Maybe the old assumption that black characters are always the first to die in horror films isn’t quite right after all. At least not according to a new book that hit store shelves this week entitled Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present, which presents a unique social history of blacks in America through changing images in horror films.
Offering a comprehensive chronological survey of the genre, Horror Noire addresses a full range of black horror films, including mainstream Hollywood fare as well as art house films, Blaxploitation films, direct-to-DVD films, and the emerging U.S./hip-hop culture-inspired Nigerian “Nollywood” black horror films.
From King Kong to Candyman, the boundary-pushing genre of the horror film has always been a site for provocative explorations of race in American popular culture. In Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from 1890’s to Present, Robin R. Means Coleman traces the history of notable characterizations of blackness in horror cinema and examines key levels of black participation on screen and behind the camera. She argues that horror offers a unique representational space for black people to challenge the more negative, or racist, images seen in other media outlets and to portray greater diversity within the concept of blackness itself.
Throughout the text the reader is encouraged to unpack the genre’s racialized imagery as well as the narratives that make up popular culture’s commentary on race. Horror Noire is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand how fears and anxieties about race and race relations are made manifest, and often challenged, on the silver screen.
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