The year is 1931, and it’s that creepy look from a scene that naturally in your subconscious, a creepy little violin is playing while Count Dracula is staring down a victim to do more evil as he does. Unfortunately, if you heard the violin in your head when I mentioned it, it’s sad to say that there was no violin in this scene…or in any scene of this movie.
In the era just after that of the Silent, horror movies began to be produced by Universal studios where their acting spoke louder than song. It’s odd to consider because even though words could not be heard in the silent movies of the ’20s, music was used, then once words could be recorded, music was removed for a short era. It’s hard to really tell nowadays since some silent movies have been remastered with different scores, but it can be assumed that either way, when the Phantom of the Opera was attacking Christine’s fiance, Raul, a suspenseful piece would play, and the same as horrifying moments when Dr. Jekyll would turn into Mr. Hyde, yet the first movie to dawn into an era of sound featured not even a single violin of suspense. The elements of suspense only depended on the actor, and the look in dead silence that could speak louder than any word.
In modern times, we wouldn’t even think of a horror movie without music to the point where we associate little themes to horror villains like Michael Myers, Jaws, Psycho’s Norman Bates, or even Sci-Fi villains like Darth Vader.
I strongly believe that for their time, Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931) and the few others that were with sound, yet without music, they were perfect without it. Dracula, for example, would be a lot different were it for just one creepy violin to build suspense, but the silence, and black and white aspect gave the movie all the drama like that of a movie like any modern horror. It’s only the question of, does suspense draw from silence and visual, or from a creepy violin that tells us something crazy is about to happen?
Come to think of it, Paranormal Activity never featured one tune for suspense…