Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma.
Sometimes the best tool you have to make a sound effect is the one you’re born with (not THAT tool, sheesh…) – Your Voice. Since today is Friday the 13th I thought I’d take stab at featuring one of the most famous examples of using voice for sound effects rather than dialogue.
So the story goes that composer Harry Manfredini liked the idea of the score of Jaws signaling when the shark is near and since the original killer was Mrs. Vorhees (Spoilers) not Jason and wasn’t onscreen until the end of the movie he wanted something similar. When he tried different bits of strings he felt it was missing something and being inspired by Mrs. Vorhees repeating the line “Kill her mommy” over and over he grabbed a mic and mimicked the staccato strings with a harsh whisper Ki Ki Ki Ma Ma Ma (Kill Kill Kill Mom Mom Mom). After it was recorded he layered several versions of it on top of one another and slapped on some heavy reverb. It’s become completely intertwined with the character of Jason appearing in every Friday the 13th movie, and even shows like The Simpsons. It’s certainly not the only time this kind of device has been used in a horror movie. One of my favorite franchises The Evil Dead uses a very similar tactic. Director Sam Raimi recorded himself giving a guttural growl/yell, applied similar reverb effects as well as layering and used it as the “voice” of the unseen evil force that constantly chases the main character.
If you want to try recreating this obviously record the harshest, creepiest whisper you can. Most computers nowadays come with basic audio or video editing software. If you import your file into any of those programs and look under effects you’ll find one title “Reverb”. Slap that on and play around with what it does to your voice. Try other effects too warp your voice into something completely new.
That about axes things for now, but I’ll return from the grave next week with more.