Nightmare at the Chocolate Factory

For this project I decided to take the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and transform it from a musical comedy to a horror movie. The concept of a man who takes children through a chocolate factory and tries to win their affection with candy is creepy in itself and I thought it would make a good horror premise. The movie has many scenes that, in context and out of context, can be seen as scary. Once you add scary music, even scenes that originally don’t appear scary can have that connotation. I took the scenes where “Slugworth” is talking to each kid after they find the ticket and put them in quick secession, which looks like a creepy guy whispering to a little kid. The other main scary sequence is when (in the original movie), the characters are going through the tunnel and gross/scary scenes are appearing on the walls. These further emphasized the scariness of the new movie trailer by having sickening images from the movie with scary music in the background. I found it too hard to use dialogue because the mouthing didn’t match up. To combat that, I used a little text, making sure I got the plot point across but didn’t overburden the audience. The music and sound effects (screams, gasps and crashing) give the audience the feeling of suspense and set a scary mood.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is about, as can be gathered from the title, a man who owns a chocolate factory. Now chocolates, and candy in general, are symbols of happiness, childhood, and usually innocence. On a literal level, candy is just something that can be eaten but because of its sweetness and sugar content, it has become a signifier. On page 32 of his article, Danesi states “These meanings are all established by social convention or through the channel of historical tradition”[i]. Historically, candy is given to children as a reward for good behavior. Because it is so sweet, it is generally eaten at the end of a meal, as dessert. Willy Wonka’s whole factory is based around candy. In my trailer, which was turned into a horror film, there are limited shots of candy because horror movies are not supposed to be happy. I purposely avoided those shots as to not lead the audience to think of child, happiness, or innocence.

During the part of the trailer, I made a montage of the scenes where “Slugworth” is talking to each kid after they find the ticket and put them in quick secession. I took this idea of Bernard Dick’s elliptical linear sequence[ii]. The audience does not know the context of the conversations that are taking place but they can figure out that this man is creepily whispering to 5 different small kids. This also worked for my genre because, as I saw in other horror films, quick cuts to different scenes made the film seem more scary and mysterious.

My trailer strong relies on the points that Sobchack is making in his article about audience understanding what is going on a film because they have seen other movies of that genre[iii]. He states “consciously or unconsciously, both the genre filmmaker and the genre audience are aware of the prior films and the way in which each of these concrete examples is a way to attempt to embody once again the essence of a well-known story”(197) . If one does not know the premise of a horror film, they might be confused as to why I have chosen a sequence of scary clips for a video trailer. If they are, (as I am hoping most people are), they are able to understand that these scary thing are what as the question, “what is the chocolate man doing and will the characters make it out of the factory alive?

willy wonka

This photo is from one of the scariest scenes in the original movie and in the trailer. Wonka’s face as he takes the group through the scary tunnel causes the audience and the characters to question whether they will ever be leaving the chocolate factory.

One thing I had trouble with was the precision. It was difficult to get it just right and hope that the first clip easily flowed/transitioned into the next one. Because I didn’t think that many of the traditions added to the scary theme that I was going for, I ended up having quick no transitions because that was more common the sample trailers that I viewed. The other part was I found difficult was figuring out how to sequence the clips I wanted to use in a way that made sense and told my story. As I said above, I decided to take out most of the dialogue because I didn’t think it actually added to my trailer. This meant I had to add words. This was fine but it was tricky to figure out what words to use, the right amount, and where to place them. Because I had seen the original movie and was familiar with it, it made it easy to find scenes. The hard part was that I knew the story and so what made sense to me because I had the background, would not necessarily be common knowledge to those who were unfamiliar with the movie. Overall, I thought this project was fun. The software was not hard to use once you had played around with it a little bit, it was just time consuming. Future students should make sure to start early so they have enough time and if there are any problems, they are easily able to overcome them.


[i] Danesi, M., & Danesi, M. (2004). Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.

[ii] Dick, B. F. (2005). Anatomy of film. Boston, Mass: Bedford St. Martins.

[iii] Sobchack, T., & Sobchack, V. C. (1980). An introduction to film. Boston: Little, Brown.

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This entry was posted in Blog #6. Remixed video trailers, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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