What’s Holy becomes Deadly

For my trailer remix project I decided, even before I picked the movie I wanted to work with, that I wanted to turn a Comedy into a Horror. Probably because these are the two genres that first came to mind, but also because I’ve watched a fair amount of comedies and horror movies. I did not have any DVD’s in hand and so I went to the Coates Library to see if I could find a movie I could work with. After browsing through a bunch of movies from the 80’s and 90’s, most of which featured Jim Carrey, I decided to log into one of the computers and search the library’s database for comedies. After scrolling down the first ten movie titles (and ten Jim Carrey movies) I was pleasantly surprised and actually trilled to find a special edition of Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975), and so I decided to use it for my project. Hence, Monty Python and the Deadly Grail, was born

In order to turn a comedy like Monty Python into a horror movie (or a low budget horror, as how I’d like to classify my trailer) I tried to make use of common features and clichés, such as having the image of a human skull or a creepy laughter on the background. As Thomas Sobchack describes in his work: Genre film: A classical experience – “Any particular film of any definable group is only recognizable as part of that group if it is, in fact, an imitation of that which came before”, and so, in my trailer I tried to imitate certain attributes from typical horror movies so viewers would identify it as such. One of this attributes, were close-ups – which I used to create a certain tension. According to Bernard Dick (Film, Space and Image), “Extreme close-ups (ECU) of the eye are, in fact, standard in horror films… Hitchcock also used the extreme close-up to provide his audiences with a proverbial chill up the spine” and in my trailer I made sure to include a scene when there is an ECU on the main character’s face. I used many other technical and stylistic tips from Dick’s essay in my trailer, such as selecting different scenes from both subjective and objective perspectives and alternated these scenes in a short amount of time to create certain bewilderment in my sequence. Dick simply explains the difference between objective and subjective shots – “An objective shot represents what the camera sees; a subjective shot represents what the character sees”.

What's Holy becomes Deadly

What’s Holy becomes Deadly

Personally, as a first-timer video editor, I think I was pretty successful in changing the movie genre in this trailer. Thanks to my already existing preconception of what a horror movie should look like, I was able to select some key scenes that contained symbols and icons (signs) that would reinforce the genre. The concept of semiotics would be very well applied to explain why these signs entice people to make certain connections; it tries to explain why people reason as they do. “This ability is the reason why, over time, the human species has come to be regulated not by force of natural selection, but by “force of history,” that is, by the accumulated meanings that previous generations have captured, preserved, and passed on in the form of signs” (Danesi, 2004). In other words, it’s culturally transmitted over time. And so, when I decided to use the image of a human skull in my trailer, I did it hoping that the viewer would relate it to things such as death, darkness, killing, etc. At this point it would be important to note that my re-mix’s success is highly dependable on this “cultural connection” that the viewer shall make, since I added no voice-overs (there’s no narration).

Most of my clip is based on a few key title frames which explain the main “plot” of the movie, and the soundtrack, which varies quite frequently with a good deal of repetition as well. In fact there are also a few repetitive scenes (the creepy landscape and the creepy old man scenes), but I didn’t opt to repeat these scenes for lack of interest or effort, I did it because I thought it would be the best way to express my ideas – and also because these were the two most disturbing scenes I could find within the movie. I certainly acknowledge that there are a few (and perhaps quite noticeable) transitional errors, both with audio and video transitions. But again, it was not my expectation to come out of this project as a video-editing expert, and I’ve got to admit that I’m proud (or at least certainly not embarrassed) of my end product.

If I told you this assignment was nothing else but pleasurable and simple, you can be entirely sure I’m lying. At one point it did become really fun to simply play around with the different effects and transitions, but that point wasn’t reached until after long hours of me going through e-mails and lecture notes to figure out just what the heck I was doing. This is a process that takes time and if you don’t have any (or much) experience, like me, it takes a lot of time. Lucky, and coincidently, I did have a lot of free time the week previous to when the trailer was due, and so I was able to sit down at the computer lab (which by the way has the best and cooler computers in campus) hours at a time and just devote all my efforts to comprehend how to use all the editing tools. But as I said, once you’re somewhat familiarized with them, it does become a lot of fun.

I was hardly ever alone in the room and other classmates were often there as well working on their projects. If I could provide any advice for future students it would be that of using your classmates; if you have any questions ask them, remember, although it’s likely that none of you guys know a whole lot of movie editing, there is always a good chance your classmates might at least know more than you do. Ask them to watch your trailer, feedback is always welcome; also, watch their trailers as well, they might give you some good clues on what to do and what not to do. I know it’s not always possible to start early, but try to at least get familiarized with the process and on how to use the tools ahead of time, that way when you’re actually about to start your project you won’t have to worry about minor technical and logistical issues. And lastly, don’t worry if your trailer doesn’t look world-class, just give it your best shot and try to have some fun, something good will surely come out of it. Moreover, if you’re feeling insecure about your trailer, ask one of your classmates to give their feedback on it, if they say it is good enough than it most likely is.

Work Cited:

– Bernard Dick (2002). “Film, Space and Image.” Anatomy of Film. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s.

– Thomas Sobchack, “Genre film: A classical experience.” Literature Film Quarterly, 3(3) 196

– Marcel Danesi (2004) Messages, Signs and Meanings: A Basic Textbook in Semiotics and Communication. Studies in linguistic and cultural anthropology, volume 1. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.


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