Here’s one of the movies for which I updated the music and sound design and sound effects and other audio stuff.
Elves (1989) is a totally bizarro horror flick starring Dan Haggerty, well after his days playing Grizzly Adams on tv, who plays a down-on-his-luck Santa at a dreary shopping mall, and who gets involved with some young woman trying to get to the bottom of something involving present-day Nazis still attempting to create the ‘master race’ and there’s a scary demon troll thing terrorizing everybody at that mall. It’s a full-on midnight movie cult flick, and is one of those movies that would never, ever get made today, because it’s just too weird.
It’s movies like this that are right up my alley. I love this type of movie. I love the higher quality ones like this, and also the lower budget attempts like this one. This isn’t the greatest movie ever, but it’s not the worst, and it’s certainly entertaining. Pretty funny how the wheelchair-bound grandpa is supposedly descended from Germans, and for the first half of the movie has a German accent, but as the movie drags on, it sort of morphs into a Jewish/Yiddish accent. Unintentional I’m sure; he just couldn’t stay in character.
This was a tricky one to work on. I had a VHS copy for a long time, but then I was all excited when I got a dvd rip of it. Except, for some reason, the audio (including the music) on the dvd rip was in mono. What the hell? How is this even possible? So what I ended up doing was taking the audio from the VHS rip (which also included an extended introductory song), and syncing it to the video of the dvd rip. Of course, the audio didn’t match up exactly, so I had to do a lot of stretching and pulling to make it work.
But once that was lined up, I got to work. I loaded up some low end in some spots (like at 18:40 and 48:40), cooked up a couple poundy industrial songs for appropriate scenes (at 44:10, and the big climax at 1:22:38), and touched up the atmospheres, sound design and sound effects throughout. And speaking of that intro piano song, I did some super subtle but effective techniques in the movie like adding the tremolo strings you’ll hear in that intro.
One thing about the gunfight scene in the second half of the movie-
I don’t know if they added sound to the natural, production sound of the gunshots, but in the movie they sound like toy cap guns. I’ve personally never shot a gun, and probably the only time I’ve heard actual gunshots was on New Years Eve because I lived in LA all those years. So I sorta know that guns don’t sound the way they do in this movie. So I wanted to bolster them up a bit.
But I didn’t want to go overboard with it, because on the other hand, we have a movie like the first Indiana Jones. Go back and listen to the scene at the beginning of that movie where there’s a gunfight at a bar in Siberia(?) where the Nazi guy burns his hand. Those handguns sound like giant air craft carrier cannons and it’s absolutely ludicrous. Of course, it’s the filmmaker’s and sound designer’s call to take such liberties, but once you notice that, it’s utterly laughable.
Even as cartoony as Elves is, I didn’t want to go to such ridiculous, comical lengths. So I found a pretty good middle ground, where the guns in this movie sound like more than toys, but less than cannons.
I also cropped this one into widescreen. Nothing of importance was lost. And I exploded it up to 720p. I ended up adjusting the color for a lot of it, not because I up-converted it, but even at small size, the picture was gonna need some help.
Someday I might be persuaded to post my version of Demons (1985) where I gave it much the same treatment as Elves. We’ll see…
And I think I’ve decided on a third movie to rescore. Not sure yet, but I’ll let you know.