Matt Barone recently published a piece in the Dissolve which points out the disturbing lack of African American actors, producers, writers, and more within the horror genre. With Black History month drawing to a close, this article hopes to highlight several important contributions to black horror cinema that can be appreciated not only this month, but every month.
Tales from the Hood (1995)
This horror anthology film is written and directed by Rusty Cundieff and Darin Scott. It was released on VHS in 1995 and DVD in 1998, but is sadly no longer in print. If you can find a copy of this classic anthology, do so! Fans of Tales from the Crypt will recognize the method of storytelling which is present in this horror short collection. The film combines horror and gore with social commentary, and it is a film you shouldn’t miss. Living dolls, resurrection and more appear in this thrilling set of tales.
Def by Temptation (1990)
A 1990s movie featuring Samuel L. Jackson is sure to please, but the story itself has the makings of B-movie gold, even without his intervention. A succubus is preying on black men in New York. A minister-in-training, an aspiring actor, and a cop who specializes in the supernatural are all that stands between the creature and total domination.
Sugar Hill (1974)
Marki Bey plays Diana ‘Sugar’ Hill in this entertaining piece of black horror cinema. When Sugar’s boyfriend is murdered by gangsters she seeks out voodoo queen Mama Maitresse to help her exact revenge. Bloody vengeance comes in the form of a machete wielding zombie army. What’s not to love?
The People Under the Stairs (1991)
The writer and director of this film is horror giant Wes Craven, however the subject matter and casting clearly were influenced by African American culture. This story focuses on a teenage boy who sneaks into the home of his landlord. Little does he know that the slum lord’s domicile is a horrific place filled with cannibalistic humans and stolen children. Be sure to check out this retrospective on why the film is still relevant today.
Although the creative minds behind this beloved horror gem are Clive Barker and Bernard Rose, no one can deny the influence of Tony Todd’s powerful performance as the Candy Man. His embodiment of the villain, a murderous being told of in an urban legend, with a hook for a hand, was truly inspired. His delivery of lines such as “They will say that I have shed innocent blood. What’s blood for, if not for shedding?” is on par with that of Doug Bradley in Barker’s other central work – the Hellraiser series.