Black-led horror films have existed for decades, though they’ve only become popular in recent years thanks to auteurs like Jordan Peele.
So, let’s look at the Black-led horror films you should check out, whether it’s at Halloween or any other time of the year.
Night of The Living Dead
Release Year: 1968
Black Cast: Duane Jones
Night of The Living Dead is among the most trailblazing Black-led horror films of all time.
It gave us a Black lead actor–in a time when that was unthinkable in Hollywood–and spearheaded the modern zombie genre.
The film follows several people who hide in a farmhouse from flesh-eating zombies.
It has a shocking end you won’t forget.
Release Year: 1972
Black Cast: William Marshall, Vonetta McGee, Denise Nicholas
Blaxploitation films were on the rise in the 70s, and Blacula took advantage of that to become a cult classic.
The film follows African prince Mamuwalde, who tries to enlist Count Dracula’s help stopping the slave trade.
However, Dracula turns him into a vampire and locks him in a coffin for several hundred years.
When Mamuwalde finally awakes, he goes on a killing spree.
Tales From The Hood
Release Year: 1995
Black Cast: Rosalind Cash, David Alan Grier, Lamont Bentley, Joe Torry, Clarence Williams III
Tales From The Hood is among the most extraordinary Black-led horror films you can watch.
It’s an anthology with five tales, each giving a horrific take on the Black community.
If you like Tales From The Hood, you can watch its two sequels–both with Spike Lee as the executive producer.
Release Year: 2019
Black Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke
Most people know Jordan Peele for Get Out, but Us is arguably the better horror movie.
The film follows Adelaide and her family go on vacation but are attacked by doppelgangers.
Us then spirals into a web of twists–with a memorable ending–and reaches a near-apocalyptic scale.
Release Year: 2023
Black Cast: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo
There’s an unfortunate trope in horror movies–especially slasher flicks–where the token Black character always dies first.
The Blackening plays with this trope by having the whole cast made of Black characters.
Set in Juneteeth, this horror-comedy follows Black friends who go to a cabin in the woods and get murdered by a masked killer.
Release Year: 2020
Black Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu
War is a real-life horror that haunts the affected people for the rest of their lives.
In His House, that haunting takes a supernatural turn.
It follows a refugee couple who fled South Sudan and are trying to piece their lives together in England.
However, they start experiencing supernatural phenomena in their new house.
The Curse Of Bridge Hollow
Release Year: 2022
Black Cast: Marlon Wayans, Priah Ferguson, Kelly Rowland
If you’re looking for something family-friendly, The Curse of Bridge Hollow is among the most entertaining Black-led horror films.
It follows a Black teenage girl who moves into a new town with her family.
She unwittingly unleashes an evil spirit on Halloween that brings decorations to life.
To stop the spirit, she teams up with her least favorite person: her dad.
Gatlopp: Hell of A Game
Release Year: 2021
Black Cast: Sarunas J. Jackson, Emmy Raver-Lampman
A group of estranged friends reunite, and they stumble on a drinking game called Gatlopp.
But the game has a devious twist: they must finish it before sunrise, or they’ll be forced to play it forever.
Release Year: 2019
Black Cast: Lupita Nyong’o
Little Monster follows a kindergarten teacher (played by Nyong’o) who protects her students as a zombie apocalypse breaks out.
Lupita Nyong’o is establishing herself as the queen of Black-led horror films.
She gave a chilling performance in Us, dominates in Little Monster, and will star in 2024’s A Quiet Place: Day One.
Release Year: 2019
Black Cast: Kiersey Clemons
Sweetheart is among the most underrated Black-led horror films released in recent years.
It follows Jennifer, a castaway who washes ashore on a small uninhabited island.
However, she’s not alone; a sea monster stalks her.
Release Year: 1992
Black Cast: Tony Todd
A graduate student does a thesis on folklore and urban legends.
Her research leads her to the story of Candyman, the son of a slave killed for falling in love with a white man’s daughter.
She soon starts experiencing hallucinations and visions.
But is the Candyman stalking her, or is he in her mind?
Candyman has several sequels, but I recommend watching the 2021 sequel as a double feature after this one.
Black-Led Horror Films Have Come A Long Way
These Black-led horror films often blend horror, social commentary, and cultural narratives.
Check them out if you’re looking for movies that challenge the norm.