Ode to Black and White Horror Films

I don't understand why so many people dislike black and white films. Attention spans these days...Oh well I am going to tell you about some that you should get your hands on and at least try to watch. The villains may not be as 'cool' or 'entertaining' as Freddy or Jason but unlike those films these are masterpieces that put those films to shame. I'm actually going to add more to this list asap. These are just a few for now.

Les Diaboliques: A wife and the husbands mistress conspire to kill the douche of a head master but after the murder his body disappears and strange events take place driving the two women completely mad. The ending is fucking shocking and I didn't even see it coming. This film even made it into Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments as #49. I loved this ending even though it doesn't really work out too well for one of the girls and that's all I am going to say. There is a remake that doesn't even compare to this masterpiece. I am a fan of Sharon Stone and Isabelle Adjani but their ending wasn't as shocking. The ending credits of the film had an 'anti-spoiler message.' So I wonder when people saw the film if they actually went around spoiling it for others....or did everyone actually keep the ending a secret? The freaky thing about the film is that VĂ©ra Clouzot had a heart attack five years after the films release, somewhat mirroring her character who also had heart problems. When director Henri-Georges Clouzot bought the film rights to the original novel, he reportedly beat Alfred Hitchcock by only a matter of hours.

Freaks: This is another one of my favorites. I just can't get past how awesome the plot is. BETRAYAL IN THE CIRCUS! This evil trapeze artist seduces and marries a midget hoping to inherit his money. But she fucked with the wrong circus. The Siamese twins, legless boy, the pinhead girl, half woman/half man, bird girl, and the dude with no arms and no legs that can actually roll his own cigarettes.....these folks take matters into their own hands.

Black Sunday: Ah, my ultimate love for Barbara Steele. I even had her autograph the picture above when I had the chance to meet her. I'm pretty sure this is everyone's favorite isn't it? Tim Burton has called this his favorite film. It's also known as "Mask of Satan." The atmosphere is pretty amazing and the effects are pretty gnarly for a black and white film. When you get to see the Satan Worshiping Princesses body it's pretty gruesome. The film is about a witch who is brutally...and I mean fucking brutally killed by a mask that holds several spikes on the inside that is pounded into her face by a humungous hammer. This pissed off bitch comes back from the grave with her servant and attempts to possess a beautiful look-alike descendant.  Word has it the actors were fitted for vampire fangs but they were never used. Hmmmmm I would of liked the fangs.

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane: A former child star (Bette Davis) and her sister (Joan Crawford) are forced into a retirement after a crippling accident. Baby Jane has a lot of hatred for her sister Blanche because she was an actual movie queen. Jane gets drunk and runs over Blanche with her car and controls everything her sister does. It even becomes worse. Honestly, Bette Davis scares the shit out of me in this movie. LOOK AT THAT FACE! It's terrifying. The wig Bette Davis wears throughout the film had, unbeknownst to both leads, been worn by Joan Crawford in an earlier MGM movie. Because it had been re-groomed, Crawford didn't recognize it. During production, Bette Davis had a Coca-Cola machine installed on the set to anger Joan Crawford, whose late husband had been CEO of rival Pepsi-Cola and who herself was on the board of directors of that company. Seeing how Joan Crawford was a complete bitch, I bet that really pissed her off. I love Bette Davis. During the kicking scene, Bette Davis kicked Joan Crawford in the head, and the resulting wound required stitches. In retaliation, Crawford put weights in her pockets so that when Davis had to drag Crawford's near-lifeless body, she strained her back. Bette Davis had been nominated for Best Actress in her film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, which also starring Joan Crawford. If Bette had won, it would have set a record number of wins for an actress. According to the book "Bette & Joan - The Divine Feud" by Shaun Considine, the two had a life long mutual hatred, and a jealous Joan Crawford actively campaigned against Bette Davis for winning Best Actress, and even told Anne Bancroft that if Anne won and was unable to accept the Award, Joan would be happy to accept it on her behalf. According to the book - and this may or may not be 100% true, but it makes a good anecdote - on Oscar night, Bette Davis was standing in the wings of the theater waiting to hear the name of the winner. When it was announced that Anne Bancroft had won Best Actress for The Miracle Worker, Bette Davis felt an icy hand on her shoulder as Joan Crawford said "Excuse me, I have an Oscar to accept". Just some interesting facts I read about the film.

Night of the Demon 1957: Also known as Curse of the Demon. This is an interesting monster film about a Doctor on his way to London to attend a paranormal event with the intention to expose a cult leader. This doctor agrees to stay at the cult leaders estate still believing it's all a fraud. Upon staying at this man's estate strange events occur. This film was mentioned in the opening song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Science Fiction Double Feature"): "Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes, but passing them used lots of skill". That's actually my favorite song from Rocky Horror. They mention a lot of wonderful things if you listen in closely. Now, when you see this demon at the end it's a little ridiculous. You cannot really blame the film-makers. After all, this was only 1957 and I am sure back then this scene was really scary. If you can get past the silliness of this monster it's actually a classic. Must watch!

Psycho: Everyone and their mother has either heard of or at least seen this film. It has been said that this is Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece but I disagree. It's a great film. I'm not going to disagree with that. We all know the story. Anthony Perkins owns a hotel and a creepy house where his 'mother' also lives and he goes bat shit crazy. He starts wearing her dresses and stabbing people in the shower. In the end we find out that his mother has been dead for a long time. It is actually a brilliant film that use to scare the shit out of people. The making of the film is also an interesting watch. Whatever you do, stay away from the remake.

The Bad Seed: Doesn't this little girl scare the shit out of you? She's so evil. It's nothing like the movie 'Orphan' that previous freaked people out. That was a midget which may in some ways be creepier but something about this child in The Bad Seed just scream evil. It's not only the child we are dealing with here. We find out that the grandmother is also a murderer. Dean Koontz's Hideaway may have been inspired by this film. Koontz describes DNA and something missing in genetics. There are alternate endings to this film, the play, and the novel. In the film, Christine tells Rhoda that she dropped the medal into the lake and gives her a lethal dose of sleeping pills. She attempts to kill herself with a gunshot to the head (in the book and play she does kill herself). Instead of killing them both, however, Rhoda and Christine survive in a hospital. In the middle of the night, during a storm, Rhoda sneaks out in a rain slicker and goes to the lake and out on the wharf to try to find the medal. Lightning strikes her, killing her instantly, unlike in the novel and play.

The alternate ending is as follows: After Christine shoots herself, she dies. We see Kenneth, Monica and Emory consoling him. No one has any explanation for why she did what she did, though Monica is aware something was bothering her very recently. Then Monica brightens and says he still has something to be thankful for. From offstage comes the sound of piano playing "Au Claire De La Lune." Rhoda is still alive, walks onstage to her father. He looks at her and says something about there still being a little of Christine in her. He then says the familiar phrase, "What will you give me for a basket of kisses." Hugging him facing out towards the audience, smiling, she answers, "I'll give you a basket of hugs!" The curtain falls.

Onibaba: This Japanese film still gives me the creeps. You don't want to miss this. A wife and mother remain living in a swamp in the middle of war in 14th century Japan. They begin killing soldiers and selling their belongings to a merchant. The mother begins to mistrust her daughter in law and starts to wear a mask she has taken from a dead soldier. Soon the mask will not come off! Initially refused a certificate in England by the BBFC in 1965, but resubmitted in 1968 where it was approved with an X classification albeit with some cuts. I have a clip below of it's craziness.

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