Shudder Celebrates the History of Black Horror in ‘Horror Noire’

In the wake of the success of ‘Get Out,’ Shudder gathers an eclectic collection of creatives and intellectuals to discuss the history and influence of black culture in horror cinema.
Black Horror
By  · Published on January 8th, 2019

Shudder is about to debut a new documentary titled Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, according to Entertainment Weekly. Based on the book by the same name from author Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman, the feature acts as a celebration as well as a criticism of how black filmmakers have been portrayed since the creation of cinema. Get Out was not the first film to speak to the terror of systemic racism using the horror genre, but it did expose a desire for culturally relevant entertainment from the masses.

There is an audience out there that is ready to learn. They are curious and excited, and only need a platform for education. For those that already flock to Shudder for their bottomless pit of gnarly displays of cinema like Revenge, Mandy, and Sequence Break, Horror Noire is a bonus gateway to delights that tackle social issues with the same tenacity that they do body trauma. For fans of Get Out and The First Purge that have their appetite wet and are looking for more, Horror Noire is reason enough to jump on that Shudder subscription.

Watch the trailer:

As you can quickly discern, Horror Noire is digging deep into the ugly history of racism expressed cinematically. Jumping from the grotesque hatred of The Birth of a Nation to the casual cliche trope of the black actor dying first in the slasher. As author/educator Tananarive Due says from the jump, “We’ve always loved horror, it’s just that horror hasn’t always loved us.” Director Xavier Burgin aims to confront the many cinematic injustices while at the same time highlighting and celebrating the films that faced societal ills.

As Coleman explained to EW, unlike other genres, horror happily prods the forbidden. When we consume a book or a movie from such a particular category we are asking to be challenged emotionally as well as intellectually:

“The horror genre is daring, unflinching pedagogy. It is like a syllabus of our social, political, and racial world. The horror film is fascinating if for no other reason than that it prides itself on snuggling up next to the taboo, while confounding our sense of good and evil, the monstrous and divine, and the sacred and profane. It is one of the most intrepid of entertainment forms in its scrutiny of our humanity and our foibles. It is my sincere hope that ‘Horror Noire’ will spark fierce debate and trigger even more exacting, nuanced explorations into the power of horror.”

The documentary contains an exhaustive collection of interview subjects. We will hear from filmmakers William Crain (Blacula), Rusty Cundieff (Tales from the Hood), Ernest Dickerson (Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned), and Jordan Peele, as well as actors Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead), Paula Jai Parker (Tales from the Hood), and Tony Todd (Candyman). Horror Noire is written and produced by Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows. Author Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman, Tananarive Due, Kelly Ryan of Stage 3 Productions, and Fangoria Editor-In-Chief Phil Nobile Jr. serve as Executive Producers.

Obviously, you recognize several of the creators involved, but others could be a mystery. One of the most exciting aspects of documentaries like Horror Noire is that they offer the viewer an opportunity to reach into cinema’s past. Here is the excuse you’ve been waiting for, and there is no time like the present to finally watch Night of the Living Dead or Candyman or Tales from the Hood.  You may have dismissed Blacula as a goofy blaxploitation cash-in, but hearing Crain’s journey to the director’s chair will revolutionize the manner in which you forever see William Marshall’s bloodsucker.

Horror Noire hits Shudder on February 7th.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)