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Kevin Springer » Texas Chainsaw Massacre
02.22.12

Recap: Slasher

Slasher logo

Back with another recap. This time just from a few weeks ago. I learned a lot on this show: I learned to write more music than youthink you’ll need when there is an open question about underscoring scenes, learned that 2 hours is not enough to create an effective Max/MSP patch for preshow, and I learned what a blown subwoofer sounds like. Oh and one more thing, I need to record actual performances of my sound designs. Unfortunately these mixdowns don’t come close to the same impact that they did on stage. Look for actual show recordings next time. But…back to the present …straight from the Allison Moore’s webpage at The Playwrights’ Center here is a little blurb about Slasher:

 When she’s cast as the “last girl” in a low-budget slasher flick, Sheena thinks it’s the big break she’s been waiting for. But news of the movie unleashes her malingering mother’s thwarted feminist rage, and she’s prepared to do anything to stop filming—even if it kills her.

This show was a challenge to me–it involved many underscored scenes and quite a few scary moments.  In general I tried to stay within the language already established in the horror genre, but didn’t want to date the design by staying within the rules of the first generation of horror flicks.  I wanted to use bass tones to create tension–and I decided to give a nod to recent horror flicks by using a touch of electronic music.

Slasher Backstage

Frances on the loose
When filming Bloodbath completely falls apart, Marc loses his cool and takes the role of the killer in his own movie.  The bowed cymbal cues as Marc pulls the killer’s mask over his face, and the delayed construction sounds begin as Marc is more violent with Sheena.  The large bass tone and strings strike as Frances breaks free of confinement to punish Marc for messing with her daughter.

Frances is back
Marc thought that Frances had been done away with…that she was dead…but is she?…!

Still–I referenced older films as well. I delayed the sounds of a construction site for high end tension (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th theme music), and bowed cymbals.  The music was comprised primarily of analog synthesizer (emulated) and distorted string section (from a sample library).  The synthesizer sound looked back towards the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and gave me a pulsing bass tone to play with.
Slasher Backstage

I also had the chance to make some really fun transition sounds.  Amplifying simple sounds louder than normal and filtering them can bring out some sinister qualities…two examples in this show being a circular saw (okay…pretty sinister by itself I have admit) and choppy radio static (yes, that is a bit of the Menards voice you hear..) The radio bit was one my favorite sound moments of the show. The static sound (established in the scene) growing ominously as the scene shifts–and suddenly cuts out.

Circular saw transition
While filming Bloodbath Jody takes a circular saw to the head of one of the actresses. Sheena receives a phone call as the saw fades into the background, and as she finishes speaking the scene ends.

Radio static transition
Frances is lying on the floor, distraught that her daughter will be acting in Bloodbath–then she hears the radio. The scene transitions as the radio static fades up at the end.

Slasher
by Allison Moore
directed by Brian Balcom
presented by Urban Samurai Productions
sound design by Kevin Springer
Slasher Backstage