“The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them”
~Sir Alfred Hitchcock – August 1899 – April 1980
From a very early age I found myself drawn to scary movies. What is it that keeps us, as audience members, coming back to the horror genre?
“Give them pleasure – the same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.” ~Alfred Hitchcock
After taking a few film classes in college, I began seeing a certain pattern of influence. One class in particular, The Great Film Directors, highlighted upon such masters as Kurosaki, Truffaut, Scorsese, and Wes Anderson. We also studied The Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock.
I started to realize how influential in every way he was and certainly still is to modern filmmaking. Take for instance his work in the 1958 film Vertigo. At the tail end, we experience a shot of descending stairs in such an effect that they seem to stretch. This has come to be known as many things: “Dolly Zoom”, “Vertigo Effect”, and “Hitchcock Zoom”. Never before had a shot induced both a sense of unease and dizziness.
More impressive perhaps were his incredibly long “takes”. In an industry where the average length of a shot is 4-6 seconds, Hitchcock’s Rope is an unfathomable 10 shots ranging somewhere between 4.5 & 10 minutes each! The margin of error is deadly small, and requires not only great patience but also great foresight.
“If it’s a good movie, the sound could go off and the audience would still have a perfectly clear idea of what was going on.”
There are few directors whose work has such a direct impact on film, let alone an entire genre. Any horror film buff who is serious in their studies will, inevitably, come across a few Hitchcock films.
I hope that my own writing somehow honors his memory and the work he accomplished in his time, and that you all had a safe, spooky, and happy Halloween!
What’s your favorite Hitchcock film?