Black horror flicks and TV shows. There aren’t a whole bunch of them, but we’re still going to attempt to name the best ones.
So, check’em out and let me know what you think. What do you agree with? What do you think I have no business putting on this list? What movies or shows did I leave off? I’m very open to your feedback; so, send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But whether you agree with me or not, I hope you at least have fun judging one brother’s perspective.
#10: Blacula (1972) – How in the hell can you have a best Black Horror anything and not include the godfather of them all, Blacula? Now, was Blacula an Oscar-worthy film? Probably not. Who am I kidding? Definitely not. But how can this not make the list when Blacula is described in the trailer as both “Dracula’s Soul Brother” and “The Black Avenger”? Plus, this was a first-of-its-kind movie. At one point in time, every Black person on the planet knew of Blacula, even if they hadn’t seen the movie. Yes, Blacula had that kind of impact. And yes, there was a sequel for the “Black Prince of Darkness” titled Scream Blacula Scream. And this version starred Pam Grier!
#9: Them (2021) – Ghost, demons and other spooky stuff takes a backseat to the real monsters—white racists, led by a classic Karen. And the way this show turns racist tropes into literal monsters is worthy of discussion all by itself.
#8: Us (2019) – Jordan Peele said the inspiration for his movie Us was an experience he had when he was about to board a subway car. He said he looked across the way and swore he saw himself, and the idea creeped him out. So much so, it led to an entire film dedicated to creeping out us movie-goers. And that ending!
#7: 13th (2016) – There are few things, if any, more horrific than a monster that feeds on both individuals, families and entire communities. And not for revenge or some lofty cause, but rather, just for fun, for sport and for profit. That kind of monster is operating on “a-whole-nuthah” level of evil; one that has no name. Oh wait, it does have a name—the prison industrial complex. In spotlighting this diabolical and very real-life system, “150 years in the making,” Ava DuVernay exposes a horror greater than Michael Myers, Jason and Freddie Krueger put together.
#6: Hotel Rwanda (2004) – Unfortunately, real life is often more horrifying than any demons dreamed up by Hollywood storytellers. And though Hotel Rwanda is not a documentary, its story of us killing us is heart-wrenching. And it shows how easily a “civilized” society can slip into genocidal madness when greedy, self-righteous political mouthpieces operating with a god complex and their cronies choose to publicly vilify and demonize a certain group, urging and inspiring and instigating violence against that group. And yes, I could very well be talking about 2022 America.
#5: Candyman (2021) – Oscar-winning director Jordan Peele didn’t direct this modernized version of the original Candyman (1992). Nia DaCosta, a soul sister, did, while Peele served as the movie’s producer. And let me just say, DaCosta did the damn thang with this modern classic. And the way this flick uplifts the Blackness and our story in the process, just adds to the movie’s power.
#4: When They See Us (2019) – When horror movies center children, especially Black and Brown children, I get squeamish. Years ago, I thought one of my own children had gone missing. And I had never been more terrified before or since in my entire life. Even after my child was found, I was still “shook” for hours… days. So, seeing movies where children are in danger and their parents are losing their minds, impacts me in a very personal way. And as I’ve already stated, real life is so often way scarier than screenwriter’s work. Thus, to me, Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us is absolute horror. Because it absolutely happened… and is still happening. Because the monster of white domestic terrorism has yet to have a stake driven through its heart. At least, not yet.
#3: Lovecraft Country (2020) – Though Lovecraft Country is less horror than it is suspense, it still makes this list, without a doubt. And if I start telling you all the reasons why I loved Lovecraft Country, we’ll be here all day. The casting. The Black culture nods. The creatively different episodes. The historical grounding, with the horrific murder of Emmett Till serving as a gnawing truth that lingers from start to finish of the series. The continuous shout-outs to Black sci-fi and comic book nerds like me. Executive produced by Jordan Peele, this series, like darn near all works of Black Horror, have all kinds of ghouls and goblins, but one main villain—the evil or white supremacy. If you have yet to take a visit to Lovecraft Country, in the words of the Notorious B.I.G., “What the hell’s stoppin’ ya?
#2: Get Out (2017) – Among my family members, I’m the one they go to to pick the movie to watch on any given day. Why? Because I have a damn good track record at checking out a trailer or discerning through reviews and figuring out what’s worth our time and what’s a waste of time. I can’t tell you how many times me and wifey finished a movie or series and she said, “Man, that was great. I never heard of it. How did you…” And I just give her that look, and respond, “This is what I do.” Well, the first time I saw the trailer for Get Out was mos def not one of those times. Both my wife and oldest son saw the trailer, and they each were hyped. I mean really hyped about this movie. My reaction was lukewarm, at best. First off, it looked like just another movie with a brother dating a white girl and having those traditional issues with her racist family. Nothing exciting there. Insanely wrong on point one. Second, I knew Jordan Peele as a comedian and as an actor in some pretty mediocre comedy films. So, how is this brother going to pull off a horror flick. No way. Oh, so wrong on point two. Peele has become a genre in and of himself, putting out incredible work after incredible work. And Get Out was the jumping off point. After watching it for the first of eleven-teen million times, I was speechless. This movie became a cultural moment all its own, and quite deserving of the #1 spot on this list. However, there’s one other that we must consider.
#1: Real Life (24/7/365) – I’ve alluded to this one through this Top 10 list. For Blackfolk, there’s nothing scarier than real life in a world that neither honors nor recognizes our full humanity. Do I even have to explain this one? The offspring of the folk who gave the world religion, art, science and civilization (Blackfolk; members of the Pan-African family tree) were enslaved and reduced to chattel. Our contributions were stolen from us, with those who oppressed and brutalized us, claiming them as their own. And for generations, our story has been reduced to a couple of sentences and slavery and/or Martin Luther “the” King… or completely ignored altogether. And the white domestic terrorism that began with the capture of our ancestors on ancient African lands has not ceased since. Just ask Emmett Till, Freddie Gray, George Floyd, Jalen Randle, Brandon Calloway and countless millions more. The Tuskeegee Experiment. The Devil’s Punchbowl in Natches, Mississippi. The Elaine Arkansas Massacre. The Camp Logan Rebellion. The “father of gynecology” J. Marion Sims earning that title by experimenting on Black women who gave no permission and received no anesthesia. The Convict Leasing System founded after enslavement ended as a way to continue to steal Black labor for free by making up bogus laws in which to jail Blackfolk for absolutely anything, and then renting them out, and working them literally to death. I could go on. But I think you get the picture.
Honorable Mention: On a lighter note, I think Stranger Things has to be considered when talking about Black Horror. Sure, we didn’t write, produce or direct these episodes. Sure, there are only two Black primary cast members. But hear me out. Those two Black characters are absolutely essential to the entire show. And Eleven, a child taken from her mother by a mucked up system, secretly experimented on, and groomed by powers and principalities to use her gifts for their own selfish gain and profit? If she’s not Black, aint nobody Black! And the fact that the “heroes” of the show are viewed as the outsiders of their community and have to do battle with an invisible enemy system that defines them as inferior; and they have to work to save the entire planet, even while being belittled and taken for granted… makes this one of the Blackest shows out.
*FYI, Nope is not on the list because I haven’t seen it yet.