Black Track: October 28, 2022

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The horror industry needs the African American perspective, and the rise in production for films, television, and books confirms this notion. Halloween is around the corner, and whether you consider it a pagan holiday, an American holiday, or just enjoy dressing up in a costume, it’s on the way. Now, this article is not about Halloween, but more specifically focuses on presence of African Americans in the horror industry and the impact we have on it since we got in the door.

The term “Black horror” isn’t necessarily official, but it’s used widely. Although the definition might change depending on who you ask. However, the most accurate definition was by Dr. Chesya Burke. Explained “Basically, it’s Black horror if it’s written and produced and cast with Black people. Otherwise, it’s simply horror with Black people in it.” (Copeland, 2021) We are currently in the second wave of the Black horror movement, called the “Golden Age.”

The first wave of Black horror was during the “Blaxploitation Era” during the 1960s and 1970s. It was said to be inspired by 1940’s race films. A boom of films like Blacula, Sugar Hill, Ganja & Hess, and Blackenstein solidified Black horror as a subgenre. In 1968 the movie “Night of the Living Dead” was one of the earliest films with a leading Black character for a horror movie. After that, African Americans started gaining recognition in the industry (Copeland, 2021)

The Blaxploitation Era was monumental because everything in America, including the film industry, was written from Eurocentric ideologies. That type of ideology is, throughout most of the horror industry. Most horror films display African Americans as savages or as comic relief. African Americans have, also been historically, subjected to being the first to die in movies. On the contrary, the social and environmental horrors are written differently from the Black voice’s perspective.

The second wave is the “Golden Age,” which is here and now. Whether you participate in the horror industry or not, know that African Americans are making big strides. Several movies have launched the continuation of the subgenre, Black horror. As of today, “Meet the Blacks,” a comedic take on Black horror, brought in 9.1 million dollars. Most notably, the film that is said to have launched funding for the Black horror industry is “Get out.” (Meet the Blacks (2016) – Financial Information, n.d.)

Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” became the second biggest R-rated horror film since “The Exorcist.” Written and directed by a Black man, Jordan Peele’s movie was such a financial success that now Hollywood has been trying to copy that voice. Fortunately, Hollywood cannot emulate the Black voice in Black horror. So now, more Black writers, Black directors, and Black producers are getting their projects funded. “Get Out” won the best original screenplay with Academy Awards as well as many other awards.

In 2022 the movie “Nope” continued to show that Black horror is profitable. Written, produced and directed by Jordan Peele, the movie brought in over $100 million dollars as of August of 2022. (Mendelson, 2022) In conclusion when we enter the door in any field, we show up and show out. When you hear about a new Black horror movie coming out, think about how we have progressed the horror industry.