Welcome to Horror Movie Month here at Late to the Theater! Once a year we focus on one of our absolute favorite things, horror movies! For the entire month of October we’ll review at least two movies a week, some old, some new, and usually fitting into a weekly theme. So pop the corn, pour yourself a glass of whatever, and come along for the ride! I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!
Ironically titled entry because between the horrifying news last week and being out of town on a work trip, I sort of forgot to review The Forgotten. Apropos, considering the film’s subject matter, although the film itself definitely stuck in my mind. Shall we? Let’s!
Jordan Peele to Write/Direct Horror Film ‘Get Out.’
I cannot WAIT to see what he comes up with. I love Key and Peele, and I have to admit sometimes their comedy can wander into creepy territory, so I’m WAY excited to see what Mr. Peele comes up with!
I liked what he said about Night of the Living Dead, but my immediate reaction was also ‘Wait… didn’t the black protagonist die at the end?’ Granted, the film itself is important for many reasons, only one of which is that it had a black protagonist in 1968, but since ‘black person dying’ has become a terrible stereotype in horror movies, I started thinking about black protagonists in horror films who didn’t die.
THERE ARE NOT A LOT.
Rather than focus on the negative (and spend the rest of my life naming the approximately 4 billion horror movies in which black or PoC characters are killed), I decided to do the opposite. And so, here are some horror movies with black protagonists who DO NOT die at the end!
[Kind of goes without saying that there will be spoilers.]
4. Tales From The Hood – All right, not the best counterexample since the protagonists of the bookend story die in terrible cautionary-tale fashion… BUT! I included it for the happy ending of the ‘Boys Do Get Bruises’ story. And it was DEFINITELY exploring some amazing territory with the ‘KKK Comeuppance’ and ‘Rogue Cop Revelation stories.’ It was a spoof that still mostly worked.
Also, Clarence Williams III as the batshit crazy funeral director! The man was a treasure in that role.
3. House On Haunted Hill – A fun, ridiculous remake of William Castle’s original, with a stellar cast, respectable budget, lots of ghosts and wicked early 2000s effects. I was not expecting Taye Diggs to make it to the end of the movie… BUT HE DID! His last line of ‘I’M ADOPTED!’ actually made me laugh out loud in the theater, and I was SO. GLAD. to see him and Blonde Lady not only survive, but win all the moneys. It didn’t really break much social commentary ground, but the effects, premise and setting were great. And Geoffrey Rush channeling Vincent Price took me to My Happy Place.
And because I am a HUGE softy, I totally got a little teary when Pritchard appeared and opened the window, saving them. Adorable.
2. Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight – Jada Pinkett delivered a fantastic performance as ex-convict Jeryline in this wonderful, weird film about demons trying to hunt down the blood of Christ. Although Billy Zane was the face on the poster and William Sadler the ostensible hero, the movie ended brilliantly with Jeryline taking up the mantle of protector and escaping to live and fight another day. BADASS. I hoped the sequel would be about her, but alas… vampires in a whorehouse, or something. I love the final battle where Jeryline and the Demon Knight are dancing, she with a broken arm and her mouth clamped shut but DETERMINED to win, he gratuitously Billy Zaning at her for all he’s worth. LOVE IT!
It is one of the few horror movies I can think of with a black female protagonist. Doesn’t explore too many race-related social issues, though, unless I’m just forgetting it. I need to watch this one again, it’s been too long!
The People Under The Stairs – I’ve already talked at length about this one in another post. Issues of racism, sexism, economic disenfranchisement, and the protagonist is a young black boy with all the classic hero qualities. Fool, as he’s called, doesn’t just survive, he actually GOES BACK to rescue everyone else! AND HE SAVES THE DAY! I love it!
13 Ghosts – Rah Digga does survive the movie, but this achievement is lessened by her portraying the Sassy Black Nanny stereotype. Still, she was one of the many little delights of this weirdo film.
Bones – It’s been 15 years since I saw this so my memory is fuzzy about who was the protagonist and who was the bad guy. I remember being SO EXCITED about it coming out and then being less than blown away… and also something about incest. I may need to check my facts on this one and give it a rewatch.
Candyman – Although the protagonist is white, THIS one explored all kinds of fascinating territory! You know I wouldn’t mind a remake, but hear me out – CANDYMAN is the protagonist. Eh? No? I’ll work on it and get back to you. I feel like that happened in the sequel but I haven’t seen it in years, might be confusing it with a weird dream I had once.
What did I forget? I know I forgot some!
What are YOUR favorite horror movies that DON’T star white teenagers in their underwear?