Thursday, 31 May 2012




ARTIST: Q Lazzarus

Maybe you don’t know the name of the song or artist, but if you’ve seen the film, you WILL remember the scene. It lodges in the brain, not just for what you see (which is pretty damn bizarre anyway) but for the superb use of music.
This little known 1988 synthpop ditty had been used by director Jonathan Demme in a previous film, Married to the Mob.
But the second use is the one we all remember…

THE SCENE: As the downright freaky serial killer, Buffalo Bill (played by Ted Levine) fashions a ‘woman suit’ from the skins of his previous victims, we are given a true insight into his disturbed mind. Previously turned down for a sex change, Buffalo Bill has become obsessed with transformation, symbolized by the Death’s-head Hawkmoth he stuffs into the throat of his victim. In the scene we see him apply makeup and a wig made from the scalp of one of his victims, before wrapping himself in a silk cape that he flaps (just like the wings of a butterfly) as he admires himself before a mirror. As he applies makeup his fantasies become more sexually charged, asking his reflection ‘Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me… I’d fuck me hard.’

As he dances and preens, finally Bill tucks his penis between his legs and shuffles back, admiring his now more feminine appearance. Throughout this scene, we are shown the plight of his latest victim as she plans to escape from the pit in his basement where she is being kept prisoner.

THE SONG: Written and produced by William Garvey, he is quoted as saying: ‘The song is about transcendence over those who see the world as only earthy and finite. The horses represent the five senses from Hindu philosophy (The Bhagavad Gita) and the ability to lift one’s perception above these physical limitations and to see beyond this limited Earthly perspective.’

Q Lazzarus is an American female vocalist. Nothing else she has released has reached anywhere near the level of success that this song has achieved.

WHY IT WORKS: PLENTY of reasons here!
First, the haunting and eerie synth sound perfectly complements the visuals on screen. I was reminded of 80s era Bowie with elements of OMD.
This is helped by Q Lazzarus’ vocals, which aren’t typically feminine, her androgynous sound echoing Buffalo Bill’s onscreen transformation.
Also, look at the writer’s description of the message behind the song… transcending the limits of physical being. How perfect for Buffalo Bill’s insane and misguided attempts to leave behind the limitations of his body and gender. Transcendence is just a short step from transformation after all.
Finally, the original script saw Clarice Starling mention horses as well as the sheep raised on the farm in which she grew up. The dialoge was tweaked and streamlined for pacing issues, but Goodbye Horses is a nice little throwback to that exchange.

Of course, no piece on this song would be complete without a shoutout to the parody of this scene in Clarks II.
Jason Mewes, you wonderful, wonderful lunatic. Good work, sir!

So, any suggestions for future pieces of iconic horror music I can cover?
Let me know!

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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