Thursday, March 11, 2010

From hell

I'd love to hear what Paul Mooney would have to say about a TV studio logo that scared millions of white folks shitless.
Like Sam Rockwell during a memorable moment in one of my favorite movies from last year, the indie sci-fi flick Moon, I've been checking out some Bewitched reruns lately (damn, sitcoms are so much better written and produced nowadays than they were in the '60s, thanks to showrunners who have smartened up and realized the canned laughter that filled Bewitched and countless other single-camera sitcoms is so lame and annoying). Bewitched reruns conclude with a certain TV studio logo jingle that's the subject of an amusing mockumentary short, "The S from Hell," which I stumbled into on The short was made by music video director and Ping Pong Playa storyboard artist Rodney Ascher, who screened it at Sundance earlier this year. The jingle that scarred for life the littlest viewers of Screen Gems productions like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie was composed by Eric Siday in 1965.

Any person who shits their pants because of a logo jingle is a wuss. The mockumentary pokes fun at that wussiness by interspersing soundbites of actual interviewees discussing their phobia of Siday's logo music with silly footage of a giant S from Hell chasing a little girl (the French-made "Logorama," which nabbed a Best Animated Short trophy at the Oscars earlier this week, also unleashes the evil side of another corporate logo that's known for creeping out kids--Ronald McDonald).

The synthesized jingle for the Screen Gems and mid-'70s Columbia Pictures Television logos is scary? It's not scary. It's just weird-sounding, like that Dominic Frontiere-penned '60s Paramount Television logo jingle known as "The Closet Killer," which sounds less like a fanfare for a stately mountain and more like music for a scene in which a man discovers his wangus has just been chopped off.

These days, the Screen Gems logo opens the Resident Evil flicks and movies like First Sunday and Armored, which are targeted to young black moviegoers who would laugh their asses off if they found out the Screen Gems logo used to give white kids nightmares.

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