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The Essential Black Horror Movies

In our guide to some of the best, most resonant Black horror movies, we begin in 1960 with Night of the Living Dead. The movie was groundbreaking for setting the zombie template, but also through its casting of Duane Jones as its hero, an everyman of color. He leads survivors through Night, up until its provocative ending, when director George A. Romero inextricably binds the horror genre to America’s dark living history.

Jones’ other starring movie was 1973’s Ganja & Hess, for which writer/director Bill Gunn uses vampires to press into societal breakdowns. This kind of elevated horror has given definition to many Black horror films, including, obviously, Jordan Peele’s Best Picture-nominated Get Out, but also the Chicago-set Candyman and Oprah Winfrey-starring Beloved.

Of course, horror is there for lights-out entertainment, like ’90s classics Def by Temptation and Tales from the Hood, and with crossovers into the gothic (Eve’s Bayou), sci-fi (Attack the Block), thrillers (Ma), war (Overlord), and superheroes (Blade).

Explore all 25 fun, frightening, and groundbreaking films in our guide to the essential Black horror movies.


Best Spanish-Language Horror Movies | Best Korean Horror Movies | Best Italian Horror Movies | Best French Horror Movies | Best Japanese Horror Movies
2020’s Best Horror Movies | 200 Best Horror Movies Ever

#25

Bones (2001)
25%

#25
Adjusted Score: 27192%
Critics Consensus: Slow to start, the sleek looking Bones is more silly than scary.
Synopsis: A murdered hoodlum rises from the dead 20 years later to seek revenge on the friends who betrayed him.... [More]
Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

#24
Adjusted Score: 39951%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A devilish stranger unleashes the forces of darkness upon the unsuspecting tenants of a desert boardinghouse.... [More]
Directed By: Ernest Dickerson

#23
#23
Adjusted Score: 52821%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A mortician entertains a trio of drug-seeking youths with four cautionary tales of horror and revenge.... [More]
Directed By: Rusty Cundieff

#22

Blacula (1972)
48%

#22
Adjusted Score: 51117%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Los Angeles interior decorators buy the coffin of an African prince (William Marshall) bitten by Dracula centuries before.... [More]
Directed By: William Crain

#21

Blade (1998)
56%

#21
Adjusted Score: 61754%
Critics Consensus: Though some may find the plot a bit lacking, Blade's action is fierce, plentiful, and appropriately stylish for a comic book adaptation.
Synopsis: A man (Wesley Snipes) with vampire blood and his mortal partner (Kris Kristofferson) hunt a rebel vampire (Stephen Dorff) and... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

#20

Ma (2019)
56%

#20
Adjusted Score: 66203%
Critics Consensus: Octavia Spencer's performance overpowers many of Ma's flaws, but uneven pacing and a labored story keep this thriller from fully realizing its unhinged potential.
Synopsis: A lonely middle-aged woman befriends some teenagers and decides to let them party at her house. Just when the kids... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#19

J.D.'s Revenge (1976)
57%

#19
Adjusted Score: 57015%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The spirit of a zoot-suited, razor-wielding 1940s hoodlum possesses a New Orleans law student (Glynn Turman).... [More]
Directed By: Arthur Marks

#18

Black Box (2020)
70%

#18
Adjusted Score: 71655%
Critics Consensus: An intriguing debut for writer-director Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour, Black Box compensates for a lack of surprises with strong performances and an emotionally rewarding story.
Synopsis: After losing his wife and memory in a car accident, a single father undergoes an agonizing experimental treatment that causes... [More]
Directed By: Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour

#17

Blade II (2002)
57%

#17
Adjusted Score: 60895%
Critics Consensus: Though Blade II offers more of what worked in the original, its plot and character development appear to have been left on the cutting room floor.
Synopsis: Blade (Wesley Snipes) forms an alliance with a band of hardened enemies in order to battle powerful vampires.... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#16

Sweetheart (2019)
95%

#16
Adjusted Score: 95256%
Critics Consensus: Carried by Kiersey Clemons' performance, Sweetheart balances smart subtext and social commentary against effective genre thrills.
Synopsis: A shipwreck survivor on an uninhabited island must fend off a malevolent force that surfaces each night.... [More]
Directed By: J.D. Dillard

#15
Adjusted Score: 68056%
Critics Consensus: Held aloft by gonzo black comedy and socially conscious subtext, The People Under The Stairs marks a unique -- though wildly uneven -- change of pace for director Wes Craven.
Synopsis: Hoping to find a fortune in gold, a boy instead discovers the horrific secrets lurking inside the home of two... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#14
#14
Adjusted Score: 69286%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A temptress (Cynthia Bond) from hell eyes a Deep South divinity student (James Bond III) visiting his brother (Kadeem Hardison)... [More]
Directed By: James Bond III

#13
#13
Adjusted Score: 62077%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley) summons the undead with voodoo to help a woman (Marki Bey) fight killer gangsters.... [More]
Directed By: Paul Maslansky

#12
#12
Adjusted Score: 12963%
Critics Consensus: Neither scary nor very funny, this misguided effort never lives up to its premise.
Synopsis: A Caribbean vampire (Eddie Murphy) seeks the half-vampire, half-human New York homicide detective (Angela Bassett) destined to be his bride.... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#11

Candyman (1992)
77%

#11
Adjusted Score: 83999%
Critics Consensus: Though it ultimately sacrifices some mystery in the name of gory thrills, Candyman is a nuanced, effectively chilling tale that benefits from an interesting premise and some fine performances.
Synopsis: A professor's (Xander Berkeley) wife (Virginia Madsen) links a local legend to a Chicago serial killer (Tony Todd) fitted with... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#10

Beloved (1998)
78%

#10
Adjusted Score: 80995%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: Horrible secrets and supernatural forces come to light in the home of a former slave (Oprah Winfrey), her daughter and... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#9

Eve's Bayou (1997)
82%

#9
Adjusted Score: 85518%
Critics Consensus: Eve's Bayou marks a striking feature debut for director Kasi Lemmons, layering terrific performances and Southern mysticism into a measured meditation on disillusionment and forgiveness.
Synopsis: Tragedy strikes a prosperous Louisiana family in 1962 after a girl (Jurnee Smollett) catches her father (Samuel L. Jackson) with... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#8
#8
Adjusted Score: 98436%
Critics Consensus: A tense, terrifying, and all-around outstanding feature debut for its co-directing duo, The Boy Behind the Door should thrill discerning horror fans.
Synopsis: Bobby tries to save himself and his best friend when they are kidnapped on their way home from school.... [More]

#7

Blood Couple (1973)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 88177%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Germs from the stab of an ancient dagger turn two lovers (Duane Jones, Marlene Clark) into immortal vampires.... [More]
Directed By: Bill Gunn

#6

His House (2020)
100%

#6
Adjusted Score: 105603%
Critics Consensus: Featuring genuine scares through every corridor, His House is a terrifying look at the specters of the refugee experience and a stunning feature debut for Remi Weekes.
Synopsis: A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new... [More]
Directed By: Remi Weekes

#5

Candyman (2021)
84%

#5
Adjusted Score: 104289%
Critics Consensus: Candyman takes an incisive, visually thrilling approach to deepening the franchise's mythology -- and terrifying audiences along the way.
Synopsis: An artist begins to explore the macabre history of Candyman, not knowing it would unravel his sanity and unleash a... [More]
Directed By: Nia DaCosta

#4

Attack the Block (2011)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 96809%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, briskly-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
Synopsis: South London teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones) defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.... [More]
Directed By: Joe Cornish

#3

Us (2019)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 122854%
Critics Consensus: With Jordan Peele's second inventive, ambitious horror film, we have seen how to beat the sophomore jinx, and it is Us.
Synopsis: A couple and their two children must fight for survival when four masked strangers descend upon their beachfront home. When... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 104898%
Critics Consensus: George A. Romero's debut set the template for the zombie film, and features tight editing, realistic gore, and a sly political undercurrent.
Synopsis: People (Duane Jones, Judith O'Dea, Karl Hardman) hide in a house from carnivorous walking corpses revived by radiation fallout.... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#1

Get Out (2017)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 117876%
Critics Consensus: Funny, scary, and thought-provoking, Get Out seamlessly weaves its trenchant social critiques into a brilliantly effective and entertaining horror/comedy thrill ride.
Synopsis: A young photographer uncovers a dark secret when he meets his girlfriend's seemingly friendly parents for the first time at... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

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