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Movies & Television > Color Themes and Essence in Horror Films

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message 1: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2788 comments Has anyone ever watched a horror movie and ever noticed certain colors that stand out? I've done this and always wondered theres a reason behind it or just coincidence. I've tend to notice also that some 70s horror films and early 80s films come off with a certain type of essence to them. As if despite being different they all seem to share certain qualities to them such as odd colors, actors who you confuse with others, some who look alike and just the overall horror sensation it brings. One example I've noticed is in the movie The Shining. Red is clearly a theme in the book yet orange and brown are also used in the movie. Maybe this is because that was how the actual hotel looked but again it stood out to me as if it was intended to be those colors for a reason. I don't know that's just my thought and perspective what does everyone else think?

message 2: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany Well, I think orange and brown were pretty evocative of the 70s. Also, the colors red and black seem to be used a lot in horror movies because red contrasts so well against the black and they evoke blood and darkness. Different time periods in cinematography also used different camera filters.

My best friend is a video production major in school, so she would know more about this than I do. If I think of it later, I'll ask her more about color themes in notable films.

message 3: by Nicolas (new)

Nicolas Wilson | 33 comments Want to see something trippy, check out the lighting in Argento's Suspiria and Inferno. Inferno, particularly, uses some of the most colorful lighting I've encountered, to a really vivid end.

message 4: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1168 comments And then go look at some of Mario Bava's films (BLACK SABBATH) and their use of color gels, which is what Argento was updating. Also, look at DON'T LOOK NOW for deliberate placement of a color within a specific area of frame for subtle resonance.

message 5: by Nicolas (new)

Nicolas Wilson | 33 comments Shawn wrote: "And then go look at some of Mario Bava's films (BLACK SABBATH) and their use of color gels, which is what Argento was updating. Also, look at DON'T LOOK NOW for deliberate placement of a color wit..."

Haven't seen either of those, though I've seen some of Bava's other stuff. Will have to have a look.

message 6: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) At this point it may not matter. I mean, for the future. The advent of digital 'which makes films easier to film' (for Hollywood) gives us this:

To me, its like this: why is laziness considered a virtue?

message 7: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1168 comments Because laziness makes money (always the answer). Bloated Hollywood is cutting its own throat but with the technical ability to "make films" dropping in price all the time, there will be many talented people willing to pick up the slack. Just watch. The only question will be whether an effective delivery system that makes sure the filmmakers can make their budget and slight profit back will be in place.

message 8: by Feliks (last edited Aug 27, 2013 01:50PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Are you saying that talented filmmakers will return best-practices to Hollywood even as the cost of making bad films drops? Maybe I'm mis-reading your comment. If not, I can't join in agreement. I think that when the costs of doing the purely technical schlock movie drops it carries all other measures of quality with it. Innovators wont be valued if it means diverting from the doctrine; if it means straying from the approved 'methodology-in-place'. Talent won't be trained to perform at any higher level; infrastructure won't be provided to them to do so. Not if it raises the budget back up again or if it 'takes money away' from a new-bit-of-technology-in-the-lab. Heck, instead of letting some film school brat tag along on a project and try to get 'artsy'; a producer will pocket the line-item for that instead. Its the way all businesses run; the cheapest a product can be made is the cheapest a product will be made. I'm less salubrious than most about the west coast ever recovering from this kind of throat-slitting.

message 9: by Shawn (last edited Aug 27, 2013 01:33PM) (new)

Shawn | 1168 comments no, the overall costs of doing ANY kind of movie are dropping - what you will see (and may be seeing already) is the young and talented (and old and not greedy) realizing that if they really want to make the films they want to make, they can do it by returning to the older models of DIY and thoughtful efficiency. The only question will be whether three generations of filmgoers trained out of expectations of adult storytelling and used to seeing vat-bred supermodels instead of real human beings (thanks to the Hollywood mega money machine) will be willing to watch films for humans starring humans telling human stories and whether the (relatively) smaller amount of investment money can still be recouped. We'll find out for sure when movie theaters die off in the next decade. I think it all can happen and I'm not generally an optimist. It won't stop Hollywood from making overblown wreck after overblown wreck until all the money is used up or instead invested into weapons manufacture (or something else likely more profitable in the future like human slavery, maybe) but, as always, the indies and art houses will show the way to quality. There may be less of it, but it will be there.

message 10: by Feliks (last edited Aug 27, 2013 01:54PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Ah. You suggest that this is what might occur after Spielberg/Lucas' prediction of (upcoming) implosion. A possible return to pre-Cimino, pre-Star Wars/Raiders, mature-1970s zeitgeist. Well, one can only hope that's the case. I suspect competition for the portable screen and the streaming download may continue to thwart that. I think once 35mm is gone; its gone.

'Vat-bred'=fave new phrase. A pleasure chatting with ya.

message 11: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2788 comments I notice there is definitely a difference between color themes in todays films compared to those of the 70s and 80s. In todays films they tend to make make color themes a focus to be a part of the film whereas back in the 70s they just sort of blended in the colors of what was hot at the time. I'm not sure themes were a big focus as they were much more of a background to be seen. Some films today even tell you from unseen footage and behind the scenes looks about how they used certain colors to depict certain things.

message 12: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) I absolutely despise--across the board--the cinematography of big-screen studio flicks made in this era. Its hard to even come up with adjectives or analogies adroit enough to distinguish the gap between old and new. These blockbusters simply do not look realistic in the specific way they need to look; the way which allows you to transpose yourself up into the scene and make your eyes forget about the four rectangular angles of the frame.

That filmmakers have lost this basic facility even as at the same time they crow and chirrup about the 'advances' of digital, cgi, and 3d--inspires in me a combination of dismay and apoplexy. Its a debacle.

Not just problems with color--but processing, medium, lenses, projection, lighting; camera movement, speed..to my eyes these films are unwatchable. I'm no expert but my eyes are sharp enough to detect that there's a myriad of things simply wrong. I can't enjoy a single 'frame' of these abortions.

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