Is there a movie that takes place in a completely different sound world?
March 25, 2013 1:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for movies with a sound design that changes all of the typical sounds of the world. Something like replacing all of the "normal" sounds with something strange, like doors closing would all sound like "pew!" or footsteps would all be "bloop" or something. Does this exist?

Even better if there's some sort of method to it, some underlying acoustic or physical rule for how all the different sounds are derived.

I'm not really looking for science fiction movies where new sounds have to be created for new technologies. I'm more interested in a movie that tries to upend our normal perception of things.

I'm just wanting to sort of experience what the world might be like if everything sounded quite differently then how it actually sounds.

posted by Lutoslawski to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
In one of the Roadrunner cartoons Wiley Coyote takes a bottle of "earthquake pills" which make him move around as if he were in an earthquake. Eventually he ends up in a mine field, and all the explosions don't sound like explosions. Chuck Jones wrote about that one and said it was the idea of the sound effects man to use totally inappropriate sound effects in that scene. Jones loved it!
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 1:45 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

This is on YouTube. Search for "Earthquake Pills". Thank you Chocolate Pickle
posted by Raybun at 2:00 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

An example is On Her Majesty's Secret Service where for whatever reason, any 'impact' sound effect (for example, when Bond hits somebody) is instead rendered as a whip-crack. Granted, that isn't every sound, but it is weird, and then kinda funny once you figure out what's going on.
posted by Rash at 2:10 PM on March 25, 2013

Rats. I remembered the wrong one; it wasn't Earthquake Pills that had the minefield. I don't know which is was, then, but there was one which Chuck Jones called out for this in his memoir (Chuck Amuck).
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:21 PM on March 25, 2013

The film Woodenhead by Florian Habicht might have elements of what you're looking for. Its sound and dialogue were recorded before filming, so the sound doesn't sync up.

"As well as being out of literally out of synch, he also accentuated the oddness by mismatching the soundtrack with what you see – often you'll find sweet and innocent dialogue accompanying grotesque and sometimes violent visuals or a South Island kea screeching on a North Auckland road. He also enjoyed giving the actors voices that were incongruous with the way they looked."
posted by teststrip at 2:31 PM on March 25, 2013

I can't think of anything that fits your description too closely, but Brother of Sleep might be worth a look. There's some odd sound design used in spots to illustrate the main character's hyper-awareness of sound, so it's more what it might be like to have a different sense of sounds rather than your idea of actually replacing them. The full film's been posted on YouTube(no sub-titles), and there's an example of the sound design in this scene; watch for about two minutes from that point. There's other places it happens, but they might be more plot-revealing.
posted by Su at 2:32 PM on March 25, 2013


A number of audio tricks and overdubs (as well as other techniques) give the then modern setting a futuristic, otherworldly feel. I particularly remember the robot-door voice announcing room numbers while the cast walks down completely normal corridors, containing no obvious sci-fi gizmos. Its been a while but I think this is exactly what you're looking for, where sound design completely re-frames the visual setting.
posted by kittensofthenight at 2:35 PM on March 25, 2013

Perhaps not exactly what you were after, but the hyper-amplified hangover soundtrack in this classic Up Pompeii scene is pretty funny.
posted by pont at 2:46 PM on March 25, 2013

There's this scene in Singin' in the Rain. If you haven't seen it, the movie is, in part, about the early days of sound in film and they're still working out the bugs.

Also, in the Jim Jarmusch episode of Fishing with John, the voice of the captain is replaced with a sort of squeaky, Charlie Brown's parents mumble and the fish sound like children on a playground.
posted by chrisulonic at 3:43 PM on March 25, 2013

In his films Mon Oncle and Playtime, Jacques Tati rerecorded the entire soundtrack with dubbed dialog and Foley effects for everything. Most sounds, while tightly controlled, are straightforward and what you'd expect, but a lot of times the effect is to highlight how at odds the Hulot character is with the modern world.

I'm not about to go look this up, but I've been told that for the sex scenes in his movies, Russ Meyer dubbed in the sounds of his own farts, sped up or slowed down.
posted by hydrophonic at 4:30 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Not perfectly what you're after, but The Sound of Noise plays with sound in some fun ways. David Lynch's Eraserhead doesn't exactly take place in the real world, but it's not NOT the real world either; either way, the sound is nothing like you'd expect.
posted by Ms. Toad at 8:21 PM on March 25, 2013

OK, this time for sure: Try Voisins by the legendary Normal McLaren.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:36 PM on March 25, 2013

Again, maybe not what you're looking for, but Steve Oedekerk made Kung Pow: Enter the Fist by taking an old Chinese kung-fu movie and redubbing it, including replacing several sound effects with funnier equivalents.
posted by Hatashran at 9:36 PM on March 25, 2013

Half Life 2: A cappella. Now, it is trying to sound like the original, but it does rather change the effect. phhhbbbbt PEW PEW PEW
posted by BungaDunga at 1:09 AM on March 26, 2013

Duck Amuck first sprang to mind. [Skip to 2:05]
posted by damo at 8:03 PM on March 26, 2013

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