7 Key Black Characters In Horror Films, From The ’60s To Today


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Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

I do know what all people’s pondering. I wouldn’t need to be the black particular person in a horror film! Ah hur hur. That’s as a result of it’s lengthy been a trope that the black particular person in a horror film at all times dies first. However the reality is, it’s truly type of laborious to search out horror films the place black characters had been even in them in any respect. I’m severe. Whereas researching this text, I truly struggled to search out black characters who had essential sufficient roles to even be talked about on this listing.

With administrators like Jordan Peele and films like Get Out and Us, we’re beginning to lastly see horror films with black characters in distinguished roles. However I’ll inform you. Wanting again to the ‘60s, the variety of black actors in horror films is fairly dismal. However sufficient about shortage. How about truly being scared? Are you able to scream? I certain hope so!

Duane Jones as Ben

Ben – Night time of the Residing Useless (1968)

Oh, geez. The ‘60s weren’t a terrific decade for black individuals in horror. The solely main contribution to the style that I can consider can be Duane Jones as Ben in Night time of the Residing Useless. Ben was an enormous contribution to horror as a result of he was the hero of the movie, a peaceful head in a chaotic state of affairs. Night time of the Residing Useless got here out on the tail finish of the Civil Rights Motion, and to see a black man with a white girl on the identical display screen should have been fairly audacious on the time. Ben truly survives the evening, solely to be shot “accidentally” by people who mistake him for a zombie. Hmm.

William Marshall as Blacula

Prince Mamuwalde/Blacula – Blacula (1972)

Blacula, performed by William Marshall, is attention-grabbing because it confronts racism head on. Prince Mamuwalde truly went to Dracula to ask him for assist to finish the slave commerce, however Dracula scoffs and turns the Prince right into a vampire as a substitute. And thus, Blacula is born. 

Blacula was truly an enormous hit in 1972 and spawned the sequel, Scream Blacula Scream. It additionally created a wave of blaxploitation horror movies, like Sugar Hill, Blackenstein, and Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde. In addition to Blacula, Ken Foree additionally starred in George A. Romero’s sequel to Night time of the Residing Useless, Daybreak of the Useless. Ken Foree wasn’t the lead within the film, however he was an essential a part of the solid of survivors, so evidently George A. Romero was undoubtedly forward of the curve when it got here to placing black actors in horror.

Scatman Crothers as Dick Hollorann

Dick Hollorann – The Shining (1980)

Many would argue that the ‘80s had been the very best decade for horror proper after the ’30s, and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is an enormous motive for that. After all Scatman Crothers’ Dick Hollorann isn’t the principle character of The Shining since Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of Jack Torrance takes middle stage. However Scatman Crothers’ efficiency as the top chef of the Overlook Lodge who additionally shares the Shining with Danny Torrance is a really humanizing one. He is an sincere to God, full-blooded character, and he got here a great distance from a number of the jive speaking characters from the blaxploitation period within the 1970s. 

Additionally within the ‘80s was Ken Sagoes as Roland Kinkaid from the very best Freddy Krueger film (Sure), Nightmare on Elm Avenue 3: Dream Warriors. He was additionally within the sequel, The Dream Grasp, however he dies pretty early in that one.

Tony Todd as The Candyman

The Candyman – Candyman (1992)

Candyman is big for black actors in horror since we had our first actual franchise character (exterior of Blacula) with Tony Todd because the eponymous Candyman. Candyman was primarily based off a Clive Barker quick story known as “The Forbidden” and was the son of a slave who’s introduced again to life. Horror icons had been all the trend again within the ‘80s and ‘90s, with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Pinhead, and Chucky, all being staples of the style. However the cool factor was that Tony Todd as The Candyman is also added to that listing. 

And now, we have now a brand new one, produced by Jordan Peele, coming. Make noise! And by that, I imply a bee noise, after all. Bzzzz! Wes Craven’s The Individuals Beneath the Stairs from 1991 additionally had a number of black actors in it, together with Ving Rhames, Invoice Cobbs as Grandpa Booker, and a younger Brandon Adams as Idiot.

From left to right: Robert Downey Jr. and Halle Berry

Dr. Miranda Gray – Gothika (2003)

The early 2000s had been proof that horror had gone mainstream. Living proof was 2003’s psychological horror thriller, Gothika, which starred an Oscar winner in Halle Berry. Berry performs Dr. Miranda Gray, a psychiatrist in a ladies’s psych ward who quickly finds herself grow to be a affected person in the identical ward she works in after her physique is inhabited by a ghost. This may not look like a milestone second, since horror films have at all times by some means discovered a option to have prestigious actors of their low forehead movies. However Halle Berry was a win, as black actresses didn’t sometimes discover themselves within the main function of massive price range (for the style—$40 million {dollars}) horror films. 

The 2000s additionally noticed Wesley Snipes don the ditch coat and sun shades once more for his function because the comedian e-book character, Blade, in Blade II and Blade Trinity. Total, not a horrible decade for black actors in horror.

Lupita Nyong'o as Adelaide

Adelaide – Us (2019), Chris – Get Out (2017)

And right here we’re. Lupita Nyong’o (One other Oscar winner) performs a girl named Adelaide who’s haunted by a doppelgänger, who has a household of her personal that’s looking Adelaide’s household. However issues aren’t what they appear. Truthfully, Lupita Nyong’o was robbed of one other nomination, as her efficiency elevated the horror style by nice leaps and bounds. 

Additionally of be aware within the 2010’s was Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out, whose tearful expression has just about been essentially the most recognizable face in all of horror for the previous couple years now. Hell, even individuals who aren’t horror followers have seen that face. Jordan Peele typically is simply altering the horror recreation, so we have now him to thank, too. 

And let’s not overlook but ANOTHER Academy Award profitable actress in Octavia Spencer. She starred within the very kooky and really creepy film, Ma.

Total, black actors have come a methods from the extraordinarily humble beginnings of Duane Jones in Night time of the Residing Useless. I will not say that blacks have come far sufficient for the reason that trope of blacks dying in horror films remains to be very fashionable as we speak. And correct. However I’ll say that there’s been progress. And I can’t complain about that. Progress is nice!



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