Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019)

Xavier Neal-Burgin directs Jordan Peele, Tony Todd and Keith David in this retrospective documentary of African-American characterisation in horror movies.

A good solid mixture of talking heads and clips, slightly undermined by trying to knock the few actual classics to fit an academic theory. For example – whole swathes of the Candyman mythology are overlooked so it can be seen as white misrepresentation (and therefore negative) of black male lust. If you’ve watched the film you’ll know the argument doesn’t fit and the story has been over simplified by the essayist here. Watching poor Tony Todd squirm in his seat having defend his brilliant performance for being outdated and racist, when it clearly isn’t, is symptomatic of when this project frequently stumbles. See also Keith David’s response to the black character always dying in service of the white lead. “I didn’t in my first film.” That film was The Thing! Or the off hand dismissal of Wes Craven for “trying” to be inclusive. The man was a former sociology professor who used horror to effectively subvert representation and values in most of his films! Horror Noire is an exhaustive survey history of a sub-genre but its overriding directive to awkwardly deify identity over quality means rubbish films are lionised while universally accepted classics often get short shrift as the directors weren’t black even if the actors are. I know I’d much rather watch The People Under the Stairs over Bones any day of the week. I think in your heart of hearts a horror fan of any colour knows this to be true too.

6

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/

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