HORROR NOIRE: A HISTORY OF BLACK HORROR (2019) Reviews and overview

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Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Xavier Burgin from a script by Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows.

From King Kong to Candyman to Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Us, the boundary-pushing horror genre has always been a site for provocative explorations of race in American popular culture. In Horror Noire, Robin R. Means Coleman traces the history of notable characterisations of blackness in horror cinema. Topics covered include the controversial depiction of black people in horror and the rise of some of the genre’s most influential stars.

Horror Noire treats viewers to a fresh and very informative look about black voices in horror. It also features more than twenty different black horror icons, including but not limited to:

Tony Todd (actor) – Candyman

Mark H. Harris (creator) – BlackHorrorMovies.com

Rachel True (actor) – The Craft

William Crain (director) – Blacula

Keith David (actor) – The Thing (1982)

Loretta Devine (actor) – Urban Legend

Ernest Dickerson (director) – Bones; Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight

Ken Foree (actor) – The Midnight ManDawn of the Dead (1978)

Ken Sagoes (actor) – A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and 4

Rusty Cundieff (director) – American NightmaresTales from the HoodTales from the Hood 2

There is an in-depth discussion that explores the role black filmmakers and artists have played in the development of an approach to film that leaves so much room for exploration and creativity even today. Horror Noire will be available exclusively via Shudder’s streaming service from February 7th. The poster above was designed by Gary Pullin.


” …what marks Horror Noire as a great documentary is its ability to recalibrate what we see, what we think, and what we feel when we experience a film. When interviewees point out the importance of John Boyega’s smile at the end of Attack the Block, or discuss why urban settings are crucial to young people seeing their experiences reflected onscreen, we learn to see black horror, within film and without, beyond hashtags and headlines.” Culture Crypt

“Without a doubt, Horror Noire is one of the most important entertainment documentaries to ever come along, genre or otherwise, and I have to commend everyone involved for putting together this necessary and vital exploration of the correlation between black history and black horror.” Daily Dead

” …I recommend it without reservation. It is also important to emphasize that, as much the documentary is critical of genre faults and shortcomings, it also highlights the utility of horror to both explore historical fears and as a potential source of empowerment.” Forbes

“Actors and directors speak knowledgeably about tropes and narrative stereotyping; critics and academics talk about their favorite films and actors and what seeing black performers meant to them as kids. In the film’s view, creators are fans, fans are critics, and critics are enthusiasts.” The Verge

Based on a book:

The documentary is based on Robin R. Means Coleman book Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present (Routledge, 2011).

Image credits: Shudder


In 2021, a follow-up feature film anthology of six stories written and directed by black filmmakers, and also titled Horror Noire, was released.


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