The Bite at the Beginning: Encoding Evil Through Film Title Design

in The Changing Face of Evil in Film and Television
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This chapter discusses the title sequences (a.k.a. opening credits) for three “evil” feature films: Psycho (1960), Se7en (1995) and American Psycho (2000). They are framed as designed artifacts - comprising images, lettering, and type - created by graphic designers working at arm’s length from the routines of movie production per se. A brief discussion of the function of film titles is followed by a problematisation of the creative choices and rationalisations (qua representational strategies) of the designers and filmmakers involved in creating “evil” titles - beyond the laudatory accounts that typify coverage of title design in the trade, and mainstream, press. The chapter concludes by noting that there is much that remains to be understood about the creative milieu of title design as an active and integral part of the circuit of culture; and, that further research is needed on the genre-specific roles of lettering and type in time-based media.