Top 10 Movies That Are Scarier In Black And White
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Top 10 Movies That Are Scarier In Black And White

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Q.V. Hough

They'd be examples of the perpetual dread brought on by effective monochrome in movies. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we're counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies That Would Be Scarier in Black and White. For this list, we're focusing on color films that would likely become a bit more agitating if they were viewed in black and white.

Special thanks to our users roxy for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest
 
Transcript
Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Movies That Are Scarier In Black And White


They’d be examples of the perpetual dread brought on by effective monochrome in movies. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies That Would Be Scarier in Black and White.
 
For this list, we’re focusing on color films that would likely become a bit more agitating if they were viewed in black and white. We’re not saying these films aren’t scary as they are, but rather we’re exploring how a different visual approach would heighten the scares. Obviously, we’re excluding films that were shot in black-and-white to begin with.
 

#10: “It Follows” (2014)

As one of the surprise indie hits of the decade, this David Robert Mitchell flick scared the bejesus out of most viewers through subtext alone. But with a blackand white touch, visuals of a creepy grandma or a bloodied half-naked lady carry even more weight. This isn’t a horror film that relies on gobs of red blood splashed against the wall. No, “It Follows” gets in your head. It’s a psychological study, and when framed in monochrome, even that brilliant Disasterpeace score becomes creepier, thus building the tension as each character succumbs to the fear.
  

#9: “Nightcrawler” (2014)

Meet Lou Bloom. He’s motivated, he’s business savvy… and he’s also a bit deranged. Even so, these are some good qualities to have when you’re a freelance videographer in Tinseltown. Considering that we’ve seen the usual LA landscapes many times over in cinema, and given that nothing especially stands out thanks to the ominous color palette, “Nightcrawler” could have adopted somewhat of a Lynchian vibe with sharp black and white visuals. As the narrative unfolds, Lou becomes increasingly unstable, and nothing says “unstable” more than a monochromatic image of a man screaming at a mirror.
  

#8: “SE7EN” (1995)

Darkly lit and with location unknown, this David Fincher classic works just fine in its present form, but there’s a certain wildcard factor that could help make the case for black and white. Let’s call him John Doe. You know who we’re talking about. How about this: “Se7en” is a film that becomes a new kind of noir with a specific shade to represent the underlying dread. We’re not talkin’ standard black and white, but a tone all its own. There’s something to be said for the way a character like David Mills is lit, whether he’s musing about life with Detective Somerset or coming to a disturbing realization. Black and white perfectly fits the bill across the board, especially for the final reveal.
  

#7: “The Mist” (2007)

Now here is a sci-fi horror that WILL break your heart. Directed by Frank Darabont, a man well versed in the art of freaking out viewers, the Armageddon narrative of this film works on a variety of levels. But consider the effects of insect attacks depicted in black and white. In other words, “The Mist” becomes much scarier when the pure horror isn’t explicitly shown through conventional genre clichés, but through more creative scare tactics like ominous shading.And that final scene? Well, it just screams out black and white.  Interestingly, Darabont included a black and white version on Blu-ray, as that’s how he originally intended to shoot the film.
 

#6: “The Fly” (1986)

For the average person, insects are usually equated with horror. And in the realm of cinema, it only makes sense to highlight the various color forms of a scientist-turned-bug, especially when it’s a David Cronenberg production. But with such a director, who primarily focuses more on the mindsets of his characters rather than colorful visuals, “The Fly” would become timeless in black and white, as opposed to it currently being an obvious product of the ‘80s. Sure, you’d have to edit the film differently, but a stripped-down palette would elevate the movie from a modern cult classic to an enduring horror production.
 

#5: “The Omen” (1976)

Like many films of the ‘70s, this iconic horror possesses a certain “beauty” in its color and setting, but c’mon – the antichrist calls for black and white. Andwhen you factor in the casting of legends such as Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, well, everything becomes a bit creepier with the absence of tones andtints. Shadowy figures in photographs? Scarier in black and white. Extended screaming and death sequences? Scarier… in black and white. In fact, it’s actually surprising that “The Omen” wasn’t shot in black and white.  
  

#4: “Jaws” (1975)

It’s a common misconception that beach movies HAVE to be filmed in color. The blue sky. The sandy beaches. The summer styles. But in the case of “Jaws,” there’s something inherently bothersome about witnessing a shark gobble up humans, and not actually seeing the blood. There’s nothing especially “fun” about the narrative itself, so when you remove the visual flair from the equation, there’s more focus on the characters themselves. Of course, you don’t needblack and white to understand the thinking errors of Martin Brody, yet it would certainly bring a certain depth to the film as a whole.
  

#3: “The Terminator” (1984)

So, there are some types of iconic movie characters that need color to accentuate their personality, but this isn’t necessarily so for the T-800 Model 101. He’s a stone cold assassin, and monochrome would actually even heighten his cool factor as well. Looking back on “The Terminator,” everything holds up just fine - well, except some of the more obvious ‘80s styles. So, that’s where a monochromatic hue could terminate some of the film’s retro vibes. And with a post-apocalyptic narrative front and center, black and white would only increase the drama while producing more crisp visuals.
 

#2: “Alien” (1979)

In space no one can hear you scream, which essentially means that you’re isolated from everything…. even yourself. In Ridley Scott’s 1979 horror classic, there’s actually not a lot to be seen… aside from the obvious physical terror that emerges, that is. So with Ripley and company obviously dealing with their own psychological and physical drama, the color doesn’t necessarily add anything to heighten the tension. Sure, the blood bath scenes are effective, but it’s nothing new. And of course, the alien itself isn’t the most aesthetically flamboyant of creatures, so there you go: Black and white, baby!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
- “The Host” (2006)
- “The Ring” (2002)
- “Under the Skin” (2013)
- “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991)
 

#1: “The Thing” (1982)

The find of the century… in the Antarctic. Some horror films thrive on props and explosive colors, but for “The Thing” – scored by the brilliant Ennio Morricone – it’s all about the pacing. Exteriors and interiors, psychology and physical mise-en-scène. This is another film that channels the horrors of classic Hollywood, and with the reveal of the monster, it’s not the color or lighting that scares viewers, it’s the effect of just seeing the dang thing. So, when viewed through a monochromatic lens, everything becomes a bit more potent and powerful. If you don’t believe us, just go watch the 1951 black-and-white flick!
  
Do you agree with our list? Which movie do you think would be scarier in black and white? For more jaw-dropping Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com. 

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