Anthony being freaked out in Candyman

10 Horror Films To Watch This Black History Month

Black History Month is a time when non-Black people should be educating themselves and putting in the work if they identify as allies. Education can come in the form of all sorts of media, including film, as experiences can be explored within them. Horror as a genre for instance has a complicated history with Blackness and the depiction of Black characters. And if you’re a non-Black horror fan then there’s no time like the present to address that. Not to mention explore different horror movies that focus on Black characters. No, I’m not just talking about the masterpiece that is Get Out (2017) or even Jordan Peele as a Black horror creative.

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Therefore I’m going to list some horror films to watch this Black History Month (or any other month quite frankly). The films listed range in intensity and icon status within the horror world. If you happen to be a Black reader of this article, then Happy Black History Month, my fellow horror Blerd.

Blacula (1972)

Prince Mamuwalde (aka Blacula) in Blacula
(American International Pictures)

There’s a level of boldness that radiates from this film and its plot overall. Blacula (1972) not only kicked off a surge of blaxploitation horror, it also had a Black director (William Crain) who did his best behind the scenes of this film. The film follows an African prince that’s turned into a vampire by Dracula in 1870, and makes a return in the 1970s. Of course, the plot is a bit shaky, but it’s a classic for Black horror fans especially. And there are definitely some scares that you may not expect given the sprinkle of humor throughout.

Where to watch: AMC+ or your app store of choice.

Sugar Hill (1974)

Diana "Sugar" Hill in Sugar Hill
(American International Pictures)

The Blaxploitation era produced some horror classics and Sugar Hill (1974) is certainly among said classics. The film centers around Diana “Sugar” Hill (Marki Bey) taking revenge with the aid of voodoo on the mob boss that ordered her boyfriend’s death. The movie has a lot of style, the makeup effects (especially for the zombies) are pretty good, racists get what’s coming to them, and Sugar Hill is a badass Black photographer. It’s certainly not an easy film to track down (I watched it for the first time recently), but if you have the opportunity to watch it, take the plunge. You won’t be disappointed.

Where to watch: AMC+.

Abby (1974)

Abby Williams in Abby
(American International Pictures)

First off, I need to admit that I haven’t gotten around to finishing my first watch of Abby (1974). It’s unfortunately not available to watch anywhere (other than YouTube and the quality isn’t great), but it’s been on my list for a while. The film follows a religious woman named Abby (Carol Speed) who becomes possessed by a demon that makes her act wild. I can’t personally speak to whether or not the film is good as a whole—but I will say that giving Black cinema a chance is something non-Black horror fans should do.

Where to watch: YouTube.

Candyman (1992)

Candyman being iconic in Candyman
(TriStar Pictures)

The ways in which Candyman (1992) is still relevant in many ways to our current landscape are astounding. Candyman (1992) follows Helen (Virginia Madsen), a graduate student in Chicago whose life spirals out of control when she beings researching Candyman (Tony Todd). If you’ve never seen this iconic film then you’re missing out because it’s definitely part of horror 101. Plus Tony Todd is undeniably sensual in his role as Candyman, so why would you deprive yourself of that?

Where to watch: Your app store of choice etc.

Tales from the Hood (1995)

Mr. Simms being extra in Tales From the Hood
(Savoy Pictures)

A horror anthology film that explores various issues the Black community faces? It absolutely happened.

It also spawned sequels that not everyone is a fan of. The film focuses on several stories that are presented within the one central story about three drug dealers and a funeral director. If you go into this film expecting pure comedy, you’re in for a really bumpy ride and will find yourself wide-eyed. The police brutality short in particular doesn’t play any games and may be hard to watch. However, I highly recommend watching this anthology film, especially if you’re a non-Black person.

Where to watch: Roku.

Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995)

Jeryline gaining the courage in Tales from the Crypt:Demon Knight
(Universal Pictures)

I’ll never stop talking about how Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight (1995) gave us an iconic Black final girl. Jeryline (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a great character and the film itself is a ’90s horror-comedy gem. The film follows a group of misfits, a demon nicknamed “The Collector” (Billy Zane), and the prevention of the end of the world. There’s a lot of humor, fantastic practical effects for the time, and memorable characters (even if some of them are complete assholes). Not to mention Jeryline is fucking iconic and Jada Pinkett Smith should return to horror.

Where to watch: Your app store of choice.

Blade (1998)

Blade being his iconic self in Blade
(New Line Cinema)

People often forget about how far back Marvel movies stretch and Blade (1998) is usually forgotten when discussing MCU characters. The film focuses on a human/vampire hybrid named Blade (Wesley Snipes) who sets out to stop a ruthless young vamp named Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorf). Blade is more of an anti-hero when you consider his vampirism and mode of heroism. Regardless, he means a lot to Black horror/MCU fans as a whole because how badass is a Black vampire? Answer: VERY.

Where to watch: Your app store of choice.

Get Out (2017)

Chris being tired of the bullshit in Get Out
(Universal Pictures)

It’s been talked about to death and rightfully so because it’s one of the best horror films of the past decade. The film follows Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) who finds himself in a dangerous situation because of his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams). It’s a film that’s still very rough to watch as a Black viewer and the concept of the film is uneasy overall. Personally, I think Get Out a film that non-Black (especially white) horror fans should watch at least once. There’s no doubt in my mind that almost everyone has heard about the film. So there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t watch it.

Where to watch: Your app store of choice.

Sweetheart (2019)

Jennifer in Sweetheart
(Universal Pictures)

I talked about this film in another article and I suggest you read that if you’re a fan of Blumhouse horror films. Instead of repeating myself, I’m going to say that we need more creature features with Black folks as the lead. We don’t have remotely enough of those and it’s time that someone changed that! Not enough people talk about Sweetheart and it’s a real shame because it’s a decent horror flick in my eyes.

Where to watch: Your app store of choice.

Candyman (2021)

Anthony being freaked out in Candyman
(Universal Pictures)

The return of the Candyman franchise was something many people got excited about. Candyman (2021) serves as a direct sequel to the original film and carries on the story of baby Anthony. The film focuses on the widespread legend of Candyman and the hive of Candyman—so to speak. There are a lot of social issues tackled in the film and it’s so cinematically beautiful on top of that. It’s also important to note that Nia DaCosta directed and co-wrote this film and her being a Black woman is something to champion. If you loved the original then you may enjoy this entry.

Where to watch: Your app store of choice.

Wendell & Wild (2022)

A girl leaning over her desk in a classroom scowling at her classmate, from "Wendell and Wild"

Stop-motion animation isn’t dead and this horror comedy is a gem that won’t soon be forgotten. Most of the stop-motion animated films that came before Wendell & Wild weren’t very diverse. Therefore this was a welcomed change of pace, especially for Black folks who see themselves in the lead character, Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross).

The film follows Kat after losing her parents. When she’s a teenager, she finds herself tangled up with demons and their plots. This film has a stacked cast, there’s a trans character of color, and practically everything is so fucking cute on top of being creepy. Please don’t get turned off by it being PG-13 because it’s very much worth checking out.

Where to watch: Your app store of choice.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)

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Vanessa Maki
Vanessa Maki (she/her) is a queer Blerd and contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She first started writing for digital magazines in 2018 and her articles have appeared in Pink Advocate (defunct), The Gay Gaze (defunct), Dread Central and more. She primarily writes about movies, TV, and anime. Efforts to make her stop loving complex/villainous characters or horror as a genre will be futile.