Horror has always been a genre that both fascinates and terrifies audiences, often delving into the realms of the unknown and the supernatural. However, it is crucial to approach the portrayal of characters within this genre with sensitivity and awareness. In the past, black characters in horror often found themselves relegated to harmful stereotypes. Yet, there have been notable shifts towards more complex and empowering depictions. And with that, we present to you our list of some of the black characters in horror. Characters who have defied stereotypes and contributed to a more inclusive and progressive representation of diversity within the horror genre.
Ben (Night of the Living Dead, 1968)
Ben, portrayed by Duane Jones, is a significant character in horror history. In George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” Ben is a capable and strong-willed black protagonist who leads a group of survivors during a zombie apocalypse. His character broke racial barriers at a time when such roles were rare. Ben’s resilience and strategic thinking challenged stereotypes, paving the way for more diverse and realistic representations of black characters in horror.
Blacula (Blacula, 1972)
Blacula, portrayed by actor William Marshall, Blacula is a unique and iconic figure in the genres of blaxploitation and horror. He is an African prince in the 18th century, turned into a vampire. He is then released in modern-day Los Angeles. Struggling with his newfound bloodlust and the torment of his cursed existence, Blacula becomes a tragic and complex character. He is a charismatic and sophisticated vampire, making him stand out among other vampire depictions.
Candyman (Candyman, 1992)
Daniel Robitaille, played by Tony Todd is a 19th-century black artist and son of a slave, who falls in love with a white woman. Tragically, he is brutally murdered for this love, becoming a vengeful urban legend. Summoned by saying his name five times, he haunts those who dare, seeking justice. He may not have been the first but Candyman is an icon and the face of black horror.
Chris Washington (Get Out, 2017)
Jordan Peele’s groundbreaking film “Get Out” introduces Chris Washington, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Chris is a black man visiting his white girlfriend’s family, and the film examines racial tensions and anxieties within a horror context. The character’s experiences shed light on the microaggressions and cultural appropriation black individuals face, using horror as a powerful vehicle for social commentary.
Adelaide Wilson/Red (Us, 2019)
Lupita Nyong’o’s dual role as Adelaide Wilson and her doppelgänger Red in Jordan Peele’s “Us” is a haunting exploration of identity and societal divisions. The duality of these characters creates a chilling narrative that goes beyond traditional horror, confronting deep-rooted fears and the shadows within ourselves. Nyong’o’s exceptional performances challenge stereotypes and highlight the importance of multifaceted representations of black characters in horror.
Ruby Baptiste (Lovecraft Country, 2020)
“Lovecraft Country” is a TV series that reimagines H.P. Lovecraft’s work through a lens that addresses racial injustice and discrimination. Jurnee Smollett’s portrayal of Ruby Baptiste is a remarkable example of a multifaceted black female character. Ruby’s experiences as a black woman are interwoven with themes of magic and the supernatural, challenging stereotypes and empowering the narrative with depth and authenticity.
We hope you enjoyed this look at some of the best black characters in horror. Check ut more of our Spooky SZN content below:
- Black Horror Movie Directors
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- Candy Man & Tales From The Hood – Culture Classics
Written by @TalentedMrFord