Us

(Photo by Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection)

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 20 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

#20

Bones (2001)
23%

#20
Adjusted Score: 24.658%
Critics Consensus: Slow to start, the sleek looking Bones is more silly than scary.
Synopsis: Cinematographer turned director Ernest Dickerson returns to the horror genre with this African-American, urban twist on haunted house stories. Rap... [More]
Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

#19
Adjusted Score: 39.599%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This first theatrical feature spun off from the television series Tales from the Crypt (which was in turn inspired by... [More]

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 50.529%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a trio of young criminals break into a funeral home searching for a stash of drugs, they instead find... [More]
Directed By: Rusty Cundieff

#17

Blacula (1972)
48%

#17
Adjusted Score: 50.615%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Advertised as the 100th production of American International studios, Blacula stars actor/singer William Marshall in the title role. An 18th... [More]

#16

Blade (1998)
55%

#16
Adjusted Score: 60.626%
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: British director Stephen Norrington helmed this David S. Goyer adaptation of the Marvel Comics character created in 1973 by scripter... [More]
Directed By: Stephen Norrington

#15

Ma (2019)
56%

#15
Adjusted Score: 64.589%
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: Oscar (R) winner Octavia Spencer stars as Sue Ann, a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town.... [More]
Directed By: Tate Taylor

#14

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

#14
Adjusted Score: 48.867%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Complete with a soundtrack by a then-barely-known Prince, this blaxploitation film stars Glynn Turman as a modern-day student possessed by... [More]
Directed By: Arthur Marks

#13

Blade II (2002)
57%

#13
Adjusted Score: 61.014%
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: Four years after scoring a box-office touchdown with Blade (1998), actor Wesley Snipes returns to portray the Marvel Comics character... [More]
Directed By: Guillermo del Toro

#12
Adjusted Score: 68.619%
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: Wes Craven wrote and directed this surrealistic horror-comedy, which was inspired by a true story of parents keeping their children... [More]
Directed By: Wes Craven

#11
#11
Adjusted Score: 75%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: A black theology student (James Bond III, who also directed) is unaware that his father's early death was at the... [More]
Directed By: James Bond III

#10

Candyman (1992)
75%

#10
Adjusted Score: 79.976%
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: Researching urban folklore, a University of Chicago student snoops around the housing projects of Cabrini Green to find more about... [More]
Directed By: Bernard Rose

#9

Beloved (1998)
78%

#9
Adjusted Score: 81.31%
Critics Consensus: A powerful, emotional and successful film adaptation of the original novel.
Synopsis: When a former slave takes in a feral young woman, strange occurrences begin to take place, begging the question: could... [More]
Directed By: Jonathan Demme

#8

Overlord (2018)
81%

#8
Adjusted Score: 90.372%
Critics Consensus: Part revisionist war drama, part zombie thriller, and part all-out genre gorefest, Overlord offers A-level fun for B-movie fans of multiple persuasions.
Synopsis: With only hours until D-Day, a team of American paratroopers drop into Nazi-occupied France to carry out a mission that's... [More]
Directed By: Julius Avery

#7

Eve's Bayou (1996)
82%

#7
Adjusted Score: 84.774%
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: Black female writer-director Kasi Lemmons made her feature directorial debut with this period family drama set in the South. Depicting... [More]
Directed By: Kasi Lemmons

#6

Sugar Hill (1974)
63%

#6
Adjusted Score: 63.017%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: In this horror movie, a woman's fiance is killed by gangsters. To get her revenge, she conjures up a corps... [More]
Directed By: Paul Maslansky

#5

Ganja & Hess (1973)
89%

#5
Adjusted Score: 89.048%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: What could have been a mere blaxploitation picture is elevated above the norm by two factors. The first is the... [More]
Directed By: Bill Gunn

#4

Attack the Block (2011)
90%

#4
Adjusted Score: 95.453%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, brisky-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
Synopsis: From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block follows a gang of tough inner-city... [More]
Directed By: Joe Cornish

#3

Us (2019)
93%

#3
Adjusted Score: 117.246%
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: Set in present day along the iconic Northern California coastline, Us, from Monkeypaw Productions, stars Oscar (R) winner Lupita Nyong'o... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

#2
#2
Adjusted Score: 104.274%
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: One can only imagine the impact that Night on the Living Dead had on unprepared audiences of 1968. Here was... [More]
Directed By: George A. Romero

#1

Get Out (2017)
98%

#1
Adjusted Score: 114.918%
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: Now that Chris and his girlfriend, Rose, have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend... [More]
Directed By: Jordan Peele

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

golden globes TV One mockumentary Martial Arts Comics on TV Interview stop motion worst MCU GIFs LGBT chucky Peacock TCM composers what to watch die hard ESPN Box Office YouTube Paramount Plus Holiday politics boxing screenings cancelled television Mindy Kaling Hallmark Christmas movies football USA Network adventure revenge video on demand cartoon X-Men movies Sundance TV fresh Mystery sequels Rock Opinion Horror Calendar Election vampires nbcuniversal OneApp El Rey Universal Countdown children's TV Kids & Family BBC BBC One TCA 2017 crime scorecard 007 latino Disney Plus versus Amazon Studios TNT period drama richard e. Grant Binge Guide Reality stand-up comedy YouTube Premium medical drama E3 finale VOD TV renewals Rom-Com Mudbound RT21 series biography Cannes toronto Adult Swim Mary Tyler Moore Fox News social media Pop TV HBO Max National Geographic A24 Television Critics Association Columbia Pictures halloween Anna Paquin technology cancelled TV shows FX VH1 comic dogs Acorn TV blaxploitation zero dark thirty docudrama Alien criterion Emmy Nominations Action Emmys Freeform jamie lee curtis travel 20th Century Fox australia anime cinemax christmas movies Tarantino Polls and Games 2016 deadpool nfl YouTube Red Food Network Extras Pirates comics name the review festival laika Amazon Prime singing competition discovery ID Sci-Fi SDCC comic books zombies Nickelodeon satire dragons Music WGN Brie Larson BBC America NYCC First Look Women's History Month Endgame joker blockbuster hollywood Reality Competition Marvel Television free movies Disney streaming service TV Certified Fresh Baby Yoda Sundance Trailer Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt History green book Infographic binge Hallmark strong female leads PlayStation spy thriller TCA Awards Star Trek classics RT History Showtime The CW cats American Society of Cinematographers video Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Academy Awards foreign Trophy Talk Nominations Mary poppins NBC Cartoon Network Britbox slashers LGBTQ nature teaser political drama Toys 2015 spanish 2020 jurassic park The Purge Disney Winter TV directors transformers FXX superhero Nat Geo Superheroes Tubi Funimation WarnerMedia films ViacomCBS San Diego Comic-Con Tumblr TIFF based on movie women worst movies archives spider-man zombie Photos DC Comics Apple TV Plus Comedy Central E! The Walking Dead Turner Classic Movies ABC batman festivals Drama fast and furious Tomatazos 99% Winners Marathons TruTV kids 72 Emmy Awards Fall TV japanese Apple Oscars cancelled Fox Searchlight Spectrum Originals Lucasfilm CW Seed Masterpiece independent documentary 4/20 Heroines APB critics Ovation indiana jones Dark Horse Comics Marvel reviews TV Land cops Ellie Kemper cults animated OWN pirates of the caribbean sag awards Rocketman Netflix television rotten Esquire Hear Us Out 24 frames CMT Vudu Warner Bros. Country canceled PBS spanish language a nightmare on elm street Animation YA Creative Arts Emmys Pop psychological thriller talk show VICE werewolf 45 Musical news FX on Hulu DGA MTV theme song BET Awards Superheroe south america dark Comedy stoner ratings Year in Review concert obituary BAFTA reboot miniseries The Witch Sony Pictures Fantasy parents Logo Awards science fiction SXSW CBS All Access screen actors guild Thanksgiving Elton John Paramount IFC anthology Biopics war franchise IFC Films Black History Month 2018 james bond Spring TV Schedule Cosplay asian-american The Arrangement Christmas movie remakes true crime Film Classic Film FOX trailers renewed TV shows serial killer thriller GLAAD See It Skip It streaming Rocky Pixar tv talk golden globe awards Paramount Network black Spike comedies robots A&E harry potter Awards Tour Holidays hist Crackle universal monsters Super Bowl cooking CBS Video Games emmy awards 71st Emmy Awards indie crime drama Writers Guild of America Turner halloween tv Watching Series DirecTV Disney Channel Quiz Summer ITV police drama mutant MSNBC Travel Channel Avengers Podcast elevated horror Amazon Arrowverse breaking bad Film Festival President CNN Crunchyroll Teen Red Carpet witnail Western TCA Winter 2020 Musicals all-time DC Universe TBS TCA rt archives Premiere Dates Walt Disney Pictures italian USA HBO Go Amazon Prime Video Pet Sematary 2017 Sundance Now BET Shudder Grammys Netflix Christmas movies aliens supernatural dc facebook psycho Black Mirror sitcom scary movies Trivia Lifetime crossover Marvel Studios HBO unscripted hispanic ABC Signature french disaster romance Shondaland 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards historical drama book 21st Century Fox Valentine's Day New York Comic Con The Walt Disney Company Pride Month Captain marvel Family Discovery Channel AMC adaptation twilight casting dceu Ghostbusters Set visit PaleyFest award winner Apple TV+ comiccon Television Academy Epix rotten movies we love Character Guide best GoT Bravo toy story SundanceTV diversity mission: impossible 2019 space quibi Sneak Peek Lifetime Christmas movies Lionsgate justice league venice canceled TV shows Mary Poppins Returns Stephen King rom-coms Syfy spinoff sports Best and Worst crime thriller cancelled TV series cars game of thrones Disney+ Disney Plus ABC Family DC streaming service sequel doctor who Comic Book spain TLC boxoffice romantic comedy ghosts Hulu Starz game show child's play natural history Chernobyl Star Wars First Reviews The Academy documentaries Song of Ice and Fire dramedy