In our third edition of who used it best we compare the use of the song Goodbye Horses by Q Lazzarus written by William Garvey. Incase the song doesn’t ring a bell, just think, “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” Have it now? Yes, it’s that song. As I always like to state, I am not comparing the quality of the films but rather the use of the song in each.
Please be aware that this clip contains some difficult images and is not appropriate for children… not that they’re reading this website anyway.
Silence of the Lambs
Chances are the only reason you even know about this song is due to its presence in Silence of the Lambs. About the only time it’s ever used now is while directly parodying the movie. In the interest of full disclosure I feel it necessary to admit that this movie is one of my all time favorite films, and my second favorite from director Jonathan Demme. When he applies himself correctly Demme is a genius.
How they use it:
I’m probably wasting my time describing the scene to you as it’s arguably one of the most famous in modern American cinema. For those of you who haven’t seen it, let me enlighten you.
Serial killer Buffalo Bill has been killing and skinning women, as the song begins Bill is in his basement, applying makeup, singing along, talking seductively to himself, and applying a wig(with skin) from one of his scalped victims. He speaks the famous lines “Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me. I’d fuck me hard. I’d fuck me so hard.”
He then proceeds to perform the infamous tuck maneuver with his manhood. This is all interspersed with Bills latest kidnapping victim attempting to lure his dog Precious (which is why I never refer to my dog by this term) into the dirt hole he’s holding her in.
In this film the song is actually present in the world, Bill dances and sings along to it, changing the song would require changing the scene.
What makes it Great:
Being such an iconic scene I would venture a guess that you probably can’t hear Goodbye Horses without thinking of the creepy as shit Buffalo Bill putting on that scalped wig and dancing around naked. That simple fact is enough to make it great without further comment. However if you listen to this song and disassociate it from Silence of the Lambs (it’s practically impossible) you might discover that it’s a really good song. Not only is it good, but it’s also the perfect song for this scene. It skillfully straddles the line between seduction and sinister, which helps explain why our villain has selected this to listen to while… doing what he does.
This was a tough one. Just when I thought I found a drawback, further examination proved me wrong. I went back to see what I’d listed as draw backs in previous entries, but nothing fit this scene. In place of simply saying that there are no drawbacks, I’ll us the my weaknesses are actually my strengths, logic. Jonathan Demme used the song so well that it is actually too disturbing. When was the last time you heard Goodbye Horses and didn’t get creeped out? Similarly do you think the song could be used in any way other than to make your skin crawl? Our next film will prove that you cannot.
Married to the Mob
Remember earlier when I said that when Jonathan Demme properly applies himself he’s genius. Married to the Mob Does does not display that genius, that’s right this movie was also directed by Demme. While some may disagree that this is actually a good movie (it had a favorable rating in both IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes) it doesn’t really matter, because I’m only concerned with one scene.
Until last week I’d never seen Married to the Mob, nor was I aware of Goodbye Horses presence in it. I would like to thank kneemee in the Maximum Fun forum for bringing this to my attention.
How they use it:
Like Silence of the Lambs the song is used in the actual world of the movie. Michelle Pfeiffer even brings our attention to the song in the scene though she doesn’t mention it by name. In the scene Michelle Pfeiffer brings Matthew Modine back to her apartment, she goes into the bedroom where she turns on the song, she puts on a sexy silk robe and saunters back into the living room with a tray of soda water. It’s your typical seduction scene, where Matthew Modine rubs her feet, hoping to get under her robe.
What makes it great:
As tough as it was to find a drawback to Silence of the Lambs, it was equally as tough to find what makes the scene in this movie great. In order to do so I had to put myself in the place of someone who actually found this movie funny.
As I said before this song does have a seductive quality, so I could see why Michelle Pfeiffer’s character might choose it. I can also see how the humor could kick in when Pfeiffer becomes embarrassed by her seduction attempt and begins to cry with “mood” music in the background. Imagine listening to Al Green and becoming self conscious while seducing your boyfriend in sexy lingerie… I think this is the same idea as the movie.
In Demme and the movies defense, Married to the Mob was released in 1988, and Silence of the Lambs wouldn’t come out for three more years. This was moviegoers first experience with the song in a film, and upon seeing Silence of the Lambs viewers might have thought “hey, didn’t he use this in his other movie?”
Anyone who saw “Silence” first will immediately get a queazy feeling in their stomach when Pfeiffer enters the room and you hear the familiar keyboard and drumbeat followed by Q Lazzarus’ haunting vocals. You think she’s going to kill Matthew Modine or that he’s going to express to her that he wants to wear her skin like it was his own. It’s nearly impossible to see it any other way.
Because Demme did his job so well in “Silence” I feel somewhat guilty of knocking it completely based on it’s success in another movie. Let me look at it one other way. If I were in charge of the Blu-ray release of Married to the Mob, I would immediately change the song to something else. Anything else. The song has no significance to this film, Pfeiffer’s comment could fit with any popular song at that time without changing the scene.
Of course I could be wrong, perhaps Married to the Mob was Buffalo Bill’s favorite film and being reminded of Matthew Modine rubbing Michelle Pfeiffer’s feet on the couch is what gets him in the mood. But I doubt it.
This wasn’t a fair fight even from the beginning. I knew who would win this before I even saw the scene in Married to the Mob. I just loved the idea of seeing Goodbye Horses in another movie in a non-ironic way. Silence of the Lambs hands down is this duels champion. If not because the song is completely identified with that movie, then because it’s completely replaceable in Married to the Mob.
Here’s a fun game, play Goodbye Horses over footage from your wedding, then see how you feel.