Let’s say you’re a horror fan- or someone who just really loved Get Out– and maybe you’ve recently watched the award-winning Shudder documentary, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror and loved that too. So where to go from here? Like all pathways to someplace new, it can be challenging to know where to start, particularly once you discover Get Out and Candyman are part of a broader tradition going back way further than 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, or even the 1930’s when Zora Neale Hurston was studying zombie myths in Haiti and Hollywood was busy making monsters out of Black and queer folks.
As fiction writer, professor, and executive producer, Tananarive Due famously states in the documentary, “Black history is Black horror,” and this tradition accounts for so much more than what may be reduced to a subgenre. For those of us who understand horror as a way of looking and being in the world, it represents a rejection of the lies told by a society which has thrived turning us into the monsters or erasing us altogether.
While this list narrows down the films discussed in Horror Noire, it also includes a couple absent from the doc, but which are definitely examples of Black Horror. Every single one of these films flips the script on the old, tired tropes of the genre, showing us something that isn’t quite new but definitely respected more now than has historically been the case.
It should be obvious that this list is in no way exhaustive but meant as a guide for those just starting out, or who have waded a few films deep and are interested in more, not just because this is a moment of learning for many, but because at the end of the day, these are all just excellent horror movies.