“The Black guy dies first” is one of the oldest, most harmful cliches in Hollywood. We all know, from the very start of the horror movie, that the only characters with any chance of survival are the ones with a skin tone lighter than skim milk. Which not only kills a lot of the tension in the story, it also contributes to the dehumanizing of non-white people, which is not okay.
For this year’s Spooky Season, I thought I’d list five personal favorite horror movies and television shows that star people of color. Some of them will die, but that’s just the genre. We can’t save all of them, or it wouldn’t be horror. 😛
FYI: three of these listings are created by Jordan Peele. I’m not sorry, but Hollywood should be. (I am sorry that I haven’t seen Antebellum yet. It’s on my list, I swear!)
Train to Busan
Is it cheating to use a foreign film set in a country where everyone is a Person of Color by American standards?
Who cares. I’m doing it anyway.
Train to Busan is a Korean zombie film about fatherhood and family. All the refugees get on a
train to go to the fortified city of Busan to escape the zombie plague, but a few zombies get on, too. So the refugees have to carefully creep from car to car, trying to survive not just the undead but also infighting.
It’s one of those movies with the theme of humans are the real monsters, but also manages to highlight some of our better qualities, too.
The Descent Part 2
The first Descent movie was about a group of women going spelunking in a cave filled with monsters. Part 2 is about the rescue mission going in after them and running into the same problem.
There was one woman of color in the first movie, and she was kind of a villain. In the sequel, one of the rescuers is a WOC, and she gets to make it to the end.
While arguably not Jordan Peele’s best creation, Get Out definitely caught everyone’s attention and was a great introduction to drama and horror for the comedian.
If you haven’t already heard, Get Out is the story of a Black man visiting his white girlfriend’s family for the first time. What follows is a horror story with the type of creepiness that gets under your skin and crawls there, loaded with themes of institutional racism in modern America.
While I didn’t like this movie as much as Get Out, I did enjoy seeing members of the Black Panther cast play TOTALLY DIFFERENT characters, and seeing the two family dynamics play out. How Winston Duke managed to go from M’Baku to a big, lumbering dork, I will never know.
One of the biggest criticisms of Get Out was that it excluded the plight of Black women. Jordan Peele took that criticism to heart, and while Us includes two families, it focuses on the mother. In this story, everyone has a clone, but doesn’t know. At least, until those clones rise up and start murdering their originals.
Get Out and Us were a bit subtle with its themes of race. Lovecraft Country says “fuck it,” explicitly talking about race and privilege in almost every episode. This is partly because it’s set in the 1950s, and partly because it seems Jordan Peele is settling into his style, which has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. No complaints here, though.
A Black Korean War vet returns home in search of his missing father, and runs head-first into a secret underworld of Lovecraftian monsters and cultists.
I especially love this premise because H. P. Lovecraft was a notorious racist, even for his time, who hated anyone who wasn’t an educated white person of “good breeding.” So having his monsters and stories center explicitly around Black heroes is such beautiful poetic justice.
Season one just wrapped up on HBO, and I am counting the days to season two.
What are your favorite horror shows and movies that star characters of color? Tell us in the comments!