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October 29, 2009

Listen in on sound masters at the Academy’s ‘Horrorshow’

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Continuing our countdown to Halloween is another Susan King special touting what will be a cool look by many of the creators of audible terror at some of film’s greatest scary tales — from 1925′s “The Phantom of the Opera” to “Poltergeist” and “The Thing.” Just spotlighting another event for fear-seeking fanboys and followers of classic Hollywood alike. — Jevon Phillips

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences explores the things that go boo  tonight at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. But don’t expect any scholarly examination of the use of sound in horror films at “The Sound Behind the Image III: Real Horrorshow!”

“I think what it really amounts to is a … horror movie night in the doors with friends, pizza and some horror movies,” says the program host, veteran sound editor David E. Stone, who won an Oscar for his spook-tacular work on the 1992 horror hit, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”

“What we are going to do is have a handful of basically post-production sound people each introducing clips of a horror movie where we think there is something interesting to say on how the sound was treated,” says Stone. “The most exciting role that sound can play in a horror movie is that enhances what you don’t see , and that adds to the suspense.”

Sometimes silence is golden in horror movies.

“Scholars tell us sound was always thought about in silent films,” says Stone. “It was made part of the story by the composition of music or the characters’ miming that they heard something.”

To illustrate the point, Stone will be showing the famous clip from 1925′s “The Phantom of the Opera” where Mary Philbin rips off the mask of the Phantom (Lon Chaney), and her silent scream literally echoes in audiences’ ears.

Besides Stone, Oscar-nominated sound effects editors Mark Mangini and Richard L. Anderson will offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the chilling sound effects were created for 1982’s “Poltergeist.” Foley artist Vanessa Theme Ament will discuss the work of master foley artist John Post, who was responsible for the terrifying sound effects on John Carpenters 1982 “The Thing.” And veteran Oscar-winning production sound mixer Gene Cantamessa and supervising sound editor Don Hall will discuss their work on Mel Brooks’ classic 1974 horror spoof, “Young Frankenstein.”

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For more information, go to www.oscars.org.

– Susan King

Photo: Winona Ryder stars as Mina Murray/Elisabeta and Gary Oldman stars as Dracula in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” Credit: Columbia Pictures

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