"Only pain and suffering will make you realize who you are." - 4 POC-Led Horror Films for Halloween
Welcome to the week of Halloween! How have you been celebrating the most wonderful time of the year? Here at ToS, there's been a lot of pumpkin spice coffee drinking (and pumpkin loaf eating...and pumpkin candle burning), late night outings (with fully vaccinated pals, of course), and horror movie binging. Although marathoning eerie films is a year-round event, watching them in October always infuses them with a certain sinister vibe. Gaping at Linda Blair's thrashing, vomit-covered body or Court Orlok's pale, spindly fingers is frightening during any month, but something about the melding of my TV's screams with the wind's whistle and the hushed crunch of dead leaves outside of my window just does it for me.
What doesn't do it for me is the lack of diversity in horror. I touched upon this last year (see October 2020's blog post here), but this conversation is still a crucial one to have. If I were to turn on my TV right now and select any random horror flick, I can safely predict that both the male and female protagonists will be white, slender, and straight-haired. If we're lucky, the woman might be a brunette, rather than a blonde. It's been like this since the establishment of the horror film genre, and has continued to be like this for roughly a century. Some people may cite recent releases such as Nia DaCosta's Candyman or the polarizing Bad Hair as examples of progress, but I say that it's not enough. Further more, the diverse films that have been around for decades (see: the criminally underrated subgenre of blaxploitation horror) are often disregarded and left off of most "TOP 10 HORROR FILMS TO WATCH FOR HALLOWEEN" lists.
In honor of October 31st, and to bring light to some great (and legitimately spooky) POC-led horror, here are 4 of my personal favorites. These range from cult classics to j-horror staples, and are guaranteed to give you some thrills & chills as Halloween grows closer...and the veil between this world and the next begins to thin.
(1) J.D.'s Revenge
Release date: 1976
Director: Arthur Marks
Genre: Blaxploitation horror
Where to watch: Shudder, AMC+
IMDb Synopsis: "Murdered on Bourbon Street in 1942 New Orleans, a gangster returns from the dead 34 years later possessing the body of a young, black law student in his quest for revenge."
For fans of: Sugar Hill, Abby
(2) House (Hausu)
Release date: 1977
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi
Genre: Art horror/fantasy
Where to watch: HBO Max
IMDb Synopsis: "A schoolgirl and six of her classmates travel to her aunt's country home, which turns out to be haunted."
For fans of: Belladonna of Sadness, Suspiria
(3) Eve's Bayou
Release date: 1997
Director: Kasi Lemmons
Genre: Southern gothic horror/drama
Where to watch: HBO Max, AMC+
IMDb Synopsis: "What did little Eve see--and how will it haunt her? Husband, father and womanizer Louis Batiste is the head of an affluent family, but it's the women who rule this gothic world of secrets, lies and mystic forces."
For fans of: Daughters of the Dust, The Beguiled
Release date: 1999
Director: Takashi Miike
Genre: Psychological thriller
Where to watch: Shudder, AMC+
IMDb Synopsis: "A widower takes an offer to screen girls at a special audition, arranged for him by a friend to find him a new wife. The one he fancies is not who she appears to be after all."
For fans of: Perfect Blue, Funny Games
Did I miss any of your must-see favorites? Recommend them via the Contact page, especially if you have any Latin horror pics (it's my weak spot, and I'm always looking for more)! As always, stay safe and enjoy the spooky season!