Horror-streaming service Shudder, a favorite among genre enthusiasts, is about to roll out their first original documentary, Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror. This must-watch doc for cinephiles, film history buffs, and socially conscious people alike is based on Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman‘s book of the same name. The underrepresented area of study will be explored to examine the roles that Black people have played both on the screen and behind the camera for more than a century. I’m particularly interested in seeing how equality has slowly progressed since 1890 and which titles (like Night of the Living Dead and Get Out) will act as guideposts along the way.
Directed by Xavier Burgin (On Time) and featuring interviews with Ernest Dickerson (Bones), Rusty Cundieff (Tales from the Hood), Jordan Peele (Get Out), Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned), Tony Todd (Candyman), Paula Jai Parker (Tales from the Hood), Tananarive Due (My Soul to Keep), and Dr. Coleman, Horror Noire arrives on Shudder February 7th.
Check out the first trailer for the must-watch documentary below:
Based on the acclaimed book of the same name by Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman, HORROR NOIRE takes a critical look at a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and embraced both black filmmakers and black audiences.
Dr. Coleman is an executive producer on the documentary, along with Tananarive Due, Phil Nobile Jr. (the current editor-in-chief of Fangoria, who knows a thing or two about horror), and producer/co-writer Ashlee Blackwell, who runs Graveyard Shift Sisters. Since Nobile Jr. and Blackwell are also contributors to Birth.Movies.Death, BMD also got to chat with Blackwell for some more insight into the project.
If you’re interested in picking up Dr. Coleman’s book, be sure to check out its synopsis at the purchase link here:
From King Kong to Candyman, the boundary-pushing genre of the horror film has always been a site for provocative explorations of race in American popular culture. In Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890’s to Present, Robin R. Means Coleman traces the history of notable characterizations of blackness in horror cinema, and examines key levels of black participation on screen and behind the camera. She argues that horror offers a representational space for black people to challenge the more negative, or racist, images seen in other media outlets, and to portray greater diversity within the concept of blackness itself.
Horror Noire presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films. Throughout the text, the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery, as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race.
Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, this book addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare, as well as art-house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian “Nollywood” Black horror films. Horror Noire is, thus, essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how fears and anxieties about race and race relations are made manifest, and often challenged, on the silver screen.