Saturday, October 25, 2008

Intensive Scare Unit

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON



What is the greatest fear trigger? Is it sight? Is it sound? Is it circumstance? Is it our imagination? Is it a combination of all four?

I once watched a very interesting television interview with John Williams, who composed the soundtrack from the 1975 movie Jaws, based on the bestselling novel by Peter Benchley. Williams was chuckling as he narrated the incident of how the film’s director, Steven Spielberg, dropped in to listen to the theme music for the first time.

As he tells it, Williams sat down and played the simple, repetitive two-bar (or is it really three?) composition. Spielberg looked him in the eye and said something along the lines of "That’s it?" And at that point, Williams explained that it was a simple representation of the shark’s heartbeat, increasing in intensity as it circled its prey.

The way he told it, Spielberg took some convincing. But he relented and the theme music, instantly recognisable even when hummed, is now regarded as an all-time classic. And yes, the soundtrack won Williams an Oscar.

There was no background music playing when I took these shots three years ago. It was just a grey, cold winter afternoon when there was little colour along the banks of the Yarra. The bare, gnarled branches, stripped of foliage, caught my eye to start with.

Then I spotted the broken glass on the old lampposts (below) and I thought they’d make a great motif for a ghostly mansion. And no, the images haven’t been digitally altered. That ain't my style.

If you’d like to check out the tale of a flight that scared me some years ago, when the wings of the plane started to ice up, you can read it at B Is For Bairnsdale. I might have to borrow John Williams to compose the soundtrack for that one.


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Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "Scary".

28 comments:

Mrs. Organic said...

For me, it's this

http://tinyurl.com/59dtyk

Working mum said...

Music is certainly evocative on its own, but I think the combination of visual and musical create the ultimate scary atmosphere. Der der, der der ........

Maggie May said...

You mean you met THE John Williams guitarist! Aw.... I just LOVE his music.
The lamps look spooky with or without the music. I will check out your link next!

Lee said...

John Williams is awesome! So are the works of Spielberg although I won't watch Jaws again.

I loved both those photos, but the second one fired my imagination. I was catapulted to a Harry Potter scene and imagined the left lamp globe as a dragon's head. Very Halloween-ish, David!

GreenJello said...

Love love love your top photo.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

haha I am

joan said...

The photos are very eerie loooking. I didn't know that about Jaws, very interesting.

Helena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Helena said...

I think the mind triggers the worst fear.

For years I was convinced I was being haunted- wherever I lived, I felt a melevolent presence, heard things, saw dark shapes.

One day I was sitting on the downstairs loo(!) with the door open (!) and I heard my partner get up, walk to the upstairs bathroom, walk about, cross the landing and start coming downstairs. So I stopped mid-wee and got up and closed the door.

Afterwards I went into the kitchen to talk to him... not there... in the living room?... no.... ok upstairs....there? -Yes- fast asleep in bed.

O.M.G!!!

That was enough. I went to the doc. After a bit they diagnosed that I was bi-polar, not "just" depressed. All those years of fear...

I was given a mild anti-psychotic, take 2 a day. I took them for 2 days and all the symptoms disappeared. No more creepy feelings. No more "ghosts".

The mind consists of more than we understand yet. It can lie to you.

Wooohahahahaaa....

TerriRainer said...

Love the pics! Ever done any "paranormal" photography?

:) Terri

Deb said...

great photos and riveting flight story. the older i get, the more i hate to fly. and stories like yours just reinforce my fear! but luckily, i like seeing new and fun places more than i am afraid to fly.

leslie said...

I remember seeing the movie "Jaws" with my husband the first year we were married and almost jumping into his seat when the shark came at us like it was going to come right through the screen! My heart was palpitating hard at that moment! Great movie, though, and it still (thanks to the music) gives me the creeps! You might be interested in what movies scared me as a kid so pop over! ;D

Tiffany Norris said...

I guess my fears are provoked by a combination of circumstances, but I must say these two shots are quite spooky! Perfect for an October afternoon. (And John Williams rocks.) :)

cheshire wife said...

Photos look very gothic. We have one of those lamp posts in our front garden. Will now think of your post every time I see it.

Hilary said...

I love that top photo. The tree's limbs have so much character.

virtual voyage said...

Didn't know Williams did that soundtrack.... powerful photos; got the atmosphere spot on...!

Mommy Jo said...

And this is why I love your blog: I learn things!

Didn't know about the story behind the Jaws' theme music. Interesting!

Dave Coulter said...

Hey...I thought it was springtime there? :)

Lew said...

Thanks for including my post in your Post of the Day. It's an honor to be included with the many superb bloggers that you have recognized. Your scary photos do leave me with an eerie feeling. I did check out your Bairnsdale post. Ice and aircraft are never a good mixture!

Angela at mommy bytes said...

Things certainly look scarier in B&W!

RJ Flamingo said...

Very cool, David. It really looks like a snapshot of Sleepy Hollow!

Mine will be up in a few minutes:
http://flamingofotos.blogspot.com

Moannie said...

We might ask...would we have found the pics spooky had you not put the thought in our minds? Probably, yes. Monochrome does that too, doesn't it? It has been proven that a film with an edge, be it violent or ghostly is much more scary when the music is added, and Jaws is a perfect example. We heard the music long before we saw the fins.[I think. It is a long time since I saw it.

Leslie of Canberra said...

Well that was a good read - that music scares me silly. John Williams was very clever.

Hope your weekend is going well, I jsut finished watching Bell, Book and Candle. :)

Carver said...

Those are both great shots for the theme. I love bare trees against an overcast sky but in the right context they do provide a backdrop for a scary movie. The broken lamp post is a good one too. Interesting post about the soundtrack.

Annie said...

Cool post. Both photos really capture that eerie mood. Jaws was terrifying - I regretted watching it! I can hear that music in my head now...

Thanks for visiting mine and have a nice weekend!

Randi said...

Interesting post - love the photo of the bare tree.
I wish you a great weekend!

quilly said...

The Oahu Civic Orchestra's Autumn concert includes a tribute to John Williams. It begins with the theme from Jaws. I enjoyed standing near a crowd of teens as they were trying to guess the ever changing themes. The one they didn't get was E.T.

jmb said...

No doubt about it our imagination works overtime with making things more scary than they should be. Happy weekend David.