Author Archives: Film Music Central

About Film Music Central

I'm a 27 year old graduate student and I've had a lifelong obsession with film music, cartoon music, just about any kind of music!

Disturbing Disney #11: Clayton’s Death in Tarzan (1999)

You know, it sure seems to me like a lot of “disturbing” moments in Disney films happen to coincide with a villain’s death.

Tarzan (1999) is considered to be the end of the 1st Disney Renaissance, and for this reason I think the film has become totally underrated. Which is really a shame because the animation is incredible, particularly the scenes where Tarzan is “surfing” through the trees. The (real) villain is pretty awesome too. For most of the film, the “enemy” has been presented as Kerchak, the leader of the gorilla troop that raised Tarzan, and the gorilla that should have been Tarzan’s foster father, as it is Kerchak’s mate Kaala that  took the young man in when he was a baby, but Kerchak could never bring himself to accept the human as his son. However, the actual villain of this story is the bloodthirsty and devious Clayton, who has hitherto been working as a bodyguard for the expedition of Professor Porter and Jane. But in reality, Clayton has come because he wants to capture the gorillas for the handsome price they will fetch back in England.

Clayton

Behold the villainous Clayton, even before he’s revealed he kind of looks like a villain already

At the last minute, Tarzan is able to thwart Clayton’s attempt to kidnap all of the gorillas, but Clayton is not giving up just yet. After fatally wounding Kerchak, Clayton chases Tarzan up into the trees, figuring that if he can get Tarzan out of the way, rounding the gorillas back up should be easy. But despite his injuries (Clayton shot him in the arm), Tarzan has a distinct advantage: he was raised in this jungle, he knows how to navigate the trees with his eyes closed, Clayton is like a fish out of water. Despite this, he continues to chase Tarzan until the latter is cornered against a tree trunk. But then Tarzan uses the jungle to his advantage, ensnaring Clayton’s limbs in a tangle of jungle vines (to his mounting fury). At this point, Clayton fully snaps and begins to furiously hack at the vines holding him up, and a single shot forewarns what is about to happen: as the vines are cut away, one loop slips up to tighten around Clayton’s neck.

Tarzan “Clayton’s Death” (1999)

The first time I saw this film in theaters, I didn’t realize what was going to happen, but my parents did. To this day I remember my mom gasping at the shot and wondering what she was reacting to. I realize now that Clayton has a particularly gruesome and disturbing death scene, one that is pretty graphic if you think it through.

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As I’d said, Clayton is hacking away at the vines that are holding him up, not noticing one loop remains coiled around his neck. He is so frantic to get loose to kill Tarzan that he doesn’t notice there are fewer and fewer vines holding him up. Even Tarzan sees what is about to happen and tries to warn him, but Clayton doesn’t listen…and then it’s too late. Down to two vines (the one around his neck and the one his hand is clenching), Clayton hacks the wrong vine and begins to fall screaming, the vine still looped around his neck. This moment is terribly disturbing: not only is Clayton falling to his death, but he has enough time to know it and try desperately to avert the inevitable (see, as he falls, you can see Clayton’s hands trying to remove the loop before he runs out of slack). Maybe Tarzan could have saved himself, but Clayton is no Tarzan and in no time we see the vine go taught with an audible *SNAP* and then we see the shadowy profile of Clayton hanging by his neck…DEAD.

I’ll give Disney credit for one thing: at least they kept the actual moment of death off-screen and only showed Clayton’s dead body in silhouette. Still…watching a villain die via a broken neck is pretty disturbing, and thus it is here on the list of Disturbing Disney.

But I would like to know what YOU think of Clayton’s death; does it disturb you? Do you find it gruesome? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear about it.

For more Disturbing Disney, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Anticipating Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 and more!!

Sometime yesterday afternoon it dawned on me that I will be seeing the long-anticipated Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 next Thursday. I have been aching to see this film ever since I borrowed the first Guardians of the Galaxy from Redbox and realized how stupid I was to miss out on that film when it was in theaters!!

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As far as I can tell from the previews, Vol. 2 is going to build off the craziness of the original and take it to completely new levels of awesome. I think I speak for everyone when I say Baby Groot looks completely awesome (I especially can’t wait to see how the whole “Button of Doom” thing is going to play out.) Also I want to know more about Mantis and how in the world is there such a thing as a Living Planet? (I haven’t really read any of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics so I have zero idea who this Ego guy is or what to expect from him.)

And then two weeks after Guardians of the Galaxy comes Alien: Covenant. I’m itching to see what happened to Shaw in the gap between Prometheus and this film, and even though it is strongly implied that nothing good happened to her, I still really want to know what the heck David has done to her!! And why?? I know this movie is going to absolutely terrify me, and I’m going to enjoy every second of it!!

Looking ahead into June, there are two films that I will be watching very closely (though I’m still on the fence about seeing them in the theater): Wonder Woman and The Mummy. I desperately want Wonder Woman to be awesome, it’s no secret that the DCU has received mixed reviews, and if they don’t get an undeniable hit soon, then Justice League is royally screwed. So for everyone’s sake, I hope Wonder Woman is as good as it looks.

And then there’s The Mummy…I have seen all the trailers (international and domestic), I’ve rolled it over in my mind, and I still can’t get behind this film. Okay, I admit, the backstory is…alright. But everything else…is NOT alright. As I see it, this film will either be a sleeper hit or it’s going to totally BOMB, and I can’t wait to see which it will be.

These are the films I’m anticipating at this present moment as the summer box office season begins to get under way. Hopefully it does much better than LAST summer.

What films are you looking forward to? Please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

For more Quick and Random Thoughts, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Hans Zimmer talks Inception (2010)

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Hans Zimmer talks Inception (2010)

I have watched a lot of movies, but few have bent my brain more than Inception (2010), a film set in a world where it is possible to enter the subconscious and “extract” information. Cobb, a “dream thief”, is tasked by a wealthy businessman named Saito to perform “inception” on the son of a rival, which is planting an idea in the subconscious mind, and it is supposed to be an impossible task. The stakes for Cobb are pretty high: he’s been on the run for years after being framed for the murder of his wife (she actually committed suicide), and if he succeeds, Saito will make the charges go away so he can return home to his two children. But…in a world where we enter dreams within dreams within dreams, how do we know any of this is even real to begin with? (That question is never really answered by the way, we’re meant to make our own conclusions).

The score for this reality-bending film was composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer, who returned to collaborate again with director Christopher Nolan on this project (Inception marked their third collaboration together). This brief “making of” video shows how Nolan and Zimmer brought this score into existence. Zimmer described the music of Inception as “a very electronic, dense score, filled with nostalgia and sadness.” What I love best about the score is how it changes as the characters move deeper and deeper into the “dream within a dream.” The deeper they go, the more “unreal” the music becomes; this all reaches a head when Cobb and Ariadne are in Limbo (the bottom level) while the other members of his group are moving through three separate dream levels above them.

If you’ve seen Inception, what did you think of the story? And what did you think of the film’s soundtrack? Let me know in the comments below 🙂 And I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at the making of the film score for this film 🙂

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of Hans Zimmer, see here

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RIP Erin Moran (1960-2017)

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Ouch, this is one that really hurts. Over the weekend the world learned that actress Erin Moran passed away at the still-too-young age of 56. She is best known for playing Joanie Cunningham, the kid sister of Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard, then a quickly maturing child actor, now a very famous director) in the sitcom Happy Days. She also briefly reprised her role in a short spinoff entitled Joanie Loves Chachi (yes that is the real title).

Unfortunately, while other members of the Happy Days cast continued in their careers (be it acting or directing), work didn’t come easily to Moran in the years that followed, her last acting credit came in 2010.

It’s always said when they die too young, RIP Erin Moran

John Debney (and Tom Morello) talk Iron Man 2 (2010)

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John Debney (and Tom Morello) talk Iron Man 2 (2010)

It’s hard to create a sequel that lives up to the awesomeness that was the original Iron Man film, but Iron Man 2 did a pretty good job. The film follows Tony Stark after he publicly reveals that he is Iron Man to the world. See, as it turns out, the palladium in the arc reactor that’s keeping Tony alive is also slowly killing him, so he begins to live life very recklessly (as he doesn’t have much time to live). But there are other problems: Ivan Vanko, determined to seek vengeance on Stark, builds his own arc reactor and sets out to kill him. (This is also the film that introduces Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow.)

While the film’s score features a healthy selection of rock songs (including two from AC/DC), the orchestral score was composed by John Debney and Tom Morello. The above video featurette details how Debney collaborated with Morello to create the score for the film.

Some have criticized the MCU for not having a “consistent” sound, which is to be expected since multiple composers have been employed to score these films, but I think each composer puts their own unique twist to each installment of the MCU, and Iron Man 2 is no exception. I hope you enjoy this behind the scenes look at the making of this film’s score.

If you’d like to learn more about the film scores of John Debney, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Who is Rey’s family? My thoughts

It’s a question we’ve been asking since the premiere of The Force Awakens: who is Rey’s missing family? Is she a Skywalker? A Solo? Or is she…a Kenobi??? Daisy Ridley has claimed the answer is obvious (to her), and we will get a definitive answer when The Last Jedi premieres this December. But until then, I want to share my thoughts on the subject, as some evidence as come to light that (I believe) clarifies who it could be.

First though, I think it is clear that Rey is NOT a Solo. Leia and Han went through a lot, but I’m pretty sure they would recognize their own daughter when they saw her. There is nothing to suggest that Kylo has a sibling (surely he would’ve sensed the kinship when he probed her mind).

And….I’m pretty sure Rey isn’t a Skywalker either, unless she had her mind totally wiped of her memories. Otherwise, why would she think Luke Skywalker was a myth if he was her father? It doesn’t really add up does it?

Now, I never though I would say this but..I actually think that Rey is a Kenobi. And before you let me have it, allow me to present my evidence. For this evidence, you must go all the way back to the Clone Wars animated series (not the 2002-2003 one, but the series after that one), season 2 to be exact. In the episode “Voyage of Temptation”, Obi-Wan and Anakin are escorting Duchess Satine of Mandalore to Coruscant. It comes out (from Obi-wan) that when Obi-Wan was still a Padawan, he and Qui-Gon spent nearly a full year protecting Satine from bounty hunters and insurgents who wished her dead. In that time, Obi-wan and Satine became rather…close. So close in fact, that later in the episode, Obi-wan admits that if Satine had asked him, he would have left the Jedi Order for her. But I digress, mid-way through the episode, after hearing of this earlier adventure, Anakin turns to Obi-wan and begins to ask if their relationship ever got…physical. Obi-wan begins to splutter, which is to be expected…except he then evades answering the question. He doesn’t say “No of course we didn’t!” As inappropriate as Anakin’s question is, why wouldn’t Obi-wan deny it if nothing happened? Well, I think it’s because something DID happen.

Here’s how I think the connection to Rey works: Obi-wan and Satine slept together, which created a child. Knowing Obi-wan’s devotion to the Jedi Order, Satine never told him of this child’s existence (in fact she may have even given the child up for adoption to another Mandalorian family to avoid the scandal of the Duchess of Mandalore having a child by a Jedi). This child, male or female I don’t know, is one of the parents of Rey.

Is the theory tenuous at best? Yes, yes it is, I don’t deny it. But…it would be a way to make Rey a Kenobi without introducing completely new characters into the mix (and everything in the Clone Wars series is considered canon).

But why else could Rey be a Kenobi? For starters, she does seem unusually gifted with the Jedi mind trick, especially since she’s never seen one done before (not that we know of anyway). Mind tricks were one of Obi-wan’s specialties. There’s also her Force vision when she touches Anakin’s lightsaber: it is noticeably Obi-wan who speaks to her, calling her by name no less. As I read elsewhere, why would Obi-wan be taking such a special interest in Rey, unless they’re related?

One last point: a theory quickly gaining ground is the idea that the Star Wars saga is symmetrical, like poetry. I can think of no better symmetry than if Luke ends up training the grandchild of Obi-wan Kenobi, in much the same way that Obi-wan trained Anakin all those years ago.

These are my thoughts on who Rey is related to, and I’m very curious to know what you think about it. Do you agree? Disagree? Who do you think Rey’s family will turn out to be? Less than eight months until we find out!

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

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Disturbing Disney #10: The rat in Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp is another classic Disney film that is sadly falling by the wayside as more and more time goes on, but it has one of the more disturbing situations in the Disney canon.

Set in 1909/1910, the story follows Lady, a cocker spaniel, whose happy life with Jim Dear and his wife Darling is upended when Darling becomes pregnant and has a baby boy. With all of the attention focused on the new baby, Lady begins to feel neglected for the first time in her life. Not only that, but a brash stray named Tramp keeps nosing his way into her life as well.

Now, looking at this film, some might think that the “villain” of this film is Aunt Sarah, the mean lady with the Siamese cats, who muzzles Lady, and later locks her out of the house and keeps her tied in the yard. However, Aunt Sarah isn’t acting out of malice, she’s just being manipulated by her cats and what she believes to be right. No, the real villain of this story…is the RAT!

I can hear it now, “Rat? What rat??”

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THAT rat!! (He’s an ugly thing isn’t he??)

The rat first appears early in the film when Lady is seen going about her morning routine (before Darling becomes pregnant and has her baby). He keeps trying to get in the house, but Lady is always there to chase him off. However, at the end of the film, when Aunt Sarah has Lady tied to the doghouse, the rat is able to slip in with ease, despite Lady barking a frantic warning (that Aunt Sarah ignores). And where is the ugly rat going? To the baby’s room of course!! Yes, that’s right, there’s a disease-ridden rat headed for the baby’s room to do only God knows what. Totally messed up right? Just wait, it gets better.

Lady and the Tramp: The Rat Scene (1955)

Of course Tramp comes barreling into the yard a short time later and Lady is able to tell him about the rat. Tramp goes to make the save and then we see this:

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I wish I could get a zoom in on this rat perched on the baby’s crib, looking down at the infant like he’s going to.. *shudders* oh Disney  why do you DO these things??? It’s not that the rat actually does anything, it’s the implication of what’s going to happen that makes this moment so disturbing. (And there’s also that frightening fight between Tramp and the rat that is done mostly in shadow that is SUPER disturbing too.)

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What do you think about the rat in Lady and the Tramp? Do you find it disturbing as well, or is it no match for what we see in Disney today? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, I’d love to hear about it 🙂

For more Disturbing Disney, see here

The 2nd Annual Remembering James Horner blogathon is coming in June, check out the sign up page here

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂 (we made it past 100 likes, you guys are awesome!!)