Hi friends! 👋🏻 October is Black History Month in the UK (BHM and LGBT+ History Month are the other way around in the US) and today I wanted to highlight some books by Black authors and movies that are either directed by Black directors or have a predominantly Black cast. Unfortunately, a lot of the movies I found on my watchlist were made by white directors and I was hesitant to list them so I managed to narrow them down to 99% Black made.
Also, it’s weird that I should feel the need to clarify this, but when I say ‘Black’ creators I mean people who are of African or Caribbean descent or are from Africa or the Caribbean. There are still a lot of people in the UK who use the term ‘Black’ as an umbrella term for anyone who isn’t white and UK Black History Month has been pushing back against that because British Asian people were being used in promotional materials.
House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Alexis Henderson but I haven’t read The Year of the Witching since witch books aren’t really my thing. This one is about vampires and the vamps are a big metaphor for the elite classes, which is one of my favourite ways vampires can be utilised. I have a post in the works about vampires and all the things they can be metaphors for so stay tuned for that.
Ring Shout by P, Djélí Clark
I am very interested in film history, especially the silent era, and while this book isn’t about movies or film history, it does have the backdrop of The Birth of a Nation, which is a notoriously racist silent film that arguably had an influence on the second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan. A lot of historical fiction about racism that I’ve seen before has been by white authors (The Help is one that sticks out in my mind) so it’s great to see one by a Black author. A colleague of mine has been making a list of horror books for our library to get in stock so I’m going to put in a suggestion for this one.
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler is an author who I have meant to read for a long time because she has been so influential and was a decorated author. I believe this was her final novel and is about a genetically modified vampire while exploring the themes of “otherness” and what it means to be different. I said in my previous post that I like horror with deeper themes so this one sounds perfect for me,
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
This book is a reimagining of The Horror at Red Hook, which has the unfortunate legacy of being one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most racist stories and seeing it be retold by a Black author is really interesting to me. It’s no secret that Lovecraft was horrifically racist (even by early 20th-century standards – the dude had a meltdown when finding out that his grandmother was Welsh) and I have no interest in reading any of his work, so I’m glad that apparently, you don’t have to read the original story to appreciate this one.
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
Zombies aren’t really my thing so I tend to gravitate away from zombie books. However, I do remember there being quite a lot of praise for Dread Nation when it came out and there are only two books in the series so I think I should go back and give them a try. Maybe I’ll come out of it a little warmer towards zombies.
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due
If there is one thing I love more than vampires, it’s diverse vampires. I refuse to believe that vampires could only ever be white and we will always need more diversity in vampire media. This novel is about a woman who discovers that her seemingly perfect husband is a centuries-old Ethiopian vampire who plans to turn her and their children into vampires so that he doesn’t have to leave them behind when his sect calls him back home.
The biggest draw for the movie is the fact that it stars Snoop Dogg. I’ve only seen Snoop act in one movie – which was Starsky & Hutch a long time ago – and I’m very curious to see how this one turns out. This movie is about a murdered numbers runner who returns from the grave to get revenge on his killers and apparently features some great practical effects. Hollywood is only just starting to remember that practical effects exist so it’s always great to find a 21st-century movie that uses them.
Horror Noire (2021)
Just for clarification, I’m talking about the anthology movie Horror Noire and not the documentary of the same name on Shudder, which you should go watch if you haven’t because it’s very interesting.
Anthology movies aren’t my favourite kind of anything outside of Treehouse of Horror because I like to have a singular story to follow from beginning to end, but the premises of the six shorts in this one are pretty interesting. Also, there are vampires in one of them which is always a plus.
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)
This movie is the sequel to the 1972 movie Blacula, which is often called the first blaxploitation horror movie. Blaxploitation is a somewhat controversial genre due to Black stereotypes being used, but it’s not my place to talk about why it can be controversial in Black communities because I’m not Black.
I am always on the lookout for anything that features Black vampires, so why not go back to the most famous? In this series, ‘Blacula’ is an African prince who was bitten by Count Dracula after being tricked into thinking that Dracula wants to suppress the Atlantic slave trade when he actually wants it to continue. The title and the premise can seem a little cheesy, but there’s a lot more to it under the surface.
Tales from the Hood (1995)
Another anthology movie, I’ve seen Dead Meat‘s Kill Counts for this series and it looks really cool. The stories centre on issues that African-American communities face such as police corruption, gang violence, and racism, which interests me more than a simple ‘here are some stories, have fun’ premise.
Ganja & Hess (1973)
I think this is another blaxploitation movie, but when I look up things about it, it’s referred to as an ‘experimental’ film so I’m not sure, but it’s a vampire movie starring Duane Jones from Night of the Living Dead so I’m already intrigued. The local indie cinema in my area has had a special season dedicated to Black cinema and this movie was on the schedule, but I missed it.
This movie is an adaptation of the Toni Morrison novel and I wasn’t really sure if it could count as horror or not but it is a ghost story, so it counts. The movie is directed by Jonathan Demme who directed The Silence of the Lambs (and is also white) and stars Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover in the lead roles. Slavery is something that I should know more about since the UK was involved in and benefitted from the slave trade too because the Black History lessons I got at school were just about the American Civil Rights movement and nothing else. The National Curriculum really likes to gloss over imperialism and either act like it never happened or glorify it.
talk to me!
Have you seen or read any Black horror that you would recommend?