Halloween (1978) Opening Scene
The setting is immediately established through a camera pan around the side of the house, this creates a sense of isolation and suggests a dangerous presence. The audience soon find that the camera shot is actually from someone’s point of view, which lets the audience gradually develop a sense of danger as he progresses through the house. As the unknown presence enters the kitchen, a large blade is taken from a drawer. This typical convention of horror allows the audience to understand that brutality/death will be within the film, and reassures the audience that the genre is horror/slasher.
During the potential killers walk a rocking chair is also spotted in the corner of a room. This is another object often associated with horror films, and often connote mystery. The use of a rocking chair also suggests to the audience that a young person is going to be involved at some point. Shortly after this we see the teenage boy exiting the house, which implies to the audience that the girl is isolated. In horror movies isolation is often followed up by death, this general connection can suggest that there is a high possibility of death approaching.
As the potential killer reaches the top of the stairs and enters the room, he picks up an unfamiliar object that we then realise is a mask. Once again a typical horror convention, a mask is often a villain’s key identity and is used to generate aspects of enigma for the audience. This concludes the pending thoughts of the audience and grants them a strong understanding that the “presence” is actually a villain.
As the opening scene begins, we hear muffled speaking and sounds of wildlife. The wildlife sounds immediately indicate that the location is isolated. This is considered a typical horror convention, and connotes to the audience that the upcoming film is going to be horror.
After the teenagers go upstairs and turn the light off, a heightened non-diegetic sound is used. The sound is high pitched and very sharp, this creates an eerie feel for the audience and suggests to the audience that danger is lurking. The same sound was used when the killer enters the bedroom and spots the female, this instantly connotes to the audience that something is about to happen. We also hear the victim humming which indicates innocence. This is also considered a common horror convention; a young blonde sexually active teenager who is always the first to be victimised.
While the villains walking through the house, a slow tempo piano instrumental begins to play. This builds tension for the audience and creates an unsettling atmosphere. The pitch of the notes become lower as time progresses, this once again creates a disturbing feeling for the audience. As the villain walks up the staircase, a clock can be heard ticking which could possibly connote to the audience that the victim’s time will be up soon.
Not a lot of editing was used for the opening scene. However, a continuous shot is used to create a slow build-up of tension for the audience. The only change of shot was to reveal the killers identity, who is shown to be a young kid. This creates elements of enigma for the audience, and causes them to wonder why such a young boy would commit such sinister actions.
Mise En Scene:
The location is gradually set by moving slowly around the house, the first prop we see is a pumpkin. This refers to the film’s title, and reinforces that the movie is set on Halloween. As the killer enters the kitchen drawer, he grabs a large kitchen knife. This is another common horror convention and connotes to the audience that the film will involve death/brutality, this also suggests to the audience that the film will possess slasher qualities.
As the villain enters one of the rooms a rocking chair is shown in the corner. This prop is often used within horror films as it possess mysterious qualities, and frequently foreshadows the involvement of someone young later in the film. Low key lighting is used for the majority of rooms within the house to create a mysterious atmosphere, and to make things creepier.
When the killer enters the room upstairs, he grabs a mask. This prop is often associated with the horror genre due to its relation to villains, they often use a mask to hide their identity and this becomes their trademark in most cases. For example: Scream and Jigsaw. The mask often resembles mystery, which could be used to reinforce the situation of the audience not knowing who the killer is.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
The scene is immediately established through a mid-canted camera shot, this displays the opening scene and allows the audience to see the isolated surroundings. During this shot, we are shown a car with someone hanging out the window with a gun. This instantly establishes that this car and those inside have significant importance throughout the duration of the film. The camera then cuts to a low angle, showing the character in possession of the weapon. Due to the camera being low angled, this connotes to the audience that this character could be a powerful presence (Possibly due to him having a weapon).
The camera then shows us the interior of the vehicle also revealing the characters identity, two young men possibly teenagers. They are both shown to be drinking alcohol while driving, this resembles the reckless nature associated with teenagers.
The first sounds the audience hear is a narration based on the movies story, this allows the audience to gather an understanding of the films context before it begins. As the movie title is shown, a very unsettling instrumental is introduced. Unsettling music is often associated with horror openings, and can be recognised as a typical horror convention.
As the first scene begins, a soundtrack that can be associated with the 90’s begins to play. This connotes to the audience that the film will feature aspects of the 90’s and sets the scene. As the character driving controls the car, we can see the passenger hanging out the window with a gun. The gunshot sounds have been heightened to create more effect, therefore the audience can deduce how lethal the weapon is.
As the characters pursue in a joy-ride, the camera cuts to show each road sign they have hit. This has been done to emphasise the ability of the weapon, and demonstrate the capability it has. This usage allows the audience to develop and understanding of the length of their journey, as a series of signs are shown.
Mise En Scene:
The location Is Immediately set by displaying a vast rural area in the background. This connotes to the audience that the movie is located within a silent countryside environment. Isolation is a component often associated with the horror genre, and states to the audience that the characters are vulnerable.
The first props the audience are introduced to are a motor vehicle and revolver pistol, this could suggest to the audience that these will be important aspects of the upcoming film. Firearms are not usually used within horror films as a weapon of choice, therefore the character wielding the weapon can either be seen as a potential villain or a possible victim.
However as the characters enter the bridge, we are introduced to our mysterious villain. Seen to be wearing worn down cloth and an unusual white mask. This creates a sense of inhuman presence for the audience, and connotes that the villain could possibly be a different form of life. The audience are introduced to the weapon of choice during his confrontation with the two young boys. A Chainsaw is used to cut through solid materials such as metal etc… Therefore the villain using it as a weapon conveys a disturbing possible result, and suggests that brutality could occur.
Comparisons & Contrasts
Both openings featured a completely opposite approach to camera usage. Halloween used a continuous shot to maintain the tension created, and to represent Michael’s point of view. Texas Chainsaw massacre used a range of camera angles such as High and Low Angles, Long Shots etc.. to establish the setting and create an effect for the audience. Collectively, both movies established their setting effectively through the use of camera techniques. Although they were used completely different, both achieved the outcome that was intended.
Both movies used sound to create a larger impact on the audience, the first sounds heard during each opening generate a much larger projection to the audience. Halloween uses non-diagetic sounds such as wildlife, wind etc to create an isolated setting. Texas Chainsaw Massacre uses narration to build an unsettled environment, and set the upcoming scene. Collectively, both movies used sound to connote a deeper message to the audience and to set their movies scene.
Both openings were unbalanced in terms of editing. Halloween consists of minimal editing, however this has been done to maintain tension for the audience. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 consists of a lot of editing to highlight significant features within the sequence, and project certain information to the audience through camera cuts. Collectively, both openings achieved a suitable atmosphere based on their vast/lack of editing input.
Mise En Scene:
Both openings featured specific props to connote specific information. The first prop we see in Halloween is a carved pumpkin, this immediately establishes that the film is set on the night of Halloween. The first prop we see in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the vehicle, this institutes the films date in terms of century. The props are used to convey pieces of information to the audience, which eventually lead to create a bigger picture. Collectively, both openings used props to portray more information to the audience about their upcoming movie.