini-text within the film that lays bare their whirling inner lives; their feelings of connection, nihilism, creativity, curiosity, and disillusionment are all there, laid out neatly among the peroxide and lace. The attention to detail in the grisly gestalts is astounding, with references to everything from children’s fairy tales (The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland) and classic literature (Paradise Lost) to obscure dead Russians (Pavel T. Shvetsov) and contemporary cinema (Se7en, Heathers). The music, composed by Mike Shields, features violin and cello and smatterings of giggles, deftly wielding a melancholy that manages to avoid dipping into cornball.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Die Monster, Die (1965)

 

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Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

 

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Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
‘This 1948 horror comedy film is the first of several in which Abbott and Costello, American comedy darlings of the ’40s and early ’50s, meet various characters from the Universal Pictures stable of monsters. This film was originally meant to be titled The Brain of Frankenstein and features no less than three “titans of terror”: Count Dracula, the Wolf Man, and of course, Frankenstein’s monster. Though he was not officially credited, the playfully spooky opening title sequence was designed by Walter Lantz, co-creator of Woody Woodpecker. In 2001, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (the film’s poster title) was inducted into the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress, who deemed it “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” It’s considered the last of the American golden age monster films.’ — Art of the Title

 

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This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse (1967)

 

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30 Days of Night (2015)
‘The audience is confronted with a sequence of highly disquieting images that cross-dissolve or fade to black. Details of torn and tainted photographs, northern lights, shadows, a bloody tooth embedded in a thick layer of ice and references to the Alaskan wintercape. Brian Reitzell’s haunting score greatly enhances the discomforting atmosphere. “In production, I built miniature film sets, like details of the houses out of driftwood, soiled carpet, burned wallpaper, anything I could find in skips or on the streets of Soho in London. We asked for photos of cast and family and Sony supplied some, but we sourced most of the pictures or shot our own to look like the town inhabitants. I then filmed plates of these elements along with organic materials to create the vignettes. The time-lapse ice was real but I found treacle to be quite good blood, along with washing powder mixed with course sea salt for snow. Our meeting room was a mess.”’ — MOMOCO

 

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Jigoku (1960)

 

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Videodrome (1983)
Videodrome happens to feature one of the most thoroughly effective opening sequences of David Cronenberg’s long career, an opener that would foreshadow the Canadian filmmaker’s frequent and authoritative use of title design to set the stage in subsequent works. Arriving with a hiss, bent and distorted, Videodrome’s bright orange title card coalesces in a storm of static, giving way to a TV station ident: “CIVIC-TV (Channel 83, Cable 12) … THE ONE YOU TAKE TO BED WITH YOU.” The cheerful message is accompanied by the image of a lonely man lying in bed with his television, a teddy bear tucked beneath his hairy arm. These opening moments will tell viewers most of what they need to know about Max Renn (James Woods), the film’s main character — a pioneering television impresario and purveyor of schlock and shock. Renn’s faithful executive assistant Bridey James (without whom it is evident he is completely hopeless) then appears on screen to deliver his docket for Wednesday the 23rd. Month and year unknown. Composer Howard Shore’s dark, electronic score gives Videodrome a foreboding edge right from the get-go, playing over the normally grandiose Universal fanfare. Though overriding the studio bumper is a fairly common practice today, it was an unusual way to kick off a film in the early 1980s. Composed for an orchestra, Shore recorded both a classical arrangement of the soundtrack and a completely digital version programmed into a Synclavier II synthesizer — mixing between the two throughout the film. The latter gradually becomes the more dominant sound as Renn descends further and further into signal-induced madness.’ — The Art of the Title

 

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The Haunted Palace (1963)

 

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Friday the 13th: Part 3 (1982)
‘After the intro sequence where were shown that Jason is still alive, the film goes into this incredibley cheesy but wholly fitting 3D title sequence complete with equally absurd and oddly out of place title music that sounds like something from the late 70’s. You gotta see (and hear) it to believe it.’ — Robot Geek

 

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Jason X (2001)

 

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The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
‘From the very beginning of visualizing the title sequence for The Island of Dr. Moreau, Kyle Cooper knew that the theme of biological mutation would be paramount. Through a series of explorations with storyboard artist Wayne Coe, Cooper honed his sequence from an initial direction of eyes splitting and multiplying as if going through cell mitosis to the final direction, which begins by pulling the viewer through a series of animal irises. In this way, Cooper intimates the film’s plot inter-species biological tinkering gone awry. The resulting sequence is aggressively paced to a driving hip-hop beat, a hallucinatory combination of medical and cellular imagery from a number of stock sources that could possibly pose serious problems to epileptics in the audience. “I usually do things with scissors and scan them in,” says Cooper, who admits to a preference for hands-on, low-tech approaches to projects. In The Island of Dr. Moreau, Cooper uncharacteristically turned to Illustrator for help to pull out the edge points of the credit typefaces to render them figuratively red in tooth and claw. The credits appear at first normal, but then the serifs spike out dangerously and begin to mutate and splinter as if they, too, were going through an out-of-control metamorphosis.’ — Art of the Title

 

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The Omen (1976)

 

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The Fly (1986)

 

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Nosferatu (1979)
‘The titles are written in a fairly bold font, with the key part of each letter being thick, and the other parts of the letter being much thinner. It is fairly uniform and formal, each letter being evenly spread apart. The most important titles such as names have capitalised first letters, and the less important titles such as linking words being written in entirely lower case. It’s noteworthy that the title of the film is capitalised in its entirety to give it additional significance. The white colour, font style and sans font all connote the Gothic atmosphere that the film strives for. In terms of positioning, the text is located in the centre of the screen and is vertically spaced apart enough that the images behind the text is still visible. The visuals primarily serve as background detail during the title sequence, and they are animated with a simple fade in and out.’ — Group 3

 

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Troll 2 (1990)
‘The opening credits of Troll and Troll 2 are almost exactly the same, a Goth aesthetic appearing with a brooding score and a large spooky dark house serving as a sinister backdrop… Both movies have formidable looking manors yet only Troll 2 uses their location throughout. The original manor is hidden by the apartment house that it would become, and ultimately attempt to change back into. And the T2 title sequence cuts literally to the chase, showing a horde of goblins running wild. One main difference in the credits are, of course, the names: the original has real actors the likes of Michael Moriarty, Shelley Hack, Sonny Bono, and others mentioned further in, while the super low-budget sequel is full of no-names, including a real life dentist; all were completely unknown and never heard of again until the documentary brought their unprofessional brilliance to light.’ — Skull Island Surfer

 

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Final Destination (2000)

 

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Final Destination 2 (2003)

 

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Final Destination 3 (2006)
‘Once again, a group of young people narrowly escape death, this time at a carnival. Picture Mill filmed the fortune teller, and created the virtual “Game of Death” to help set up concepts that would be seen later in the feature.’ — Picture Mill

 

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Final Destination 4 (2009)
‘The client’s brief was to create a sequence for the fanboys that used the equity that existed in the deaths of the first three movies within the franchise. For legal reasons we were not allowed to show any of the actors in the previous films, so we almost couldn’t use any of the actual footage from those films. The problem was therefore how to show those very specific deaths without any of the footage. The truth is, even if we were able to use that footage, none of it was shot 3D. The X-ray idea took care of that problem, and conceptually it seemed authentic to the spirit of these movies, to show deaths in new and innovative ways. We then intercut the X-rays with footage from the previous films that did not show any actors, and with footage we shot of our own actors, in exactly the same death scenes. Finally, the whole sequence has a stereoscopic dirt pass, with specks both in and outside of the screen. It also has a grain pass that sits slightly inside of the screen to avoid engaging the screen plane in any way, and so creating a real window to a stereoscopic world.’ — Jarik van Sluijs, Art director

 

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Final Destination 5 (2011)
‘The opening sequence was done by Kyle Cooper who is an amazing title sequence creator and in fact was responsible for the original titles for the movie Se7en. I told Kyle up front, ‘Look, nobody’s done a really good 3D title sequence. I want you to do what you did for the titles in Se7en for that genre, to do the equivalent of in 3D for a 3D movie’…At the same time Brian Tyler did an amazing main score with that complimented the images and those two things I think told the audience right away, ‘strap your seatbelts in, this is gonna be a fun ride.’ — Daniel Rutledge

 

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The Dunwich Horror (1969)
The Dunwich Horror is a tale of birth and death and terrible creatures. Based on the short story of the same name by H. P. Lovecraft, the minimalist graphic title sequence was designed by artist and graphic designer Sandy Dvore. Dvore cut his teeth working with legendary B-movie producer and director Roger Corman, who first courted him after seeing Otto Preminger’s Skidoo (1968) and Dvore’s titles work therein. Skidoo was a light and saucy affair: comedic bickering, singing, boats, sunshine. The Dunwich Horror, on the other hand, takes its cues from the graphic minimalism of the 1960s, Lovecraft, and the terror of the unknowable. His first excursion into graphic animation, the titles to The Dunwich Horror cleverly blend themes from the film through scale and image morphing, each silhouetted form growing and shifting into another. The title sequence acts as prologue and as summary, explaining the cold open of a woman in labour and foreshadowing events to come. The style is reminiscent of leading graphic title designers of the 1960s like Saul and Elaine Bass and Maurice Binder, with hints of Matisse and his Blue Nudes cut-outs.’ — Art of the Title


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Cabin in the Woods (2011)

 

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Spider Baby (1964)
‘The cackle of Lon Chaney Jr. shatters the silence, and so begins Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told. Cute cartoon caricatures begin to pop up, smiling ear-to-ear like they were made for a bubblegum wrapper. Chaney sings about cannibal spiders, ghouls and skeletons, the song lilting up and down like a bumpy forest road. Illustrations of hearses, spiders, and creepy kids start to pull this parade into Addams Family territory, but even the Addams’ classic jingle doesn’t include the line, “This cannibal orgy is strange to behold in the maddest story ever told!” Cannibal Orgy happened to be the film’s original title, because director Jack Hill thought that sounded funny. In stark contrast to these cartoon cavalcades, a man is stabbed in the eyes in the very first scene, two kitchen knives plunged into his skull by a little girl. Designed by EIP (who still remain a mystery, and director Jack Hill cannot recall), the opening sequence to Spider Baby treats the approaching acts of dismemberment and perversion with all the gravity of a Hanna Barbera cartoon. To dissuade anyone from getting the wrong idea about the scruples of anyone involved with the film, Spider Baby establishes that this is all one nutty punchline, serenaded by a song composed by Ronald Stein (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, The Haunted Palace), which mentions werewolves and mummies as if the ditty was at one point meant for the animated Mad Monster Party. “We just went into a recording studio and [Chaney] knocked it out,” said Hill. “He had a great time doing it.”’ — Art of the Title

 

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The Haunting (1963)

 

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Se7en (1995)
Se7en enjoyed wide critical and popular success thanks in large part to a strong word of mouth around the film’s many hairpin turns, and one other thing: its title sequence. The film doesn’t open directly with the sequence. It first introduces us to retiring Detective Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and rookie replacement Detective Mills (Brad Pitt) as they also meet for the first time, establishing their combative on-screen chemistry and investing the audience in the evolution of their partnership. This prelude also introduces many of the key themes found in Se7en: hopelessness, apathy, desperation and — lest we wonder why — plenty of violence. By the end, we welcome Somerset’s nighttime zen ritual of drowning out the chaos with a metronome on his nightstand, its hypnotic rhythm also asking for our trust and attention.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Blacula (1972)
‘The opening title sequence to William Crain’s Blacula, designed by Sandy Dvore, is the story of a predator, fluttering alone in a strange and stark world. Amid the rough grain of paper and close-up ink textures, a black bat stalks a round red dot through a maze of white veins. The dot transforms into the crimson figure of a woman and in one small scene after the next, the bat hunts and feeds, taking where it can. This animated sequence appears seven minutes into the film, immediately following a stiff opening prologue, and injects the film with style and levity. Its spirited animation and funkadelic groove aids the film in shifting gears, transitioning from past to present-day Transylvania. The minimalist approach and colour palette harkens back to the graphic execution of Dvore’s previous title design effort for The Dunwich Horror. The genres of horror and Blaxploitation experienced a great crossover in the early- to mid-1970s, resulting in a number of Blaxploitation horror films, but the first and most often remembered is still Blacula. It was so successful that the studio, American International Pictures, produced a sequel immediately. Scream Blacula Scream, released only 10 months later in 1973, also bore a title sequence designed by Sandy Dvore.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Candyman (1992)

 

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The Shining (1980)
‘A spectral camera soars languidly through a deep valley, conjuring up images of the American frontier: towering mountains, evergreen trees, and serene water lucidly captured through a wide-angle lens. Sweeping across the landscape, the camera begins to follow a tiny yellow VW Beetle making its way up a winding road carved into the steep mountain cliffs. The lens frequently relegates the car to only a fraction of the frame, revealing how minuscule the vehicle is against the grandeur on which it is trespassing. This bird’s eye chase foreshadows the events that await the Torrence family and the film’s harrowing themes of isolation and madness. The aerial shots share many characteristics with the hotel footage filmed using the Steadicam, a stabilizing camera mount pioneered by Garrett Brown. Kubrick’s innovative use of the Steadicam on The Shining was considered groundbreaking, and the seemingly effortless gliding motions and long takes afforded by the system closely echo the title sequence. This hitherto untested stylistic choice imbues every move of the camera with a sense of tension and dread. Unaware of what lies around the next curve in the road or hallway corridor, viewers are lured deeper and deeper into the world of the film. Unusually, the title sequence for The Shining also employs rolling credits, a design element normally reserved for end credits. When paired with the unsettling musical score, the austere Helvetica typeface — cryptically colored a hot blue — seems immediately at odds with the pristine wilderness. Like many of cinema’s most notable title sequences, the introduction to The Shining touches on themes later addressed in the film. For a celebrated and chronicled filmmaker such as Kubrick — known for his trenchant observations and perfectionism — myriad readings can be taken from viewing this opening. Jack Torrence’s ascent into the celestial Rocky Mountains is also a descent into the depths of his own personal hell; the lonely and strangely claustrophobic mountain road is the first of many labyrinthine constructs the film forces the Torrence family into.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Psycho (1960)

 

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Zombieland (2009)
‘The rules and title sequence evolved separately, but in the end came to a more understated simple approach. The goal was to integrate the type into the film and propel the narrative without becoming heavy-handed. The film is essentially a comedy, and we felt that punctuating the humor with a simple typographic approach was the way to go. As the concept for the title sequence evolved, the marriage between type and image became more apparent. Certain shots that at first felt perfect in an initial edit found a new place as the type began to take shape. The interactive animation of the type first started with the rules and eventually made their way into the main title sequence. We wanted to seamlessly integrate the type into the scene, making the type become another character. We were inspired by the tension between beauty and horror that the slow motion footage created. The goal for the type was to respond to that horrific grace, to react to the movement. First our lead designer, James Wang, set the type; this was then handed off to our 3D team who would model and texture the type. After the modeling and texturing was in good shape it would be handed off to an animator to apply the motion. During this time a lighting artist would be applying looks, eventually the animation would be approved and the lighting would be further polished until finalized. This particular job was accomplished using the requisite Adobe suite of tools and Maya. Our pipeline was essential in accomplishing this job, a labor of love that creates an ease of use for the creative team while being simple enough for production to effectively do their job.’ — Ben Conrad, Creative Director

 

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Night of the Living Dead (1968)

 

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The Ward (2010)
‘In clever shadow play, the title type is the very thing you pass in the darkness that makes your blood run cold. With shifting shards and a spine-tingling soprano, the opening titles to John Carpenter’s The Ward create a graceful unease. Fractal lobotomies and fractured woodcut prints fly, the images depicting men and women wracked to the tools of torture. We are shown the early days of mental health practices in which similar and yet more evil devices were used to “cure.” The designers, Gareth Smith and Jenny Lee, known for their work on Up in the Air and Juno, exacerbate the already robust sense of dread that exists regarding the sensed helplessness. The system is broken. The shards cut deep.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Re-Animator (1985)

 

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Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

 

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Halloween (1978)
‘John Carpenter’s menacing theme for Halloween sends some into a panic and some smiling. Composed and performed by the man himself, Carpenter’s influences were Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone, with whom Carpenter worked on The Thing. The opening sequence shares some similarities with a film that Carpenter adores, Roy Ward Baker’s Quatermass and the Pit. The sequence plays like a blackhearted processional we’d like to writhe away from but the pull of this simpleton’s grin has us ensnared. A flicker to contemplate and a well-timed fade to black leave only Carpenter’s credit and his music. And our eyes, open with fear.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Halloween II (1981)
‘The opening title sequence is similar to the opening of Halloween. There is a pumpkin of the left hand side of the screen and credits on the right. As the credits go by the camera zooms in on the pumpkin. the difference this time around is that as the camera zooms in the pumpkin slowly opens up to reveal a skull inside of it. By this sequence the audience is told that the movie is going to be related to Halloween in some way, by the pumpkin. And that the movie is going to deal with death, by the skull inside. What makes it effective is that it starts out like the original does, making people think it is going to be just like the original but it grabs their attention by having something happen, opening up the pumpkin to reveal a skull. This tells them to not expect this to be a copy of the original, that there will be some surprises in store for them.’ — halloween2horror

 

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Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
‘I mean, up to this point in my career, I had specialized in creating animation that looked like it was computer generated. What I actually used were animation cameras, lithographic negatives, colored gels, etc to create the effect of computer animation. However, for this project, I did it for real — I made the decision to actually use a computer to generate the animation. So I purchased my first graphics machine, a Z-2D system made by Cromemco, and entered the world of digital animation. The Halloween III animation was fairly simple. I enlarged the logo that production used for their TV spots and had it printed out on a grid. That made it simple to manually generate X and Y data for the logo. The program that animated the reveal of the scan lines was written in Fortran. I could control the speed of the lines as they animated onto the screen, and did several detail animations of different parts of the logo, as well as the entire pumpkin. The animation was basic enough that we could shoot it off the display monitor in real time. My friend and later business partner Greg McMurry helped us sync up the monitor to the film camera. One interesting aspect of shooting the graphic was that Tommy wanted some occasional static and video breakup to it. This posed a problem, since the monitor we were using was being fed directly from the computer, and it produced a consistent, stable image no matter what we tried. What we ended up doing was piping the video through the wireless link of a Steadicam monitor system. We added video glitches by messing with the antenna system on the unit!’ — John Walsh, Designer

 

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Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
Halloween 4‘s opening moments more than effectively convey the vibe of a small town Halloween and the feel of those glorious autumn months, as leaves blow past the screen and various different decorations and harvest-related items are seen, laden with the movie’s title and credits. In only a minute’s time, without a single word being spoken, it’s clear that we’re once again back in Haddonfield, and the intended atmosphere is very much felt – just as it is throughout the movie. The simple score of doom suddenly begins sounding a whole lot more familiar as the action begins, signaling the long-awaited return of Michael Myers.’ — Halloween Love

 

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)
‘There are a great many moments that don’t make sense in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, but the first instance of confusion comes directly after the “Moustapha Akkad Presents” title card flashes across the screen. It’s here that the film’s title is revealed, but according to the opening of the movie, its title is simply Halloween 5. There isn’t a “Revenge” or a “Michael Myers” in sight. I always found this odd.’ — Consequence of Sound

 

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Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
‘The beginning of this movie features a good two minutes or so of opening credits with orange text against a black backdrop with the classic Carpenter score playing in the background. There was no ingenuity, there was nothing to it. Basic as anything can get. Even Halloween 5 had a pretty cool opening title sequence. I asked myself, how lazy can some people be?’ — ohmb.net

 

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The Conjuring (2013)
‘Welcome to Parapsychology 101, ladies and gentlemen. Employing overhead projectors and viewfoil, Becker Design takes audiences through an unsettlingly academic post-mortem of Director James Wan’s The Conjuring. Smiling family portraits, faded newspaper clippings, and photo negatives are clinically presented by an unseen lecturer. As shadowy fingers move transparencies in and out of frame, layering on the creep factor with each new sheet of acetate, subtle, sometimes troubling changes can be observed. For many, the decidedly analog presentation of The Conjuring’s main-on-end title sequence will evoke memories of darkened classrooms and dull lectures. Joseph Bishara’s disquieting score, however, will drum up a baser instinct — the musical equivalent to the hair on the back of your neck standing up. This blending of the ordinary and terrible, the mundane and the malevolent, serves as a fitting endnote to one of the most infamous paranormal investigations in recent memory.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Insidious (2006)
‘In the beginning of the title sequence for Insidious the camera tracks down on a lamp, we then see the camera tilt and the text tilt the opposite way. This makes the setting seem “off” and makes the viewer uneasy about what we see. The camera tracks down and moves along a boy’s bedroom. The high angle in the shot along with how the camera moves(slowly) make it seem like someone is watching the oy and we are looking from that perspective. The camera continues to track along down a hallway where we see a woman in the dark holding a candle. We don’t see who this is at first and the camera moves in slowly, all in one shot, to create tension. This tells us that it is a thriller or a horror movie. The next thing we see is the title pop up and flicker in the darkness. The typeface used looks evil because it looks like it has forked tips like a snake’s tongue or the devil’s tongue/horns. The text is also red like blood and sharp and pointed like blades. After the title, the rest of the sequence is shots of parts of the house, the shots are often from a really low or high angle or from behind a corner to nake it seem like someone is sneaking around the house. The shots are very dark toward the edges in a vignette style, this is used to make the shots seem claustraphobic and to also obscure the viewers vision to create tension, the viewer doesn’t know what is going on around them. The soundtrack in this sequence is eerie and sounds like a slow screeching. When the title for the film comes up the screeching gets more intense and then dies down and gets slower again for the rest of the sequence. The soundtrack fits well because it creates tension, it builds up and crescendos at the title to shock the viewer.’ — Charlie Mead’s Media Blog

 

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Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013)

 

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Seconds (1966)
‘[Director John] Frankenheimer, who was already working with Saul Bass on Grand Prix, was of the opinion that Saul was the only person capable of designing an appropriate title sequence for Seconds, a Faustian sci-fi drama about a secret organization that offers the wealthy the chance to assume new identities and bodies. For the title sequence, Saul and Elaine Bass manipulated intense close-up photography of a human face to create strange, undulating patterns that are both lyrical and horrifying. Saul explained, “Tampering with humanity in that way is pretty scary, so in the title we broke apart, distorted and reconstituted the human face to symbolically set the stage for what was to come.” Described by Frankenheimer as “breathtaking,” the sequence seems to be the result of state-of-the-art technical effects, but in fact the process could hardly have been simpler — photographing the reflection of a perfectly normal physiognomy onto aluminum sheets that were manipulated to create distortions. In the strange, contorted images on screen, it is difficult to imagine that we are actually looking at the friendly face of Art Goodman, Saul’s long-time collaborator, who gamely volunteered to model.’ — Art of the Title

 

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Alien (1979)
‘We float over a planet as white forms appear, dismembered. They work their way from the outside in, everything pointing to the centre. That is where they come from — the middle of you. As the pieces come together, forming a word denoting, in the most basic of terms, The Other, we are enveloped in a steady and dark tension. This was Richard and Robert Greenberg’s second major film project as a company, R/Greenberg Associates. The first, the teaser and opening title sequence to 1978’s Superman, gave them a start, but their second, Alien, established them as a creative voice. In this opening sequence, a disjointed version of Helvetica Black is used to instill a sense of foreboding, the letters broken into pieces, the space between them unsettling. This usage of type, in which letters are simultaneously message and medium, a lens through which ideas are both displayed and distorted, as structure and as obstruction, is a motif to which Title Designer Richard Greenberg would return again and again.’ — Art of the Title

 

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The Wicker Man (1973)

 

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World War Z (2013)

 

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Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
‘The opening title sequence is undeniably haunting and evocative. It begins with a few sharp keys on the piano and then fades into Krzystof Komeda’s chilling main theme, with Mia Farrow providing the vocals. Mia begins to sing the la-la-la’s, and the viewer is instantly unnerved. While the theme plays, the camera pans over an establishing shot of New York’s Upper West Side. We follow this shot as it transitions from hard, brown New York buildings to soft, bushy greenery in Central Park, then slowly to a closer composition of one peculiar building that is slowly revealed to be the Dakota/Bramford. Throughout the sequence, the superimposed credits are a bright, pink, and swirly cursive with all the flourish and girlishness of the young Rosemary. You somehow, oddly, get the impression that this is her handwriting. This credit sequence establishes not only the role of the building itself in the narrative, but also a central theme of Rosemary’s Baby: the juxtaposition and eventual marriage of the masculine and feminine. The aesthetic of the score and credits offer typical representations of the feminine, flouncy and blushing, while the buildings are sturdy, ruddy representations of the masculine. These two are amalgamated in the ornate yet rigid Dakota/Bramford. Like Rosemary, a stylish gal-about-town carrying the child of Satan in her womb, the building comprises both hyper-feminine and hyper-masculine attributes. Finally, if you freeze frame around the 1:40 mark, the elaborate “Written for the Screen and Directed by Roman Polanski” credit briefly rests atop the Dakota/Bramford building, appearing like a shiny bow wrapped around the building.’ — Examined Media

 

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The Thing (1982)
‘When I did the effect for the title I used… a fish tank that was about four feet wide by two feet high. I put smoke in the fish tank and on the back of the tank I put the title that was drawn on an animation cel and behind that I had a piece of plastic garbage bag which I stretched over a frame and behind that I had a light pointing through the letters. When I photographed it, I put a flame from a match to the plastic. The plastic would open up and let the light through the letters. That is how the letters look like they form and burn on with the [light] rays. It was a simple process but we went through a lot of takes; one take only formed the letters “N.G.”’ — Peter Kuran, Designer

 

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Dead Silence (2007)

 

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The Blob (1958)

 

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Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)
‘Ah, rubber-faced Ernest P. Worrell. With your denim vest and baseball cap, you regaled a generation of children and their parents from the late ’80s and well into the ’90s. The fourth film to star Jim Varney’s Ernest character, Ernest Scared Stupid (also known as “Ernest Saves Halloween”) sees our hapless hero battle an army of monstrous trolls in order to save a small town on Halloween. Scared Stupid’s opening sequence perfectly zeroes in on that intersection of base physicality and esoteric film knowledge. Varney’s facial contortions are intercut with a slew of clips from vintage horror and science fiction films and shots featuring the limbs of various creatures (likely designed by the Chiodo Brothers), creating a montage that was modern in its use of typography and live-action while harking back to its campy influences. The clips include such classics as Nosferatu (1922), White Zombie (1932), Phantom from Space (1953), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), The Screaming Skull (1958), Missile to the Moon (1958), The Hideous Sun Demon (1959), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Killer Shrews (1959), Battle Beyond the Sun, and the Roger Corman-directed black comedy The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).’ — Art of the Title

 

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Dracula (1931)

 

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Le Frisson des Vampires (1971)

 

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Signs (2002)
‘A sibilant breath is slowly drawn across catgut: in and out, up and down the strings of a violin. Matching the sighing notes of the unseen fiddler, a light diffuses out of the shadows before dissolving again — a malfunctioning flashlight in a darkened farmer’s field? Whistled by winds and bleated by horns, a frantic three-note motif replaces the calm respiration. Something is out there in the blackness. Bold words are glimpsed fleetingly in the flickering light, like names shouted into the empty night. Employing only text, light, and shadow — along with James Newton Howard’s alarming and Hermannesque main theme — the title sequence for M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs relentlessly increases the tension before anything remotely suspenseful has even happened. Though it finishes on a name now synonymous with cinematic twists, Picture Mill’s main titles have a gleefully old fashioned tone that lays the groundwork for Shyamalan’s surprisingly twist-free scary movie opus.’ — Art of the Title

 

 

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p.s. Hey. You are free of the p.s. until Saturday the 22nd. Enjoy the relative silence and the title sequences.

6 Comments

  1. hi dennis

    have a great time in ny and i hope THEM kills em

    i saw that you have some books at may68 a record and book store in martos gallery, it looks great (from my laptop)

    love you dennis, alex,x

  2. I have come to the realization that “The Shining” is Kubrick’s Masterpiece.

  3. Ah, that Halloween title theme is so iconic… every October the B&N I work at plays seasonal Halloween music and that one is always one of the songs they play.

    Last October I made a Halloween mix CD and one of the songs I included was the title theme for THE BLOB. Love that one…

    Se7en has one of my favorite opening credit sequences ever. My gateway into the world of industrial music (and my introduction to the music of Coil/NIN).

    I actually saw Ernest Scared Stupid in theaters when I was a kid!

  4. Good to see this one again, Dennis! I’ve enjoyed more than a few of these.

    Hope Them is going great.

    Only two more nights in Berlin, sniff.

    Bill

  5. Have you ever seen Skinny Puppy’s “Warlock” video? It consists of the goriest moments from various horror movies – I recognized 5 separate scenes from Argento films – taken out of context and edited together. As graphic as these images are, most of them meant something in the original movies and putting them in a video that just consists of 4 minutes of a montage of people getting killed in gruesome ways ruins that. But they made that video in response to MTV banning a much milder clip for being “too violent.”

  6. Thanks for sharing your list of of horror movies.
    You can also visit https://openloadmovie.org/genre/horror/ to watch your favorite horror movies.

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