A Moment of Horror
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Hyde , and J. It was stylized, developed, unhurried, experimental. In a lot of ways, Gunn is an obvious influence on Glover; they feel like kindred spirits. Decades later, the same tools Glover would wield with canniness to reboot the genre with its own novel authority, Gunn was using with even slicker virtuosity at the time. In fusing magical realism and black folklore, Gunn created one of the more original black horror projects of the era. For it to be seen as more than a cheap gimmick. It unpacked issues pertaining to domestic abuse, addiction, gang violence, mental health, and racism.
Tales was the breed of film that worked to expose the black experience as a multicellular one. Even amid the occasional dime-store horror, Cundieff was intent on presenting black life as layered and vast and emotionally thorny. Today, its relevance still holds. It adapts to the times better than any other I can think of. The unknown is always with us, but what is unknown does change.
As the genre matured, it began to look within. Black horror became a mosaic of actual life: More and more, stories were anchored by existential terrors. Quieter evils now lurked in the open. Its nod toward the surreal. Its ever-present gnaw of grief. How themes like mental health, loss, and violence are subtly, and sometimes quite loudly, presented as mundane, only, out of nowhere, to be weaponized for shock. Like Glover, Peele is asking that question in his work too.
His answers typically spurn consensus—what exactly was Us about again? Peele explores the rabbit hole , journeying deep into our twisted interiors.
This reemergence, however, requires a rejiggering of expectations. Across film and TV, it is a genre of profound revelation—how its messages of racial dread or class disquiet mutate to the present, how it stirs and stamps the mind with images of gore, glory, and cardinal vengeance. That continues today, but in more subversive renderings.
As Birth -style terrors have mostly receded from view, invisible ones have ascended into the tumult of daily life. One need only pay attention, to open their eyes to the ache of world, to see how such horror lives among us. Across the nation, in cities like Miami and Washington, DC, preteen black boys are corralled by the police and accused of committing crimes they had no part in.
Like an invisible ax that cleaves and cleaves, the terrors of the everyday cut into the core of black existence, leaving a fresh bloody wound. The story revolves around Jimmie Fails, a black man who devises a plan to get back his family home, an elegant Victorian-style house that is now owned by a white couple. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is decidedly not a horror film in spite of its apocalyptic title , but it raises questions in the way many contemporary black horror projects do.
It curves toward the axis of reality just like Atlanta and Get Out , scraping the pavement, ever susceptible to danger and death. This style of black horror, where the chasm between fiction and reality is a strikingly small one, certainly feels truer to the lived experiences of black life in a way previous generations of black horror did not. I keep returning to Atlanta and Get Out as prime examples because they best elucidate the interior neurosis that black folk often cycle through privately by bringing those psychological burdens, fears, hopes to the fore with such beauty and intrigue.
They are acknowledgments as much as they are documents of the ways America works to squash us, still. As cultural properties, they are a collective reclamation, a rejection of the falsities The Birth of a Nation enlarged in the pop conscience so long ago.
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The labor of black horror is to shock, suspend belief, awaken the mind. It is the one genre—perhaps one of the last portals of escape—whose intentions all seem to be working against one another as much as they are working in harmony. Discord and dread writhe all around, but even in the darkness, even in the sprint to survive, to endure, you manage to see yourself.
There is comfort in that. Christopher Ryan. Sophia Chen. Boone Ashworth and Michael Calore. Louise Matsakis. Related Stories. Jason Parham. Want to build a better democracy? Sign up for the Backchannel newsletter. He was previously a senior editor at The Fader and Gawker. That Jekyll experiences a series of sexualized flashbacks and visions right before he transforms gotta love those pre-code thrills just adds to the intensity of the scene. Directed by Tod Browning; screenplay by Garrett Fort.
Horror cinema was largely imported from Europe at the beginning of the 20th century, but Universal put American studios on the genre map in with Dracula , directed by the legendary Tod Browning. So of course it was a smash hit, and the modern American horror film was born — complete with salacious word of mouth, robust franchising opportunities, and heavy potential for crossover events.
The year changed everything for horror, and the monsters were here to stay. The first, of course, is that crazy, over-the-top reanimation scene. Together, they toss some petals into a lake. The Monster, delighted at discovering this simple activity and this nice new friend, is concerned when he runs out of petals — so he tosses poor little Maria instead.
But the moment still went down in history. Freaks was a box-office disaster and became the only MGM film ever to be pulled from release before completing its domestic engagements. But its impact can still be felt today in popular media, most notably in American Horror Story: Freak Show.
Silent Horror | WEBTOON
Directed by Karl Freund; screenplay by John L. He comes to life so, so slowly, and remains expressionless, until his ancient hand creeps across a desk.
But what really makes this scene so nerve-racking is how quiet it is. As the Mummy leaves, all we see is a trail of bandages slinking out the door. Directed by Victor Halperin; written by Garnett Weston. White Zombie was the first portrayal of zombies on the big screen, spawning an enduring horror subgenre and setting the stage for modern incarnations of the living dead. Unlike most modern fare, however, White Zombie adhered to the Haitian origins of zombie lore, setting its story on the Caribbean isle, with a voodoo practitioner Bela Lugosi and his impossibly evil eyes commanding a battalion of catatonic slaves — an eerie sight early in the film as we catch our first glimpse of them shambling across the moonlit countryside toward their master.
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Directed by James Whale; screenplay by William Hurlbut. This is a scene that hurts. And the deeper you go, the more disturbing it gets. Most of the film follows the sad-sack Karloff as he wanders the countryside, pursued by villagers and looking for shelter and friendship. Even the question of who plays the Bride has been kept secret; the opening credits directly posit it as a mystery. Directed by Lambert Hillyer; screenplay by Garrett Fort.
Zaleska famously kills the young girl, who memorably swoons out of frame, but the encounter is really more of a seduction. Cat People, like much of the work released by RKO, was distinctive, low budget, and brimming with character actors. The film, directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton, received mixed reviews for its story of a Serbian woman, Irena a pouty, slinky performance by Simone Simon , who descends from a race of people that turn into panthers when beset by anger or sexual desire — making her marriage to the upstanding Oliver Reed Kent Smith destined for tragedy.
Thematically, it has only grown richer in the seven decades since its release for its heightened interrogation of what happens to women when their feelings are construed as monstrous.
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When Alice and Oliver part on a desolate street, Irena follows her through the inky darkness. At one point, Alice freezes in place, peering into the empty street behind her, wordlessly communicating her suspicion that someone is following her. The scare is intense until it dissipates in the face of the mundane. Directed by Jacques Tourneur; screenplay by Edward Dein. But these filmmakers also knew how to shock us when they needed to. In one of the earliest kills in The Leopard Man , a young girl is pursued in the middle of the night by the dark figure of a huge, terrifying cat. She runs, and the beast appears to give chase.
She finally arrives home — but her angry mom refuses to let her in! For its time, this was a deeply disturbing depiction of killing. Two scary stories? Nice try, but the answer is actually five scary stories. The U. Chucky and Annabelle owe a debt to Hugo. Directed by Robert Siodmak; screenplay by Mel Dinelli. During a seemingly innocuous scene of a mute woman dressing for bed, we zoom in on her closet to see a deranged eye peering from behind her clothes before cutting to the first-person view of the madman as he emerges from the closet and murders her in cold blood.
Rinaldo, and John Grant. Before Shaun of the Dead , Tucker and Dale vs. The beloved comedy duo Abbott and Costello had already made a few farcical spook pictures like Hold That Ghost and Ghosts on the Loose , so the movie house that invented modern horror franchises recruited them for a crossover event that was pretty epic by standards.