Saturday, January 23, 2010

Taking the color out of horror....

Having just watched Psycho again (thanks, B-Sol) - I wondered what it would be like if more (modern) horror films were in black and white.
I don't think it takes anything away from Psycho, in fact it gives it more of a permanently creepy edge.

My husband hates black and white movies. There are only a few he will even sit through (Psycho, NOTLD, and It's a Wonderful Life come to mind). He'd never sit down and watch something like Carnival of Souls or Rebecca. Hence, he has never seen the beauty of The Haunting or The Innocents. His loss.

And it's not like I'm some kind of advocate for bringing back good 'ole B & W to the big screen...but imagine how different some of our favorite films would be by taking on a washed out, gritty look.
That being said, a movie like say, Suspiria, would be completely compromised by taking the color out of it, as would Saw, in my opinion. But many others could even benefit from giving us more of an almost film noir appearance in some cases.
So what do you think?

Basic Instinct

The Changeling

The Ninth Gate (It doesn't really matter with Johnny, does it?)

Some of the upcoming films on the horizon would be kind of cool, too.

Shutter Island

The Wolfman

...and again.

Period films can always pull off a colorless look with ease.
Case in point:

Dead Birds

Sleepy Hollow (Actually, B&W seems to accentuate Depp's cheekbones even more;)

The Village

The Woman in Black

Interview with the Vampire

The Orphanage

From Hell

Some of my favorite female characters in horror still look lovely (and some still very menacing) in black & white.

Ghost Story

Inside ( À l'intérieur )

The Ring

Friday the 13th

The Shining

The Abandoned


And we have to check out our horror icons as well:

A Nightmare on Elm Street

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre




Friday the 13th (remake here)


And some movies truly seem creepier without color.

The Evil Dead

The Howling

The Dark

Last House on the Left (remake here)

The Skeleton Key

Possession is downright frightening in any color or lack thereof:

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

The Exorcist

Obviously, a haunted asylum or hotel is even more macabre:

Death Tunnel (horrifically bad movie but awesome setting...The Waverly Hills Sanitorium in Louisville)

The Others

Session 9 (Danvers State Hospital in MA.)

The Shining (The Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, OR.)

Even Bill and Sookie can pull off black and white....

True Blood

And some shit looks scary no matter what.

Session 9


The Shining

So what other movies could have looked good either way?
I'm sure there are a ton out there...these are just a few examples.
Psycho did it. (Matter of fact, I would prefer any of Hitchcock's work in black & white.)
Blair Witch did it a little bit with camera work here and there.
Carnival of Souls and Night of the Living Dead are prize representations.

But I do believe horror is one genre that is easily adapted to black and white, simply because fear is there...whether it is in blinding color like Suspiria, or the stark yet stylish monochrome like Psycho.
I don't think there's a soul out there that could say The Exorcist would be any less terrifying simply because you couldn't see the green pea-soup vomit spewing from Regan.
Am I right?

But I'm gonna take a wild guess and assume you Avatar fans would not be too fond of a B & W version. I'm just sayin'...

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


Unknown said...

Great post! I love The Howling without color.

Anonymous said...

I totally think that noir-ish films would work best here. I like the idea of Inside in B&W too but would the bloodletting lose some of its luster?

Great post.

William Malmborg said...

I think all haunted house movies should be blank and white like The Haunting and with very little special effects because seeing the ghosts always seems to ruin the fear unless they are really done well.

I think the reason we don't see this a lot these days is because studios think it will drive away the teenage viewers. They forget though, even if it doesn't have a huge opening night, word of mouth will make it so a good movie will be seen time and time again.

B-Sol said...

Very cool idea, Christine. No offense, I'm sure your hubby is a wonderful guy, but I HATE when people judge a movie based on it's being black & white. A good movie is a good movie, and a bad movie is a bad movie, why you'd rule it out based on no color is beyond me. Besides, as you say, there are many films that are enhanced by being black & white, and it's in no way a handicap. Many b & w flicks would be less enjoyable in color (just as Ted Turner about that).

James Gracey said...

Great post Chris - and some truly provocative images here. Those pics from Halloween and Evil Dead are particularly creepy - as are the stills from The Dark, The Others and Shrooms.

I just discovered recently that a special version of The Mist in black and white was released on DVD - would love to see THAT!

Aleata Illusion(GoreGoreDancer) said...

Awesome post!

Budd said...

this is surpising awesome. This would be a great experiment for a new horror movie. they could screen it in black and white and in color somewhere else and see which movie viewers thought was scarier.