Horror Films by Black Artists That Everyone Should Watch

In honor of Black History Month, we watch and discuss many of the influential black horror films referenced in the documentary Black Noire on Shudder

Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror (2019) is an exceptional Shudder original documentary (based on the 2011 book of the same name by Robin R. Means Coleman) that traces the history of Black representation in horror films — and their love for, and experiences in, the genre.

Directed by Xavier Burgin and written and produced by Ashlee Blackwell (Graveyard Shift Sisters) and Danielle Burrows, the film reflects on the influential Black horror films through the decades, from 1915 to the present, and discusses the trends and shifts in representation over the years. It’s both incredibly insightful and inspiring.

Inspired by a call to action on Twitter by Phil Nobile, Jr., the Editor-in-Chief for Fangoria and one of the Executive Producers of Horror Noire, the Morbidly Beautiful staff watched many of the Black horror films referenced in the documentary and recommended by Shudder (many for the first time).

On the heels of a history-making Oscars ceremony, in which the largest number of black actors ever were awarded the coveted gold statue and — for the first time ever — the majority of acting winners were people of color, we hope the following list will help you discover some of the great Black horror films from the past several decades.

Black History Month may be coming to an end, but these 13 films (and so many others) deserve your attention year-round.

Black Sunday (1960)

Master of horror Mario Bava began his career with Black Sunday, an Italian gothic masterpiece and easily his most celebrated work. With sex appeal, Bava builds a horrific landscape enhanced with slick camera work and intense black-and-white contrasts. The film plays around with both vampire and witch mythology, which eventually leads to a spiked mask being hammered into a woman’s face. The visual of Barbara Steele’s pale skin covered in deep, black holes has become an iconic image from classic horror, perfectly exemplifying her role as both attractive and horrific, desirable and revolting. Available on Amazon.

Video

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Although not the best rendition of the Body Snatchers story, the original 1956 incarnation is one of the best examples of a sci-fi–horror film rooted in reality, preying on the human fear that we are far more vulnerable to destruction than we’d like to believe. Released at the peak of Cold War and Red Scare paranoia, the political roots of Body Snatchers were far less ambiguous than the films that came before it, and the film successfully solidified the relationship between politics and horror. Available on Amazon.

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