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Best Black Horror Movies Ever Made


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by Xtreme HD IPTV

In James Baldwin’s 1976 critique of the landmark film The Exorcist, the legendary author argued that the horror genre is cheap thrills compared to the real-life horror that the Black community endured for years. The film community has since taken this to heart. While not a new phenomenon by far, the subgenre of Black Horror in cinema has been used to dig deep into the past horrors that the African American community has and still continues to face while also illuminating black voices in the present.

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From early cinema origins to Blaxploitation flicks to atmospheric pieces that strive to provoke social consciousness, filmmakers have continued to use the platform of film to expose the brutal reality of the past and the present. Here are some brilliant Black Horror movies that’ve had audiences clamoring for more at the theater.

Update February 7, 2024: In honor of Black History Month, this article has been updated with even more great Black Horror films b by Amanda Minchin.

15 Ma (2019)

ma

Ma

Release Date
May 29, 2019

Director
Tate Taylor

Runtime
119

Ma features Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann, a homely townie who becomes the newest popular kid after helping some local teens buy alcohol. Before long, she’s hosting parties at her house as the new, cool Den mother… that is, until she starts to get a little too obsessive with the kids. Soon, she’s faking illnesses, wanting the teens to spend all their time with her. What starts as a missing bracelet here or a scratch there soon turns into tracking devices, doping, torture, and outright murder.

What Makes It Great

Spencer and Director Tate Taylor were looking to do something different from their usual roles. Having previously worked together on The Help, the pair reunited for this film, where they succeeded in doing just that. The titular mother hen of this movie is fueled by the trauma of her past to get even. Because of this, the film reads like Nightmare on Elm Street meets Promising Young Woman. Sue Ann’s Hansel and Gretel-like promises of 100-proof candy are the perfect examples of the things people are willing to overlook to get what they want. Rent on AppleTV+

14 Antebellum (2020)

antebellum

Antebellum

Release Date
September 2, 2020

Director
Gerard Bush , Christopher Renz

Runtime
105

To be fair, 2020’s Antebellum is a highly divisive movie. Directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, the movie stars the charming Janelle Monáe. The actor played two personas: Eden, a slave woman brought by Confederate troops to work on a plantation, and a modern-day intellectual, author, and human rights activist named Veronica, who leads a very successful business and personal life. Veronica was abducted by an extremist group, along with other Black people, and has been forced to play along with a white fetish movement to enslave, debase, and once again control African American individuals. The creepy thing is this all takes place in the modern day.

What Makes It Great

The horror of this movie is felt from the very first scene. In it, Amara, a black woman newly brought to the plantation, attempts to escape but is inevitably caught with a rope and shot mercilessly. This eye-opening movie is imbued with hair-raising scenes that alarm the senses and provoke the mind. While the idea of a live-action re-enactment gone awry was absolute fire, the execution of the film, with its endless slow motion and cruelty that extends beyond the plot, is not. Still, it is atmospheric and provoking in all the best of ways. Stream on Fubo

Related: Black Superheroes We Want to See on the Big Screen

13 His House (2020)

His House

His House

Release Date
January 27, 2020

Runtime
93

Remi Weeks’ directorial debut, His House, follows Bol and Rial, who are fleeing Sudan with their young daughter. While their daughter dies in the crossing, the two settle into an English suburb, where they are subjected to blatant acts of racism. Rial clings to their culture while Bol tries his best to assimilate to their new one. Soon, they begin to see visions of their dead daughter, which they suspect is the result of visitations from an apeth, aka a night witch. Their attempts to release themselves from the apeth’s curse put them on the chopping block for deportation.

What Makes It Great

This is a film that, like most great horror movies, incorporates a global or sociopolitical issue into the genre. The movie focuses on the immigrant experience, highlighting what it’s like to assimilate into a foreign environment. What is significant about His House is that it evokes the pains and sufferings that refugees have to undergo in their own homeland, during the process of escaping, and even after settling down in the new safe haven. The concept of being haunted by the traumas of the past and the anxieties of the present are made horrifically manifest in this great claustrophobic film. Stream on Netflix

12 Beloved (1998)

Oprah Winfrey and the Cast of Beloved
Buena Vista Pictures

Beloved is based on the true story of a mother who had to conduct the most unimaginable of acts in order to prevent her child from being enslaved by her former master. Oprah Winfrey played the lead character named Sethe, an ex-slave who escaped the Kentucky plantation during the Civil War but at great cost to her family. Years later, Sethe experiences paranormal activities, including a poltergeist and a reincarnation of her long-dead daughter.

What Makes It Great

Let’s start with the source material. Based on a highly acclaimed novel written by Toni Morrison, for which she received the Pulitzer Prize, the movie successfully mirrors the deep and complex themes that are presented in the novel. It’s very much a tale about the fight for freedom and the battle against racism, but it is mostly a tale of haunting ghosts and a past whose violence and prejudices refuse to be laid to rest. The thrilling scenes of ghost encounters will send chills down your spine. Rent on Amazon

11 The People Under the Stairs (1991)

The People Under the Stairs follows a young boy named Fool. A young LA ghetto resident, he and his family are about to get evicted from their residence by Mommy and Daddy Robeson. Fool teams up with a pair of robbers to steal from the family, only to discover they’ve been keeping naughty children who misbehave in a cannibalistic holding cell of sorts. Together with the help of their obedient daughter Alice, Fool sets out to release all the children from Mommy and Daddy’s severely abusive clutches.

What Makes It Great

This story has a bit of a Robin Hood meets outright hoodlum vibe. In the end, Mommy and Daddy receive their just desserts, while the wealth they accumulated is spread throughout the community after their death. Borderline satiric in nature, the Robesons are the epitome of wealth hoarding. Their perversion of the American Dream comes at the cost of their tenants and anyone they deem to misbehave them. Even worse, they’re not really husband and wife but siblings. Between the cannibalism practiced by the sentenced children to the inbred sibling lovers, this is one out-there flick that’s not afraid to go the extra mile. Rent on AppleTV+

10 Blacula (1972)

Blacula

Blacula

Release Date
August 25, 1972

Director
William Crain

Cast
William Marshall , Vonetta McGee , Denise Nicholas , Thalmus Rasulala , Gordon Pinsent , Charles Macaulay

Runtime
93

Blacula is a 70s film that is blissfully exactly what it sounds like. In this version of the Dracula tale, however, an 18th-century African prince named Mamuwalde is turned into a vampire by the dreaded Count. He’d gone to the count in hopes of suppressing the slave trade, only to be turned into a vampire and buried alongside his still-living wife, Luva. The next we see him, two hundred years have come and gone. It’s here, in modern LA, he finds what appears to be a reincarnated version of his former wife, whom he, of course, sets out to stalk.

What Makes It Great

This film is Blaxploitation at its best while also proving surprisingly faithful at times to the original Bram Stoker plot. Featuring a Funk soundtrack in opposition to more classical fare, the plot was more spoof than substance while still wholly entertaining. Those expecting an exact recreation are likely to be disappointed… though why they would be watching this film in the first place is beyond the pale. In spite of negative reviews that have plagued it, it has become a cult classic, one that spawned a wave of similar films and is an instantly iconic piece of cinema. Stream on Amazon Prime

Related: These Are the Best Blaxploitation Classics, and Why the Term is Troubling

9 Blade (1998)

Based on the Marvel comic by the same name, Blade features Wesley Snipes as the titular character. Blade is a dhampir, a human with the powers and thirsts of a vampire, but with none of the weaknesses. This is the result of an attack on his mother by a vampire while pregnant with him. Years later, he has learned to use his powers to hunt down the same creatures who created him. Now, with a potential war about to ensue between vampires and humans, he’s the perfect person to even the score.

What Makes It Great

The fact that this was Marvel’s first successful superhero film is one thing. The fact that this 90s action-horror flick featuring an African-American superhero as the lead and a hard R-rating to boot seems like a fever dream. The fact is, however, it’s 100% true. Nearly a decade before films like Iron Man, this film featured slick, unapologetic action and hilarious dialogue that would even make Deadpool blush. Wesley Snipes even put his money where his mouth was for this film, helping to produce it for the big screen. The film spawned two sequels, a short-lived television series, and now an upcoming MCU reboot. Rent on AppleTV+

8 Black Box (2020)

Black Box

Black Box

Release Date
October 6, 2020

Director
Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour

Runtime
100

Black Box is a sci-fi horror film by Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr. It follows the story of the protagonist, Nolan (played by Mamoudou Athie), who is fighting to conquer his amnesia following an accident using an experimental procedure. Soon, however, he realizes he’s not the only person sharing his body and his mind. Starring Mamoudou Athie, Phylicia Rashad, Amanda Christine, Tosin Morohunfola, and Charmaine Bingwa, this film was released on Amazon as a part of the anthology series Welcome to the Blumhouse.

What Makes It Great

While Black Box is reminiscent of Peele’s Get Out due to the similarity between the experiments the two protagonists go through, this one does not focus on the white-black dichotomy. While this is a beautiful nod to body-snatching films, it is also a well-rehearsed message about the power of grief. The good doctor had the means to get rid of her grief by mapping her son’s consciousness and placing it in a suitable host. Unfortunately, this also meant sacrificing an innocent person to succeed. Stream on Amazon Prime

7 Nope (2022)

Nope

Nope

Jordan Peele returns to direct a film about the residents of a lonely gulch in inland California bearing witness to an uncanny and chilling discovery. Daniel Kaluuya, Barbie Ferreira, and Steven Yeun star.

Release Date
July 22, 2022

Runtime
2hr

Nope follows the brother-sister duo Emerald, aka Em (Keke Palmer), alongside Otis, aka OJ (Daniel Kaluuya), as they attempt to capture evidence of UFO encounters. Horse wranglers for Hollywood sets by trade, they’ve been selling horses to Ricky, aka Jupe (Steven Yeun) for use in his Western theme park, Jupiter’s Claim. A former child actor who survived an on-set marring by a chimpanzee, Jupe has been using the Haywood family’s horses to train what appears to be a UFO to arrive on cue. The only problem is the UFO in question might not be a UFO at all, but a territorial creature out for blood instead.

What Makes It Great

Nope is a testament to the power of spectacle as much as the role of exploitation. Written during the 2020 lockdowns, the film was also inspired by the endless cycle of tragic commentary on TV. Then again, Peele also cited a whole host of inspirations, from The Wizard of Oz to Jurassic Park. In reality, Nope both provide much-needed representation on screen while also asking about the cost of the content and its potential over-saturation. The monster, therefore, serves as a disturbing metaphor for our consumerist culture. Stream on Peacock

6 Us (2019)

US

Us

Release Date
March 14, 2019

Runtime
120

Another masterpiece by Jordan Peele, Us stars Lupita Nyong’o as the protagonist, Adelaide Wilson. On vacation in her old stomping grounds, she and her family face down their doppelgängers, known here as the Tethered. The Tethered share a soul with their aboveground counterparts, living in a world beneath them that is an abominated version of their own. They have since decided to rise up from their underground lairs to take back what is rightfully their own. Interestingly enough, this movie comes from Peele’s own fear of doppelgängers, as he states that he was terrified of “the idea of doppelgängers since [he] was a kid.”

What Makes It Great

The ending of Us brought much controversy and discussion to the movie, as it consists of a plot twist that leaves the viewer shocked to their core. As it turns out, Adelaide is not the original Adelaide but a former tethered individual who escaped. The real Adelaide has now become the source of the uprising. The idea behind such an ending, as discussed by Peele himself, is to convey the message that perhaps we are the monsters, the villains who think they are the protagonists. We are given a story where the line between hero and villain is merged, which makes the viewer question everything they’ve just seen while at the same time tapping introspectively into themselves. Rent on Amazon Prime

5 Ganja and Hess (1973)

Ganja and Hess (1973)
Kelly/Jordan Enterprises
 

Ganja and Hess is a Dracula-inspired story that came out in the early 70s. The protagonist, Dr. Hess Green (played by Duane Jones), turns into a vampire after his assistant stabs him with a Myrthian dagger. He then proceeds to fall in love with his assistant’s widow, Ganja. Rather than living a long and prosperous vampiric life, Dr. Green declines to accept his newfound immortality. Instead, he leaves his legacy to his lover, Ganja Meda (played by Marlene Clark) after committing suicide by succumbing to a vampire-killing church.

What Makes It Great

Adam Piron noted that this 1973 movie is “ahead of its time and is still beyond our own.” This masterpiece by Bill Gunn is definitely a timeless feat, and even the great Spike Lee couldn’t improve upon it with his remake, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. It’s this early version; however, that was truly ahead of its time, paving the way for serious Black horror in cinema. Filmed just a few short years after Night of the Living Dead, Duane Jones’ reappearance in yet another socially relevant creature feature is not something to be overlooked. This film still stands today as a giant metaphor for assimilation. Stream on AppleTV+

4 The Blackening (2023)

The Blackening

The Blackening

Release Date
June 16, 2023

Cast
Antoinette Robertson , Dewayne Perkins , Sinqua Walls , Grace Byers , X Mayo , Melvin Gregg

Runtime
1hr 36min

Read Our Review

The Blackening is a horror comedy directed by Tim Story (Barbershop, Fantastic Four). It tells the story of seven African-American friends who go away for the weekend. During their stay at what else but a cabin in the woods, they have an unfortunate encounter with a twisted killer. The killer announces he is ready to spare their lives if they sacrifice the person they deem “the blackest.” The group must now rely on their street smarts and cultural knowledge in order to escape the predicament.

What Makes It Great

While the name of this horror comedy film might sound like a ripoff of the Scary Movie franchise, don’t be fooled. While this movie provokes some pretty natural laughs through witty humor and biting dialogue, The Blackening is still a vital commentary on classic horror movie troupes, particularly the one about Black characters always being killed off first in horror films. This movie both circumvents and highlights this trope by making all the characters African-American in the film. Beyond the obvious laughs, the blood and gore are always in the background, ready to make the viewer jump to the edge of their seats. Stream on AppleTV+

3 Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Night of the Living Dead reignited the rancor for zombies for a whole new generation. George A. Romero’s classic features Duane Jones as Ben, a survivor who joins up with a group of survivors at an old farmhouse amidst a zombie uprising. After many failed attempts to summon aid, Ben becomes the lone survivor of both the group and the night. Upon hearing gunshots the next morning, he rises to greet the posse that’s come to take care of the remaining ‘ghouls’, only to be mistaken for one himself and shot on sight.

What Makes It Great

Richard Newby of The Hollywood Reporter called this film “a little independent B-movie” that turned “into one of the most socially relevant horror movies to ever emerge from the darkened corners of America’s history.” Additionally, this is one of the best debut movies from a first-time filmmaker, George A. Romero, who went on to gain the title “Father of the Zombie Film” thanks to this specific feature.

One key reason why it is so significant is its casting of a black protagonist as the hero of the film. However, his ending is very much reflective of the racism that the African American community faced at the time. One cannot help but think of Martin Luther King Jr., who was shot and killed the same year of its release, or the later police killings of young Black men. Night of the Living Dead is reflective of the radical year of 1968. It remains a significant movie not just for horror cinema but for Black horror and Black cinema in general. Stream on Max

2 Candyman (1992)

candyman

Candyman

Release Date
October 16, 1992

Director
Bernard Rose

Runtime
99

Based on the short story The Forbidden by Clive Barker, Candymans story stems from the injustice the antagonist faced due to his race – the Candyman was actually the son of a slave who was lynched after falling in love with a white woman and impregnating her. From there, a folk tale is born that states that anyone who says his name five times will soon be killed at his hand. In the present day, a graduate student becomes imbued in the story while working on a thesis, only to discover that the man, the myth, the legend has some all too real implications.

What Makes It Great

The misconceptions attached to the African American community are often nothing more than racial bias and sometimes even racist acts. As Rolling Stone writes, it “turn[s] the embodiment of that fearmongering into a literal bogeyman that appears out of nowhere to violently murder people.” Nia DaCosta’s 2021 film Candyman took the original concept one step further. Audiences watched as a new Candyman was born, an avenging angel akin to the former grad student’s theories. A “continuation” of the original, this version, while a different take, is still well worth a watch. Rent on Amazon Prime

1 Get Out (2017)

Get Out

Get Out

Release Date
February 24, 2017

Runtime
103

It’s nearly impossible to talk about great Black horror films without mentioning Get Out. Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris Washington, a photographer who ends up in a disturbing and horrific situation after getting invited to meet his girlfriend’s family for the weekend. What starts as the typical meet-the-parents outing soon turns into an auction scenario with body-snatching implications. Get Out is a film that uses a gleeful sort of terror to point out the racism that is still evident in the present day.

What Makes It Great

The directorial debut of Jordan Peele absolutely shook the world upon its release in 2017. This undeniably eye-opening movie has even been given the title of the best script of the 21st century by the Writers Guild of America, and deservedly so. This film manages to combine horror and comedy in extremely realistic ways and uses rich allegories and dialogue to convey complicated themes. Peele won an Oscar for his script, which only further served to legitimize horror as a great art form in pop culture. In addition, Kaluuya’s performance in this film is so phenomenal that he was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor. Get Out is one of the rare horror films to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, a major milestone not just for horror but for Black horror. It set Jordan Peele as one of the most exciting auteur directors working today who has used his influence to get more films made by a wide variety of filmmakers of color. Get Out is a great Black horror film that has had a truly positive impact on cinematic world at large. Rent on AppleTV+

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