Saluting the Black Horror (a.k.a. Horror Noire) Film Genre

Posted by Billyjam, February 20, 2020 02:42pm | Post a Comment
Horror Noire official trailer (2019)

In celebration of Black History Month 2020 the Oakland Public Library's (OPL) Eastmont branch is presenting free weekly screenings of black horror films. This week's movie is Bones and next week will be Vampire In Brooklyn. Screening info here on series that also featured Blacula and Tales From The Hood that was executive produced by Spike Lee under his 40 Acres and a Mule production company. A "horror comedy drama" four part anthology film directed by Rusty Cundieff, the 1995 film also had a kick ass accompanying hip-hop soundtrack. Its playlist included such artists as Wu-Tang Clan, Gravediggaz, ScarfaceMC Eiht and (from the Bay Area) both Spice-1 and The Click.

Presented as Black History Cinema Series Presents Films To Watch Before Jordan Peele's Us and under the banner BLACK FRIGHT FLICKS this OPL curated series is part of a wave of interest in the history of black horror film that can be credited in great part to Jordan Peele for his 2019 black horror film Us and its predecessor; the 2017 landmark film Get Out.

Last year's Shudder documentary Horror Noire (trailer above) offers a deep examination of the history of this oft overlooked school of film. The documentary's interview subjects include (not surprisingly) Jordan Peele who can be directly credited with the renewed interest in this sub-genre of black cinema.  But credit also goes to such others as author Robin R. Means Coleman who nine years ago published the exhaustive history book on the subject; Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present.

While the casual viewer may only be able to name a half dozen or so black horror film titles off the top of his/her head, the actual number of black horror movie titles ranges anywhere from 50 to 150+ titles depending on your source of research. Of course these numbers vary as they are each subjective in how they qualify what makes a black horror film. IMDB for example categorize "African American Horror" and "Black Horror" as "horror movies that feature African American characters and/or infuse African American culture." 

Many of the earlier 1970's era "black horror" films were initially categorized under "blaxploitation" such as the 1973 blaxploitation/horror film Blackenstein. Including  many B-movies and straight to video titles the IMDB currently lists a total of 67 black horror films. These include 2005's The Evil One about "Chicago's most dangerous neighborhood, Englewood" and the 1999 hip-hop star vehicle Urban Menace that starred Ice-T, Snoop Dogg, Fat Joe and the late great  Big Pun. The movie plotline is an insane preacher, played by Snoop, seeking "retribution from the local crime syndicate.”
Somewhat of a staple of the black horror film genre, Snoop Dogg also stars in such others as the 2001 "crime/horror" movie Bones (today @ OPL) about the ghost of the murdered Jimmy Bones character who returns from the dead two decades later "to wreak revenge on those who killed him" and the 2006 "comedy/horror" film Hood Of Horror.  The latter is described as a  "hip-hop horror anthology of three tales of terror told by the Hound of Hell that revolve around the residents of an inner-city neighborhood whose actions determine where they will go in the afterlife."

Another of the many rapper-turned actors to have appeared in black horror films is Ice-T whose roles include playing the weed-smoking pimp in B-movie Leprechaun In The Hood. In addition to falling under black horror/comedy/action/adventure categories it also qualifies under so-bad-it's-good. For a general overview of the black horror genre the cover art images of many of the movies in this category appear above and below. Among these titles available from Amoeba on DVD or Blu-ray are Lucky Ghost, Blackenstein, Scream Blacula Scream, Beloved and Event Horizon.

Relevant Tags

Jordan Peele (2), Fat Joe (4), Blacula (1), Black History Month 2020 (1), Get Out (2), Black Horror Movies (1), Opl (1), Black Cinema (9), Black History Month (135), Horror Noire (1), Snoop Dogg (24), Ice-t (9), Big Pun (2)