The best black horror films put The Culture’s unique spin on the genre. Fear in the black community takes on even more meanings and covers so much more than what is found typically in the horror genre. And for this spooky szn we are placing a spotlight on 11 terrifying black horror films you should watch if you’re looking for a few good scares.
Beloved is tense horror/thriller set in 1873 Ohio, where a woman Sethe (Oprah Winfrey) is haunted by her horrific slavery past and her desperate actions for freedom. As a result, her home is haunted by a furious ghost. An old friend, Paul D. Garner (Danny Glover), arrives to run off the ghost but after Garner moves in, a strange woman named Beloved (Thandie Newton) enters their lives, causing even turmoil.
An all-star black cast delivers in this haunting and emotional film covering the supernatural and the brutal realities of life for black people in the 1800s.
During a visit to Transylvania, an African prince (William Marshall) gets turned into a vampire by Count Dracula and sealed in a coffin for a century. “Blacula” reawakens in 1970s Los Angeles. Leaving a trail of bloodless victims in his wake, he pursues a woman who bears a striking resemblance to his dead wife. Meanwhile, Blacula himself is being pursued by a doctor and a cop hellbent on stopping him.
It’s the OG of the genre. For those interested in black horror it is a must watch, plain-and-simple.
Blade, a half-mortal, half-immortal played to perfection by Wesley Snipes, is out to avenge his mother’s death and rid the world of vampires. The modern-day technologically advanced vampires he is going after are in search of his special blood type needed to summon an evil god who plays a key role in their plan to execute the human race. Blade of course isn’t having any of it.
The low-key beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Blade was one of the first blockbuster superhero films and even crossed over into the horror genre making it an important film on multiple levels.
We’ll count the original and the updated version here:
(1992) Two graduate students are researching superstitions in a housing project in Chicago and learn about the Candyman (Tony Todd), a knife-wielding figure of urban legend that some believe is responsible for a recent murder. After a mysterious man matching the Candyman’s description begins stalking her, the ladies comes to fear that the legend may be all too real.
(2021) For years the housing projects of Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood have been terrorized by a word-of-mouth ghost story. A tale of a supernatural killer with a hook for a hand, summoned by those who repeat his name five times into a mirror. In present day, a visual artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) moves into a luxury loft condo in the now gentrified Cabrini. With Anthony’s painting career on the brink of stalling, a chance encounter with a Cabrini-Green old-timer exposes Anthony to the tragically horrific nature of the true story behind Candyman. Anthony begins to explore these macabre details in his studio as fresh grist for paintings, unknowingly opening a door to a complex past that unravels his own sanity and unleashes a terrifying wave of violence that puts him on a collision course with destiny.
Both versions do a great job of infusion urban myths and the terrors of being black in the past and the present in deep and multi-layered ways.
Over the course of a long, hot Louisiana summer, a 10-year-old black girl, Eve Batiste (Jurnee Smollett), discovers that her family’s affluent existence is merely a facade. The philandering of her suave doctor father, Louis (Samuel L. Jackson), creates a rift, throwing Eve’s mother, Roz (Lynn Whitfield), and teenage sister, Cisely (Meagan Good), into emotional turmoil. Eve, though, manages to find some solace with her quirky psychic aunt, Mozelle (Debbi Morgan).
Excellently acted and hauntingly shot, Eve’s Bayou is a top-notch psychological thriller about the destructive power of familial secrets.
Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating. And to celebrate, she invites him for a weekend getaway. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship. But as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries leads him to a truth that he never could have imagined.
One of the most financaily successful and critically acclaimed horror films ever. Get Out raised the bar in the genre and garnered it’s black writer and director Jordan Peele an historic Oscar for best original screenplay.
A lonely middle-aged woman befriends some teenagers and decides to let them party in the basement of her home. But there are some house rules: One of the kids has to stay sober, don’t curse, and never go upstairs. They must also refer to her as Ma. But as Ma’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession, what began as a teenage dream turns into a terrorizing nightmare. And Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on Earth.
A black woman lead in a horror film is extremely rare but the talented Octavia Spencer does a masterful job of charming and scaring viewers all at the same time.
Written by a black man (J.D. Dillard), Sweetheart is film about a shipwreck survivor on an uninhabited tropical island must fend off a terrifying creature that surfaces from the water each night
Despite being the least known and one of the newer films on this list, Sweetheart is an intense survival thriller has a black female heroine (Kiersey Clemons) and balances smart subtext and social commentary against effective genre thrills. A must watch for serious monster/horror/thriller fans out there.
TALES FROM THE HOOD
In South Central Los Angeles, three drug dealers arrive at a Funeral Home to purchase drugs from Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III), the mortuary’s eccentric owner. Mr. Simms claims that he found the drugs and has safely stored them in the mortuary. As they make their way, Mr. Simms relates four tales about the dead bodies in the funeral home.
Campy? Sure. But the 90’s gangster rap version of the Twilight Zone touched on the subjects of slavery, domestic violence, corrupt police and had a twist to die for.
Accompanied by her husband, son and daughter, Adelaide Wilson (Lupita N’yongo) returns to the beachfront home where she grew up. Haunted by a traumatic experience from the past, Adelaide grows increasingly concerned that something bad is going to happen. Her worst fears soon become a reality when four masked strangers descend upon the house. The Wilsons are then thrust into a fight for survival. When the masks come off, the family is horrified to learn that each attacker takes the appearance of one of them.
Jordan Peele’s trippy follow up to Get Out became another record-breaking, culture shifting, horror hit.
VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN
Detective Rita Veder (Angela Bassett) is assigned to a baffling serial murder case. After examining the crime scene (a corpse-filled ship found adrift at sea), Rita meets Maximilian (Eddie Murphy), a smooth-talking Caribbean playboy determined to romance her. When Rita begins suffering from crippling hallucinations, she calls upon a doctor/occultist who suspects a vampire is on the loose.
Despite it’s less-than-stellar reviews, Vampire in Brooklyn has reached cult classic status in The Culture. With it’s lead character’s distinctive look and a few classic one-liners, this film is on the lighter/campy side but well worth checking out.
We hope you enjoyed this look at the best black horror movies. Check out some more of our lists here:
Written by @TalentedMrFord