The Black Guy Dies First: Black Horror Cinema from Fodder to Oscar

Gallery: Saga. Feb. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781982186531. pap. $19.99. FILM
Black filmmaker Jordan Peele’s Oscar-winning film Get Out signaled the mainstream horror cinematic arrival of Black actors and creators on their journey from bargain-basement projects and stereotypical bit parts, explains media studies scholar Coleman (assoc. provost, Northwestern Univ.; Horror Noire: Blacks in American Horror Films from the 1890s to Present) and entertainment journalist Harris (creator of Chronicling the treatment of Black characters in horror movies, they name names and mark milestones of groundbreaking, innovative Black writers, directors, and performers who set the scenes for bold, unapologetic for-us-by-us Black cinema to produce horror projects that increasingly revolve around Black people in front of and behind the camera. They place the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead and the 1967 Spider Baby as ahead-of-their-time cinema with Black characters that undermined social mores of violence, sexuality, and general decorum and inspired entire subgenres within horror.
VERDICT A must-have reference with a near encyclopedic, yet readable, survey of nearly 1,000 horror movies containing more than 1,500 appearances by Black characters, from minor, nonspeaking roles to the exploration of Black films that have progressively broadened Black roles in horror and in cinema as a whole.
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