As this is a resubmission, all posts dated before October 2010 refer to the original submission. Substantial additional research and re-filming has been done since then.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Moral Panic

There has been a significant amount of controversy concerning the James Bulger killing and the link to the film Childs Play 3, Jack Bender (1991)'s_Play_3#James_Bulger_Controversy

However the James Bulger killing was not the only murder case that has been linked to Child's Play 3. In December 1992 four people who tortured and killed a sixteen year old girl called Suzanne Capper, were said to be influenced by one of the Child's Play movies. Additionally during the torturing of Suzanne Capper, the killers were said to have taunted her with quotes from the movies. 
This is a quote from The Independent, that the killer, Bernadette McNeilly had said; 
'I'm Chucky, Chucky wants to play' as she injected Miss Capper with amphetamine.'

Police have denied the links between the James Bulger case and Child's Play 3 however there are numerous other murders that have been thought to have been linked with films from the slasher genre.

The controversy behind all this has had an impact in the way i planned my film. I knew that due to my insignificant budget my film would not have the sort of SFX and violence featured in Child's Play however i could have emphasised the violence or incorporated torture into it, bringing the rating to an 18. 


My cast is made up of three people, with the scream queen and the final girl being sisters, and most importantly the doll. 

The three character types are;

  • The Final Girl
  • The Scream Queen 
  • Boyfriend of the Scream Queen
  • The Doll [Antagonist] 
I need two adult extras to play the girls parents however both my parents are willing to participate. 
So far all my cast are made up of Caucasian heterosexual people. To include some different areas of representation i have chosen to make the final girl religious. This can be connoted by a cross around her neck or by a shot of her next to or holding The Bible. 

My cast is made up of;

Laura Birtwistle (Scream Queen)

I picked Laura as she fits into the stereotype of a Scream Queen in that she has long blonde hair, is attractive (male gaze) and also has a slim build. I chose Laura in particular as she has acting experience as well as having a boyfriend willing to participate. 

Patrick Eaton (Boyfriend of Scream Queen)
Patrick (Paddy) was Laura's boyfriend in reality so it made sense to use him as her boyfriend in my opening as well. His role didn't require any particular look, just stereotypical male teenager thus making him an easy choice.

Elizabeth McPhail (Final Girl)
Elizabeth fits into the stereotype of a Final Girl as she has very versatile looks. We experimented with different looks to make her look younger and also to appear to be very demure and virginal looking. She has to come across as being studious so her clothes aren't going to be revealing and will be plain and simple. 

Friday, 26 March 2010

Analysis of 'Killer Dolls' episodes on TV

After researching films featuring possessed or killer dolls/puppets, i have decided to look into the different types of TV programmes that also feature them. The first three are episodes from well known series, the last 'The Triloquist, Mark Jones (2008)', is a film that has recently been released. It had a budget of $1 million and was released straight to DVD. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Puppet Show (1997) 
This was episode 9 in series 1.
Brief SynopsisEpisode nine is a standout for its comic twist on the familiar "evil puppet" story line. Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) takes on the task of coordinating the annual talent show at Sunnydale High. The sadistic Principal Snyder (Armin Shimerman) forces Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Willow (Alyson Hannigan), and Xander (Nicholas Brendon) to also participate in the program. It doesn't take long for one of the talent show performers to be found dead with her heart cut out. In researching the possible culprits, Giles uncovers a text about a clan of organ-stealing demons known as the Brotherhood of Seven. 
They need the organs of a young human every seven years to remain in the visage of human teenagers. Morgan (Richard Werner), a ventriloquist a little too attached to his dummy, Sid, falls under Buffy's suspicion. 
Her instincts are correct, but not precisely: Sid the dummy is alive, but he is not the demon. He's a demon hunter who was imprisoned in a dummy's body by the Brotherhood of Seven during the 1930s. Buffy and Sid team up to find the demon after realizing that Morgan, now murdered, had brain cancer and was useless to the demon.

This was episode 14 from series 5
Brief SynopsisAngel and the gang set out to foil an evil puppet show that is sucking the brain power of all the children who watch. During their fight, Angel is turned into a puppet himself and must rely upon his friends in order to reverse the spell which holds him at one foot tall.

This was Season 5 episode 10
Brief SynopsisScully takes a much needed vacation in New England. When she arrives at a grocery store, Scully encounters several people who have clawed their own eyes. Scully assists the local police department in discovering the cause of this unusual occurrence. Scully's investigations lead her to a single mother with a disturbed little girl and her even more disturbing doll.

This episode was co-written by renowned American author Stephen King, who is best known for his extremely popular horror novels.

Brief Synopsis; Two teenage orphans and their living killer dummy make a path of death and blood on their way to Las Vegas to make it big. All the while, the sister Angelina proves to be much more harm than the dummy. The three of them kidnap a girl named Robin so that the brother Norbert can rape her and continue the family bloodline. Norbert fails to do this, but instead takes part in incest with Angelina. The movie ends with Robin escaping and Angelina killing Norbert. After this, Angelina goes into a depressed state until realizing that she is pregnant with Norbert's child. She has the baby in a motel room, where the final moments reveal that Angelina had given birth to Dummy's child.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Props, Mise-en-scene, SFX, Costume

Props: The most obvious prop is going to be the doll itself. The doll is going to be around 2 feet tall and i'm not going to be gender specific. Most dolls are female so they will be the easiest to find, however it is normally the male who is the antagonist. In the film Bride of Chucky they have used both a male and a female doll to be the killers. 
In the end i decided to use a male doll as after scouring catalogues and various shops, they were the ones that appealed most and looked more appropriate for a horror film. 

Another prop is the knife used to kill the female protagonist. The most obvious way to incorporate the knife into the bedroom scene would be that there would be a some sort of cake, most likely birthday cake, on the side. By focusing on the cake and particularly the knife at the beginning of the bedroom scene, this will connote to the audience that this is the weapon going to be used, or will explain where the knife comes from.

The type of cake is not significant in the film however the type of knife is. Knives used in other slasher films are usually large kitchen knives, however due to health and safety concerns they might not be suitable. There are two options; file down the sharp edges or use a fake knife. Filing down the knife could be quite time consuming however would be the most realistic whilst using a plastic knife would look quite obviously fake. The DT department at school would most likely file down the sharp edges for me, so i am going to continue with that idea and use the fake knife as a back up plan if any problems should occur. 

Mise-En-Scene:  Mise-en-scene is a important aspect of my film. Particularly as it is mostly set in a young females bedroom. The most obvious way to provide verisimilitude, was to use an actual teenage girls room. One of my actresses volunteered to let us use hers as it has aspects that you would expect to see. For example there are lots of posters on the walls of boy-bands, particularly Jedward and the cast of Twilight. Her room also features a significant amount of pink,  like her bedspread and her walls. Additionally she has a dressing table, which was important as that was where the murder was going to take place. The dressing table is also a good way to incorporate particularly feminine objects like make-up, perfume and hair accessories. 

Outside the house there needs to be trees so that the male actor can hide behind during the false scare scene. Ideally the tree will have long gnarly branches however it isn't a crucial aspect. Additionally the house will have a french doors or a conservatory so that the false scare can take place. This doesn't necessarily have to be filmed at the same house as the rest of the film takes place upstairs in the females bedroom. 

SFX: In most films within the horror genre, a blue filter is applied during a certain scene. For example Halloween uses it at the beginning [see picture right].  
When i was editing my film on IMovie, i used a video FX called mirror to literally mirror image a scene i had. This meant that instead of my character running left towards the door she was running to the right. 

Because i am using stereotypical charcterisations, the costumes are easy to decide. For the female protagonist (scream queen) her clothes need to signify that she is promiscuous therefore outfits could include; Body-con dress or skirt or short, revealing clothes. Red is a colour normally associated with sex so to connote that she is sexually active, red lipstick and nails could work just as well as a red dress. 

The female protagonists boyfriend will be fairly easy to dress as he will be wearing what typical teenage males wear; Low hung jeans and a t-shirt or hoodie. 
The final girls costume will be very simple and 'geeky'. Something like a checked shirt buttoned all the way up like in the picture below. The final girls hair will be pulled back into a pony tail and her makeup will be minimal if any at all. 

An example of a final girl is Jennifer Jason Leigh in Eyes of a Stranger, Ken Wiederhorn (1981).
She has the stereotypical brown hair and her shirt has all the buttons done up, revealing nothing.  

Location Scouting

There is a key part within our film where the female protagonist is attacked in a snicket/alleyway. There are a few places near to where me and Megan live that we thought would be appropriate for that particular scene. 
1) By Ben Rhydding train station 
2) By the bridge in Ben Rhydding - There's two snickets before the bridge
3) As before; once you go over that bridge there is a fairly long thin snicket which is surrounded by bushes and trees on both sides. 


Due to the fact that i have changed my film idea the above locations will no longer be needed. 
Instead my film will take place around a house; outside the house for the beginning scene and inside the house for the rest. The key action will take place inside the main female protagonists bedroom. 
I can use my own room for convenience but I'm going to look at some of my friends bedrooms to see if theirs would be better suited for the scene. 

Monday, 15 March 2010

Film Research New; Bride of Chucky

Bride of Chucky, Ronny Yu (1998)

  • Universal Pictures
  • Serif Font - the font type looks stereotypically gothic. This signifies that this film is from the horror genre.

  • In the first scene its raining and lightening. Lightning and storms are a common feature in horror films. It's also set at night, the dark generally makes everything appear more scary and plays on the idea that 'monsters' come out at night.
  • The next scene where the policeman is going into the 'Evidence Depository' shows lots of 'cages'. The camera focuses on the sign ' Evidence Depository'. Behind the bars are inter-textual references from other films. For example behind one is a white hockey mask and a chain saw; this is  from the film Friday the 13th , Sean S. Cunningham (1980). Behind another one is what looks like a Freddy Krueger mask and the long razor/metal clawed glove. This is from the film A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven (1984)
  • The policeman/authority figure is quite obviously scared. As the main audience of this film would be the youth audience, the authority figure being portrayed as weak would appeal to them. It's quite common in horror films with a target audience of teenagers to connote that authority figures like police men are useless and weak. 
  • The blonde female scream queen is one of the antagonists in this film. This is connoted by her provocative dress sense; Black leather and fishnet tights. This is also a signifier that she is quite promiscuous. 
  • The Chucky doll does an 360 degree head turn. This is another example of inter-textual reference as in The Exorcist, William Friedkin (1973) the 360 degree head turn is widely known and recognised. 
In Bride of Chucky, one of the characters, Damien, picks up the Chucky doll and laughs at it before throwing it across the room. I am going to try to recreate a similar scene in my film opening. 

      Film Research New; Leprechaun

      Leprechaun, Mark Jones (1993) 

      New Film Opening Idea

      I have decided to stay within the slasher genre however the concept is significantly different to original idea.

      • Set at Caucasian, teenage female's [parents] house. She will be following the blonde scream queen stereotype. Her younger sister will be the final girl. Again she will be stereotypical to this; Brown hair, studious and fairly quiet. 'Geek'. 
      • Their parents go out - no authority figures present. This is featured in most horror films as the main audience is normally the 'youth' audience.
      • Starts outside the house. Blue tint will be applied, again this is another element that is seen in horror films. For example Halloween, John Carpenter (1978). This scene will be a 'false scare' where i'm going to connote that there is a stalker watching the house, but it will actually be the older of the two sisters (the scream queen) boyfriend waiting for the parents to leave the house. 
      • Connoting the stalker scene; Someone standing behind a tree (POV shot?), then a hand moving the branches. The camera will then track him around the side of the house where he will tap on the window. The older sister will then scream and seeing who it is let him in. This will be the first time the audience see's his face.
      • The boyfriend and girlfriend then go upstairs but on the way up the older of the sisters will say something like 'Don't you have homework to be doing' or words to that effect [to the final girl] to connote that she is the studious one.
      • Once upstairs the boyfriend and girlfriend sit on her bed and kiss. The boyfriend will look and see a doll [this will be the antagonist] [Seed of Chucky, Don Mancini (2004)] propped up on the side or on the bed
      • The boyfriend laughs with the girl about the doll [shot, reverse shot] picks it up and then throws it on the floor. The camera will follow the doll as it's thrown and then falls to the floor.
      • To connote that the boyfriend and girlfriend are having sex, some items of clothing will then be thrown/strewn across the room. An item of clothing will land on the doll.
      • Cut to a shot of the final girl downstairs. She sighs and puts some music on. 
      • Time ellipse
      • The boyfriend is going to leave, hear muffled voices/the male puts his jumper on. Again to connote that they had been having sex.
      • Shot to the doll, the item of clothing is no longer on it [first indicator that the doll is 'alive']
      • Signify that the boyfriend is leaving, the scream queen will kiss/blow a kiss to him. 
      • Goes back into her bedroom - possibly sit in front of her mirror and brushes her hair [like in Halloween]
      • The doll will be creeping up behind her, keep cutting back to the doll [holding a knife]
      • The doll will then say something [limited dialogue]
      • Shot of the knife being raised, and then coming down on the scream queen
      • Screams
      • Cut to the final girl downstairs - runs upstairs
      • Scream Queen lying on the floor having been stabbed. Blood pooled around her
      • The doll is propped up in the same place as before.

      Tuesday, 9 March 2010

      Podcast 1

      Definition of a pod-cast; A podcast is a pre-recorded audio that is posted to a website and can be made available to download so people can listen to them on their personal computers, ipods/MP3 players or mobiles. 
      The word podcast is a play on the word broadcast combined with the word iPod however Apple did not invent the word podcast.

      Definition of a vod-cast; A vodcast or video podcast is a video stored in a digital form that you can download from the internet and play on a computer or on an MP3 player/Ipod. A vodcast is essentially like a podcast except that you watch it [video] rather than just listen to it. 

      I was not available to do mine and Megan's first podcast. 

      Monday, 8 March 2010

      Film Openings Research: Divorcing Jack [draft]

      Divorcing Jack, David Caffrey (1998)
      • Winchester films
      • Beginning titles read; BBC Films, Winchester Films and Scala Present..
      • It is in association with The Arts Council of England and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland
      • A Scala production in association with IMA Films and Le Studio Canal+
      • Irish voice-over
      • The brother is drunk fitting in with the stereotypical Irish characterisation
      • There is use of non diegetic and diegetic sound together
      • Use of subtitles to anchor where it is set and when
      • Flashback - the narrator is the boy

      Horror Film Openings Research: Trick Or Treat

      Trick Or Treat, Charles Martin Smith (1986)
      • De Laurentiis entertainment group [serif font]
      • Voice-over at the beginning. The voice used is a male and sounds quite forbidding and sinister
      • There is non diegetic music; sound of gongs 
      • The title 'Trick or Treat' is in an orange font, orange is a colour normally signified with Halloween 
      • There is shaky camera work however this has been done on purpose. Shaky camera work is normally associated with documentaries or social realist films however this falls into neither of them categories
      • The music gradually increases in volume
      • The opening scene doesn't actually start until one minute in
      • There is a significant amount of mise-en-scene used to connote that this is a male bedroom; Toy dinosaur, cap, studded belt, skull, books about rock music, posters of famous rock bands such as Ozzy Osborne and Anthrax. There is also non diegetic music from the rock genre playing
      • The camera pans across his room, stopping on his old fashioned video/music player. This connotes that this film is not modern or set in the 21st century
      • The mise-en-scene signifies the male protagonists personality. The use of rock posters connote that he is unlikely to be popular or a 'geek'. 
      • The male character appears to be the protagonist. He is also a typical outsider teenager in that he likes a girl but she doesn't even know he's alive and that he gives the impression of somebody that doesn't have many, if any, friends

      Horror Film Openings Research: The Lost Boys

      The Lost Boys, Joel Schumacher (1987)
      • Warner Bros. Pictures
      • Richard Donner Production
      • Putting 'A Joel Shumacher Film' is an example of the auteur theory. There is no mention of all the crew, for example the casting directors who possibly have one of the most important jobs.
      • Soft, eerie vocal music starts when the distributor logo appears. The music sounds almost melancholy
      • With the title 'The Lost Boys' a serif font has been used and the 'T' has been edited to have 'fangs'. This connotes that this film is about vampires straight away
      • The music changes after the logos have appeared. You can hear a male laughing and people faintly whispering or talking over the music.
      • The music then changes to children singing, almost like a choir 
      • Helicopter shot/establishing shot of a fun fair.
      • A sharp cut is then used to go to the next shot. The film Psycho used this type of transition. Showing the location bit by bit - fading to different shots
      • When the first character appears we hear his feet clumping and the music distorts. This signifies that he is the antagonist. Additionally he is wearing all black clothing another signifier
      • A blue filter has been applied. This is commonly used in horror films and connotes to the audience what genre this is
      • The last character touched his tooth; another signifier to this film being about vampires
      • Diegetic and non diegetic sounds are being overlapped not just cut
      • The security guard character; because the audience for this film will most likely be youth, adult authority figures are going to be seen as incompetent and weak. This is typical in horror films
      • A cross fade transition is used to show elliptical time
      • The music changes again to a drum beat - heartbeat? This signifies that the killer is around 
      • The violence is kept off screen but uses audio to portray it. This lets the audience come tot heir own conclusions about what is happening. 
      • There is exaggerated diegetic sound; audio bridge linking the shots