By Aswad Walker
With Halloween fast approaching, and folk looking for flicks that offer a level of fright, we thought we’d share our “Top 7 Black horror movies & shows to die for.” Make sure to let us know what you think of our list, and what we missed (send to email@example.com).
#7: 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! Lord, Lord!
#6: Them (2021) – Ghost, demons and other spooky stuff take 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.
#5: Us (2019) – Jordan Peele said the inspiration for his movie Us was his experience 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!
#4: 13 th (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 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.
#3: Candyman (2021) – Oscar-winning director Jordan Peele didn’t direct this modernized version of the
(1992). Nia DaCosta, a soul sister, did, while Peele was 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.
#2: 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 a 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.
#1: Get Out (2017) – Among my family members, I’m the one they call on 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, some may argue the Honorable Mention entry (see below) could very well sit at the top.
Honorable Mention: Real Life (24/7/365) – I’ve alluded to this one through this Top 7 list. For Black folk, there’s nothing scarier than real life in a world that neither honors nor recognizes our full humanity. So, this could easily be numero uno. 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. 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 Tuskegee Experiment. The Devil’s Punchbowl in Natchez, Mississippi. The Elaine Arkansas Massacre. The Camp Logan Rebellion. The “father of gynecology,” J. Marion Sims, earned 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. Freddie Krueger, Mike Myers and Jason Voorhees (yes, that murderous whiteboy from Friday the 13th had a last name) ain’t got $#!+ on the monsters we’ve faced for far too long.