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The Sound and the Fury
From the very beginning, one of the central goals of the movie was to anthropomorphize the house, to give it expression and breathe life into the inanimate bricks and mortar structure. The cutting-edge technology used in Monster House enabled the filmmakers to realize this amazing central character. Designing the look of the house was a painstaking process. "It was hard to come up with a design for the house that was creepy and yet not so scary that the audience wouldn't accept that it could go unnoticed in the neighborhood," explains layout/concept artist Chris Appelhans. "It had to start out as just another old house that, when the light shifts a little, suddenly seems monstrous and foreboding."

"One of the benefits of the animation in Monster House is that you can construct the house so it looks like it has two eyes and a mouth,” says producer Starkey. "They were actually able to mimic human expression.”

And that task fell to Kathleen Turner. "The way an actor moves and how they carry themselves — all the invisible signals — whether they're tentative or angry, all that reads in the body,” says Turner. "Having a camera translate that into a computer is an effective way of preserving that performance.”

In addition to capturing her character's physical performance, Turner was instrumental in creating the furious sounds made by the house. Turner and director Kenan met at New York's famed Brill Building to record her vocalizations as well as her non-verbal performance as the monstrous house. A tape of that vocal performance was sent to Skywalker Sound, which is part of George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch in Northern California, and married to the natural sounds of wood bending and house shifting. The film's sound team had located a rickety old wooden barn in the hills of nearby Marin country and they attached amplifiers to its inner walls. In this way they were able to capture the house's natural moans and groans and help shape them into sound for the Monster House that is appropriately ominous and surprisingly human. 

Ultimately, all the hard work that went into making Monster House paid off for the dedicated cast and crew. "I think Monster House will be a powerful cinematic experience,” promises producer Rapke. "It's a fun roller-coaster ride, visually different from anything ever seen on screen. We've used this medium to push it into an area where it's never been used before — the making of a scary movie for kids.”

"Kids will go up and down the roller coaster and scream along the way,” producer Starkey predicts. "But, in the end, they'll feel good. I'm thrilled by what Monster House has taught us about the flexibility of motion-capture. Monster House is going to wake people up to the realization that there are all kinds of movies that can be made this way.”

"Motion-capture is not going to replace animation,” says Zemeckis. "But one of the difficulties with traditional two-dimensional animation has always been in animating human characters, back to the early days of Disney. But I like to think that motion-capture had created an avenue to make movies that can't be made in live-action and shouldn't be made as animated cartoons. Now we have a place for stories that would not be able to realize their full potential in either of the other two art forms. Motion-capture fills a void in the medium of cinematic storytelling. It's a boundless technology. We're really only just scratching the surface.”

"Monster House has a special place in my heart,” says writer Rob Schrab. "It was the beginning of my screenwriting career with Dan. We just wanted to make a movie we would go see — a kid's movie that doesn't talk down to kids and isn't afraid to thrill them either. My dream is that Monster House will open the door to more creature features made especially with kids in mind.”

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