Get Out writer-director Jordan Peele and Candyman star Tony Todd are two of the movie notables interviewed in a new documentary called Horror Noire: A History of Black Horror, EW can exclusively reveal. Horror Noire is based on the book of the same name by Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman and takes a critical look at a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and embraced both black filmmakers and black audiences. Horror Noire is the first original feature documentary from Shudder and will premiere exclusively on the horror- and thriller-streaming service Feb. 7 after special screening events in New York and Los Angeles earlier in the month.
Other interviewees featured in the film include directors Ernest Dickerson (Bones), Rusty Cundieff (Tales from the Hood), and Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned) and actors Paula Jai Parker (Tales from the Hood), and Ken Foree (Dawn of the Dead). Horror Noire is directed by Xavier Burgin, executive produced by Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman, author-educator Tananarive Due, Fangoria Editor-in-Chief Phil Nobile Jr and Kelly Ryan of Stage 3 Productions, and is produced and co-written by Ashlee Blackwell and Danielle Burrows.
“After I saw Oscar winner Jordan Peele’s Get Out, I created a UCLA class around Black Horror called The Sunken Place,” said Due, in a statement. “The text I recommended was Dr. Robin R. Means Coleman’s Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to the Present. So I was so thrilled to help bring this story to life on the screen. Horror Noire is about the history of black horror films, but it’s also a testament to the power of representation and how horror is such a visceral way to fight racial trauma: our real pain and fear, but from a safer distance — while we get stronger.”
“The horror genre is daring, unflinching pedagogy,” said Coleman. “It is like a syllabus of our social, political, and racial world. The horror film is fascinating if for no other reason than that it prides itself on snuggling up next to the taboo, while confounding our sense of good and evil, the monstrous and divine, and the sacred and profane. It is one of the most intrepid of entertainment forms in its scrutiny of our humanity and our foibles. It is my sincere hope that Horror Noire will spark fierce debate and trigger even more exacting, nuanced explorations into the power of horror.”
“There are messages of humanity and survival that Black storytellers and performers have been expressing in horror since the genre’s beginning,” said Ashlee Blackwell, a producer and co-writer of Horror Noire and founder of Graveyard Shift Sisters, a website dedicated to the topic of black women in horror. “It’s been an exciting journey to work with a team to bring this once hidden history to life and out of the shadows.”
“Horror Noire is an important and timely documentary that explores an overlooked part of the horror genre that’s only just beginning to get the attention it deserves,” said Shudder’s general manager, Craig Engler. “We’re honored and thrilled to help bring this project to life and share it with the world.”
Ahead of debuting on Shudder, Horror Noire will have its world premiere Feb. 1, in collaboration with Beyond Fest and the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, CA, headlining two days of screenings with special guests, in celebration of black horror. Details on the event at the Egyptian will be available soon at the American Cinematheque website. On Feb. 4, Horror Noire will have its east coast premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, followed by a panel conversation featuring Due, Blackwell, filmmaker R. Shanea Williams, and comics writer Greg Anderson Elysee. The film will screen on a double bill with Rusty Cundieff’s 1995 film Tales from the Hood. Tickets for this special event will be on sale Jan. 7 at the BAM wesbite.
Exclusively watch the trailer for Horror Noire above and see the documentary’s poster by Gary Pullin, below.