The theme music from Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’... PLAYED WITH KNIVES

I recently had a conversation with film composer Harry Manfredini, the guy behind Friday the 13th‘s infamous “tch tch tch…” about the primary influences on modern horror soundtracking and we agreed on the works of Kryzstof Penderecki and Bernard Herrmann being basically ground-zero for fright music for the last 40 years or so of cinematic terror. One specific Herrmann work has informed horror scoring more than any other single piece of music anyone could possibly name: his iconic theme music for Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho.

A novel rendition of Herrmann’s Psycho theme was recently brought to my attention, and, as covers go, is quite masterful in its own right. Joachim Horsley is a composer and orchestrator for television and film and has a few albums under his belt. His 2014 album Joachim Horsley Was Dead the Whole Time contains this particular version of the Psycho theme as played on a piano… with knives.

Horsley is able to coax some odd tonalities out of the piano strings both with the knife blades and by striking the strings with the knife handle, while muting with his palm. These sounds mimic the orchestration of Herrmann’s original score.

Obviously, there’s both symbolism and novelty going on here with the use of kitchen knives, Norman Bates’ personal weapon of choice, but the end result is quite beautiful. Horsley takes some liberties towards the end of the piece and it gets a bit jazzy (maybe even slightly Latin jazzy?) in its climax. It’s cool though. He owns it.

This KILLER cover version, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel
08:30 am
‘Reefer Madness,’ ‘Rashomon,’ and Tarkovsky’s ‘Stalker’... edited to be five minutes long
07:21 am

The 90to5 Editing Challenge is a fascinating concept for a film competition. Instead of creating entirely new material, participants are challenged to take a feature-length public domain film and edit it down to five minutes, while still retaining the story arc of the original film. Whether you consider this cinematic sampling or Cliff’s Notes sacrilege is up to you, but they’re really fun to watch. Of the entries from previous years (2014 will be the third year running), I highly recommend Reefer Madness and Rashomon.

My absolute favorite though, is the edit below, of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, which was originally a whopping two hours and 43 minutes long. The 1979 Soviet classic follows three men, a “Stalker” (who guides the other two), a writer, and a professor, after they leave a dilapidated city in search of a room where dreams come true—though sometimes with unforeseen consequences. To get there they must travel through the Zone, a strange and dangerous place patrolled by armed guards where the laws of physics are merely suggestions. The movie is intensely spiritual and supernatural—the visually arresting nature of Tarkovsky’s films made him a favorite of both Kurosawa and Bergman. The edit is bafflingly consolidated, and though I certainly miss what was cut, it actually covered a lot of the story! (Stalker is available in its entirety online for free, as well. Check it out.)

You can get tips on editing and submitting your own cut here—the 2014 competition just started!

Posted by Amber Frost
07:21 am