SCARY HORROR STUFF: 5 Reasons Why Black and White Horror Films Can Be the Scariest Even Today
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

5 Reasons Why Black and White Horror Films Can Be the Scariest Even Today

There's no doubt we're seeing a movement here. With artsy horror films, daring pieces challenging the status quo and reaching an element beyond that of the cheesy B-movie horror flick with the cheap jump scares, the genre's elevated to true masterpiece level ripe for awards and prestige, and I'm loving it. I didn't, however, really expect that the classic B&W, the black-and-white dark art would ever penetrate the film movement like it apparently has now!

It's Quite True: as You'll Soon See of New Films Breaking the Horror Genre Mold, Like One in Particular....


Keep reading. You'll see it. It's an eerie trailer. Proof that an age-old characteristic of some of the classics may be coming back with a vengeance, and while it's surprising that it may be coming back now, I'm actually not surprised that it was going to happen sooner or later.

Black-and-white films carry with them that noir feel forcing you to focus on what really matters: the stark shadows of what could be, the Baroque sensibility and the raw emotion.

You don't have the color "adding" to it. You don't need it. This is why to this day some of the classic B&W films still mesmerize horror genre lovers to this day, because it sharpens the lines and angles of what the camera brings to the screen.

You then end up seeing every hideous detail. That's what sticks out. Honestly I'd wonder if some of the more modern works out there might benefit from a black-and-white conversion, much like how George Miller released a black-and-chrome version of his now iconic dystopian action thriller MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

So it's pretty clear to me: black and white doth rock in a moody, atmospheric nail-biter! Which is why to this day these classic films (and one soon to be released -- in BLACK AND WHITE) still kill it (figuratively and literally).

NOSFERATU



Before vampires were sexy, there was this guy.

I'll be the first person to say that when it comes to black-and-white, somehow NOSFERATU fit the mold beautifully in a dark and gothic sort of way. Now I can't in good conscious include the other classic in here with Bela Lugosi for good reason as while that film was also in black-and-white, the style wasn't the same with the dark German Expressionism of a truly visceral creature designed to be more of a demon spawn than a succulent succubus.

The guy was already dressed in black. White skin. Fiercely terrifying to look at. And when you ensure he's placed in a backdrop and surroundings that also end up with that wicked monochromatic proceeding -- he becomes even more real than you think.

That's what makes it scary.

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL



You can't deny Vincent Price. Guy's a legend.

This is why the one true horror popcorn flick took advantage of the stark contrast and sharp lines of Price's face with all the classic scares you'd love and no freaky bells and whistles to go with it (as much as I do love a lot of those special FX "bells and whistles").

In this case, the story stands on its own. HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL has layers -- liars, double-crosses, and some fourth-wall breaking even Deadpool would love. When you have a story as rich as this -- with characters you both hate and love -- less distraction from the story means more fun!

CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI



And back to German Expression we go with probably one of the most visually accented horror films of all time -- a film dubbed by Roger Ebert himself as the original horror movie.

And get this -- it's also a silent film. That adds another layer of sheer suspense to the black-and-white you didn't expect especially when you really dive deep into the story about an evil hypnotist using a sleepwalker to kill people for him.

Part comic-book style with the stark shadowy lines of the set pieces, part stage play (which ends up holding up quite well with the minimal coloring), and of course -- part psychedelic nightmare with angles playing off the shadows and light quite well.

There's a reason this demon of a film still holds up even today.

PSYCHO



Alfred Hitchcock. That's all I have to say. To understand the power of shadowy imagery is to understand that absence of color makes all the difference in ambience. There are angles here in all the particular scenes (even the ones that are just not downright overtly scary) that build up the tension so incredibly well that you're almost uneasy watching it -- even up to the end as Anthony Perkins, the man who plays the psycho Norman Bates, devilishly smiles in perfect black and white.

There's a reason that even the remake with Vince Vaughn was done exactly like how Hitchcock did it, from every scene, every POV -- everything. Even in color, the remake did the job. But not quite as well as Hitchcock himself did it back then.

Plus you can't beat that shower scene.

(And FINALLY something a little more.... 'Modern'....)

THE FOREST OF LOST SOULS



Honestly arthouse really never looked as good as this. And is it me, or are we seeing some major foreign players out there cranking up the fear factor? Yes. We are.

Such is the case for a soon-to-be-released Portuguese film titled THE FOREST OF THE LOST SOULS, scheduled to open in August. A psychological thriller down to the bone. But also eerie.

And, you guessed it -- the black and white does play a role in this tale about two strangers coming to a forest known to be a place for people to commit suicide.

One of the strangers, of course, intends to do just that in the forest -- just end it all in the artsy doom and gloom of a colorless life meant to end bitterly.... But the other stranger? The other has some ulterior motives. And the suspense begins.

We're willing to bet you're dying to see a trailer. Oh, goodness. There is one right here!

Yes, Indeed: It Is a Good Time to Be a Horror Film


When we're starting to see throwbacks like this? Hell, yeah.

We do have to make an honorable mention for Burton's ED WOOD, though. You have to agree. It's rather fitting.


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