Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror
horror noire | horror noire: a history of black horror | xavier burgin | ashlee blackwell | danielle burrows | meosha bean | robin r. means coleman | documentary | united states | rusty cundieff | keith david | ken foree | tony todd | miguel a. nunez jr. | jordan peele
Film: Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror
Director: Xavier Burgin
Writer: Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows
Starring: Meosha Bean, Ashlee Blackwell and Robin R. Means Coleman
Now this was a documentary I heard about and was pretty excited to check out. Before I got a chance to actually watch it, I heard two podcasts that covered it and all it did was make it go to the top of my list of films to see for this year. The official synopsis is a look at the history of black horror films and the role of African Americans in the film genre from the very beginning.
This will actually be a short review since it is really something that you need to see. I just wanted to touch on a few things that really struck me about the documentary. The first thing was I really enjoyed the history that they go through. Now I was a film major in college, so I took many classes that filled me in on the history of cinema. I experienced films that they kind of touch on like Birth of a Nation and how characters in early cinema were portrayed by white actors in black-face or when they actually casted African Americans, they were done in unintelligent and unimportant roles. If you ask anyone about me, I’m extremely open-minded and in my days of class, it really struck me as something that was sad.
The next thing is this documentary actually gives me a different look at certain films from the past. There are things I never considered as a white male about the Creature from the Black Lagoon and other early horror films. I don’t necessarily know if I fully buy into these early films are saying, but I can definitely see where they are coming from and the next time I watch them, I have a new perspective to consider. As someone of who is out to historically watch as many horror films in my lifetime, I can always appreciate that. I will say that I have watched the original King Kong and the remake from the 1970’s, I can definitely see what they’re talking about with him being an representation of black people. The Creature also does look similar to the racist cartoons from the past as well.
There were quite a few films that were featured that I’ve seen and quite a few of them are actually ones that I really like. Kind of going back to my last point, I really like to hear the perspective for quite a few of these from a way that is different from my own. I point this out especially for Night of the Living Dead, Tales from the Hood and Get Out. From the last one, I did notice some of the things, but there were also other aspect I didn’t think of or know the context.
I also really liked the group of people they got to interview and listen to them talk about these films. Ken Foree is the hero in my favorite horror film of all-time, Dawn of the Dead. Seeing him talk with Keith David, who is another actor I respect, was wonderful. I really would pay to see them have a show where they just talk for hours. It was interesting to see Rusty Cundieff, as I grew up on Tales from the Hood, even though as a kid I didn’t fully understand everything I was seeing. William Crain, Kelly Jo Minter, Miguel A. Núñez Jr., Jordan Peele, Tony Todd and Rachel True are all great with the interesting perspectives from their different experiences as well.
If I really have anything negative to say it would be the same thing that I’ve heard others also express. I want them to go deeper into this subject. I would love if there was an extended cut to give me all of the footage and to really delve deeper into this subject. I love documentaries, especially ones that are a deep dive into my favorite genre. I will say that I love how this is edited together as it seems all of these interviewees were asked the same questions about the same films so they could edit it together to give a wide range of opinions during each segment of history or for certain films that fall into it. Using clips to back up what they say also really helps as well.
Now with that said, if you are a fan of the horror genre I found this to be an interesting documentary to check out. I think it actually is interesting if you are black or not, because you can take away different things from it. Since personally I’m not, but having some knowledge of the culture, it definitely was good for me to get to know more about it and their perspectives on films. I thought there was a great group of people to interview and if there is anything negative I have to say, I wish they would have went deeper. This isn’t a documentary for those that are new to the genre, as it expects you to know the basics of most of the films they show. It really goes into the deeper meanings and symbolism, which is good as I’ve been watching the genre for as long as I can remember. It has a good running time and personally, it could go longer and I’d still like it.
My Rating: 8 out of 10