Halloween

Halloween Special: The 10 Top Scariest Black Movies of All Time

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Halloween is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I like dressing up. What can I say? I’m a sucka for nostalgia and a great costume.  But to be honest, I  stopped doing horror films years ago.

Given my overactive imagination coupled with the vivid dreams I have nightly, in addition to living in a house that’s at least 1oo years old, super scary movies just aren’t for me. However, every now and then, I enjoy my dose of spooky, as long as it does not involve dreams (Freddie), the devil, haunted houses, ghosts or spirit possession (just about everything horror films are made of).

If I do decide to indulge in horror, I prefer, like most other things in my life, all things Black. So here’s my list of top ten Black scary movies of all time.

I must preface this by saying that all of them aren’t scary. Some of these films are funny as hell. Also a few of them contribute to the problematic stereotyping of African based spiritual systems, namely Vodou/Voodoo and Hoodoo. But for those of us in the know, we can watch with amusement because we know this stuff was made for TV.

Happy witching, I mean watching and Happy Hollow’s Eve!

–  Shantrelle P. Lewis


10. Blade (1998-2004)
The Blade enterprise wasn’t scary per se, but it was full of blood-sucking vampires. More action than horror, Blade kicked ass and looked good doing so.

We all appreciated Wesley Snipes’ leather wearing, macho persona, and enjoyed the humor that his side kicks, particularly those in Blade Trinity, provided. The story line of Sanaa Lathan’s character as his vampire-turned-mama, was also a nice touch.

9. Fallen (1998)
“Timeeee, is on our side, yes it is.” Starring Denzel Washington, the film follows a police officer who investigates a series of homicides, only to find out that the serial killer is a medieval demon that hops from body to body, committing murders and crimes. Each new victim hums the chorus of the 70s song.

8. Scream Blacula Scream (1973)
So randomly, I happened upon Scream Blacula Scream one day. And I was in LOVE! I have of course, seen the original Blacula, but that had nothing on this sequel which featured in all star Blaxploitation cast including  Pam Grier. The plot was based around a voodoo priest who dies and names a mentee (Grier) as her successor which prompts her egomaniacal son to go on a rampage. He does so by buying the bones of and resurrecting Mamuwalde, Blacula, to do his bidding. The references to Voodoo, Haitian/New Orleanian culture, Blaxploitation antics make this a real treat, especially for real life brujas.

7. Vampire in Brooklyn (1995)
I barely remember a Vampire in Brooklyn. Starring Eddie Murphy, Angela Bassett, Kadeem Hardison and Charlie Murphy, the  spooky comedy isn’t as funny as Coming to America, but is definitely good for a couple of laughs because let’s face it, Eddie is a fool. Especially during his hey day in the 90s. His pimped out perm and attempts at being a sexy blood sucker, are well worth a watch.

6. The Skeleton Key (2005)
Skeleton Key was scary. To be honest, I haven’t seen it in years. But anything involving Louisiana, slavery, hoodoo, haints, plantations and attics is enough to make me cover my eyes and not watch a film in over a decade. Even though the cast is mostly white, the back story line and ultimate culprits Papa Justify and Mama Cecile (revenge seeking ghosts) are Black, like us.

5. Tales from the Hood (1995)
I don’t think people give Tales from the Hood enough credit.  A play on the very popular 90s Tales from the Crypt, the Black cinematic adaptation was comprised of several vignettes of spooky experiences. Each tale had a moral that would be beneficial to the Black community – basically avoid crooked cops, domestic abusers, white supremacists and Black on Black violence. Despite its cheesiness, it was actually pretty brilliant and those little “niglins” were scary as hell. Truth be told,  I’m actually not mad at little Black dolls coming alive to take down some unsuspecting white supremacist. Not one bit.

4. Queen of the Damned (2002)
I’m partial to vampire movie. Queen of the Damned is probably one of my favorite vampire flicks of all time. Anytime Black people are on screen and portray Egyptians as they really were – Black – I’m happy. Even if they were ancient Black vampires. An adaptation of one of Anne Rice’s novevls, Aaliyah was pretty amazing on screen, despite her sappy French love saga with Stuart Townsend (Le Stat), the film is a treat.

3. Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
In terms of movies that scared the hell out of me, Serpent in the Rainbow was definitely at the top of the list.  The film is based on an account written by a Harvard anthropologist who ventures to Haiti to study zombieism in Voodoo. [Note: I use the spelling Voodoo and not Vodou to distinguish between the two sets of practices, the latter not formally engaging in such activities]. White people’s imaginations ran wild, of course, and Vodou was demonized. But in general, if taken as face value as a film created to scare the shyt out of people, it did its job.

2. Get Out (2017)
Don’t believe the hype! Just kidding. Admittedly, a couple of months had passed before Tony and I finally made it to the theater to watch Get Out. And we were underwhelmed. Maybe because all of y’all hyped it up sooooooooo much, by the time we went to the theater, we were trying to figure out what all the hoopla was about. Grant it, all white towns, anywhere, are scary. Terrifying, actually. In fact, I stay away from them. So, I may have missed the point. Is it that Black dudes need to stop hollering at Becky? That in the end, it’s always Becky’s fault? Not sure but since I did yell out loud at least few times in the theater, I had to list it as #2.

1. Candyman (1992)
I dare you to tell me that Candyman didn’t scare the living deadlights out of you. To this day, you will never, ever catch me saying that man’s name in the mirror three times. Again, if you noticed the trend in this list, whoever decided to throw in plots that involved haunting Black people who were wronged by white people in slavery, coming back to life and wreaking havoc, were genius. Candyman had all of the right elements. An urban legend in the now defunct Cabrini-Green projects, a white lady doing something she had no business doing, and the angry spirit of a Black dude coming back to get revenge for white people killing him – check, check, check. Candyman was and still is scary af and may be the scariest Black film of all time.

Honorable Mention: Thriller
Though not a movie, Thriller was and always will be, the greatest Black scary cinematic project in history. The music. The costumes. The dancing. Michael. Full stop. We’ve got thriller on repeat during this holiday season. Our beloved MJ will forever be our favorite monster of all time.